No men beyond this point: the proposal to create a no-men space on Wikipedia
A 2012 estimation of Wikipedia's large gender gap.
There is a sizable gender gap among Wikipedia editors, with some estimates suggesting women comprise only 10–15% of the editing community. While the exact figures are certainly debatable, most agree that having a disproportionate number of male editors has the potential to create—or already has created—a systemic bias towards topics in which men are generally more interested. Over the years, the Wikimedia Foundation and others have endeavored to bridge the gender gap with projects such as the Teahouse, the Gender Gap Task Force (GGTF), and various Meta initiatives, such as the WikiWomen's Collaborative.
Recently, Wikipedia editor Lightbreather, a participant in GGTF and other such projects, began developing a grant proposal ("WikiProject Women") to create an on-wiki exclusive space for women to discuss issues, support one another, and recruit new editors. Thus far, her idea has received mixed reviews.
An adopted symbol of the gender gap.
Lightbreather proposed WikiProject Women because in current wiki discussion venues, it is likely that men will comprise a significant percentage of discussants. Moreover, discussions descend into vitriol rather frequently, which women often find off-putting. If Wikipedia is ever going to close its gender gap, she reasons, women must play a central role, and to do that, they need a space to discuss issues where they can guarantee hearing predominantly women's voices. She told the Signpost:
||No single event made me start this. I simply got fed up with the hostility that I experienced and observed in many discussions and edit summaries. The antagonistic Wikipedia editing environment is one that most men (and some women) seem to embrace (or at least to endure), whereas most women (and some men) do not.
Lightbreather points to the Arbitration Committee's decision on the Gender Gap Task Force case as an example of the need to include more women's voices in Wikipedia discussions. That case was criticized by many both on and off Wikipedia (including Slate columnist David Auerbach; see previous Signpost coverage) for site-banning a female editor while issuing lesser sanctions to her two male antagonists. Lightbreather believes that a committee with a different gender composition would have reached a different conclusion:
||If there had been six men and six women (instead of 11 men and 1 woman), on that committee, either a) the one known woman editor who was banned would have had two known men editors for company, or b) the one known woman and the known men would have all been spared. However, what happened was c) the one known woman editor was banned and the known men were spared.
Lightbreather cites this article from Forbes entitled "Why Women Need Women-Only Networks" to explain why men agreeing to let women have space to flesh out ideas collaboratively alone is not sufficient.
Andreas Kolbe agreed, commenting, "What is clear (you only need to look at the GGTF discussions in the [English Wikipedia]) is that there should be a space where women can hear themselves talk and think about the gender gap without constantly having men take potshots at them, or otherwise undermining their efforts."
Lightbreather has created an area in her userspace she calls the "kaffeeklatsch" as a test area for her larger idea. As of press time, a miscellany for deletion discussion is ongoing.
Notably, Eric Corbett, who was topic banned from discussing Wikipedia gender issues on the English Wikipedia as a result of the Gender Gap Task Force arbitration case, wondered how this proposal would differ from previous ones to include only certain editors in a certain area of the encyclopedia: "I recall that in the not too distant past a project that selected membership on the basis of editors having written a GA/FA was deleted," he wrote. "The argument was that every page should be open to everyone to contribute to. What's the difference here?"
As for the discussion on Meta, although some support has been enthusiastic, much of it has been tempered. For example, LauraHale said, "Unless there is a way to address the underlying cultural issues that make Wikipedia such a hostile environment for women, this feels like trying to find a bandaid solution to a gunshot wound ... Something needs to be done though, and if a bandaid is it, then a bandaid it shall be."
Opposition to the proposal is largely three-pronged.
One view is that the proposal subverts the notion of equality of men and women. German Wikipedia user Martina Nolte wrote "The proposal is an attempt to enforce positive discrimination in favor of female contributors, and is highly polarizing and deviding [sic] the community." Meanwhile, an anonymous editor commented that the proposal "is antithetical to the notion that women are equal to men," to which Lightbreather responded that the comment "oversimplifies a complex problem."
The second recurring view is that it implies a direct contradiction with the principle that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia anyone can edit, and will not improve gender relations anyway. SuperHamster said, "Wikipedia is largely governed by the idea that anyone in the community can contribute to discussions; splitting off discussions to a women-only forum, in which men cannot contribute, comment, or offer constructive criticism is not something that fosters a community-driven environment. We need to find solutions that help integrate women into the community, not segregate." Lightbreather disagrees:
||I think it has more potential to advance the idea that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. When I first started actively editing on Wikipedia, I would have loved such a space. I desperately searched for women and found very few. I finally found a mature, woman mentor, and that saved me from quitting the project altogether.
The most prevalent view in opposition to the proposal centers on the WMF's non-discrimination policy, which states, "The Wikimedia Foundation prohibits discrimination against current or prospective users and employees on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristics."
Several editors reasoned that an area banning homosexuals, Muslims, or another group from a particular area on the encyclopedia would be preposterous, so banning men from a particular area of the encyclopedia would be equally preposterous.
Lightbreather said she would be fine with other minorities having their own spaces on Wikipedia as well. She went on to suggest, "First, let us try to recruit and retain more women editors. If relations worsen, let us have a discussion about it that is not dominated by men or women."
Presently, the idea remains in the idea formulation stage, but come April when the individual engagement grant review committee begins to accept applications, Lightbreather plans to submit one for her idea.
Although most agree the gender gap is a problem on Wikipedia, only time will tell if Lightbreather's uniquely drastic proposal is part of the solution.
- Editor's note: The author of this article has previously corresponded with the interview subject, including during a recent arbitration enforcement discussion.
Is Wikipedia for sale?
A few months ago, now-banned editor FergusM1970 linked to an attack page he had one of his friends write about me. In turn, this page linked to Fergus' Twitter and Elance accounts—the latter a privately owned clearing house for employers to post jobs, search for freelance professionals, and solicit proposals. It was there that I discovered one of the darker sides of Wikipedia.
On Elance, hundreds of posted jobs offer money to edit Wikipedia. Companies like the now-former Wiki-PR, which was involved in a paid advocacy scandal that encompassed hundreds to thousands of Wikipedia accounts and pages, will pay for articles about specific individuals and entities. Others ask to add links to drive traffic to other websites, and yet others are jobs to remove negative content. These jobs appear to be thriving, with tens of thousands of dollars changing hands each month.
With a little bit of looking around, it's fairly easy to determine which account wrote what content and for how much. A number of patterns became clear. Most individuals are undeclared paid editors. Many use a single sockpuppet for one or two jobs and then move on to the next account. One editor stated that they are an experienced Wikipedia administrator. Some were better at hiding their activities than others, with certain editors responsible for a trail of blocked accounts. Elance is just one of many e-commerce sites through which this sort of business is being transacted.
I've been grappling with a couple of questions since:
The next and more difficult question is if we disapprove of this activity, can we do anything about it?
The issue of link spamming appears to be fairly straightforward to address. A specific page has been set up to list all edits that remove a dead-link tag. This allows verification that spam-links are not being added as a replacement—a frequent tactic of spammers. Discussions are ongoing with respect to using WebCite to solve the dead-link issue once and for all. The owner is interested in having us take over its management, but I have been unable to determine whether the movement is interested in taking it on. One of the companies involved in adding links to Wikipedia articles, WikiLinkPro, is using the Wikipedia logo to promote itself, so WMF Legal and Community Affairs may consider addressing what appears to be breach of our logo trademark.
The issue of those who are paid to write articles about individuals and companies is harder to address. This editing is usually done through "disposable" accounts, and even if discovered, the content is sometimes kept. Thus we are left to presume that the person behind the account is still paid for their work. Although there has been talk of loosening up our attitudes towards disclosed paid editing, it's likely that for most of those involved, the incentives are less than the hazards of losing their anonymity. It would mostly just expose their work to greater scrutiny, as currently much of the time it goes undetected, which those who are attempting to promote individuals and companies prefer.
One of FergusM1970's last comments on Wikipedia was an offer to detect paid editors for a fee, seemingly oblivious to the irony of this. His suggested method would have been to patrol the major sites and request that they take down Wikipedia-related jobs. The policies of two of the larger websites in question do not allow jobs that violate the terms of service of other websites. I emailed them inquiring about this possibility and they agreed to take down the first user I reported. Now to look at doing this on a larger scale.
Another possible measure would be to keep a list of sockmasters known to be involved in paid editing, regularly run CheckUser on their accounts to identify further socks, and delete their additions. Other methods could comprise posting fake jobs on these sites to identify people offering editing services; however, this could be viewed as dishonest and thus likely not the best idea. How long this approach would be effective is unclear, as those involved would probably figure out ways to avoid detection. We could also look at efforts to generate bad press for the individuals and companies who use these services. The media, however, would likely get bored of this type of story.
This is not the first time that Wikipedia has come across an extensive network of clandestine paid advocacy. The Signpost reported in October 2013 that "An investigation by the English Wikipedia community into suspicious edits and sockpuppet activity has led to astonishing revelations that Wiki-PR, a multi-million-dollar US-based company, has created, edited, or maintained several thousand Wikipedia articles for paying clients using a sophisticated array of concealed user accounts."
A year and a half later, it is clear that neither the Foundation nor the English Wikipedia has worked out how to address this issue. The first account associated with Wiki-PR, Morning277, appeared during my recent investigations, suggesting that they may still be in business.
While disclosed paid editing is a lesser issue, it is not a panacea. The problem I have with disclosed paid editing is that it often turns the attention of the core community from working on articles of higher importance to ones of lower importance. For example, editor BlackCab previously engaged in disclosed paid editing on the article A2 milk, which resulted in much greater involvement than the subject deserves. IMS Health, Alexion Pharmaceuticals via Havas Lynx Medical, GlaxoSmithKline, and others are interested in providing this sort of service for their clients or themselves. While we can handle some, Wikiproject Medicine does not have the ability to handle hundreds of daily requests.
Over the last few weeks I have looked for interest in dealing with the dozens of clandestine paid editors I have stumbled on. Is anyone willing to take on the issue of paid editing? Even though the Foundation does not allow undisclosed paid editing, it is unclear who is supposed to enforce this and what mechanisms we have to detect it. The WMF's community advocacy team informed me that they do not have the staff to take this on and hopes the community will become involved in enforcement. The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee feels that they have no role in handling paid advocacy at this point in time—paid editing is not prohibited by policy, as they responded to me by email.
On-wiki remedies are hampered by our community policies. It is currently unclear if an editor is allowed to openly discuss specific cases on the encyclopedia. Our conflict of interest guideline may state that editors should "not edit Wikipedia in the interests of your external relationships", but the outing policy takes precedence, and it does not clarify if we are allowed to link to external sites suspected of being involved in paid advocacy. An request for comment seeking to clarify one aspect of this issue is ongoing here.
So is Wikipedia for sale? Unfortunately, the answer currently appears to be yes—but we can and should change this.
- The views expressed in these op-eds are those of the authors only; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should email the Signpost's editor.
Gamergate and Muhammad controversies continue
Media fallout from Gamergate arbitration case continues
Media fallout continues from the January 29 decision in the mammoth Gamergate arbitration case, which had 27 named parties, including this author, and resulted in sanctions against 13 of them. Initial media coverage of the case consisted of short pieces that mostly reiterated the contents of a January 23 story in The Guardian which contained some factual inaccuracies. Now that the case has been closed, some media outlets have published longer stories examining the matter more closely.
Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey wrote "Gamergate, Wikipedia and the limits of ‘human knowledge'" (January 29) in the Post's digital and Internet culture blog, The Intersect. Dewey pointed out a distinction that many Wikipedians complained was missing from media coverage of the case, that the Committee was not deciding on the merits of the Gamergate controversy or the contents of that article, but merely "judging the behavior of the site editors". Of that behavior, she wrote:
||Anti-Gamergaters claimed that their sworn enemies were “weaponizing Wikipedia” to promote a misogynist agenda and slander women in the gaming industry. Pro-Gamergaters identified five feminist Wikipedia editors whom they accused of bias and wanted driven off the site. Both sides alleged that organized factions plotted how to manipulate Wikipedia off-site, and then dove into the encyclopedia to carry out their ideological campaigns.
These accusations should sound fairly familiar because they’re issues Wikipedia faces with some regularity. On a site anybody can edit, how do you keep pranksters, libelists, PR firms and motivated ideologues from dropping in and mucking everything up? More pressingly, perhaps, how do you get all these different people to agree on one version of a controversial story?
She added that "the decision was a highly visible test of whether the Web site that millions of people turn to for facts can actually present facts in a fair and neutral way" and pointed out that to many, the Committee failed this test. She noted that critics "accused the [Arbitration Committee] of failing to support women more aggressively, an issue that goes straight to Wikipedia’s lengthy struggle against systemic bias."
||Solving that problem was, of course, not ArbCom’s explicit mandate. And members of the group are hopeful that by censuring some of the worst, most biased offenders, they’ll inch the Gamergate page—and all of Wikipedia—closer to objective truth.
But given all the ongoing drama, one wonders if there can ever be such a thing. Perhaps consensus doesn’t always work. Maybe even very well-meaning people can’t transcend their own inherent, unvoiced biases to the point of absolute objectivity.
Maybe human knowledge has its limits, even when it’s summed.
In Gawker, Andy Cush wrote "The Gamergate Decision Shows Exactly What's Broken About Wikipedia" (January 30). Cush noted that intital media coverage of the case focused on the fact that "Despite the organization's repeated insistence that it is not taking sides in the conflict, it ruled to punish five editors who were specifically targeted by a coordinated Gamergate attack." As a result "Wikipedia has launched a full-scale charm offensive...reassuring readers that Wikipedia remains committed to civility and a neutral point of view".
The fact that the decision sanctioned parties on both sides of the dispute has been held up as evidence that the decision was an equitable one, but according to Cush "the parity is precisely the problem." This is because Gamergate supporters targeted five Wikipedia editors in what was called Operation Five Horsemen. All five were sanctioned by the Committee, with two topic banned and one site banned. Cush wrote, "Whether the committee knew it or not, it was expressly doing the bidding of a group of Gamergaters who plotted to take control of the Wikipedia article … Operation Five Horsemen was a resounding success."
||... the Gamergate dispute is not a case of two opposing but equally reasonable parties in search of a compromise...supporters of Gamergate have fashioned Wikipedia into a weapon to be used against their targets...coordinating to revive dormant Wikipedia accounts for the sole purpose of making Gamergate edits. The so-called anti-Gamergate editors have fought to make sure that the movement is represented as it actually exists—a campaign against women and feminism in gaming under the guise of an ill-defined crusade about "ethics." One side is populated by people who are working in good faith to make Wikipedia a more accurate and useful resource; the other by malicious trolls. Each was reprimanded equally.
Cush warns of
||one of Wikipedia's most fundamental flaws: aside from the purely democratic groupthink of its editors, no mechanism exists for governing the site's content. If enough web-savvy pseudoscientists decided tomorrow to use Wikipedia to espouse the merits of phrenology, or a racist campaign in support of eugenics flooded the site, there's not much Wikipedia could do about it. Good editors would work against the crazies, of course, and if ArbCom found evidence of conduct violations it could punish the interlopers that way, but there's no system in place for Wikipedia's administrators to say, Your ideas are wrong, and they're not welcome here.
Cush compares the situation to that of the Croatian Wikipedia, which was taken over by "a group of far-right reactionaries" in 2013. The Wikimedia Foundation took no action and the country's Education Minister openly discouraged students from using the encyclopedia.
It should be noted that these articles cited the work of two critics who have been involved in the Gamergate dispute on Wikipedia. Dewey cited Slate commentator David Auerbach (Auerbachkeller), who had a long-running public spat with one key party, Ryulong, one of the "Five Horsemen" who was indefinitely site banned as a result of the case. Both Dewey and Cush cited Mark Bernstein (MarkBernstein), who was topic banned from Gamergate articles by this author and whose blog posts critical of Wikipedia were used as a source for the Guardian article and have been frequently cited in media coverage and commentary on this case.
Muhammad images continue to draw controversy
, from Michel Baudier
's Histoire générale de la religion des turcs
(1625), which briefly appeared in the Muhammad infobox on January 10
Also from Gawker's Andy Cush this week is an examination (January 26) of how Wikipedians dealt with the issue of depicting Muhammad in the wake of the January 7 Charlie Hebdo shooting. Cush puts it in the context of the long history of disputes regarding such images, including the 2008 petition drive to remove the images (see previous Signpost coverage) and the 2011 Muhammad images Arbitration case. Cush notes that the issue seems to have settled into a "status quo" with images depicting Muhammad remaining in relevant articles, while a calligraphic image of the prophet, a depiction which is common in the Muslim world, is used as lead infobox picture in the Muhammad article. This status quo is enforced through an FAQ page and a Talk:Muhammad/Images talk page dedicated solely to the issue of images in the article. Both pages provide or link to instructions so editors can modify their CSS page to prevent them from seeing those images. On the talk page, posts advocating removal of the images are common even without prompting from external events. For example, in April 2014, an editor advocated removing the images on the grounds of historical inaccuracy because they "contradict the well established historical fact: that Muhammad was incomparably good-looking."
Cush recounts that two days after the Hebdo shooting a new editor, Emin Čamo, opened another such discussion, advocating removal of the images on the grounds that they were "offensive" and "violent propaganda" which prompted riots. Established editors like Amatulic pointed out that "Wikipedia is not censored for the benefit of any particular group. That is a policy... All of what you say has been discussed before. If you have any new arguments to offer, you are welcome to present them." The discussion turned acrimonious, with Čamo declaring that "the arrogance of the editors on wikipedia is too big for a normal discussion" before abandoning the issue. Cush also offers an incident from the opposite perspective a day later. Andrew J.Kurbiko replaced the calligraphic image in the infobox of the Muhammad article with a 17th century Western depiction of the prophet, writing in the edit summary "its logical step to show His face after lastest [sic] Paris events. is consistent with the policies of Wikipedia. everyone has a face." The edit was reverted shortly over an hour later.
Paging Doctor Wikipedia
The Daily Mail reports (January 30) on the findings of a Research Now poll of 300 general practitioners in the UK. The poll found that 8 percent "regularly" consult Wikipedia to assist in a diagnosis, while 44 percent "sometimes" use it for this purpose. Some expressed concern at these findings, but Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said
||GPs are increasingly using good and helpful websites such as NHS websites and those of reputable charities in our consultations, which we flag up to patients as good sources of reliable information.
When Wikipedia is used, it is more of an aide memoire or shortcut to remind a GP of the name of a charity, for example, and any information needs to be used in the context of their underlying knowledge and understanding that it is not the definitive word on a subject. I think it is quite legitimate when it is used in that way.
- WikiGnomes of the world, unite and take over: In Medium, author Andrew McMillen profiles (February 3) Wikipedia editor Giraffedata and his obsessive and quixotic quest to rid Wikipedia of the ungrammatical phrase "comprised of". Giraffedata has amassed over 47 thousand edits since 2007 in pursuit of this goal and is one of the one thousand most prolific Wikipedia editors. Giraffedata's brother Laodah also got into the act in 2012, removing instances of the phrase "based around".
- Objection: In Mint, Alok Prasanna Kumar of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy charts the use (February 3) of Wikipedia in citations by Indian courts. The Supreme Court of India has not cited Wikipedia since 2011, though it continues to be cited by Indian High Courts. Kumar advocated that courts "abandon references to Wikipedia as an authority on anything."
- Disappointing Future Hearts: Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low denies rumors (February 3) to SugarScape that appeared in the Wikipedia article for his band's upcoming album Future Hearts. The rumor was that Calum Hood and Luke Hemmings of 5 Seconds of Summer had participated in writing the album.
- Philippine history: The Manila Standard Today reports (February 2) on the Philippine Cultural Heritage Mapping project to document historical sites in the country.
- Nigerian history: In the Premium Times, Ifeanyi Uddin discusses (February 1) the difficulties he had in creating Wikipedia articles on Nigerian sports figures of the 1970s and 80s due to the lack of reliable sources available digitally. He suggests Nigerians rise "to the challenge of properly documenting our history" through methods like digitizing Nigerian newspapers.
- "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member": In "Fighting the Wikipedia boys' club" (January 29), Dazed profiles Art+Feminism and their efforts to fight gender bias on Wikipedia.
- Editathon: Fast Company complains "Black History Matters, So Why Is Wikipedia Missing So Much Of It?" (January 29), listing some topics that will hopefully be improved at the February 7 editathon at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Huffington Post interviewed (February 2) Schomburg director Khalil Gibran Muhammad about the editathon.
- Book review: Times Higher Education reviews (January 29) Thomas Leitch's 2014 book Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority and Liberal Education in the Digital Age.
- Reliable sources: Courtney Johnston, Director of the Dowse Art Museum, writes "So You Want to Research a Wikipedia Article" (January 28), offering key web and print resources museum staffers used to create over 70 articles on New Zealand craft artists.
- Never Tear You Apart: Refinery29 offers "30 Heartbreaking Wiki Pages That'll Tear You Apart" (January 28).
The American Heartland
The American heartland appears to dominate the Report this week, with Chris Kyle leading the Report for another week, the film about his life at #3, and our #2 slot filled by the Royal Rumble wrestling event. A lot of other American topics including American football fill the list and the greater Top 25, this week, though India contributed the new film Baby at #13 and its annual Republic Day at #16 in the Top 25.
For the full top 25 list, see WP:TOP25. See this section for an explanation of any exclusions.
For the week of January 25 to 31, 2015, the 10 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the report of the most viewed pages, were:
||Down 50% from an astounding 5.3 million views last week, but still far and away enough to top the Report for another week. I find it rather surprising that Kyle's article and the American Sniper article have been quite so popular. Like the many occasions where wrestling events I've never heard of make the Top 25, these articles are tapping a segment of the American populace that is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the world and other cultural topics.
||Royal Rumble (2015)
||When I made the wrestling analogy above, I did not even know that #2 was going to be a wrestling event. This WWE pay per view event was held on January 25, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Roman Reigns (#22), who I have never heard of, won the "Royal Rumble" match.
||American Sniper (film)
||Consistent with the drop in views in #1, this is down from 1.5 million views last week, but still quite popular.
||The former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, black hole theorist, and latter-day science icon makes his 13th straight appearance in the Top 25 this week. Was Albert Einstein this consistently popular in his day?
||The president of the United States was more popular than usual this week (he had 359,000 views last week, and 200,000 the week before that), with views rising particularly around January 27.
||A big jump in views for this American founding father started on January 26, probably due to the Sons of Liberty three-part American miniseries.
||Auschwitz concentration camp
||In the news due to the 70th anniversary of its liberation.
||Star American footballer for the Seattle Seahawks, who does not like dealing with media, but popular in the run-up to Super Bowl XLIX held on February 1.
||A perennially popular article.
||Reddit learned (as did I) that "the symbol for bluetooth is a bind rune made from the pre-viking runes of the tenth century king, Harald Bluetooth's name."
It's raining men! (singing in the man-rain)
This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from 18 January 2015 through 24 January 2015. Text may be adapted from the respective articles and lists; see their page histories for attribution.
Three featured articles were promoted this week.
- Banksia lemanniana (nominated by Casliber) or Yellow lantern banksia is a species of woody shrub native to Western Australia and grows as a small tree to five metres (15 ft) high. This species, endemic to the area arround Fitzgerald River National Park, was named in honour of English botanist Charles Morgan Lemann. Banksiae are a group of plants that have spectacular cultivars that are used in garden design. Like most banksia, they have yellow, brownish, or orange flower spikes which look like lanterns. The flowers smell like honey and are dripping with nectar, making them especially attractive not only for gardens, but for birds and other organism such as the New Holland honeyeater, red wattlebird, honey bees, wasps, and ants. Like a phoenix, it is killed by bushfire and regenerates from its seed!
- Fuji-class battleship (nominated by Sturmvogel 66) was a two-ship class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the mid-1890s. A visit by two Imperial Chinese ironclads to Japan in 1891 forced the IJN to rethink their strategy of employing "cheap torpedo boats and commerce raiding to offset expensive, heavily armoured ships". The IJN ordered a pair of battleships from the United Kingdom, built to a Royal Navy design, as the Japanese "lacked the technology and capability to construct its own battleships." There was great difficulty in securing funding; after three attempts by the Japanese Diet to pass the funding measure failed, they finally passed it following an offer by the Emperor Meiji to fund the ships himself. The two battleships Fuji and Yashima were delivered by February 1898. They participated in the Battle of Port Arthur and in further operations in the Russo-Japanese War. Yashima sunk on 14 May 1904 after hitting a mine. Fuji survived the war and was converted to a coast defence ship in 1910 and an unarmed floating barracks in 1922. Damaged by American aircraft in July 1945, Fuji eventually capsized, and she was cut up for scrap in 1948.
- Lawrence Wetherby (nominated by Acdixon) (1908–1994) was an American politician who served as lieutenant governor and governor of Kentucky. He is the only governor in state history born in Jefferson County, despite the fact that Louisville, the county seat, is the state's most populous city. Wetherby was elevated to the position of governor in 1950 after Governor Earle C. Clements resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. Wetherby increased funding for education and government benefits by allocating money from the state's budget surplus. For this he was acclaimed, and he won the 1951 election to serve a full four-year term as governor. During his term, Wetherby authorized a massive road-building campaign, and encouraged the peaceful desegregation of the state's educational system.
Five featured lists were promoted this week.
played the title role in Yash Raj Films' most successful film of the 1980s: Chandni
- List of accolades received by Dallas Buyers Club (nominated by Cowlibob) This is a movie that, frankly, makes me a bit uncomfortable. It's about how the first successful AIDS drug, AZT, is poisonous, and how you should instead use some random crap given to you at a dodgy Mexican clinic. While it's apparently a very well-shot, well-acted film, following its claimed good idea for how to survive will probably get you killed. As I said: it makes me uncomfortable. However, it won three Academy Awards and a host of other accolades, as documented in this list, so it must have something going for it.
- List of Pakistan women Test cricketers (nominated by Khadar Khani) Cricket is a game played between two teams of eleven players in which a bowler bowls a ball at three sticks. On top of these sticks are two short sticks; the bowler's trying to knock these off, but in front of them is a batter who tries to hit the ball. The rest of the bowler's team are standing around, waiting to catch the ball. If any of a series of arcane events occur, such as the batter getting their leg in the wrong place or the spare batter running when they're not supposed to, the bowler shouts "Howzat", and an official in a white coat points their finger at the batter and makes them walk off. This game lasts several days, and is called a Test match because it's a test of the spectator's stamina. As of 2014, the Pakistan national women's cricket team have played three of these Test matches since their first appearance in 1998, and a number of other international matches. Twenty women have played Test matches for Pakistan.
- Morgan Freeman on screen and stage (nominated by Lady Lotus) American actor and director Morgan Freeman has had a prolific career on film, television, and stage. His film debut was as an uncredited character in the Sidney Lumet drama The Pawnbroker in 1964. Freeman also made his stage debut in the same year by appearing in the musical Hello, Dolly!. He followed this with further stage appearances in The Dozens (1969), Exhibition (1969), and the musical Purlie (1970–71). He played various characters on the children's television series The Electric Company (1971–77). Freeman subsequently appeared in the films Teachers in 1984 and Marie in 1985 before making his breakthrough with 1987's Street Smart In the 1990s, he was cast in numerous films, including the adventure film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) opposite Kevin Costner, drama The Shawshank Redemption (1994) with Tim Robbins, psychological thriller Seven (1995), historical drama Amistad (1997), crime thriller Kiss the Girls (1997), and science fiction disaster film Deep Impact (1998). His role in The Shawshank Redemption earned him a second nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor at The 67th Academy Awards. Morgan Freeman's voice is commercially valuable; the actor Josh Robert Thompson is his "official voice double" and has confused British TV audiences by appearing as "More Than Freeman" in insurance adverts.
- List of films released by Yash Raj Films (nominated by Krimuk90) Yash Raj Films (YRF) is an Indian entertainment company, established by Yash Chopra in 1970, that produces and distributes motion pictures. The company has produced 65 Hindi films, including three upcoming projects, and one Tamil film. YRF started a film distribution business in 1997 and, in addition to distributing their own productions, the company has handled the domestic and international distribution of 34 films from other companies. YRF's first release came in 1973 with the Chopra-directed Daag: A Poem of Love, a drama about bigamy, starring Rajesh Khanna, Raakhee, and Sharmila Tagore. The company had four more releases in the 1970s, including the family drama Kabhie Kabhie and the action film Kaala Patthar, both of which starred Amitabh Bachchan. YRF's sole commercial success in the 1980s was the Sridevi-starring romantic drama Chandni.
- List of accolades received by Kahaani (nominated by FrankBoy) Kahaani (English: Story) is a 2012 Indian mystery thriller film directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh. The film stars Vidya Balan as the protagonist, and features Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Saswata Chatterjee in supporting roles. The film was edited by Namrata Rao, with the cinematography provided by Setu. Set in the city of Kolkata during the festivities of Durga Puja, Kahaani follows the life of a pregnant woman, Vidya Bagchi, in search of her husband, a man whose existence is denied by the people she encounters. Made on a budget of ₹80 million (US$1.1 million), Kahaani was released on 9 March 2012 and grossed over ₹1.04 billion (US$14 million) worldwide after a 50 day theatrical run. The film garnered awards and nominations in several categories, with particular praise for its direction and the performance of the lead actress. As of 2014, the film has won 28 awards.
Argiope pulchella. Slowly the male approaches the female, trying to negotiate passage with coded vibrations on the web, and hoping she won't just eat him alive... So how's everyone else's dating life?
Dynjandi, an Icelandic waterfall. That doesn't end in "foss". What gives?
Thirty-nine featured pictures were promoted this week, mainly van Goghs.
Lichfield Cathedral, interior
- Goethe in the Roman Campagna (created by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, nominated by Hafspajen) Goethe in the Roman Campagna is a painting from 1787 by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, a German Neoclassical painter, depicting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe travelling in Italy, presently in the Städel museum. Since he was already rather famous following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, he travelled incognito, and called himself Filippo Miller, pittore, a rather phony alias we think. The Sorrows of Young Werther was a loosely autobiographical novel first published in 1774; its publication turning him from an unknown 24-year-old into one of the first international literary celebrities practically overnight. It also caused a breakout of "Werther Fever". Young men throughout Europe started to dress as Werther did in the novel, wearing yellow trousers and blue jackets, and also started taking their lives, as Werther did - the so called Werther effect. The hero shoots himself after an ill-fated love, and the book was banned in several countries after it sparked a wave of imitation suicides. The painting is a full-length portrait. Goethe is seated trying to look smart and cosy on a couple of uncomfortable ruins, gazing out through the landscape, wearing yellow Werther effect trousers; in deep thought, with his eyes resting at infinity, probably only wondering what he will have for lunch. His novel was set to music by Jules Massenet, as Werther, and made a fantastic opera. It has this neat trick where the opera itself gets more and more insular as Werther's obsession for Charlotte grows, so the opening is full of life, whereas the ending is essentially two people and an offstage chorus of children singing a Christmas carol as an ironic echo of happier times.
- Mr. and Mrs. Atherton (created by Arthur Devis, nominated by CorinneSD) Mr. and Mrs. Atherton were painted by Arthur Devis, who was an English portrait and landscape painter and restaurator of a considerable artistic reputation, with a studio in Great Queen Street, where he moved in 1745. He and Sherlock Holmes used to dine together. Oops, wrong century. No, he drunk his afternoon tea with Joshua Reynolds and Johann Zoffany instead. Devis depicted most of the sitters in imaginary yet realistic landscapes. The views and interiors were mostly invented by Devis, which explains how the people he painted had such tidy homes. The notable exception is Devis's portrait of Sir Roger Newdigate. Arthur had twenty-two children from two wives, of which two offspring, Thomas Anthony Devis (1757–1810) and Arthur William Devis (1762–1822), became painters. Devis's half-brother Anthony Devis (1729–1816) was also a painter. Not quite the Peale family, but getting there.
- Bellona (created by Rembrandt van Rijn, nominated by Crisco 1492) Bellona was an ancient Roman goddess of war. Bellona's main attribute is the military helmet worn on her head, and she often holds a sword, a shield, or other weapons of battle. Bellona is presented by Rembrandt as a rather plain woman with the "girl next door" look, whatever he meant by this statement. Her shield is decorated with the frightful face of Medusa, a version of Rubens' well-known painting of a severed Medusa's head.
- Saudade (created by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior, nominated by Pine) Saudade or, roughly translated, Longing, is a painting by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior (1850-1899), Brazilian artist and designer. At the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes, where he studied, his simple country speech and manners reportedly were the source of much interest and, one might suppose, amusement. His life ended tragically when he was stabbed to death by his cousin José de Almeida Sampaio, who had just learned about Júnior's long-standing affair with Sampaio's wife. Bad news, as depicted in the picture. Saudade is the feeling of love that remains after someone has gone for ever, a rather appropriate feeling after we have learned how he departed.
- Gold crown from Seobongchong Tumulus (unknown creator, nominated by Crisco 1492) The Crowns of Silla were made in the Korean kingdom of Silla in approximately the 5th to 7th centuries and are among the National treasures of South Korea. The Silla crowns are very fragile and were probably used only for formal and ceremonial occasions.
- Portrait of Henry VIII (created by the Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, nominated by Hafspajen and Crisco 1492) Henry VIII was a rather controversial person. Getting married to him was not exactly for life (well, it might be for your life... mwahaha.) - and one can wonder what kind of complexes Freud would have diagnosed in his daughters who witnessed their mothers killed by their father. This frantic and zealous divorcing and executing of spouses is said to had one goal, securing a male heir. Ironically, it was not the much-wanted boy (who died young) that preserved his legacy, but it was his daughter, in whom he never believed. (It might have been fate or a certain opinion in higher places about his evil doings.) No wonder though the poor Queen never married... This king, who never had much problems executing his enemies, friend, or wives, is presented here to us in a powerful and grand manner. Frankly, for the artist, probably the better decision. We sent a researcher back in time to paint a mocking picture of him. He... hasn't come back yet. We're a bit worried.
- Luncheon of the Boating Party (created by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, nominated by AgnosticPreachersKid ) Luncheon of the Boating Party, from 1881, is a painting by the French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The painting depicts a group of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise on the banks of the Seine in Chatou, France. The painter and patron of the Impressionists, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated at lower right. Renoir's future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with her terrier, Jacques Valentin Aristide d’Essoyes sur l’Ource. Fruit and wine are laid out on the table. Beside the table are men and women, the girls with hats and dressed up to the nines, the men in white wife-beaters, sweaty and much less restricted. Jacques is wearing a fur coat and no knickers; the fur coat is by Rex at Comme des Chiens (appointment necessary). We think Jacques is getting very hot under the collar.
- Haller Madonna (created by Albrecht Dürer, nominated by User:Crisco 1492) The Haller Madonna is an oil painting by Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), dating to around 1498, named after its owner, identified by the diminutive coat–of–arms in the lower left corner. The painting is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. On the front, the Madonna is painted in a sculptural way, with brilliant colours and beautiful eyes. The other featured painting by Dürer, Lot's Flight, is on the reverse of the Madonna and depicts the Biblical scene of Lot and his family with a landscape including a flaming town in the background. They are fleeing from the doomed city of Sodom. And Gomorrah. Since the two scenes are unrelated, it has been supposed that the panel was originally part of a diptych, with the other panel showing the donor next to Lot and his children. The two images were promoted as a set: How else could one handle such an unusual artwork?
- Sumela Monastery (created by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, nominated by րևանցի (Yerevantsi)) The Sumela Monastery (Moní Panagías Soumelá) is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Melá Mountain. Nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) facing the Altındere valley, it is a site of great historical and cultural significance, as well as a major tourist attraction.
- Argiope pulchella (created and nominated by Jeevan Jose) Argiope pulchella is a species of spider that ranges from India to China. The males are much smaller than the females and are often eaten if not careful enough when they approach the girls to declare them their love. The small husband in the picture is signaling desperately not to be mistaken for dinner... by so called "shuddering", vibrating with the web...
- The Embarkation for Cythera (created by Jean-Antoine Watteau, nominated by Alborzagros) The Embarkation for Cythera is a painting by the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau currently in Louvre, Paris. The painting is a sensual depiction of a "fête galante", an amorous celebration or party. The work celebrates love, with many cupids flying around the couples and pushing them closer together, as well as the statue of Venus and Amor. There are three pairs of lovers in the foreground. While the couple on the right by the statue are still engaged in their passionate tryst, another couple rises to follow a third pair down the hill, although the woman of the third pair glances back fondly at the goddess's sacred grove.
- The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (created by John Quidor, nominated by The Herald) The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) is a painting by American artist John Quidor, depicting a scene from Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". The painting is one of several by the artist based on scenes from Irving's written works about Dutch New York, including such paintings as Ichabod Crane Flying from the Headless Horseman (1828) and The Return of Rip Van Winkle (1849). It is currently displayed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C..
- Dynjandi (created by Diego Delso, nominated by Crisco 1492) Dynjandi (also known as Fjallfoss) is a series of waterfalls located in the Westfjords (Vestfirðir), Iceland. The waterfalls have a cumulative height of 100 metres (330 ft). That's the article in its entirety. Water meets cliff, water falls down cliff, cliff is so high, end of saga. But wait... the waterfall has seven tiers, each with its own name carved on a wooden board: Bæjarfoss, Hundafoss, Hrísvaðsfoss, Göngumannafoss, Strompgljúfrafoss, Hæstajallafoss, and, at the top the main one, Fjallfoss. We bet the Ferðamálastofa had a fun time thinking them up!
- The Miracle at the Grave of Elisha (created by Jan Nagel, nominated by Adam Cuerden) Elisha was a great prophet and a great wonderworker. The touch of his corpse served to resuscitate a dead man. A year after Elisha's death and burial a body was placed in his grave. As soon as the body touched Elisha's remains, the man '"stood up on his feet"' and went home. It has been said that this dead man was Shallum, son of Tikvah, keeper of the temple-wardrobe in the reign of Josiah and husband of Huldah the prophetess. So he went home and made a great fuss about having a meal immediately to the prophetess.
- Luncheon Still Life (created by John F. Francis, nominated by Hafspajen and CorinneSD) John F. Francis (1808 – 1886) was an American painter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who painted mostly still lifes. Inspired by Raphaelle Peale, Francis began to concentrate on that genre and became the leading practitioner of luncheon and dessert still life paintings. William H. Gerdts writes: "Of all the mid-century still-life specialists, Francis was the most painterly. There is often a freshness and a brio to his paint application that successfully balance his sure delineation of form and his establishment of texture."
- The Fall of the Titans (created by Cornelis van Haarlem, nominated by Adam Cuerden and Hafspajen) The Fall of the Titans is an oil painting of the Titanomachy made by the Dutch painter Cornelis van Haarlem from the collection of the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Denmark. Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem (1562 – 1638) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman and was one of the leading Northern Mannerist artists in the Netherlands. The painting illustrates a family matter, children who rise up against their parents, since most of the Titans were an older generation of gods, while the Olympians who won were the younger generations who would come to reign on Mount Olympus. Cronus attacked his father Uranus and with a sickle cut off Uranus' genitals, casting them into the sea.
- Choir looking west, choir looking east, high altar, columns in the nave, organ, and exterior view of Lichfield Cathedral (created by David Iliff, nominated by National Names 2000) Another magnificent set of photos by David Iliff, these show Lichfield Cathedral, situated in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, which is dedicated to St. Chad and St. Mary. Built of sandstone, it is notable as the only medieval English cathedral which still has three spires (Lincoln Cathedral lost 'em). The cathedral was the last thing Robert Greville saw before he became the first person ever to be killed by a sniper, one who'd hidden himself behind the parapet at the base of the main spire. We're pretty sure it's the last thing he saw, because he was shot in the eye. Greville was besieging the cathedral at the time; he was a Roundhead and the place was being held by the Cavaliers. Two days later, on 4 March 1643, they surrendered to Dyott's successor, Gell. The cathedral was retaken by the Royalists a month later when Prince Rupert of the Rhine affirmed Lichfield's position at the leading edge of military technology by exploding Britain's first mine under the close. Somewhat damaged, the cathedral was repaired several times, but it wasn't until Sir George Gilbert Scott undertook its restoration in the 19th century that some of its medieval splendour was regained.
- Interior with Portraits (created by Thomas Le Clear, nominated by Alborzagros)Interior with Portraits is an 1865 genre scene painted by American artist Thomas Le Clear. The painting features two children, James and Parnell Sidway, posing for a photograph in an artist's studio. The painting was commissioned by the subjects' older brother, Franklin Sidway. Parnell died of illness as an adolescent; James, a volunteer firefighter, died in a hotel fire at the age of 26, shortly before the painting was commissioned. Both children were painted posthumously from family daguerreotypes. Some painters of the time regarded photography with suspicion and refused to use photographs as references for portraits. The painting is filled with references to this tension: The children are surrounded by painted portraits and the photographer's back is to the viewer with his face obscured. The girl appears to be supporting the boy and holding him still, as might have been necessary when posing a child for an early photograph due to the long exposure time. A dog is depicted just entering the studio, another acknowledgement of early photography's limitation to still subjects.
- Barge Haulers on the Volga (created by Ilya Efimovich Repin, nominated by Alborzagros) Barge Haulers on the Volga, or Burlaki, is an 1870–1873 oil-on-canvas painting by the Russian realist painter and sculptor Ilya Repin. This painting depicts eleven Russian peasants hauling a large boat upstream on the Volga River. The burlaks seem to almost collapse forward in exhaustion under the burden. Although they are presented as stoical and accepting, the men have largely surrendered to their inhuman fate, the hard conditions and the hopeless lives they lived which has defeated them. Only one stands out: in the center of both the row and canvas, a brightly coloured youth fights against his leather binds and stands upright. A little golden cross is seen on his chest, the Russian people's secret strength that kept them upright under all hardships and poverty during their turbulent history. This painting is regarded as the beginning of Russian realism, though it is more sophisticated then those that followed.
- Vincent van Gogh Wheat Field Set: Enclosed Field with Ploughman; Wheat Field with Alpilles Foothills in the Background; Harvest in Provence; Ploughed Fields ('The Furrows'); Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background; Wheat Field with Reaper; Peasant Woman Binding Sheaves; Green Wheat Field with Cypress; Wheat Field in Rain; Landscape from Saint-Rémy; Wheat Field with Cornflowers; Enclosed Field with Peasant; Wheat Field with Crows; and Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds (created by
Frans Hals Vincent van Gogh, nominated by The Herald, Hafspajen, Atsme, and CorinneSD) Wheat Fields (Van Gogh series) is a series of paintings made by Vincent van Gogh. The wheat field works demonstrate his progression as an artist from the worst rather colourless fields he painted in 1885 in the Netherlands to the colorful, dramatic paintings from Arles and other rural parts of France. Van Gogh was planning from the beginning to became a minister, but the religious community rejected him when Vincent began to give away most of his food and clothing to the poverty-stricken people under his care. Van Gogh, when failing to find a vocation in ministry, was painting instead themes that were related to the sacrament: vine and bread - the bread that came from the crops of the fields. Van Gogh's brushstrokes in staccato are especially suited to depict the straws of the wheat field, giving them a special look and life... Van Gogh continued entire his artistic career to depict wheat fields. The Van Gogh Museum's Wheat Field with Crows was made in July 1890, in the last weeks of Van Gogh’s life, and many art historians have claimed that it was his very last work. Wheat Field with Crows, to be honest, has a spooky feeling over it, with dark skies and the scary black birds hovering over the scene. The dramatic cloudy sky filled with crows over a wheat field that looks abandoned while at the same time turbulent, and the painting beside all this gives also a feeling of disorientation ...there are three ways to go but none of them looks leading anywhere...
Slamming shut the GamerGate
I had hoped to ease into this new role, but alas I seem to have picked the worst time of year to start reporting on the Arbitration Committee's business! I thought I had a good appreciation of the arbitrators' workload, but I now have an entirely new grasp of just how many pages they have to monitor and how closely. There are case requests, clarification requests, and motions—at least two of which are permanently near the top of my watchlist (a watchlist which includes plenty of busy pages)—the committee noticeboard and its talk page, and then there are the open cases—each with their evidence and workshop pages (and their respective talk pages!). That's before we even consider the various private mailing lists to which we mere mortals are not privy. The number of rabbits of which to keep track is dizzying.
This has been another busy fortnight for the committee. At the time of writing, one case has been closed, two cases remain open, another is undergoing a review, and four clarification or amendment requests remain open. Additionally, the committee has been attending to various other business including housekeeping motions and the beginning of a round of functionary appointments.
This fortnight's business
After two months, the GamerGate case, the largest and most complex in recent memory finally reached its conclusion shortly before the publication of last week's Signpost. That issue's "In focus" covered the case in detail, but to summarise: ArbCom has authorised discretionary sanctions for the broad topic area of "(a) GamerGate, (b) any gender-related dispute or controversy, [or] (c) any persons associated with (a) or (b), all broadly construed." The intent of this is to prevent disruption from this dispute spreading to similar topics. It also gives administrators broad powers to impose blocks, topic bans, or other restrictions on any editor who does not behave appropriately after being made aware of the discretionary sanctions. In addition, 13 individual editors were sanctioned, with sanctions ranging from admonishments to topic bans (with the same scope as the discretionary sanctions) and a single siteban (passed at the last moment due to continuing disruption).
The case attracted media attention in its final stages, and since its closure has been the subject of lengthy and heated discussion on the talk page of the committee's noticeboard. According to the Washington Post, "when Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee (basically the site's Supreme Court), issued a final ruling on Gamergate on Wednesday, they weren't merely slapping the wrists of the bickering few still obsessed with 'ethics in video games'; rather, the decision was a highly visible test of whether the Web site that millions of people turn to for facts can actually present facts in a fair and neutral way." The Post article, which was illustrated with a screenshot of the warning notices at the top of the GamerGate talk page, accurately pointed out that ArbCom's ruling were not on GamerGate itself or the content of the relevant Wikipedia article, but rather on the behaviour of the editors involved and likened arbitrators to "referees at a particularly brutal soccer game: They can dish out red cards and penalties to individual players, but they don't actually decide which side should win". (For more on the Post's article, please see In the media.)
Meanwhile, the article is being heavily edited, its lengthy spell of full protection (locking so that only administrators can edit) having recently come to an end. Arbitrator Roger Davies told the Signpost last week that he expected it would be a "week or two" before the effects of the decision started to be fully felt. Further developments will be reported in the "News and Notes" and "In the media" sections in coming weeks.
At press time, the arbitrators' proposed decision in this case was expected imminently. The workshop phase officially concluded on 30 January, though some discussion is still going on. This is not nearly so large a case as GamerGate, so arbitrators and clerks seem less concerned with closing off discussions (in the GamerGate case, parties added evidence and workshop proposals minutes before the deadline, forcing the deadlines to be extended to allow other parties to respond to allegations against them, and the pages had to be fully protected to enforce the revised deadlines). The case concerns allegation which have been floating around for a year now, namely that Wifione has been conducting a subtle but persistent campaign to promote an Indian business school and to denigrate its competitors, including by manipulating biographical articles of people associated with the institutions. Extensive evidence has been presented by half a dozen editors, and Wifione has presented a five-thousand-word rebuttal. In the workshop, several editors have made proposals, all of which revolve around different levels of restrictions and sanctions for Wifione, with the exception of Wifione's own proposals, which advocate for sanctions against several editors making the allegations. The target date for the proposed decision is 5 February.
This is another large case regarding sexuality, which appears to be the hot-button topic on the wiki at the moment. Although a dozen parties are listed, the evidence phase was due to close at the time of writing, yet only five editors had presented evidence. Despite the apparently broad scope of the case, the parties appear to be primarily concerned with litigating on a long-running edit war on the Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism article, although the issues appear to have spread to some extent to similar articles about other denominations. The workshop is open until 11 February, and the proposed decision is due on 18 February.
This is a slightly unorthodox case. The original Infoboxes case was litigated in the middle of 2013 and closed in September of that year. The main party to the case, Pigsonthewing was prohibited from "adding or removing infoboxes". Since then, there have been multiple enforcement requests surrounding Pingsonthewing's participation at Templates for Discussion and in other fora regarding the technical implementation of infoboxes; these in turn have led to multiple clarification requests due to what many editors felt was the ambiguous wording of the remedy. The latest request suggested resolving the perceived ambiguity by adding the word "to articles" to the end of the remedy, but arbitrators failed to reach a decision on this request. To break the stalemate, a review has been opened to answer the question of whether the remedy is fit for purpose. Evidence is being accepted until 10 February.
Four request for clarification or amendment were open at the time of writing:
- A request from Lightbreather for an interaction ban with Hell in a Bucket, arising from the Interactions at GGTF case,
- A clarification request regarding arbitration enforcement arising from the Arbitration Enforcement sanction handling case (specifically on the extent to which administrators can act unilaterally in imposing sanctions); this appears to have become bogged down in the minutiae of enforcement procedures and the difference between the enforcement of specific remedies (e.g., topic bans, imposed by ArbCom as a direct result of a case) and discretionary sanctions (authorised by ArbCom but imposed by any uninvolved administrator),
- A request from Cambalachero for several articles to be exempted from their topic ban from Latin American subjects (imposed in the Argentine History case; arbitrators appear to be receptive to the request, and a motion has been proposed that would allow the exemption but allow it to be revoked by an uninvolved administrator in the event of misconduct; the motion has 13 arbitrators in support and none in opposition and so is likely to be enacted before the next "Arbitration report";
- A request from Mythdon to lift restrictions imposed in the 2009 Ryulong case (unrelated to the GamerGate case, to which Ryulong was also a party).
- Cases renamed: "Dbachmann" has been renamed to Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Ancient Egyptian race controversy in order to fit the convention that cases with active discretionary sanction provisions are not named after an individual editor; and "Footnoted quotes" has been renamed to Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Editing of Biographies of Living Persons for clarity, given that the previous title belied the fact that the case authorises the broadest set of discretionary sanctions so far authorised.
- Landmark Worldwide sanctions: The Landmark Worldwide case was amended by motion to authorise discretionary sanctions for the topic area.
- BASC RfC: A request for comment has been opened regarding the Ban Appeals Subcommittee (BASC) and includes various proposals, including removing responsibility for ban appeals from ArbCom and placing it with a panel of administrators.
- Fancy becoming a clerk? The Arbitration Committee clerks are still seeking new recruits; interested editors are asked to email the clerks' mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Functionary appointments: For the first time since 2013, ArbCom is inviting applications for checkuser and oversight access; because of the nature of the information such tools give access to, candidates must (inter alia) be over the age of 18, provide proof of identity to the Wikimedia Foundation, and be an administrator. Expressions of interest are currently being sought, and candidates will be required to complete a questionnaire and return it by the end of 17 February (UTC), after which there will be an extensive vetting process with the aim of appointing successful candidates by the end of March.
Dicing with death – on Wikipedia?
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.
This space has covered some more ebullient projects recently - Articles for creation, Urban studies and planning, and Microsoft, to name a few. However, we must sometimes remember to look at the other end of the spectrum, such as this WikiProject where a small band of dedicated editors seek to improve articles relating to a less lively topic. If you haven't yet guessed, this week's focus is WikiProject Death.
With 38 participants, the project, founded in 2009, is on the small side, but it is certainly active and looks after a large range of articles on all things death-y. From morgues, legal documents, and zombies to autopsies, cremations, and statistics, the topic is a sombre but necessary part of life that nobody outside of the "business" really talks too much about. To find out more, we spoke to the project founder Geniac, along with Boneyard90 and Cloptonson.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Death? As it is such a morbid-sounding topic, it seems an unusual project to join.
- Boneyard90: I am an anthropologist. Some of my specialties include osteology, forensic anthropology, and paleopathology. These are all fields in which understanding the state of human remains is of paramount interest. It seemed my professional and personal interests overlapped with articles in the project, and I became involved in WikiProject Death fairly soon after I started editing Wikipedia.
- Cloptonson: My interest is primarily historical, and I was editing pages under the project before I joined the project. I contribute details of notable people who were buried, cremated or commemorated at particular cemeteries, crematoria and military memorials; Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries, graves or memorials to the missing; give details of burial or cremation places to biographical articles; mention known death causes and discuss circumstances where the death is in complicated or disputed circumstances. Visiting churchyards and cemeteries has been one of my lifetime hobbies to look for famous or unusual graves or memorials.
- Geniac: I created the project when I saw that there was some discussion around about the idea, but those discussions never quite got to the point of actually starting one. IIRC, there was a hangup regarding what the project scope could possibly be. Now in it's fifth year, we've found plenty of articles to take under our wing.
Have you contributed to any of the project's forty-one Featured or 113 Good articles, and are these sort of articles generally easier or harder to promote than other subjects?
Can you explain your scope: what sort of articles qualify to be tagged under this project and what areas you don't cover?
- Boneyard90: The front page sums it up well. Cemeteries, massacres, concepts or beliefs related to death, and people noted for expanding our understanding of death or had some death so notable that it has its own article.
- Geniac: The project scope has expanded over time to include a wide variety of topics including medical and physical aspects of death, social customs, capital punishment, grief, life insurance, massacres, cemeteries, plane crashes, the afterlife and people known for their role in deaths like Jack Kevorkian. We've also hammered out topics that are out of scope such as wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, serial killers and people who just happen to now be dead.
An eerie, dusty coffin in a German crypt
... exactly the kind of pictures that may be relevant!
The "Suicide task force" is a named subdivision of this project. What specifically does that cover, and is there very much activity within the task force compared to WikiProject Death as a whole?
- Boneyard90: The Suicide Task Force covers any topic that deals with suicide, not only the concepts, but other acts or organisations that are related to suicide. This was a separate wikiproject that had lost some membership in which one editor too the initiative to annexe it into WP:Death. It made sense, especially as tagging an article for both projects seemed redundant.
What is your most popular topic or article, measured by reader page views? Should it be a project aim to improve your highest visibility articles?
- Cloptonson: I have not yet produced any articles on any topic, my work so far has been editing existing ones. It is easy to squeeze editing into spare time from a full time job which is a 40-mile round commute and domestic activity. I may graduate to production later.
- Geniac: Probably the highest view-count would be the Deaths in 2015 article (or whatever year it happens to be) at around 60,000 views a day. The main-topic Death article gets around 1,500 views a day. Sinking of the RMS Titanic gets around 1,000 a day. That one and Funerary art are currently our only two FA-class, High-importance articles.
How can a new member help today?
- Boneyard90: A new member can help mostly by expanding existing articles that fall short of B-class or checking, finding, and adding sources to articles where they are lacking.
- Cloptonson: A new member can help by expanding existing articles on cemeteries that are at stub stage and adding names of (preferably with existing Wikipedia articles that can be linked) for listing as notable burials, cremations or commemorations.
- Geniac: A new member can help by expanding articles; we have over 1,000 stubs to work on. They can tag article talk pages with the project banner. Also see our Articles needing attention section on the main project page for a list of articles that need work.
Security issue fixed; VisualEditor changes
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Latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. Translations are available.
- There was a security issue on Wikimedia Labs. Many Labs tools were down after the issue was fixed. 
Software changes this week
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- The new version of MediaWiki has been on test wikis and MediaWiki.org since January 14. It will be on non-Wikipedia wikis from February 3. It will be on all Wikipedias from February 4 (calendar).
- The "Save page" button in the VisualEditor toolbar is now blue rather than green. This is the same as on the mobile site. 
- You can now edit pages on the draft namespace with VisualEditor on the Russian Wikipedia and Hebrew Wikipedia. You can ask to get VisualEditor for a namespace on your wiki. When your community agrees, ask in Phabricator.  
- The "Gallery" will be an occasional Signpost feature highlighting quality images and articles from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons based on a particular theme, as well as an article you could help improve. Please let us know what you think of this or any of our new features in comments.
- Sunday was the 103rd birthday of American author Langston Hughes. A Google doodle celebrated his life and work and resulted in a huge spike in traffic to his Wikipedia biography.
Article for improvement: Langston Hughes (1902-1967). This article on a key American author is only rated a B-class but with some work could easily reach good article status.
"What happens to a dream deferred?
- Does it dry up
- like a raisin in the sun?"
"I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset."
"Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
- I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
- He did a lazy sway..."
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It's a wonder you don't fall down."
"Samarkand! Green-curled Samarkand! City of Tamerlane, the Earth Shaker; before that city of Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols; and before that the sporting ground of Alexander the Great, who murdered within its gates his old friend, Clitus, when both were drunk with wine three thousand years ago, Samarkand, flourishing center of Arabic culture in the twelfth century; seat of the ancient observatory of Ulug Beg; golden name to the Venetian merchants in those Middle Ages of silks from Cathay and spices from Samarkand; lovely song-city of the Oriental poets; city of the turquoise domes - Samarkand! Green-curled Samarkand."
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