Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)

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The miscellaneous section of the village pump is used to post messages that do not fit into any other category. Please post on the policy, technical, or proposals pages, or – for assistance – at the help desk, rather than here, if at all appropriate. For general knowledge questions, please use the reference desk.
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Why doesn't the mobile version show red links?[edit]

It it because it is thought to be too difficult to begin articles using the mobile version? I tend to think of wp:redlinks as great things, as long as they are placed where articles or redirects should be created. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:39, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Hm yes, seems they show as plain text w/o link or colour. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:41, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
I think this is covered in phab:T57500. I didn't read the whole conversation (it is long), but I think it's because article creation flow on mobile isn't finished. Killiondude (talk) 00:09, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for finding that. I see that conversation ended in June 2014. Any ideas on the location of an updated thread, User:Mdennis (WMF)? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:33, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Melamrawy (WMF) is the person to ask about that. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 04:32, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Repeatedly recreated user page[edit]

I have discovered a user Allen terry (talk · contribs) who is persistently recreating the page User:Melanie Specht. This is a user page of a user that doesn't exist, and is being deleted as U2 every time it is created. What I would normally do in a case where a page keeps being recreated is request its create protection. However, since it's a user page, I'm afraid it would present a problem in case someone comes by and wants to register that name. I have two options:

  • Request create protection on that page. This will stop the persistent disruptive editing on that page, but will present a problem if someone registers that username and wants to create their user page.
  • Register that username myself, and create a page to go along with it (to disclose its connection to me), and request that the page be protected. If someone wants to register that name, they can contact me (how?) and I'll have the username of that account changed so that they can register it. More complicated, but doable.

What should I do? Gparyani (talk) 19:39, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Right now he is blocked for 7 days. He can't do anything. This isn't the only page he has done this with. He makes userpages out of articles and says he is using them to practice editing. If he comes back and does the same thing again, there is a good possibility he will be indefinitely blocked. -- GB fan 19:55, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
@GB fan: See below for combined response. Gparyani (talk) 00:01, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

How about an Edit Filter to stop them creating pages in user space, except for their own?. - X201 (talk) 20:36, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

@X201: Given that he's created "test" pages in the userpages of many users, this may be beneficial. However, I'll only request this filter if he does this after his block expires and/or uses sockpuppets to evade the block. Gparyani (talk) 00:04, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
Why, instead of deleting them, does someone not move his test pages to his own userspace? E.g. User:Allen terry/Melanie Specht? That way he can experiment all he wants, and maybe he'll get the picture that drafts and sandboxes go in HIS userspace. ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 16:16, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
@ONUnicorn: Because they're eligible for deletion under criterion G2. Also, some have been moved, but have later been deleted while in his own userspace. Gparyani (talk) 20:41, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
@Gparyani: No, they're not eligible under G2. G2 "does not apply to pages in the user namespace".~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 14:27, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
@ONUnicorn: Sorry, I meant U2 :( Gparyani (talk) 16:41, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
@Gparyani: But if we moved them to his own userspace they wouldn't be eligable for U2 either, because they'd no longer be pages of non-existent users. (see my original comment) P.S. That said, looking at his talk page, I see others have tried that approach to no avail. ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 18:02, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
@ONUnicorn: Then why were they deleted while they were in his own userspace, then? Also, the redirect would be eligible for U2 unless it is moved without leaving a redirect. Gparyani (talk) 23:16, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Searching for URLs in article space[edit]

There is a way to find all usages of, say, nytimes.com in article-space but I cannot recall it offhand. Anyone here know? A WP page that lists those sorts of helpful search aids in one location would be desirable too, if one exists. Thanks. Tarc (talk) 14:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Not sure you can limit it by namespace but Special:LinkSearch.©Geni (talk) 16:35, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
^ That's the one Tarc wants. Special:Search does a pretty good job of this now also, and you can use regex if you want there. --Izno (talk) 16:38, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Yep that was the one. Rooting out some leftover copyvios, thanks. Tarc (talk) 19:51, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Reverting, newcomers, and old folks[edit]

I've been contributing since 2004. I've contributed a fair amount, and so far this year, about 10% of my carefully-crafted edits have been reverted. [1][2][3] Is this par? Are my old-school sensibilities so far out of touch with the modern ways? Restructure, improve, build upon - but preferably not revert unless it's wrong or detrimental. And while I can agree that those contributions weren't necessarily in keeping with featured article status, I obviously thought they improved the articles a little bit.

I'm not really worried about these three edits so much as I am about what reverts such as those might do to our editor pool. If our standards are so high going in that a casual contributor cannot participate without rebuke, then we will have no more casual contributors. Should we make it a little harder to revert? (Probably not because those tools are indispensable for fighting vandalism.) Should we highlight that "revert" and "undo" operations are chiefly for vandalism and edit tests? What else can we do to make Wikipedia a friendlier place for the occasional editor? -- ke4roh (talk) 18:21, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

The problem with the casual, occasional editor is that they tend to make bad edits. It's a choice between content quality and friendliness. If one chooses to edit without learning something about editing principles, I don't see how they can reasonably be offended by an 80% revert rate. And yet, most are. Despite giving this a lot of thought, I don't see a solution if we're to continue to allow casual editing. We might consider toning down the "Encyclopedia anyone can edit" marketing slogan a bit, since it's very misleading. ―Mandruss  18:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
ke4roh, yes, things have gotten that bad. Yes, that's the #1 cause of the declining population of active editors: we get willing newbies, and we promptly chase them off. When someone has already made thousands of edits, like you, then they tend to put up with it, but when it happens to new people, they leave.
There are small things that could be done, such as using User:EpochFail/NICE to remind reverters to think about what they're doing, especially when they want to revert trivial changes, such as whether a location ought to be linked as "[[Palmdale, California]]" or as "[[Palmdale, California|Palmdale]], California", which nobody can honestly is an example of maintaining "quality" rather than "imposing my personal preference". If we were serious about this (and I'm sorry to say that we've not been), we could even fix up User:EpochFail's well-researched script to be a gadget that is enabled by default.
There are important things that we could do, like reminding each other that reputable daily newspapers aren't required to cite their sources (just like the last question in the FAQ has said for years) and that the actual WP:BURDEN to prove that something is verifiable (NB verifiable, not 100% scientifically proven) is fully met by providing a source to any source that seems reasonably reliable (such as any news story in any reputable daily newspaper). We could try to find people who actually collaborate and build upon other people's edits, rather than reverting, and thank them and encourage them and maybe even try to act like them.
Finally, there might be some technical things that we could do. I think that a good deal of ham-fisted reverting would stop if you could tick a box to revert only the change to this paragraph while keeping the change to another line. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:29, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Mandruss, there's been a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the motto ought to be "the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit". WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing. I agree with what you both said above. I've only been editing for a week and I already want to quit based on what I have seen. I haven't gotten any nasty messages yet but I have looked at a lot of edit summaries and seen a lot of talk page messages and interactions and its not a very appealing nor is it inviting. I saw a user get threatened and blocked earlier today by an admin for 60 days for what I would assume was at worst a snide comment or at best a lighthearted compliment. I have also seen several people just in the last 2 weeks acknowledge there are problems as you did, so I wonder, if people know there are problems, why not do something to fix the rather than watch them continue? Is there a mechanism or group in place in this site to advocate for changes or act as the champion for improvement projects? Giraffasaurus (talk) 22:19, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
@Giraffasaurus: A 60-day block is not normally handed out for a small matter. I've checked through about 12 hours worth of the block log, and 595 of the last 1000 blocks were for 60 days, and all of those 60-day blocks were imposed by ProcseeBot (talk · contribs) (examples); see its user page for further information. --Redrose64 (talk) 23:33, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for the response Redrose and after a little more review it seems the user does have some history, even then though, I see nothing that would warrant a 2 month block and I do not see where the statement was a personal attack or harassment. The link to the block I am referring to is here. In any case, this is only one example of many I have seen in a very short period of time. It just seems like the site isn't very social or collaborative to one another and given that it was mentioned as such above and referred to in other discussions on the site in the last couple weeks, I would get the impression that enough people agree that its a problem to think that they probably have a point. For what its worth also, I looked at the blocks for that Procsee bot and most of those are pointless blocks of IP's (proxies or otherwise) that have never edited. It should be noted that it used to be a trait of hackers to use proxies but more and more places are using them for security reasons to protect and compartmentalize their own systems. So IMO the site shouldn't be blocking something "preventatively" unless they can prove that its actually preventing something. Just my opinion. Giraffasaurus (talk) 00:18, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
When someone is blocked repeatedly, each block tends to be longer than the one before. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:29, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Sure, but blocking someone for 2 months seems like an awful long time for something that doesn't even appear to be Vandalism, Personal attacks or harassment as the block summary indicates. Anyway, its just an opinion and a perception. If someone blocked me for even a month and accused me of harassment for a comment like the one that was left, I would not be back. I may just be naive, but I do not think a block of more than a week should be done except in rare circumstances like threats, an actual personal attack or vandalism. This just doesn't rise to that level to me. It just seems like people are too eager to block people for minor things rather than being willing to work collaboratively that's all. Giraffasaurus (talk) 02:02, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Ah, so the block in question wasn't 60 days (or even 2 months) - it was 59 days - that's why I couldn't find it in the block log. I see that the block log entry includes a link Attacks and bating. As WhatamIdoing notes, repeat offenders typically get a block that is longer than the previous one; in this case, the previous block was 1 month, and had expired less than two months earlier. When an admin blocks a user, they have three ways of setting the length of the block: they can enter a time and date for the expiry; they can enter a duration (as in this case, 59 days); or they can select a length from a list. In that selection list, 1 month is followed by 3 months, so it's probable that the blocking party wished a duration in between those values, and entered 59 days manually. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:41, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Redrose64 - Fair enough, I understand the reasoning and I won't dwell on it, but I still think a 59 day block for something as trivial as the comment in question is a bad faith assumption. I read the editors blocks and the edits that seemed to lead to them and frankly they just do not seem that bad. It just doesn't seem to benefit this website by blocking people for that long of a period of time for what seems to be a misunderstanding and bad faith assumption of what the user meant in the statement. Do people not know how to simply ignore the comment? I do not see anyone telling the editor not to edit that page or interact with the person, I see there is a restriction on an extremely broad topic area that frankly can be linked to nearly anything with some imagination. It just seems to me there are better, more mature ways to address the situation than to simply block them for 2 months in the apparent hope that action drives them from the site. Which may be a bad faith perception on my part, but that's what it looks like to me when someone is blocked for more than a 1 week. Anything longer than that is only going to punish a long term contributor, not some vandal or troll who can just throw the account away and create a new one whenever they want. Anyway, this is sort of a tangent from the topic at hand anyway, I just wanted to note my perception to these types of situations (that seem to occur commonly) as someone who is new here. It just doesn't seem to be a very positive environment and I frankly do not know how long I am going to stay myself. I just see too much negatively and ugliness between interactions all over. The comments being left in the drafts, the comments being left in blocks, on talk pages, etc. Its all over. Its pretty clear there no one is making much of an attempt to keep things civil and that reflects in the decreasing interests in the site. Anyway, again, just my 2 cents. Take it for what its worth. Giraffasaurus (talk) 18:15, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Script[edit]

@WhatamIdoing: FYI: I have a small (and experimental) script (based on a feature from AWB) which lets us undo part of the changes in a diff preview, by double clicking on them while pressing CTRL. Helder 20:00, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Helder. Does that require AWB? I'm a Mac-only person, so AWB doesn't work for me. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:29, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: Not really. It is just that I wanted to have on diff pages a functionality which I first saw in AWB, so I started that user script. Helder 15:00, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Helder. Does it have to be installed globally? I added it locally, and I don't know if it doesn't work if it's en.wp-only or if I've done something else wrong. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:16, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
It works on enwiki, as far as I know. And you can install it only here if you want. How did you test it? Try to make a change to some page, and click on show changes. Then, use CTRL+double click in some of the changes displayed in the diff, to undo them. Helder 18:13, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Here's my test diff, Helder.[4] It should be easy to undo just part of it. There's no visible difference after installing the script (did I install it correctly?). When I control-double-click on something to undo, I get the same browser menu as if I control-click on any webpage, or any other part of this page. Would you mind trying it out, and undoing any part of that diff? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:39, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: currently, it only works when you have an edit box below the diff, i.e., when you press "Show changes" to see a diff. Try again on this preview, where the edit area is visible. Helder 12:31, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I just read Wikipedia:Contact us - Readers for the first time. "Anyone can edit Wikipedia. Just hit the 'edit' button on the top right of the page, make the correction, and hit 'Save page'." Wow! How cool is that? But not a hint about Wikipedia policies, or the fact that you're likely to get reverted if you don't follow them. Going in with those rosy expectations, I'd be quickly turned off too. It's a good thing I didn't read that before I started editing. (In fairness, it does continue with "If you want to learn more about editing, try our help pages." Read: But if you don't want to, that's ok, it's not that important. We just want you to have fun!) ―Mandruss  22:08, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Do you want to require people to spend several hours studying rules before they make their first contribution? It's a defensible position, so long as you're willing to own the negatives (dramatic drop in new editors, worsening the ratio of dedicated POV pushers to disinterested volunteers) as well as the positives (less work for RecentChanges patrollers if everyone is perfect from their first edit). WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:29, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
No, but the expectations could be made more realistic, and most of those scared off by those expectations would be ones that would do more harm than good anyway. Not all editors are contributors. ―Mandruss  01:34, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Mandruss, I agree that quality should be improved where possible, but I don't believe there is a natural trade-off between quality and friendliness. A revert is a rebuke. It should be used sparingly and with good explanation. If the contribution was rough around the edges, it should be cleaned up rather than undone. If the source was less than the ideal for WP:RS, it should be noted and further effort expended to find more adequate citations. But really, unless it is useless, it should not be reverted. I would hope that's common courtesy (but I fear it is more uncommon these days). Behind every user on Wikipedia (except the bots) is a human who seemed to think their contribution was good for something. WP:AGF. So let's try to work with the contributions rather than reverting them. -- ke4roh (talk) 02:10, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
This is an example. This person didn't like the races "black" and "white" mentioned in this article, so they removed them as if it was a trivial change. They had no clue that this might be something they should discuss first, that they were making a controversial edit in a controversial article with little experience or policy awareness. The edit wasn't "rough around the edges", it was just wrong. There was no way to improve it, it simply had to be reverted. In my experience, most casual and newbie edits are like that in one way or another. Why? Because we do our best to hide the true Wikipedia from them, hoping that we won't scare them off. This is a misguided strategy that backfires and produces the opposite of the desired result. ―Mandruss  02:35, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Mandruss, I agree with that particular revert. I probably would have accompanied it with a personal note on the user's talk page explaining that the races are important to the context of the article and not all consumers of Wikipedia can see the pictures to get the rest of the context with an abbreviated version of same in the revert's edit summary. Considering that user persistently removed the info, I would have escalated to warning for unconstructive edits. If it seemed to be a problem with multiple users making the same sort of change, I would have made special mention on the article's talk page. Yes, all that process slows down the fundamental contributions, but it is important if we want to help people learn how to be editors. -- ke4roh (talk) 13:36, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I understand. What it boils down to is that, in the end, I'm here as an editor, not a teacher. I lack both the teaching skills and the patience for the latter. latter. Editors who wish to teach are free to sign up as mentors in the Adopt-a-user program, and new users who need teachers are free to sign up as adoptees. For the most part, new editors need to take the initiative for their own editing education, as I did, as most of us who have been here for any length of time did, and Wikipedia needs to do more to steer them in that direction—from day one. All I require of myself is to treat these people with the same common respect that everyone deserves. ―Mandruss  13:49, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm an old folk and an old editor, and a sometime tour guide. In the middle of a lecture about, say, the connection between reinforced concrete technology and the shape of the old aqueduct we're looking at, I like to mention that I mostly learned this stuff from writing about it in Wikipedia. When this causes ears to perk up, I encourage questions and steer the conversation to how WP works. I compare it to a swan and to an iceberg. Like the iceberg it's 99% underwater, and like the swan we may seem to be majestically sailing along, but underneath there's all sorts of messy, muddy action going on. The various clicky things along the top and the side of the page are the doors and windows into the underwater side. Once you get underneath it may look kind of scary, but you can just go ahead and fix something that's broken. Don't worry if you make an honest mistake. Most of us do, and there are many vigilantes watching out. Some of us patiently explain what went wrong, and some are cranky when we repair a bad repair, but you don't have to worry or get upset. One of the tabs at the top is for the discussion page where we discuss what the article ought to say. There are rules about being nice even when the other side is both wrong and mean, but of course nice people like you know that's the smart way to do anything. And if you want to be a vigilante like me, that's also pretty easy. I'm trying to adapt this approach in helping an professor teach a class of English majors at a local university. Jim.henderson (talk) 14:54, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
A screenshot of RCFilter (m:User:He7d3r/Tools/RCScoreFilter.js) on the recent changes feed is presented.

Hey folks, I wanted to riff off of a point that ke4roh made: "I don't believe there is a natural trade-off between quality and friendliness." I'm with you. Right now, the majority of quality control is done by User:ClueBot NG and tools like WP:Huggle, WP:Stiki and WP:Page Curation [5]. While these tools do make reviewing the recent changes feed more efficient, they centralize quality control work and use algorithmic strategies that focus people's attention on reverting/deleting newcomers work. Because of this centralization, you have a small group of people who are responsible for first line of defense for the entire wiki. These patrollers must review changes to content across the entire range of subjects and they are often judged by their ability to efficiently filter vandalism and other damage -- not by how effective they engage in teaching opportunities. It takes substantially less time to revert and edit that *might* be damage than to engage with the user who made the edit. So I don't think it's any surprise that we've optimized for one and not the other.

So how do we do better? I think the trick is to make quality control event more efficient than it already is. Step #1 is to decentralize quality control and add good-faith teaching opportunities to the filter it provides. My hope is that we can do this by re-distributing quality control work through making powerful algorithmic tools available across the wiki. In my recent work, I've been developing a system for making it easy to stand up new quality control tools (as well as tools for identifying promising newcomers). See m:R:Revision scoring as a service. The screenshot on the right shows User:He7d3r's 10-line javascript gadget that uses the service to score revisions (note the red highlights for likely-damaging edits). Using this strategy, it's trivial to modify the UI based on the "damage" probability of an edit. I plan to use these scores to stand up "newcomer good-faithiness" models too (as I did in WP:Snuggle -- see how here [6]). With this, I think that the next version of User:EpochFail/NICE should both help you find damage to revert and make it easy to teach good-faith newcomers about the boundaries they've crossed. More importantly, I want to enable other creative people to develop tools that they see a need for using these scores.

We're still in the Alpha stage with these services, but we'll be ready for Beta testers soon. In the meantime, we could use some help with manually labeling edits as "damaging" and/or "good-faith" to train our Artificial Intelligence systems. If you're interested in helping out with that, sign up here: Wikipedia:Labels/Edit_quality. --EpochFail (talkcontribs) 15:16, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing linked a most excellent paper on the issue - if you, dear reader, haven't already, you should read it. I have certainly seen the calcification with respect to WP:CAPTIONS. I started that page just writing a whole bunch of stuff off the cuff, and many of those same words are still in the style guide (now that it's called a style guide), but Heaven help us when we wanted to clarify a few points about when non-sentence captions were acceptable!
EpochFail, I think we're on to something. I think the very best thing will be when we can tap more of the reader base for crowdsourcing checking edits. If we could do something like Google Translate does - to show you two versions (native and translated) when you hover on the translated text - we would present the edit with, say, a dotted box around the change. Hover, then the user sees the other text. And the user is then presented with a choice of which way is better. Present that to enough people, and we'll get some good feedback. -- ke4roh (talk) 02:19, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Involving more people may be good, but not if that means checking every edit multiple times. If edits keep being reviewed until someone reverts them, then everything will get reverted. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:29, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
+1 to both. It seems like we'd need to get the crowdsourcing strategy right in order for this to actually be beneficial. It seems like this would be a valuable research project, so I created a draft page for it. See m:Research:Reader crowdsourced quality evaluations. I'm not sure when/if I'll have time to pick this project up myself (never enough hours in the day), but I'm happy to help someone else get it off the ground. ke4roh, could you flesh out a proposal for how you might like to get started with looking at reader-evaluations? --EpochFail (talkcontribs) 14:08, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Command vs. thin spaces[edit]

Apparently User:Jimp and possibly other editors have been going around applying the {{val}} template to replace comma formatting of digit groups with thin space formatting. (Ref.: WP:DIGITS.) This seems unnecessary and disruptive. Is there an appropriate procedure for this? Thank you. Praemonitus (talk) 02:27, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

The purpose was not to replace commas with thin spaces but to get consistent spacing for errors & a straight-forward mark-up. However, as the handfull of articles in question were all science articles it seemed a decent and logical spin-off to run with. If you really don't agree that the thin-space grouping is an improvement, please don't just go on a blind reversion spree and throw the baby out with the bath water. {{Val|...|fmt=commas}} gives you commas and would preserve the other improvements. Jimp 02:46, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Jimp, may I suggest you scale back on the {{val}} template usage? Stuff like "estimated surface temperature of 3323 K" looks fugly, and using the val template to get 3,323 needlessly mucks up the wikitext, especially if an editor isn't familiar with the template. Please, please, reserve the val template for cases where it's a clear and significant improvement over the simple naked number? Alsee (talk) 06:28, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Jimp, at least on the pages I've been tracking, the net change in visual appearance I've seen is to replace commas with thin spaces. The use of commas is pretty common in astronomical literature, so you just seem to be blindly applying your own standard... to use your own wording. Everything else was already formatted according to the MoS, so I was seeing absolutely no benefit to your activity. Praemonitus (talk) 15:30, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I second Alsee's comment. That template should be used only when it makes sense and not indiscriminately, otherwise it makes the article harder and less pleasant to read. Jason Quinn (talk) 13:39, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

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