Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-06-26/SPV

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Volume 4, Issue 26 26 June 2008 About the Signpost

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Ting Chen wins 2008 Board Election ArbCom's BLP "special enforcement" remedy proves controversial
Global group discussions in progress WikiWorld: "Raining animals"
News and notes: Foundation hires, milestones Dispatches: Reliable sources in content review processes
Features and admins Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News
The Report on Lengthy Litigation

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Ting Chen wins 2008 Board Election


ArbCom's BLP "special enforcement" remedy proves controversial

A remedy passed in the Arbitration Committee's "footnoted quotes" case has proven controversial. This remedy, which allows administrators to "use any and all means at their disposal to ensure that every Wikipedia article is in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the biographies of living persons policy", has been the source of some criticism; many users believe that the remedy is, in essence, creating policy.

The case closed on June 16, and its main remedy proved controversial even before the case was closed. The remedy reads as follows:

Administrators are authorized to use any and all means at their disposal to ensure that every Wikipedia article is in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the biographies of living persons policy. Administrators may use the page protection and deletion tools as they believe to be reasonably necessary to effect compliance.

Administrators should counsel editors who fail to comply with BLP policy by giving them specific steps that they can take to improve their editing in the area, and should ensure that such editors are warned of the consequences of failing to comply with this policy. Where editors fail to comply with BLP policy after being counseled and warned, administrators may impose sanctions on them, including restrictions on reverts or other specified behaviors, bans from editing any BLP or BLP-related page or set of pages, blocks of up to one year in length, or any other measures which may be considered necessary.

This does not preclude the use of emergency measures where necessary, and all administrators are explicitly authorized to take such measures at their own discretion.

A few days before the case closed, the case's remedy became more well-known, and many users criticized it on the case's talk page. On June 11, WJBScribe argued, "This remedy has a feel of, "We must do something. This is something, therefore we must do it." It is being implemented through a case which has had little community attention ... This remedy is going to come as a surprise to many and its implementation is in my view going to generate more heat than light."

Many other users agreed, arguing that the remedy was a marked change from the current BLP policy, particularly given the phrases "Administrators are authorized to use any and all means at their disposal" and "This does not preclude the use of emergency measures where necessary", both of which, some have noted, seem to strengthen BLP policy. FloNight disagreed, however, in comments on that page:

Frankly, I do not see this as a significant change from the current BLP or admin policy. From my perspective, the Committee is restating existing policy in a manner that draws attention to the matter while spelling out some safeguards such as warnings, central logging, and requiring careful review before acting.

The "any other measures necessary" and "emergency measures at their own discretion" clauses need to be included so that the BLP is not weakened.

Discussion continued, peaking with the nomination of the remedy's enforcement log for deletion. The discussion was closed as "speedy keep" within less than an hour, and discussion then moved to a talk page regarding the remedy.

The issue has essentially stalled over the last few days; while some discussion continues, no actions have been taken citing that remedy, though it still presumably remains in full effect barring community agreement to the contrary.


Global group discussions in progress

Two polls are currently open on the Meta-Wiki, involving the addition of global groups. The first is a poll, almost certain to fail, that would add a position of "global sysop" for vandalism-fighting across multiple wikis, particularly small wikis. The second, which is more likely to pass, would allow administrators on the Wikimedia Commons to view deleted Image and Image talk pages on all projects.

Global sysops

The first poll started was a poll to add Global sysops, or administrators with some administrative rights, in order to fight vandalism, particularly on smaller wikis. Among other rights, global sysops would be able to edit MediaWiki messages (like the spam blacklist), use rollback, delete and mass-delete pages, protect and unprotect pages, block other users from editing and sending e-mail, block IP addresses globally, and administrate SUL.

The poll is scheduled to end on Monday, June 30. As of press time, with 80% support required to enact the proposal, it's supported by just 40.4% of those voting. One common concern with the proposal is the lack of a mechanism for individual wikis to opt-out of that group; while some users withdrew their opposition after learning that such a mechanism is likely to be added by developers, many are still concerned that such a mechanism has not yet been created or promised. Other users argued that the position could be abused, or generally, that users should not have sysop status on a wiki without being a member of that community.

Voting has been somewhat controversial because of a belief that the vote had been affected by uneven turnout, particularly from the English and Dutch Wikipedias. The proposal in its current form is almost certain to fail, although it may be edited and proposed again in order to garner enough support for it to pass.

Deleted image review

Meanwhile, a second poll was also started, this one specifically to allow administrators at the Wikimedia Commons to view deleted pages in the "Image:" and "Image talk:" namespaces. The rights would be limited to only viewing deleted pages, and only within those namespaces. It was proposed so that commons administrators would be able to view image descriptions from images moved from individual projects to the Commons, in order to confirm specific details about the images and their licensing.

The proposal has been received much more positively, possibly due to its limited nature. The poll, which is scheduled to end on Sunday, July 6, had received 82.4% support. Those supporting called the proposal "reasonable", "[not] controversial" and "useful"; some of those opposing indicated that they didn't trust some of the Commons administrators, that since oversighting images is not possible, and that some pages could contain privacy-sensitive information.


WikiWorld: "Raining animals"

This comic originally appeared on November 19, 2007.

This week's WikiWorld comic uses text from "Raining animals". The comic is released under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license for use on Wikipedia and elsewhere.


News and notes

Foundation fills two fundraising positions

The Wikimedia Foundation hired two new people today to fill the open positions of Major Gifts Officer and Head of Community Giving. Chief Financial Operating Officer (CFOO) Veronique Kessler announced the hirings on Thursday:

I am pleased to welcome Rebecca Handler as Wikimedia Foundation's Major Gifts Officer, and Rand Montoya as Head of Community Giving. Rebecca will start officially on August 4. Rand will start officially on July 7. ... Rebecca will report to me and will be responsible for face-to-face solicitations of donations from major donors. Rebecca will be working for us 20 hours per week. ... Rand will report to me and will work immediately on this year's Online Fundraising campaign.

As Major Gifts Officer, Handler will be responsible for dealing with the Foundation's strategy for attracting large donations. As Head of Community Giving, Montoya will be responsible for developing strategies for community donations, including fund drives and matching donations.

Firefox extension: "Universal Edit Button"

A new Firefox extension, the Universal Edit Button, has been released for Firefox 2 and 3. It allows users to click a small icon in the address bar to immediately go to the "edit" page on many different wiki engines, including MediaWiki (as an extension, but enabled for all Wikimedia projects), PeanutButterWiki, PhpWiki, Ward Cunningham's original wiki, and Wikispaces.



Dispatches: Reliable sources in content review processes

One of the features of Wikipedia's best articles that sets them apart from much of the Internet is the skill with which they are verified (WP:V) and reliably sourced (WP:RS); these processes are derived from policy and guideline, respectively. Wikipedia's authority on the Internet partly relies on its attention to these two issues. Like all of Wikipedia's content, featured article candidates (FACs), featured list candidates (FLCs) and good article nominees (GANs) are scrutinized by reviewers for their grounding in sources our readers can rely on. This is explicitly reinforced in FA Criterion 1c, in the lead of the FL criteria, in Good Article Criterion 2 and at peer review. FA Criterion 2c also stipulates that featured articles should have consistently formatted inline citations.

Determining what makes a source reliable and text verifiable is often not a straightforward task, and can require considered judgement; but this process is within the reach of all good Wikipedian writers. This dispatch sets out advice for how to evaluate sources – especially for nominators and reviewers at Wikipedia's content review pages. This is not an exhaustive list, but aims to help Wikipedians to acquire the necessary skills.

When evaluating sources, look at how the source is being used; contentious statements or anything related to a living person require a high-quality source. Exceptional claims, even if they aren't about living people, require high-quality reliable sources and will draw scrutiny.

Citing sources

Content sourced to books, magazines, newspapers, and other published sources should specify the title and publisher, as well as author, date of publication and location within the work when available. Usually, "location" means a page range, but for small works or articles this may not be necessary. The edition of the work (3rd ed., revised) is needed, as revisions of a source can change it substantially.

For web pages, the needs are similar: publisher, title, and date of last access are the bare minimum, and author and publication date should be given when available.

If a citation is missing publisher information or page numbers, text may be hard to verify and reliability is difficult to evaluate; before approaching FAC, make sure all of your sources are complete and consistently cited, as required by Criterion 2c and Wikipedia's citing examples. GAN does not have a requirement for consistently formatted citations, but consistency may increase the impression of authority and accuracy in an article.

Reliable sources

WP:RS says "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." Websites may receive more scrutiny than books, magazines or newspapers; while printed sources are also checked, it can be harder to judge reliability on websites, and so they often warrant extra attention. Explicit opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines need to be assessed in relation to the overall balance in an article, in line with the WP:NPOV policy.

Printed sources
In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny involved in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the evidence and arguments of a particular work, the more reliable it is. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine and science. Material from reliable non-academic sources may also be used in these areas, particularly if they are respected mainstream publications. The appropriateness of any source always depends on the context.
WP:Verifiability, June 23, 2008

For books or other printed sources – including albums and DVDs that relate directly to the topic – the following warrant closer scrutiny of the sources:

  • A publisher that is unrecognized or located outside the usual publishing locations (for example, New York City)
  • An article that uses mostly printed sources, but where important information is missing from the citations.
  • Vanity presses.

In some popular-culture articles, a bias against printed sources may be detected. Printed sources are often more reliable than online sources, and there is no reason not to use them where they are available.


The following are some things reviewers can check in citations sourced to websites:

  • Run your cursor over the links and double check that they include publisher information from trusted sources (such as the BBC, The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune, etc.). Spot-check the actual sites to check quality and to see that the title, author and publication date are correct; this tool is helpful.)
  • Click through to articles that lack publisher information.
  • Check all websites you don't recognize:
  • If a site is backed by a large media company or is a media or official organization, it may be reliable, depending on the text being cited.
  • If a site has an "about us" page, "contact us" or FAQ page, check those for information about how the site gathers information.
  • If a site is written by a noted expert who has been independently published by reliable sources in the field, or is hosted by a college or university institute concerned with the field, it may be reliable, depending on the text cited or whether there should be other, more reliable (for example, peer-reviewed) sources available.
  • Government sites connected to the field may be reliable.
  • Paid sites that rely on the accuracy of their information for their living (for example, such as Equibase) are usually reliable, although they may be questioned.
  • Some sites have proven reliable for some purposes: examples include (but are not limited to) IGN, CNET and Cricinfo.
  • If the site gives its sources, but still seems like a personal site, it should be questioned. Depending on the text that is being sourced, it could be reliable, but all self-published sources must meet WP:SPS.

Websites with the following attributes should be questioned:

  • Lacks a page describing how information is gathered, or is a fan or contributor site.
  • Looks like a personal webpage (including but not limited to,, and anything that is written by an individual or fans).
  • Has a highly commercial feel, or prominent advertising such as the planting of multiple annoying popups on your screen before you can even find the "about us" page.
  • Gets some or all of its information from Wikipedia or a Wikipedia mirror (this is regarded as circular).
  • Is a usenet posting or an archive of usenet postings.
  • Is a forum post.
  • Is a blog.
  • Is a page from, unless the author is an expert independently published in the field.
  • Is a page from IMDb, used for anything beyond the very basics of a film's cast or awards; even then, you're better off just referencing the film or the awards site.

Responding to queries about reliable sources

Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published books, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, blogs, forum postings, and similar sources are largely not acceptable. Self-published material may, in some circumstances, be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications. However, caution should be exercised when using such sources: if the information in question is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so. Articles and posts on Wikipedia may not be used as sources.
WP:SPS, June 23, 2008

Reviewers need to know what sort of reputation for accuracy, fact checking and editorial oversight the website has. You can establish this by showing:

  • A page on the site that gives their rules for submissions that indicate fact-checking and editorial oversight.
  • They are backed by a media company, university or institute with a reputation for fact-checking and editorial oversight.
  • Third-party publications from reliable sources that support the site as a self-published source or that the author is a noted expert in their field.
  • The author is a member of the press with a reputation for reliability.

Meeting these criteria doesn't necessarily mean a source is reliable (depending on the text cited) or that you've used the best sources, but they do set a minimum threshold you should be prepared to meet.

Things that won't help:

  • Saying "I know it's reliable": reviewers need to know why it is considered reliable according to policy.
  • Saying "It has an article on Wikipedia": Wikipedia is not a reliable source.
  • Saying "So-and-so WikiProject says it's reliable": the Project needs to demonstrate reliability for each source, and reliability depends on the text being cited. An example that addresses Wikipedia's policy on self-published sources is at the Gilbert and Sullivan Project page.
  • Saying "It's used in 15 other featured articles": OtherStuffExists isn't a valid argument.


Features and admins


Ten users were granted admin status via the Requests for Adminship process this week: Epbr123 (nom), Xavexgoem (nom), Firefoxman (nom), Lenticel (nom), Pinkville (nom), Kevin (nom), Cenarium (nom), Soxred93 (nom), Karanacs (nom), and Bjweeks (nom).


Nine bots or bot tasks were approved to begin operating this week: CountryBot (task request), Luckas-bot (task request), 718 Bot (task request), SoxBot II (task request), Tanhabot (task request), DrFO.Tn.Bot (task request), Yobot (task request), Bot0612 (task request), and RockfangBot (task request).

Featured pages

Eighteen articles were promoted to featured status last week: New York State Route 28 (nom), Edward Wright (mathematician) (nom), LSWR N15 class (nom), Rongorongo (nom), Emmy Noether (nom), Eric Brewer (ice hockey) (nom), Art Houtteman (nom), Battle of Lissa (1811) (nom), Tawny Owl (nom), Talyllyn Railway (nom), Angus Lewis Macdonald (nom), Georgette Heyer (nom), Red-backed Fairy-wren (nom), American Airlines Flight 77 (nom), Draining and development of the Everglades (nom), 1926 World Series (nom), Harry Trott (nom), and Susianna Kentikian (nom).

Twenty four lists were promoted to featured status last week: List of songs in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (nom), List of Philadelphia Eagles first-round draft picks (nom), List of Governors of Ohio (nom), Pearl Jam discography (nom), List of tallest buildings in Atlanta (nom), Echo & the Bunnymen discography (nom), List of Scottish football clubs in the FA Cup (nom), List of Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year (nom), List of former Scottish Football League clubs (nom), List of music recording sales certifications (nom), List of heads of state of the Central African Republic and Central African Empire (nom), List of San Francisco 49ers head coaches (nom), List of Moonlight episodes (nom), List of Sega 32X games (nom), List of Black Lagoon episodes (nom), Toronto Raptors draft history (nom), Scarborough F.C. seasons (nom), List of Philadelphia 76ers head coaches (nom), List of Oakland Raiders head coaches (nom), List of Japanese submissions for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (nom), List of tallest buildings in Chicago (nom), List of tallest buildings in New York City (nom), 2002 Winter Olympics medal count (nom), and List of Calder Cup champions (nom).

Two topics were promoted to featured status last week: New York State Route 20N (nom) and Video game consoles (seventh generation) (nom).

Two portals were promoted to featured status last week: Portal:Earth sciences (nom) and Portal:Weather (nom).

The following featured articles were displayed last week on the Main Page as Today's featured article: HMS Cardiff (D108), Phishing, Judy Garland, Blue Iguana, Bradley Joseph, Tiridates I, and Cygnus X-1.

Former featured pages

One article was delisted last week: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (nom).

No lists were delisted last week.

No topics were delisted last week.

Featured media

The following featured pictures were displayed last week on the Main Page as picture of the day: Nataliya Gotsiy, Upernavik, Greenland, Lily, Australian painted lady, French invasion of Russia, Restless Flycatcher and Video showing the first supersonic flight.

No sounds were featured last week.

No featured pictures were demoted last week.

Ten pictures were promoted to featured status last week and are shown below.


Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News

This is a summary of recent technology and site configuration changes that affect the English Wikipedia. Note that not all changes described here are necessarily live as of press time; the English Wikipedia is currently running version 1.42.0-wmf.19 (fa0add5), and changes to the software with a version number higher than that will not yet be active. Configuration changes and changes to interface messages, however, become active immediately.

Fixed bugs

  • The "Number of edits to show in recent change, history, and log pages" preference now has a description that reflects what it actually does. (r36364, bug 14566)
  • On the list of pages using an image shown at the bottom of an image page, redirects to images now link to the redirect rather than back to the target image via the redirect. (r36391, bug 14572)
  • Videos whose .OGG extension was written in uppercase now thumbnail correctly. (bug 14524
  • The HTML for the edit form was cleaned up, to reduce strangeness caused when it interacted with custom styles. (r36515, bug 14515)

New features

  • The list=blocks API query now accepts a bkip= parameter, which causes all blocks which block the IP given, or all IPs in the given range, to be returned, including rangeblocks which contain the IP or range given. (r36452, bug 14405)
  • It is now possible to set caching settings for some API results, using maxage= and smaxage= parameters. (bug 14402

Ongoing news

  • Internationalisation has been continuing as normal; help is always appreciated! See mw:Localisation statistics for how complete the translations of languages you know are, and post any updates to bugzilla or use Betawiki.


The Report on Lengthy Litigation

The Arbitration Committee did not open or close any cases last week, leaving three cases currently open.

Evidence phase

Voting phase

  • Giovanni33: A case involving the accusation of sockpuppetry by Giovanni33. Giovanni33 and Rafaelsfingers, who has been labeled as a sockpuppet of Giovanni33 by some, have denied the charges. Remedies with the support of three arbitrators would ban Giovanni33 for one year, and, at the expiration of the ban, again vote on whether to reban him for an additional year, with the same process to occur ad infinitum unless the ban is not renewed.
  • Homeopathy: A dispute involving a number of editors over the Homeopathy article. A remedy with the support of eight arbitrators would ban DanaUllman for one year. Still being debated are:
    • The creation of a "Sourcing Adjudication Board" regarding the inappropriate use of citations: Currently supported by a 6–4 plurality, but 7 votes are needed for a majority. FayssalF and Thebainer have yet to comment on this issue.
    • A remedy emphasizing the Committee's ability to issue subsequent sanctions in the case, without opening a case, based on reports of "inappropriate conduct" as judged by the Sourcing Adjudication Board. Currently supported by a 5–4 plurality; FayssalF, Thebainer and FT2 have yet to comment on this issue.
    • Allowing uninvolved administrators to impose sanctions on editors involved in Homeopathy-related articles, for various reasons. The most popular wording of this remedy has 6–1 support with one abstention; absent any changes in voting or removal of the abstention, this remedy currently passes, because with the abstention, the support of just 6 arbitrators is necessary.