News and notes
License update, Google Translate, GLAM conference, Paid editing
On the English Wikipedia, the changes were implemented at 00:34 and 00:39 on 16 June 2009.
On June 9th, the Google Translator Toolkit was released. It allows translators to improve Google's machine translations. Documents can be uploaded for translation, and then worked on in a Google Docs-like interface. There is built-in support for translating Wikipedia articles; one of the uploading options is to simply type in a Wikipedia URL and choose which language you wish to translate it to. According to the Wikimedia Foundation's blog post, "Volunteers at Effat University in Saudi Arabia have been working with Google to translate over 100,000 words from the English Wikipedia into Arabic to help build the Toolkit and pave the way for further translations of Wikipedia content."
Australian GLAM conference
Wikimedia Australia is planning a conference called "Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums & Wikimedia: Finding the common ground" for August 6 and 7 in Canberra. The conference has a wiki page at http://wikimedia.org.au/wiki/GLAM. The event is aimed at stakeholders from Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums in Australia and New Zealand. The lead organizer of the event is Liam Wyatt, VP of Wikimedia Australia.
More information and background to the event can be found in Brianna Laugher's blog post and Liam Wyatt's message to Foundation-l.
At the beginning of last week, it was revealed that User:Nichalp, a longtime editor with bureaucrat, oversight and administrator status, had been accepting money from various companies and persons to create articles about them according to their wishes, using a sockpuppet (User:Zithan). A survey by User:Ha!, posted on June 12, connected more than 10 different job ads on Elance.com (a US website allowing freelancers to bid for tasks submitted by companies) with Zithan's edits. The public job history for nicholas a on Elance lists 16 different accepted projects, all Wikipedia-related, from October 2008 to June 2009, with disclosed payments for one article ranging from $110 to $600, adding up to total earnings of $2,525, and several very satisfied customer reviews.
On June 13, the ArbCom published a decision (adopted 8-0 with one abstention) stating:
In response to community concerns about Nichalp (talk · contribs) using an undisclosed account (Zithan (talk · contribs)) for paid editing, and because of Nichalp's failure to reply to the Arbitration Committee's email enquiry about these concerns, Nichalp's bureaucrat, administrator and oversight status, and his access to the associated mailing lists (<firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>), are temporarily removed and User:Zithan is indefinitely blocked.
Nichalp had described himself on his user page as a 26-year-old from Bombay, India, with 26,000 edits, 17 featured articles and 31 barnstars since joining Wikipedia in 2004, and "entitled to display [a] Platinum Editor Star". He marked the account inactive in January 2009, but Zithan has edited as late as June 1, and the profile for "nicholas a" on Elance.com currently shows June 12 as the last sign-in date.
The discovery prompted the creation of a Request for comment on June 9, about how to handle paid editing in general (see also this week's Discussion report). The RfC generated a considerable amount of discussion. As of June 15, 56 users have submitted a statement, among them Jimbo Wales, who wrote:
It is not ok with me that anyone ever set up a service selling their services as a Wikipedia editor, administrator, bureaucrat, etc. I will personally block any cases that I am shown. There are of course some possibly interesting alternatives, not particularly relevant here, but the idea that we should ever accept paid advocates directly editing Wikipedia is not ever going to be ok. Consider this to be policy as of right now.
In 2006, a company, MyWikiBiz, attempted to set up such a service; see the coverage in the Signpost's October 9, 2006 edition.