News and notes
Wikiversity controversy, Wikimedian-in-Residence, image donation, editing contest, WMF jobs
A community debate is ongoing at Wikiversity over appropriate content and the viability of the project, sparked by a wheel-warring and deletion incident. The issue had to do with a page created by Privatemusings called "Ethical Breaching Experiments," which was for designing and recording experiments designed to test Wikipedia's vandalism defenses and processes for removing false content. As reported last week, a false biography was on the front page of Wikipedia on 2 March as a DYK; the bogus information was designed as a breaching experiment, and the appropriateness of such experiments has recently been under community debate.
After being notified on his talk page about the new project, Jimmy Wales deleted the Wikiversity page as being "out of scope" (later referring to it as disruptive) and indefinitely blocked the primary contributor, Privatemusings. The page was restored by SB Johnny, who also undid the block; finally, Wales redeleted the pages, restored the block, and desysopped SB Johnny. Gbaor resigned his Wikiversity adminship in protest of Wales' actions.
On 13 March, the day that the pages were initially deleted, Wales stated that:
I am currently discussing the closure of Wikiversity with the board. That is an unlikely outcome, but I mention it because I really want to press the point that the scope of Wikiversity has to be restricted to genuine OER. I think that my actions here are strongly supportive of the genuine community who want to do that, making it clear to them that they have very strong support for making it happen. Some may feel that Wikiversity should be a place for silly and juvenile experimentation. If people want to discuss such things, there is an entire Internet open to them - they should not hijack Wikiversity for these purposes.
This was met with some dismay, and Wales clarified:
I do not want to see Wikiversity closed - very far from it. What I want to see is Wikiversity's community feeling brave enough and strong enough to simply ban trolls on sight, and ask them to take their silly projects somewhere else.
Discussion is currently ongoing at Wikiversity about the appropriateness of the pages.
Wikimedian-in-Residence at the British Museum
Liam Wyatt is undertaking a five week project at the British Museum as "Wikipedian-in-Residence", where he will work on writing articles about Museum holdings and will liaise between the Museum and Wikimedia communities. Wyatt will be a volunteer, based in London. The project is a pilot project, and will be assessed along the way; Wyatt notes in his blog post that it may even become a continued volunteer position. He notes that it is not intended as a marketing project, but rather to improve content related to the British Museum and improve its visibility. According to an announcement by Matthew Cock of the Museum:
Liam's underlying task will be to be to build a relationship between the Museum and the Wikipedian community through a range of activities both internally and public-facing. These will include: creating or expanding existing articles about notable items or subjects of specific relevance to the collection and the Museum's expertise; supporting Wikipedians already editing articles related to the British Museum both locally and internationally; and working with Museum staff to explain Wikipedia's practices and how they might be able to contribute directly. As this is a pilot project the scope and scale of the activities will necessarily change as the project progresses.
The British Museum is the first institution of its kind to have a Wikipedian-in-Residence, paid or unpaid. Wyatt has been heavily involved in GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum) and Wikimedia issues, and has organized several outreach events around working with cultural institutions, including last summer's GLAM-WIKI conference in Australia.
30,000 images of minerals donated
U.S. mineral collector Dr. Robert Lavinsky has released almost 30,000 photos of mineral specimens under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, which will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons soon. They consist of the (currently about 29,000) images from Lavinsky's picture database on mindat.org, and of the images from his own homepage irocks.com, the web site of his mineral business "The Arkenstone".
The donation came about after Dr. Lavinsky had been contacted by German Wikipedian and Commons user Ra'ike for permission to use a small number of these photos. According to his biography on minrec.org, "The Arkenstone" was one of the first mineral businesses to move onto the Internet in 1996, and Dr. Lavinsky gave academic lectures on the "Impact of the Internet on the Mineral Hobby" in 2006 and 2007.
Indonesian writing contest
Wikimedia Indonesia is sponsoring a writing contest called Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010 (Free Your Knowledge 2010). The chapter is recruiting participants from ten universities in Indonesia, who after training will compete by writing articles in Indonesian language over a three month period. The chapter is sponsoring a trip to Gdansk for Wikimania 2010 as the grand prize for the winner of the contest.
The goals are to increase active contributors in the Indonesian Wikipedia, promote free content, and improve articles in the Indonesian Wikipedia. The contest is sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Pertamina, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia, and two local news stations.
WMF jobs posted
Two high-level jobs at the Wikimedia Foundation were recently posted: Chief Development Officer and Chief Global Program Officer. The Chief Development Officer will be in charge of the fundraising team and overall fundraising operations. The Chief Global Program Officer will be in charge of the programs department, which works on outreach initiatives and includes recruiting new editors and engaging readers, as well as supporting current editors.
- Andrew Lih gave a talk at this year's SXSW, an annual Internet technology, music and film festival in Austin, Texas, entitled "Can Wikipedia Survive Popular Success and Community Decline?." Attendees recorded their impressions on Twitter.
- The papers from a session at this year's CSCW: the ACM conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work entitled "Wikipedia as a Collaboration Culture" are available to download. Another paper about Wikipedia also appeared in the session titled Participating Online.
- The Chapters Committee added five new members: Jeromy-Yu Chan, Bence Damokos, Vladimir Medeyko, Sebastian Moleski, and Ray Saintonge.
- User:HPN, a sysop and bureaucrat on the Kannada Wikipedia, has blogged about recent progress towards the formation of an Indian Wikimedia Chapter. A draft of by-laws has been published on Meta.
This week in history