News and notes
New interwiki project improves biographies, and other news
New collaboration checks biographies across 71 Wikipedias for consistency
One of the sad facts about biographies of living people is that eventually one has to update the biography because the subject has died. Sometimes we are not as quick at that as we'd like to be, but as many notable people have bios on multiple language versions of Wikipedia, there is an opportunity to share information between different Wikipedia projects. Hence the creation of meta:Death_anomalies_table in June 2010. This table and set of lists enables any project that has a category equivalent to Category:Living people to feed in data, and request a report out.
The en.wiki report is at Wikipedia:Database reports/Living people on EN wiki who are dead on other wikis. User:Merlissimo has a bot that updates it daily, and is willing to produce reports for other projects.
While data is now being fed in from over 70 different languages, reports are only being generated for the German and English Wikipedias. However, initial results on en.wiki are encouraging: well over a hundred anomalies have been resolved, with probably more out-of-date biographies fixed than incorrect wikilinks corrected. As the number of contributing Wikipedias and interwiki links increases, we anticipate that the number of anomalies this finds will increase.
||I'm excited to see this kind of machine-assisted editing. In the foreseeable future, it will not be possible for machines to actually make judgment calls about editorial matters, but it is entirely possible for this type of work, as well as more advanced semantic analysis, to provide useful assistance to human editors, particularly in finding contradictions and anomalies. Merlissimo is a rock star!
|— Jimbo Wales, 26th July 2010
Frank Schulenburg, Head of Public Outreach of the WMF, at Wikimania Gdansk, 2010
Sue Gardner, the WMF's executive director
- As reported previously by The Signpost, the Wikimedia Foundation's recently formed Community Department wants to fill several positions. It is specifically inviting Wikimedians to apply (a page inviting submissions has been up for more than three weeks). A post on the Foundation's blog on July 17 explained the motive for trying a different kind of job advertisement: "At Wikimedia we are always looking to innovate – to try new things and see how they work.... Rather than focus on traditional resources for hiring new talent, we have decided to put out a call to the broad, global audience that visits our projects. We’re focused on casting our net widely – in many languages and countries. Our goal is to find interesting people; people who have unique experience and skills and are interested in working with us." It was also announced that banners with a link to the submissions form would be posted on Wikimedia projects.
- The log for the July 15 IRC office hour, a public chat with Frank Schulenburg, the Wikimedia Foundation's Head of Public Outreach, has been posted.
- The log for the July 22 IRC office hour, a public chat with Sue Gardner, the Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director, has been posted. Among the topics covered were the Foundation's plans for Africa, community hiring (see above), the concept of chapter-selected members of the Board of Trustees, and the geographical distribution of chapters. Gardner said she hoped she would be able to do IRC office hours more often – every two weeks – because the Foundation's shift to a "community giving" revenue strategy, away from large grants to small donations, means that she has more time to interact with community members instead of major benefactors.
- In June, Wikipedia – now (usually) the seventh most popular website in the world – was surpassed on Alexa world site traffic statistics by the Chinese search engine Baidu.com, which took the sixth position  and .
- Wikipedia researcher Felipe Ortega (User:GlimmerPhoenix) has posted summaries of Wikimania 2010 and Wikisym 2010, and was interviewed on the CPOV blog, commenting on his research (including the WikiXRay tool) and on the future of Wikipedia.
- Robert Harris, the consultant who was hired by the Wikimedia Foundation last month to provide recommendations to the Board later this year for the handling of objectionable content on Wikimedia projects (see Signpost coverage), has now invited Wikimedia communities to comment on a list of ten Questions for Discussion.
- In a nine-minute interview recently posted on YouTube, students from Colgate University (as Nbenfield, Mrobson1987 and Kblum201) reflected on an assignment to edit certain Wikipedia articles, part of a senior history seminar held by professor Noor Khan (apparently not yet listed at Wikipedia:School and university projects).
- In a blog post last month titled The art of editing Wikipedia, an employee of the European Commission asked "should the European Commission edit EU-related Wikipedia pages?" She started by recalling a case where the staff of the Commission's Vice-President Antonio Tajani had tried to correct what they considered to be wrong information (a "euromyth" stemming from a UK newspaper) in the article about him, reviewed Wikipedia policies and help pages such as the Organizations FAQ as well as general Wikipedia advice from PR experts. She concluded "all things considered, monitoring and editing Wikipedia entries related to the EU would be risky, time-consuming and would require substantial human resources".
What do you think of The Signpost
? Share your feedback.