News and notes
Pending changes analyzed, Foundation report, Main page bias, brief news
Analysis of Pending changes trial published
The full analysis of the Pending changes trial has been published. The data are an elaboration on an earlier preliminary analysis (see previous story). The full table is here, and a compacted version focusing on anon revert percentages is here. The data ranges widely; the two most common percentages are 100 and 0 percent.
Pending changes is a new form of page protection that makes use of the FlaggedRevs extension, allowing editing as usual but giving visiting IPs only the most recent "approved" version of the protected pages, as decided by trusted editors. Flagged revisions has been praised by supporters as an alternative to semiprotection, opening up editing to IPs while still curbing vandalism; on the other hand, it has been criticized as a contradiction to Wikipedia's open editing model.
A straw poll on the future of Pending changes has concluded. In the light of what many consider a confusing poll, several users have posted analyses aiming to clarify the consensus.
Foundation reports book statistics and legal work from July
The Wikimedia Foundation Report for July 2010 has been published, following a lapse in the publication of monthly reports (the April, May and June reports are being worked on). Wikification and other improvement of the version on Meta are invited. Apart from many items previously covered in the Signpost, the report shares some highlights from statistics about the usage of the book tool (which allows readers to compile Wikipedia articles into PDF files and order bound paper copies of them), provided by PediaPress: "From May through July, PediaPress shipped 1,671 printed books to 981 buyers in 46 countries. 38% of books were sold to Germany and 28% to the United States. The feature was also used to generate approximately 85,000 PDF files per day." The report says that the WMF's legal team has "been in contact with both the Apple and Android app stores to ask their assistance in policing trademark-infringing apps" and was separately negotiating with Apple about the Wikimedia trademark use in Apple products. The Foundation contracted an attorney specialized in charities, and "confirmed that there are ongoing structural issues, particularly in Europe, with transferring charitable funds to WMF."
Main page biases?
Last week, two blogs independently examined the choice of topics featured on the English Wikipedia's main page. "Deeply Problematic", a blog about "feminism, and stuff", examined which persons were mentioned in the various sections of the main page on ten different dates during the past year (using the Wayback machine), finding that 130 of them were men and only 15 were women. Wikipedian Utcursch asked whether there is "Too much bad news on Wikipedia’s main page?" He examined the content of the "In the news" section during August, when it had featured 45 unique news stories. Around 40% of them belonged "to the 'bad news' category (disasters, accidents, wars and terrorist attacks)". In addition, he shared the informal impression that bad news stays longer on the main page because "the new updates are continuously posted, as the casualties keep increasing over a period of time". Utcursch, who is from India, also examined the geographical distribution of the ITN entries, finding "that the 'In the news' section does a decent job of covering stories from all across the world". - In related news, a Twitter feed announcing India-related topics from the "Did You Know" (DYK) section has recently been set up (DYKIndia); the underlying software can be adapted to other topic areas too (WikipediaDYKTweeter).
- New Wikimedia chapter: On August 31, Wikimedia Estonia was officially recognized by the Foundation as the youngest Wikimedia chapter. (Per the bylaws, its official name is "Mittetulundusühing Wikimedia Eesti", abbreviated as "MTÜ Wikimedia Eesti" ["Wikimedia Estonia non-profit organization"].) According to a start-up grant request, it plans a "Wikipedia in schools" project, collaborations with local municipalities, museums and unions, and the acquisition of texts for Vikitekstid (the Estonian language Wikisource).
- Foundation hiring microblogged: To add transparency to the Wikimedia hiring and working processes, two Wikimedia message accounts, one on Identi.ca and one on Twitter, have been opened. It is hoped these feeds will assist Wikimedia to reach out to a broader candidate audience and to encourage the open sharing of this information.
- Swedish chapter report: Wikimedia Sverige has released their chapter report for August. The report announces the donation of 104 high resolution images of Vänsterpartiet party election candidates in the upcoming Swedish general election, a photo hunt in Scania and Bergslagen, two new toolserver tools by a WMSE member, a board meeting, media attention relating to the journalist Adam Svanell adding false information into the article about himself, and the passing of the 2,000-article point by the Sorani Wikipedia, the project of speakers of a Kurdish language of that name in Iran and Iraq, which receives most of its traffic from Sweden.
- Sneak peek at the fundraising campaign: The Wikimedia Foundation is organizing its annual fundraising campaign for November and December. The campaign, which will run on banner ads asking for donations placed above articles, has traditionally been the largest single source of revenue for the project. A post on the Wikimedia blog reveals the basis of this year's fundraiser as a 'collaborative "contribution" campaign'. The fundraiser will center on personalizing the messages across the different languages, "recognizing that messages that work in the United States don’t always work worldwide", and on encouraging new users to contribute to the project. Banner-ad brainstorming and testing is ongoing.
- Board minutes: The minutes for the July 8 meeting of the Foundation's Board of Trustees have been published. They largely concern discussions and decisions about internal Board matters, informed by a report of the Board's "Governance Committee" and aided by Sal Giambanco from the Omidyar Network. The Board will reduce the number of its face-to-face meetings from four to three for the coming year; the next one will be held on October 8–9 in San Francisco. "After a robust discussion", the Governance Committee was tasked with creating "recommendations for Board member evaluation to determine the effectiveness of appointed and elected Trustees". A consultant and project manager (Jon Huggett) was hired and a Board workgroup was formed for the "Movement Roles II" project, a process to clarify "the roles of the various organizational structures in the Wikimedia movement", especially chapters.
- Wikimedia and free book publishing: The functionality to import books from Wikibooks was recently added to Booki, a collaborative book publishing platform by the FLOSS Manuals foundation. Last week, both Booki and FLOSS Manuals' "Book Sprint" projects received an endorsement from the Wikimedia Foundation's Deputy Director Erik Möller, who called them "important new approaches in knowledge production and dissemination." (See the recent story of a project that applied the book sprint method to improve a Wikipedia article.)
- Study on controversial content: Robert Harris, the consultant tasked by the Foundation with studying the issue of potentially offensive content following controversial image deletions on Commons (see previous story), posted an email exchange about the subject with a librarian from the University of Northern British Columbia. As summarized by Harris: "In the library community, the key concept is something they call Intellectual Freedom (IF), and they've been discussing this concept and its ramifications for many decades (some of the key policies in this area were enunciated in the 1950s). You can see that, by and large, the library community is very concerned to preserve and protect IF, although there have been, and continue to be, many challenges to their efforts in this regard." According to the initial announcement, Harris' recommendations will be presented to the Board at its next meeting in October.
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