News and notes
Foundation report; gender statistics; DMCA takedowns; brief news
Foundation's report for January: Anniversary impact, Brazil and India travels
The Wikimedia Foundation's monthly report for January has been published, much of it related to the celebrations of Wikipedia's tenth anniversary on January 15. The Communications Department observed that although journalists and other commentators have often been very critical of Wikipedia since its inception, "as the 10th anniversary approached, the international media seized the opportunity to reassess: this resulted in hundreds of stories around the world that were overwhelmingly positive" (an observation that had similarly been made by Sue Gardner and some Wikipedia critics, see Signpost coverage). The report called the shipment of "more than 80 Wikipedia 10 celebration kits" (with T-shirts, buttons and stickers) from the WMF to event organizers worldwide "an important pilot for the Wikimedia movement: new data about customs, logistics, and postal services for a wide range of nations has been gathered, and new processes for soliciting orders from chapters or other groups for timely delivery have been developed." Preparations to set up a Wikimedia merchandising webstore are underway.
The Human Resources Department reported a downside of the celebrations: "A large percentage of the staff in San Francisco was out for at least a week with the 'WikiPlague', a variant of the RSV virus that we seem to have caught at the 10th Anniversary Party." The department also reports that it has "started tracking metrics for new hires and the Wikimedia Foundation as a whole, and will start compiling anonymized data regarding diversity and other internal characteristics so that we stay mission-aligned."
Staff members of the Global Development department spent time in India and Brazil in January, and progress with the "Catalyst Projects" for both countries was reported.
Among the visitors to the Foundation's office in January, the report records representatives of IT firm Trivad, Inc, three consultants from communications firm OMP (a former employer of Chief Community Officer Zack Exley) attending a "Wikipedia brainstorming", the CEO of Paymentwall (a company offering ecommerce solutions) and the CEO of Charity Navigator.
Wikipedia's gender gap examined further
Very active users more likely to be male? Male/female percentage among English Wikipedia accounts who state a gender in user preferences, sorted by their edit count
No noticeable effect of the New York Times article: gender stated in user preferences of newly registered accounts on the English Wikipedia in recent weeks
After the widespread discussions about the small proportion of women among Wikipedia editors had brought increased scrutiny of the study where the widely quoted "13%" estimate had originated (see last week's Signpost coverage), attention turned to evaluating the gender statement that users on Wikimedia projects can provide in the "preferences" for their account. While this information is optional and the majority of accounts do not state it, it can produce some interesting numbers.
On the Wikitech-l mailing list, DaB. provided statistics about some large Wikipedias and Commons from the toolserver database, which were used by Wikipedia researchers Joseph Reagle and Paolo Massa to produce tables.
Dispenser collated API and Toolserver data to do some further analysis, relating the statement of gender to the user's registration date (within the last month), edit count, and whether or not the user gave an email address.
English Wikipedians' gender by edits
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DMCA takedowns of fair use and US-Gov-PD images
The Foundation complied with two more DMCA takedown requests last week, continuing the recently established custom of making copies of them available on its website (cf. previous Signpost coverage).
The first request came from the US Department of Health and Human Services, concerning photos on Commons that apparently had been mistakenly designated as public domain by publishing them on the government's own websites: "Although the images had been posted to the public NCI/NIH Websites in the past, that posting was done in error. ... The photographs are protected by a license agreement and none of the parties involved ... has ever intended for the image to be in the public domain." Last month, the photographer had contacted the NCI, who took down its own copies of the images and notified the Wikimedia Foundation.
Another DMCA takedown request last week resulted in the deletion of a photo that had been illustrating the article about 1960s style icon Talitha Getty. According to the image description page as still available in Google's cache, the image had been uploaded on 15 November 2010, copied from another website with a resolution of 344 × 457 pixels, with a standard non-free content rationale as it is frequently used for portraits of deceased persons, which includes a fair-use claim.
- Spanish chapter: The Wikimedia Foundation has approved the founding of Wikimedia España. In a post on the Foundation's official blog ("Welcome Wikimedia’s 30th Global Chapter, Wikimedia España"), Jorge Sierra (User:Lucien leGrey), the chapter's president, said that its formation had begun in September 2007.
- "Movement roles" work meeting: The notes for a recent meeting of the Foundation's "Movement Roles" workgroup in Frankfurt have been published.
- Expert survey: The Wikimedia Foundation's Research Committee has launched a survey "to understand why scientists, academics and other experts do (or do not) contribute to Wikipedia, and whether individual motivation aligns with shared perceptions of Wikipedia within expert communities." It grew out of a discussion started on Wikiversity in November. (Notes about the survey's design)
- Community fellowships: The Foundation's Community Department has posted a job opening for the "Head of Community Fellowship Program", a new position to "coordinate the recruitment and support of Wikimedia Foundation community department fellows". Introduced last September (Signpost coverage), the program temporarily employs community members to "lead intensive, time-limited projects focused on key areas of risk and opportunity". It was recently suggested "to give the community more of a voice in both proposing and selecting individuals and projects" as the program is being scaled up, and fellowships outside the Community Department are being created (Signpost coverage: "Wikimedia fellowships discussed and clarified"). In other news, according to the Foundation's January report (see above) the fellowship of Maryana Pinchuk (m:User:Buickmackane) "has been extended for an additional 12 months, so that she can coordinate the writing of histories of several more Wikipedias." Together with Victoria Doronina (User:Mstislavl), she had started an eight-week research fellowship around the end of September to develop methods for writing such project histories (Signpost coverage), and had published an (English-language) "attempt of a social history" of the Russian Wikipedia (see last week's "News and notes").
- GLAM fellowship plans: Liam Wyatt (User:Witty lama) has outlined the priorities of his recently begun 12-month Wikimedia fellowship, whose goal it is to "help create systems and processes to make outreach partnerships [with cultural institutions] more efficient and effective." They include a system of "Wikimedia GLAM ambassadors" (similar to the Foundation's "Campus ambassadors"), improving how-to documents and case studies, technical metrics and tools, and better communication about GLAM partnerships. His posting was published shortly before embarking on a trip to India, where he is currently meeting with various Wikimedians and representatives of cultural institutions, as already reported (about Mumbai) by the Hindustan Times ("Wiki to tie up with city galleries, museums").
- October Board minutes: The minutes for the October 2010 meeting of the WMF Board of Trustees have been published. Among other topics, they shed some more light on the Board's three-hour discussion about the recommendations of the 2010 Wikimedia Study of Controversial Content, which had been expected to result in a resolution at that meeting (Board member Phoebe Ayers had already described some of the discussion in November, see Signpost coverage: "Controversial content and Wikimedia leadership"). According to the minutes, "an exercise to capture the level of agreement around the appropriateness of each recommendation" showed that "half of them were uncontroversial, while others required further discussion" (it was not stated which recommendations belonged to which half). A working group on the issue was "to make an initial report to the Board by November 6, 2010".
- Global Development IRC hours: The logs for two IRC office hours by the Foundation's Global Development department have been published, featuring the department's head Barry Newstead and its two new employees, "Head of Global South Relationships" Asaf Bartov, and "Chapter Relations Manager" Moushira Elamrawy. Asked about the plans to set up a Wikimedia office in India, Newstead said, "We will make an announcement on India early next week." About the topic of subnational chapters, he said that "WMF has no issues with subnational chapters in general", but that fundraising might be "trickier at a subnational level". Asaf Bartov expressed "pain" at the "Global South" moniker that has been used to describe geographic areas with respect to the WMF's development, calling it an "infelicitous term. Please consider it temporary; we're hoping to involve the community in picking a better term." He said that he would "mostly be dealing with non-chapters."
- Wikimedia Hungary report: The Hungarian Wikimedia chapter published their (English-language) report for January 2011 last week. It records the chapter's fundraising results (HUF 5,7 million or about US$28,600), describes celebrations of Wikipedia's tenth anniversary, including a conference that featured a keynote by the Foundation's Head of Public Outreach Frank Schulenburg (available on Youtube), noted that the Hungarian Wikipedia had to deal with "a copyright violation case where one user has uploaded 5000+ articles from copyrighted encyclopedias over 5 years" but that the resulting media coverage had been mostly positive, and mentions the chapter's plans to set up its own toolserver this month.
- Wikimedia Netherlands report: The Dutch Wikimedia chapter published their report for January 2011 this Monday.
- UK university recruitment tour: Six members of the Contribution Team held a Recruitment Drive at London's Imperial College last week, which was declared a "roaring success" by Wikimedia UK. It involved handing out leaflets, speaking to people around campus, discussing a possible Wikipedia collaboration with the Imperial College librarian, and "hanging out at the Student Union with our laptops, ready to answer questions, invite people to edit and persuade people that Wikipedia can be fun!" The team will be hosting similar events at the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester between the 1st and 4th of March (believed to be the first such week-long "tour"). For more information or to sign up as a volunteer or attendee, see the events page.
- MIT OpenCourseWare videos: Board member Samuel Klein (User:Sj) reports that he has been working with MIT OpenCourseWare to make some of its teaching videos available on Wikipedia (example), releasing them under the CC-BY-SA license instead of the initiative's more restrictive default CC-BY-NC. He describes some usability concerns about video on Commons that were put forth by OCW.
- Egyptian Wikimedians and the revolution: After the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 led to the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak last week, Wikipedian Mohamed Ibrahim (User:Mido, known to many Wikimedians as lead coordinator of the Wikimania 2008 conference in Alexandria) responded to messages of concern and support on the Foundation-l mailing list: "Wikimedians I'm aware of [are] safe and were part of this great revolution, and we all thank you for your support." Mido proudly noted the Wikimedia connections of activist Wael Ghonim, "who was widely credited as one of the main people who moved the protests in 25th Jan, he was also leading the Health speaks initiative from Google - enriching Arabic Wikipedia medical content- and was discussing over with the Wikimedians in Egypt the Wikipedia 10th anniversary event in Cairo sponsored by Google in part just few weeks before the revolution. I don't know yet the status of that but no matter what I promise that we will work even harder on spreading free knowledge to help building our country." Ghonim had publicly expressed his support for Wikipedia when donating during the recent fundraising campaign, calling it "a noble project to educate humanity". In a web-only outtake of his interview on 60 Minutes, Ghonim stated that "Our revolution is like Wikipedia... Everyone is contributing content, [but] you don't know the names of the people contributing the content. This is exactly what happened."
- Trustee looks back: WMF Board member Phoebe Ayers (User:phoebe) has posted a summary of her activities in "the past three months" on her personal blog, many of them Wikimedia-related.
- African language Wikipedias: Ian Gilfillan (User:Greenman) has posted an "African language Wikipedia update" on his personal blog, noting that the efforts to found a South African Wikimedia chapter are nearing completion, and that a bid to host Wikimania 2012 in Stellenbosch is underway. He compared the development of the article count of several African language Wikipedias since 2007, and remarked: "Of all the official South Africa language Wikipedias, all but Afrikaans, and of course English, are extremely low traffic, where a single edit is a noteworthy event! ... There’s been a flurry of activity in the rest of Africa though. A number of languages have shot past 1000 articles, and two are even growing faster than the relatively stable Afrikaans."
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