Foundation overrules community consensus on autoconfirmation trial
Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Möller, who intervened to halt the implementation of the Autoconfirmed article creation trial, which was seen as striking an unwelcome exclusionary stance.
In a heated altercation between English Wikipedia community members and MediaWiki sysadmins in the course of a bugzilla thread, a proposed trial for barring non-autoconfirmed editors from creating articles, which had garnered significant local consensus in a widely publicised Request for Comment, was thwarted by Wikimedia Foundation staffers and developers. The trial had been motivated by the perceived ineffectiveness of prevailing article creation mechanics, whereby a large portion of articles created by new editors were swiftly deleted and their authors reprimanded. By barring new editors from creating articles and funnelling them through the Articles for Creation and Article Creation Wizard processes, it was hoped to ease pressure on new page patrollers, alienate fewer new contributors and ensure a higher quality of new articles. After reticence to implement the trial from sysadmins and an intemperate reaction, Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Möller after acknowledging the stated intentions of the initiative, put the boot down firmly on the petitioners' hopes:
However, we believe that creating a restriction of this type is a strong a statement of exclusion, not inclusion, and that it will confuse and deter good faith editors. Instead of trying to address many different issues by means of a simple but potentially highly problematic permission change, we believe that in order to create a friendly, welcoming and understandable experience for new editors, we need to apply an iterative, multi-prong approach, including but not limited to:
simplifying the actual workflow of new article creation and reducing instruction creep
experimenting with alternative models to provide new users with safe spaces for new article development
connecting new users with experienced mentors faster.
Möller and the developers attempted to redirect efforts to the ArticleCreationWorkflow project at MediaWiki in the face of strong resistance from the English Wikipedia community members, with the initiator of the bug report Snottywong commenting "ArticleCreationWorkflow doesn't discuss any real solutions to the problem, so I will not be contributing there". Charges of unilateralism, incivility and a patronising tone were levelled at Foundation staff as it became evident the report would not result in implementation. Volunteer developer and long-standing English Wikipedian Happy-melon attempted to bridge the growing divide with an entreaty for perspective:
On the other hand, there *is* a separation of *cultures* here, and it's something that an awful lot of members of the wiki communities do not appreciate. The developers and (separately) the sysadmins/WMF form their own separate communities with their own goals and practices; and those goals and practices, while closely matching those of enwiki or whereverwiki, do not
necessarily precisely align. There is nothing unrealistic, or wrong, with enwiki having goals which are very slightly different from those of the WMF as a whole, or for their requests to not be ones that the Foundation feels bests fits with their own strategies.
In response to the incident, English Wikipedian and developer MZMcBride assembled at Meta a list of instances of Wikimedia systems administrators rejection of configuration changes. The firm insistence of the Wikimedia Foundation to pursue its own vision of sustaining and developing the Wikimedia projects in defiance if necessary of the wishes of the core community of its flagship project – and the chief source of its funding – is an indicator of how far the organisation has grown in its brief history, and is sure to raise the hackles of those who conceived of it playing a primarily supportive role to the local communities.
Academic journals consider partnering with Wikipedia
This month, editors of two academic journals brought up the possibility of content partnerships between their respective journals and Wikipedia. Phil Bourne, Editor in Chief of PLoS Computational Biology, suggested that review articles on topics that are related to computational biology could be considered for publication in the journal in a way that would allow the article to be reused to start an entry on the topic in the English Wikipedia. In a similar move, Andrew Su – editor at the journal Gene and one of the driving forces behind the Gene Wiki – raised the possibility of gene stubs in the English Wikipedia being substantially expanded by way of review articles that could be published in the journal. In both cases, the details remain yet to be worked out.
The potential complementarity of open-access journals and Wikipedia has beennotedrepeatedly, but the Wikipedia policies WP:V, WP:MEDRS, WP:PSTS, WP:NPOV, WP:NOR, WP:NOT PAPERS, WP:TECHNICAL or WP:OWN as well as journal policies on prior publication or (for subscription-based journals) on reuse have all been put forward as possibly standing in the way of such a close association between Wikipedia and journal articles. PLoS Computational Biology publishes its articles under a CC-BY license, which does not allow the article drafting to take place under the more restrictive CC-BY-SA license employed on most Wikimedia projects, whereas Gene content is paywalled and fully copyrighted, such that any kind of reuse beyond mere citation requires written permission, which does not fit with CC-BY-SA either.
Nonetheless, the first journal with such a content partnership with Wikipedia is subscription-based: since late 2008, RNA Biology requires that manuscripts about new RNA families be accompanied by the draft for a corresponding Wikipedia article, and both documents will be subjected to the same peer review process. The first article arising from this collaboration was SmY RNA, and a number of articles – e.g. YkkC-yxkD leader – have been started in correspondence to papers published in journals other than RNA Biology. In a similar arrangement, identification keys of newly discovered species published in the open-access journal ZooKeys are routinely uploaded to a specialist wiki, thereby providing the basis for the corresponding entries at Wikispecies. The first such article was Neobidessodes darwiniensis.
The 100,000th upload to Wiki Loves Monuments, according to a Spanish blog post. Pictured is a historic Portuguese church, part of a convent dedicated to Saint Clara.
Wiki Loves Monuments hits 100k: As reported by chapters such as Wikimedia España, the Wiki Loves Monuments project surpassed the 100,000 upload mark on the 26 September. The 100,000th upload was of a church in Portugal (pictured right).
Age-appropriateness of adult content editing raised A user who self-identified as a 13-year-old administrator hopeful was brought to the administrators' incidents noticeboard over the quality and responsiveness of his speedy deletion tagging this week. A standard ANI thread was set to ensue when it was quickly noted that in addition to being a member of WikiProject Professional Wrestling the editor also showcased a userbox identifying himself as a "hard-core member of WikiProject Pornography". A discussion about age restrictions for adult-oriented WikiProjects followed, the equanimity of which was seized upon by founder-turned-critic Larry Sanger as further evidence of Wikipedia's moral decay.
WMUK greets new CEO: Wikimedia UK have announced the end of their search for a Chief Executive with the appointment of Jon Davies, who has former leadership experience with as Chief Executive of parenting charity Families need Fathers, and with the London Cycling Network.
Office hours on the image filter: In this week's IRC office hours with Sue Gardner and other WMF staffers (see log) discussion predominantly focused on the proposed image filter for potentially controversial content, with specific reference to the reception of the idea within the German Wikipedia community – a topic addressed head-on by this week's opinion essay.
New administrators: The Signpost welcomes Wikipedia's newest administrator, Richwales, whose second attempt at adminship succeeded with minimal dissent after he took efforts to broaden his experience in content creation and traditional administrative tasks. A veteran of 6½ years editing, Rich envisages focusing his newly acquired powers on anti-vandalism efforts at least initially. One Request for Adminship, that of Anomie, a bot operator, is currently open.
Project milestones: The Shona, Sundanese and Twi Wikipedias reached milestones this week, with 1,000 total pages, 15,000 articles, and 100 articles respectively.
^Hendrich, L.; Balke, M. (2011). "A simultaneous journal / wiki publication and dissemination of a new species description: Neobidessodes darwiniensis sp. n. From northern Australia (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae, Bidessini)". ZooKeys. 79. doi:10.3897/zookeys.79.803.