News and notes
Controversial content debates resumed
The far-reaching controversial content debate of 2010–2011 was resumed on March 1, 2012, when MZMcBride asked about the current state of the image filter software on foundation-l. Two Foundation trustees, Phoebe Ayers and Kat Walsh, declared during the subsequent discussion that in retrospect they felt it was wrong to adopt the controversial content resolution approved in May 2011 (Signpost coverage) and that the board was still split over the issue.
It was confirmed that the development of the tool called the personal image filter and subject to a global survey in August 2011 (Signpost coverage) has not yet started, and Walsh explicitly supported "rescinding" at least parts of the underlying board decision.
The controversial debate on the Foundation mailing list was wide-ranging, encompassing the re-iteration of well-known positions on the socio-cultural aspects of how the issue relates to the current chapter-selection process of two WMF board members as well as a new proposal on Commons aiming to improve image searching.
The debate arose in response to a FoxNews.com story at the end of February 2012, and quickly spread beyond Wikimedia. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, joined in on March 7 on his blog, saying that the problems he reported in a letter to the FBI in 2010 (Signpost coverage) were still unresolved and urging the WMF to ignore community opposition and institute editorial controls. Discussion on the matter also took place at Wikipedia Review.
There is currently an open proposal before the board to vote on whether to uphold the original request for an image-hiding feature. The executive director, Sue Gardner, will take direction from the board on the matter. However, Ayers stated that the issue is off the table for now, "due to the more time-sensitive and generally all-consuming financial discussions of the past couple of months."
Final Gardner recommendations published
On March 9, WMF executive director Sue Gardner
presented to the board her final recommendations on fundraising and the dissemination of those funds.
A steady stream of finance-related position papers and posts from Wikimedia entities on Meta peaked on Sunday with Sue Gardner's release of her final recommendations on how to reform major fundraising and fund distribution activities, which were presented to the board on March 9.
With regard to fund distribution, the recommendations are that the decision-making process concerning how to arrange WMF non-core activities, as well as funds to be received by other Wikimedia entities (such as chapters) and individual volunteers, should be opened up to community participation.
According to the office hours conducted on March 12, it's not yet clear what "core" means in concrete terms. Gardner provided a general definition, stating that "Core does not mean 'the rock-bottom costs of operating the sites if we were in serious financial difficulties.' Core means the costs of operating the sites."
To better facilitate a community involvement, the Foundation would establish a new body, run by volunteers and called the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), to advise the board on how to distribute funds raised via projects such as the English Wikipedia. The committee would be supported by Foundation staff, and a body of funds would be excluded from the FDC as an "operating reserve" to ensure smooth sailing for the Foundation in case of future financial difficulties.
On fundraising, Gardner recommends that the WMF process all funds received through its project sites according to nine guiding principles, including transparency, efficiency, and accordance with the movement mission. These principles—taken from a 2011 board resolution—would be applied to all fundraising activities regardless of area of activity. Fundraising recommendation 3 represents a shift from the draft version, allowing for the continuation of chapter activities during the annual fundraiser on a case by case basis.
Gardner's text follows other Wikimedia entity position papers and posts on Meta over the last weeks. All four chapters that currently process payments, (France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK), posted their positions on the issues over the last week, reaffirming their preference for processing funds as national entities.
This was the second round of chapter position papers this year, following a January–February rush where the German chapter published a paper, which was reviewed by an association of editors of the Catalan Wikipedia and its sister project (Amical Viquipèdia), arguing in favor of national chapter-driven processing. The Italy and UK chapters followed shortly after with statements of their own, as did the Regional Cooperation Initiative for Ibero-America (Iberocoop).
The next stage will consist of deliberations within the board, which is expected to make a decision at the Berlin conference at the end of March. Everyone interested in contributing at this point can post notes and positions at the related discussion page.
While licensing provisions have been preserved, the updated version includes new aspects like a community-formulated global ban for cross-wiki violations on the project sites, as well as clarifications on topics like legal protection, community responsibilities, and roles. The update summary in the communication sent to the Board of Trustees by general counsel Geoff Brigham has been posted on Meta.
- Core Contest revival: Well-known English Wikipedian Casliber has revived the Core Contest concept, originally run in November and December 2007 by Danny. The new contest aims to cause a "flash mob" of improvements to lackluster vital articles in the form of "a short, sharp snappy three week contest with some Amazon vouchers or some such as prizes." It will run from 00:01 March 10 to 23:59 March 31 Sydney time, and after a two-week judging period the editors with the most impressive improvements will receive vouchers as their rewards.
- New Page Triage initiative progresses: The talkpage of the New Page Triage project this week saw candid discussion of the initiative's relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation from Oliver Keyes, the foundation's community liaison for product development. Keyes sought input at the Administrators noticeboard and is publishing a regular newsletter on the initiative's progress; so far, over 80 editors have signed-up.
- Article Feedback Tool: With Version 5 deployment and development ongoing, discussion continues on the project's talk page. Inviting comments on its current plans, the Foundation has asked about unaddressed community concerns as well as potential design ideas and improvements. A Foundation newsletter on the topic has also been created. Stay tuned to The Signpost in the coming weeks for a comprehensive report on the progress of New Page Triage, the Article Feedback Tool, and other momentous engineering developments.
- Teahouse builds steam: Metrics for the Teahouse's first week reveal that "the overall count isn't that impressive yet, but in general we're seeing a steady acceleration in the number of newbies per day." Those wishing to follow the initiative more closely may wish to sign up for its newsletter.
The Foundation's monthly metrics meeting, conducted on March 1, for the month of February.
- Monthly report released: The Foundation has released its monthly report for February. Highlights include the creation of the Legal and Community Advocacy department, the Teahouse project launch, and the deployment of MediaWiki 1.19. Following the precedent set by last month's report, the foundation has recorded and released its monthly metrics video, and the report has been translated into several languages.
- Death of an editor: The death of senior Wikipedian Dr. Steven Rubenstein – known to fellow editors as Slrubenstein – was announced at the administrators' noticeboard on Saturday last. Dr Rubenstein was the Director of the Research Institute of Latin American Studies at University of Liverpool's school of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. Following the guidelines for deceased Wikipedians, his account's administrator privileges were revoked, and an entry is expected to be added at Wikipedia:Deceased Wikipedians once details have been confirmed.
- Bangla Wikipedia Unconference 2012: Images from the Bangla Wikipedia Unconference 2012 in Chittagong have been uploaded to Commons. The event, hosted by the Independent University Bangladesh, was supported by Wikimedia Bangladesh and attended by more than 300 people, including the State Minister for Science and Technology – who urged the nation's youth to edit Bangla Wikipedia – and intellectuals such as Muhammad Zafar Iqbal.
- Wikidata: Wikimedia Deutschland's new community communications manager for Wikidata, Lydia Pintscher, has introduced the communications road map for the project, the goal of which is "to create something similar to Wiki[media] Commons for data", starting with an interwiki repository. The initiative's current focus is on collecting input, creating resources "to explain the project better", setting up infrastructure, and working on a structured input collection system. (Those excited by the potential of the project will be interested to know that the Signpost will be running a special report in April, covering the topic in more detail.)
- Chapters Committee appointments completed: The Chapters Committee has announced the end of its elections and the appointment of five new members. Galileo Vidoni, Lodewijk Gelauff, Maria Sefidari, Bengt Oberger, and Tomasz Kozłowski are replacing outgoing members Nathan Carter, Austin Hair, and Vladimir Medeyko; in addition, Delphine Ménard has been appointed as a non-voting adviser.
- Wikimania 2012 call for participation deadline on Sunday: March 18 is the deadline for submitting a talk, panel, workshop or other session proposal for Wikimania 2012. The organizing team is seeking session proposals on wiki culture and community, technical topics, sister projects, third-party wikis and collaborative projects, wikis in the public sector, GLAM-wiki, education initiatives, and other topics related to Wikipedia.
- Milestones: The following Wikipedia projects reached milestones this week: the Vietnamese Wikipedia has reached 1,000,000 total pages, the Finnish Wikipedia has reached 50 administrators, and the Sorani Wikipedia has reached 100,000 page edits.