News and notes
Wikimedian passes away
A solitary flower, photographed in memory of Cynthia
Cynthia Ashley-Nelson, who edited as "Cindamuse" on the Wikimedia projects, passed away in her sleep at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin on 11 April.
Cynthia's death was first relayed to the movement by the Affiliations Committee, on which she served as vice-chair for one day before her death. Originally an English Wikipedian, having registered an account on the site in 2007, she wrote two good articles on the site, including one on her distant relative Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury and the 2010 book on the first US president, Washington: A Life, and made about 33,500 edits. She was nominated for administrator by Pedro in December 2013 and passed with 97 votes in support.
In the Wikimedia movement, Cynthia was appointed to the Affiliations Committee, which advises the Wikimedia Foundation on the approval of new affiliates, at the beginning of 2014. She participated with Wikipedia's Volunteer Response Team, which uses an open-source ticket request system (OTRS) to respond to email inquiries, and co-moderated the Wikimedia movement's gender gap mailing list.
In real life, Cynthia lived in the United States. Born in California, she worked in Washington as the founder and executive director of Catalyst Resource Network, whose Facebook page describes it as an organization that fights one of the remaining areas of slavery: sex trafficking and exploitation. "We're basically a modern day Underground Railroad."
Tributes to Cynthia came in from around the movement. The outgoing and incoming chairs of the Affiliations Committee wrote in a joint statement that "In the short time since January that Cindy has been with us in the Affiliations Committee, we have come to value her thoughts, passion and refreshing ideas. She was working very enthusiastically with us, and we are all saddened that we won’t have the chance to learn from all of her ideas, insights and experiences. The months we shared proved her to be a very valuable and engaged member of the committee".
Foundation board member María Sefidari wrote in the Wikimedia blog: "We would send each other long emails about movement roles and how to move forward with the movement. And as it usually happens, conversations turned from the more formal to the informal, eventually including little snippets of our every day lives, the good things that happened to us and the not so good. When we met for the first time face to face several days ago, we gave each other a big hug. ... I think our last interaction was about getting together at some moment during the conference to just hang out and talk. She had a great smile."
Tributes are being left on her English Wikipedia talk page.
- Wiki Education Foundation: The nascent Wiki Education Foundation has announced a US$1.39 million grant from the Stanton Foundation. Frequent readers of the Signpost will recognize Stanton from the recent paid editing controversy (see Signpost coverage 1, 2) and its historically large donations to the Wikimedia Foundation, including $1.2 million in 2010 for the Public Policy Initiative and $3.6 million in 2011 for the VisualEditor. The funds will be spent on improving Wiki Ed and "underdeveloped content areas on Wikipedia".
- Adrianne: Adrianne Wadewitz, an editor of the English Wikipedia who passed away on 8 April, was the subject of a New York Times obituary by Noam Cohen that appeared on page A18 of the Sunday paper. Cohen's article sparked several others, including the Desert Sun, Yahoo! Shine, Jezebel, and Buzzfeed. A Wikipedia article about her was created, though it is now the subject of a deletion discussion.
- Irish history tweeted and edited: It's been one thousand years since the Battle of Clontarf. "Was this defining moment in Irish history the occasion when Brian Boru himself drove the Vikings out of Ireland much as Saint Patrick had driven the snakes out a few hundred years earlier? Or was it a Game of Thrones style slaughter with two alliances of Irish and Vikings killing each other in sight of the walls of Dublin, leaving Dublin an independent Viking city state for a generation after?", asks Jonathan Cardy of Wikimedia UK. The Science Gallery at the Naughton Institute in Dublin, Ireland—in concert with 1014 retold and John Cummings—hosted an editathon on 19 April that was focused on the battle, bringing historians, Wikipedians, and citizens together to work on the battle and related topics. It was covered by the Silicon Republic and Buzzfeed in an article titled in part "The Real 'Game of Thrones'".
- WMF Board of Trustees
- Minutes released: The minutes from the 31 January/1 February Board of Trustees meeting have been published. Of note are the careful avoidance of any appearance of conflict of interest in the approval of a new host for the Wikimedia Blog, as Stuart West serves as that host's (Automattic's) chief financial officer, and the approval of a new trademark policy.
- Wikimedia Shop: The Foundation's shop has been redesigned "to make it more visually appealing and user friendly" following below-expected revenues. 2014 calendars featuring the winner of Wiki Loves Monuments are now available.
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