The traditional way of accessing research articles
Jimmy Wales will advise on setting up the next generation of open-access platforms for British researchers, according to The Guardian
After the issue of open-access research had simmered for years, Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at Cambridge University in the UK, finally spat the dummy in January and wrote a blog post explaining why he'd been boycotting research journals published by Elsevier, the Netherlands-based publisher of medical and scientific literature. He complained that the company massively overcharges for its research publications and forces libraries into unfair and wasteful "bundling" deals on multiple subscriptions, many of which they do not want.
Gowers’ move led to the launch of the webpage The Cost of Knowledge as a hub of protest against Elsevier. Researchers were asked to pledge not to submit or referee papers or serve on an editorial board for the company’s journals. More than 11,000 academics have signed the pledge.
Elsevier is one of the most powerful players in the academic world, publishing more than a quarter of a million research articles each year in its more than 2,000 journals. The Economistreports that "the firm is certainly in rude financial health. In 2010, it made a £724m ($1.16 billion) profit on revenues of £2 billion, a margin of 36%." The publishing giant's portfolio includes prestigious journals such as The Lancet and Cell, books such as Gray's Anatomy, the ScienceDirect e-journals, and the Trends and Current Opinion series. Elsevier owns the ubiquitous online citation database Scopus, which generates data that many researchers rely on to demonstrate their competitiveness.
Such is the company's reach that a substantial proportion of the citations in Wikipedia’s medical and scientific articles rest on its publications. As many editors know, a frustrating aspect of using Wikipedia as a serious tool for knowledge acquisition is that article references often link to sources that require a credit card. The charge can be as high as $50 to access a single article, and readers don't find out whether there's a paywall until they've clicked multiple times. To explore such problems and their solutions, The Signpost has trialled the orange open-access logo, designed by PLoS, against references in our monthly Recent research, and a roll-out for wider usage on Wikimedia Foundation projects is under discussion.
Jimmy Wales gets involved
Wikimedia’s Jimmy Wales was widely reported in the press and electronic media earlier this month as having agreed to advise the UK government on how its plans to make taxpayer-funded research available gratis can promote collaboration and engagement. The Guardian suggested that the new model will be analogous to the access we now have "to lots of information through Wikipedia".
Wales told The Signpost that "traditional academic journals have had the same business model for decades—a model that made a lot of sense before the age of the Internet, just as the business model of the traditional hard-copy Britannica made a lot of sense before the age of the Internet." We asked him about the view that there's been a creeping privatisation of knowledge. He said that "it isn't 'the privatisation of knowledge' which has crept up on us, but the realization that there's a better way to fund academic publishing, a way that will allow for much broader distribution of results."
The Economist commented that Elsevier "insists it is being misrepresented. ... It charges average industry prices for its products, according to Nick Fowler, its director of global academic relations, and its price rises have been lower than those imposed by other publishers over the past few years. Elsevier's enviable margins, Dr Fowler says, are simply a consequence of the firm’s efficient operation." The Guardianreported Fowler as revealing that being portrayed as the "enemies of science" is "downright wrong. It's hurtful to spend your life trying to advance science and medicine and be told you're blocking it."
Wales responded to Fowler's points about pricing and profits in a diplomatic tone, unlike some contributors to blogs and online articles on the issue recently. He told us: "This isn't really what I think we should be interested in. What we should be interested in is the sharing of knowledge and the widespread dissemination of research results. We're in the midst of a major shift in business models in the research publication industry, and I'm sure that if Elsevier is an efficient operator, they'll do well under the new model."
An op ed in The Boston Globe last week said that "it is the persistent unwillingness of universities to address the fundamental misalignment between the interests of their faculty and their libraries that has allowed the situation to fester. Had the leaders of major research universities attacked this issue head on at any point since the deep economic flaws in system became apparent in the 1990s, we would not be facing this problem today."
So has the delay in recognising the problem been due to a lack of political will and organisation in the research sector? Wales emphasises a different angle: "In large part, there's been a time lag due to the need for open-access journals to prove themselves and build a reputation of quality, a process which has already happened to a significant extent and which continues today."
Whatever the reasons for the delay, one thing is clear: Just how the move to open access will be accomplished from here on is by no means straightforward. UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, who is behind the move to bring Wales on board, told The Guardian "we still need to pay for such functions, which is why one attractive model—the gold—has the funders of research covering the costs. Another approach—the green—includes a closed period before wider release during which journals can earn revenues." The BBC reported Willetts as saying "the challenge is how we get there without ruining the value added by academic publishers."
Slow war in Congress
Some US legislators have attempted to create a freer environment for the open-access publication of taxpayer-funded research, notably through the Federal Research Public Access Act, unsuccessfully proposed in 2008 and 2010, and reintroduced in 2012. But there is a strong countervailing push: many Wikimedians may not be aware that around the same time they were debating the SOPA blackout proposal, Congress was considering another bill for the Research Works Act (RWA) that would have forbidden open-access mandates for federally funded research. This bill, and two predecessors proposed in 2008 and 2009, move in the opposite direction to the current UK plans.
The RWA bill did not succeed, even though it was supported by powerful industry groups, including Elsevier—one of Gowers' original gripes against the company. Elsevier's statement on withdrawing support from the bill suggested the company was responding to the potential for bad publicity, talking in terms of creating "a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders." A related statement by the company's Dr Alicia Wise suggested the company will continue its lobbying against open access.
We asked Jimmy whether politicians will continue to be vulnerable to lobbying by the publishing industry, and whether there's a danger that such moves will re-emerge in legislatures:
Yes, there's always a danger. I believe one of the key issues here is 'the tyranny of the status quo', which was termed by economist Milton Friedman. When something new emerges that is widely beneficial to a lot of people (although in a modest way for each individual), but is very costly to a small group of people who have benefitted from the status quo, it's very likely that the small group will find it worthwhile to band together and spend resources to pass unjust laws, while the widely dispersed benefit will receive little interest or support because the general public has a hard time getting organized. So time and time again, we'll see groups who've achieved a privileged position that no longer makes sense, working to try to outlaw innovations that will benefit almost everyone, except themselves.
How does Wikimedia fit into this scenario?
Daniel Mietchen, Wikimedian in Residence on Open Science
It's been 10 years since the Budapest Initiative that defined open access. Now is a good time to lift our game on the re-use of open-access content on Wikimedia, Mietchen says.
Daniel Mietchen is a biophysicist and since July 2011 has been Wikimedian in Residence on Open Science. Mietchen told The Signpost that licencing is a major issue for the relationship between the movement and open-access research publications: "Open access was defined 10 years ago as imposing only one limit on access and reuse: proper attribution. That's why a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) is the standard in open-access scholarly publishing. Wikimedia's CC-BY-SA licence—virtually never used in academic contexts—insists that any re-use must also be under the same licence, guaranteeing openness in perpetuity."
So why is this a problem, we asked. "The two licenses are one-way compatible: CC-BY materials can be used in CC-BY-SA environments, but not vice versa. Critically, many research journals recently launched by traditional publishers and marketed as open-access use licences that impose additional restrictions that are incompatible with both the open-access definition and re-use on Wikimedia projects. In other words, if a publication can’t be re-used on Wikipedia, it ain’t open access."
Mietchen explained that publishers don't factor in the possibility of derivative work. Once an article is published, that's typically the end of what anyone cares about—authors or publishers—except for citation counts later on. "If a scholarly article is available under CC-BY, for example, you can take its text or any of its figures or supplementary multimedia files and use them either unchanged or modified in Wikimedia projects or elsewhere. Users can still freely modify, share or otherwise re-use them."
"Scholarly publishers are only just starting to ponder these possibilities, whereas the few existing attempts to render scholarly publications updatable—most notably Scholarpedia and Living Reviews—don't employ re-use–friendly licences. The relevance of Wikimedia to the open-access movement has so far not been on the radar, and highlighting this is one of the most important aspects of the publicity surrounding Jimmy's advisory role."
"Enabling users to freely modify material such as images was an important part of the Research Committee’s recent submission to the US administration on public access to scientific publications. The issue of re-use has come up very rarely in the open-access debate, as it was secondary to the goal of providing researchers with read access to the scholarly literature. Wikimedia is now uniquely positioned within the world of free and open knowledge to champion the re-use case."
Hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation, Mietchen's residency has focused on the English Wikipedia, where WikiProject Open Access is now actively working on open-access matters. He says now is the time to extend this to other projects, where the topic of open access is less well-developed, such as Wikimedia Commons and the German and French Wikipedias. "One of the advantages of getting academic publishers to adopting re-usable licences is that you can freely translate their material into other languages. Spreading knowledge across language barriers is vital to both the Wikimedia and open-access movements."
"While a number of policies and practices here keep standing in the way of systematic expert involvement—see this current example—Wikimedia provides one of the few models to build on in terms of freely spreading scholarly knowledge. At stake are not just the ability to update, retouch, recontextualise, translate and remix scholarly resources, but the searchability, the enormous exposure, and the speed of making materials available for education in science, medicine, and scholarship more generally. It simply makes sense to bring Wikimedia and open access closer together!"
Plans for the long-awaited volunteer-run Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) are now being debated on Meta. The FDC will represent a historic change in the financial arrangements of the Wikimedia movement, by advising the foundation on how a significant proportion of the movement’s funding is allocated.
Executive director Sue Gardner's recommendations to the board on how to structure the new body and its activities are due by June 30. In April, Gardner set up an advisory group to facilitate the process and to work with Bridgespan on these tasks; Bridgespan are the non-profit consultants who supported Wikimedia’s development of the Strategic Planning document in 2009–10.
The first FDC concept draft was published on May 4. This took into account the basic design principles already established, and interviews at the Berlin conference and elsewhere. Under the draft, the FDC will advise on the distribution of a defined portion of the funds exclusive of what is (i) required to keep the projects operational (the "core"), or (ii) transferred into the WMF’s "rainy-day funds" for future safeguarding of the core.
In other developments, the scope of eligibility has been more clearly defined to exclude individuals and groups that are not officially recognized by the WMF board; and along with recognized chapters and partner organizations, parts of the WMF’s own programs will need to go through the FDC process.
Grant requests by applicants who do not meet these criteria will continue to be handled by the volunteer-reviewers of the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC), which has apparently not yet managed to sort out fundamental aspects of its structure and procedure, such as how to replace its own membership. This scenario has dragged on since September 2011, and no solution has yet been reached, despite the recent WMF resolution on standards and practices of Wikimedia committees.
At this early stage, the community can provide input to the process on Meta, where Bridgespan have prepared questions on the shape and the overall process of the FDC.
Editor survey results
Question: "Please pick three changes that you believe will make it easier for you to contribute." (n = 6176)
Findings published by the WMF's research team indicate that new editors favor simpler rules and improvements in the interface on the English Wikipedia, while seasoned contributors care about better social behavior.
46 percent of new login-account editors (from one to nine edits) see the complex rule books of Wikipedia as an issue making it harder for them to contribute. This proportion falls to 44 percent of users (10–100 edits), and 34 percent of "highly prolific" Wikipedians (> 5000 edits).
59 percent of highly prolific editors felt that social problems on wiki are important, falling to 53 percent for editors with > 1000 edits, and only 22 percent of users with fewer than 100 edits.
This third release of results from the editor survey conducted in December 2011 also finds that roughly 60 percent of editors started as anonymous contributors before setting up a user account to track their own edit history, create a personal watch list, or start new articles. While some mature wikis such as the German Wikipedia allow users without a login account to create new articles, the English Wikipedia does not, but only 39 percent of English Wikipedia users cited this as a negative part of its culture, compared with the 54 percent average for all Wikipedias.
Personal "lack of time" is quoted by 59 percent of users as a reason for the decline of on-wiki activity, mainly by "active" editors (> 100 edits). These days Wikipedia competes for the spare time of its active volunteers not only with offline activities such as reading (44 percent) or school or academic work (34 percent), but online systems such as Facebook and Twitter that were not around in the early days. 23 percent of respondents pointed to these newer activities.
The detailed findings of the second editor survey can be found at the survey's opening.
Creative Commons 4.0: The ongoing consultations on the working drafts for the next Creative Commons license version are open for input by the community; the CC license involves all foundation projects. Intending participants are invited to peruse several questions that focus on attribution.
WMF intern research on legal issues: Law student interns working with the WMF's legal department over the summer have prepared legislative summaries and other documents on 13 issues, among them the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the US Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) and Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection (CISPA) Acts, and the copyright of NASA images.
Arab language initiative in Algeria: A two day-workshop was held at the Médéa University in the Médéa Province. 130 students took part in the first and up to 30 in the second day, thereby creating 18 new entries on Wikimedia projects.
Chapter-selected WMF board seats: The selection process, originally scheduled to be concluded by May 15 (see previous Signpost coverage), has been extended by five days.
Video of the monthly Wikimedia Foundation metrics and activities meeting covering April (May 3, 2012)
WMF report for April 2012: The foundation's activity report for April 2012 has been published. Highlights include progress in Indian language outreach, the reaching of mobile page-view benchmarks, a new deployment cycle for the Tech department, and the new Wikimedia finance and entity models.
Milestones: The following Wikipedia projects reached milestones this week:
Submit your project's news and announcements for next week's WikiProject Report at the Signpost's WikiProject Desk.
Although you may not have come across the Teahouse yet, this new project is a bold initiative by the Wikimedia Foundation for welcoming new editors, helping them, and persuading them to stay with the project. Brainstormed on Meta and launched on 15 February this year, the whole concept is a way of helping newer editors and editor retention. Teahouse hosts both invite selected new editors to visit the Teahouse and help out at the questions page to which new editors have been invited. Invited editors become "guests" at the Teahouse with their own profile, just like the hosts. The project was developed with the support of the foundation as a pilot for this type of editor welcoming. Updates and discussion are at the Meta page.
What was the initial idea for the Teahouse? Who came up with the spark and helped develop it into the fully functioning project it is today?
SarahStierch: In October 2011 I visited the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco to present on the results of my Wikimedia and Women Survey. After presenting, we had a round table discussion which involved staff and community members in which we discussed ideas on how to inspire more women to become editors to Wikipedia, and how to also retain editors. During this conversation, the idea of a "coffee shop," emerged. The concept stuck with me, and while crafting a fellowship proposal, it was decided it would be a great starting point for my fellowship. When the fellowship was accepted, Siko introduced me to Jonathan and then the Teahouse was born!
Jtmorgan: Siko Bouterse (Head of Community Fellowships at WMF) first mentioned the idea of creating a place for new editors, similar to the Cafe dos Novatos on Portugese Wikipedia. I had been doing a lot of research on the new editor experience as part of the 2011 Wikimedia Summer of Research. Pretty soon Siko introduced Sarah and me, and the three of us started bouncing ideas around. Once we had developed our use cases, wireframes and workflows, Heather Walls (she of the mega graphic design chops) made the space itself incredibly compelling, welcoming and shiny.
Do you find your experiences working at the Teahouse good fun, or are there times you get a little frustrated and forget the patience needed to work with new users? Do you enjoy yourself generally?
SarahStierch: The Teahouse is one of those spaces, where when you participate with the hosts and new editors you get a real satisfaction out of it – especially when the new editors continue to grow and thrive and thank you for your help. While sometimes things can be frustrating, it's just the growing pains of a new space like the Teahouse. It has been pretty surprising to me how much I have learned from our hosts, too. No matter how long you've been editing Wikipedia, it's amazing what you still don't know! It's also nice when a new editor you helped checks in with you (or you check in with them and they reply) and a kitten suddenly appears on your talk page! :)
Jtmorgan: I enjoy it most when I get to interact with new users, and with hosts. I'm a pretty new Wikipedian in some ways too, so I've learned a lot from our hosts over the last 8 weeks. But it's gratifying to realize that even I can help out new editors. Right now, I do a lot of the 'back end' stuff, so I don't interact with new editors as much as I'd like. Once the pilot is over, I look forward to having more time to just be a host.
Writ Keeper: It's usually pretty fun. The nice thing about the Teahouse (or rather, one of them) is that, as a question/answer forum geared towards new users, our guests can't really do any damage as they're learning. It seems to me that a lot of the frustration expressed about new users is the damage they do to existing content while they're learning the ropes; in the Teahouse, there's nothing they can really break, so we don't really have much to get frustrated about. As for me, it wasn't so long ago that I was a new user myself, so I still have memories of what it was like to be new (and indeed, in many areas, I still am new). That helps to temper a lot of annoyance I may have with understanding of their position. Also, the Teahouse gives me a good excuse to mess around with JS and the like, which is always fun. :)
One of the main goals of the Teahouse is to improve editor retention and levels of satisfaction with the community greeting them as they start on the wiki. Based on the data gathered and displayed at meta:Research:Teahouse/Metrics, do you think you are achieving these goals or are they slipping slightly? Expand your thoughts on how you think the project is performing.
Jtmorgan: We're definitely having a positive impact on the new editors who show up and ask questions. According to our survey results, Teahouse visitors enjoy and benefit from the experience, and initial results on retention suggest that Teahouse visitors tend to stick around Wikipedia longer than new editors who didn't visit, that they contribute more content more frequently, and that the content they contribute to articles is reverted less often. We'll be analyzing the impact on new editor retention on an even larger sample soon. The challenge so far has been getting people 'in the door.' Our primary recruitment strategy is active outreach: identifying batches of new editors who might benefit from Teahouse support, and inviting them personally. And I think that this active, individual approach is vitally important: new editors often perceive Wikipedia as a kind of sterile, anonymous place when they first join, so receiving messages from actual people may in itself be a compelling reason to stick around for a bit. But all that inviting is hard work, especially considering that only about 5% of invitees actually show up. Part of the difficulty is kind of built-in: we're inviting very new editors because research has shown that early intervention is key to retention, but most new accounts only amass a few edits before they're abandoned. So, long story short, we're succeeding with those who come, but we are actively looking for additional avenues for inviting new editors or publicizing Teahouse so that we can have a greater overall impact.
Do you feel happy with the attitude exhibited in the main Teahouse forums: Talk:Teahouse, the questions page, maybe even the IRC channel (#wikipedia-teahouseconnect)? Do you think the hosts are as friendly as possible with guests, or perhaps that guests are sometimes a bit of hard work on purpose to tire out the hosts. Have you had any problems with trolls at all?
Jtmorgan: The hosts are just amazingly patient with guests, even when that means answering the "same" question over and over again... because of course from the guest's point of view their question is unique! We've had a few disruptions, but they've been handled well so far.
Writ Keeper: For the most part, yes, I'd say that the attitude in the Teahouse places are about as relaxed and friendly as we'd like it to be. I do sometimes worry a bit about host fatigue, though; as time goes on, and as we keep answering the same questions, I'm a little concerned we'll start to rely on "canned" answers, drop the personalized greetings and name recognition, and generally just lose the human touch, which in my opinion is the most important aspect of the Teahouse. I know I've answered questions about named ref tags at least three or four times, sometimes when the last answer is only a few scrolls down the page. It's just something we have to cope with as best we can, though; I know that nothing turns me off of a new web community quite like a peremptory demand to "search the archive, nub".
I don't know that we've had any trolls per se, but we've had one or two people who are obviously block-evading socks, only at the Teahouse to vent about the "abusive admins". My strategy has generally to try to engage them on their talk page (with as much
The Teahouse helps new editors be bold with a cup of tea!
good faith as humanly possible) to get them off the main Teahouse pages and avoid their impact on new users; it usually works pretty well. Tiring, though.
Tell us about the most difficult question you've had to answer at the questions page. How tricky was it to explain, or perhaps you didn't know.
SarahStierch: Ah, for me COI is actually one of the most fun things, but, perhaps my role as a GLAM WIKIpedian has helped me sculpt my own responses for that one (in response to Jonathan's response). I think the hardest for me is of course formatting and scripts and techy things that are just over my head. But that's what Writ, Jonathan and the rest of the gang helps me with (and I'm grateful for it!). I've actually had a lot of fun working with new editors to help them craft articles, and when they take the constructive criticism and execute it into the article and the article is then kept on Wikipedia – it's very satisfying. But yes, if there is something I just don't have the patience for (!!) or know about, I know there is another host that will come along and lend a hand.
Jtmorgan: It's hard for me to explain issues around COI to people. We get a lot of questions of the "why was my article rejected?" variety, many of which have a probable COI component. For my part, I feel like engaging editors who have potential COI and trying to re-focus that energy in a more productive direction is really important, because these are people who are already interested in investing time in writing an encyclopedia article. However, it's sometimes not easy to explain to them that there probably shouldn't be an article about their high school, grandfather or patented viral marketing strategy. Or, even if that topic is notable enough for inclusion, that they aren't the person to write it.
Writ Keeper: Fortunately, we have a good number of hosts; if there's a question I don't understand, I can generally wait until someone who knows more to answer it instead. Probably the toughest one for me was a user who was asking about how to reply to a question they had asked previously. I was puzzled on how to explain it in terms that the user wouldn't find equally unhelpful; I guess it just never occurred to me that something that seemed so obvious to me would cause such difficulty in someone else. That's pretty much the biggest problem in the process of helping new users as it stands today; all of this stuff is so old-hat to us that we never even think of explaining it to anyone else. Hopefully, the Teahouse can help these users ask the questions they'd otherwise be unable (or too embarrassed) to ask. My favorite quote of them all, as displayed on my user page, is from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and I think it describes this phenomenon perfectly: "How can a man who's warm understand a man who's cold?" I think that's the real challenge of the Teahouse.
How could I get involved, where should I go?
SarahStierch: What Jonathan said, and also, help us invite new editors! Writ created great scripts that you can add (sort of like Twinkle) to invite new editors. You can learn more about the invite process here.
Jtmorgan: Easy one! Well, pretty easy anyway. Go to the host lounge and/or your hosts and give our materials a quick once-over. Check out the questions and answers on the Q&A board, talk to a host, etc. If Teahouse seems like a project you want to spend some time on, add yourself to the host list, create a host profile and start inviting and answering! The only reason we ask that editors do a little 'homework' before diving in is that probably the most important aspect of the Teahouse interface is the way hosts interact with guests. We really, really believe in this whole "prompt welcome/friendly tone/detailed and personalized response/direct followup" model we've developed for Q&A board interactions. We also believe that direct outreach to those who might need help, rather than an "if you build it, they will come" strategy, works best for engaging new editors—so it's important that at least a good chunk of us hosts are actively inviting people. Take away those two things, and the Teahouse is just another Q&A board, and you start to wonder why the project is even necessary. So while we welcome 'drop in' assistance from interested Wikipedians, you can make a much more valuable contribution to the project if you acquaint yourself a little with the project's philosophy, service model and 'responsibilities' beforehand.
Anything else you'd like to add?
SarahStierch: The Teahouse has been a unique and valuable learning experience for me, as a community member and a fellow. A big thank you to the hosts who have joined the project during this pilot period, all the Wikipedians who have contributed to conversations on the talk pages and helped us to improve the project, as well as those who have been patient with us explaining "why we do what we do" in regards to the Teahouse. Also, big thanks to my team mates at the Teahouse – Jonathan, Siko, and Heather – your insight, friendship, wikiness and ideas have been invaluable. And of course – all the new editors who have enjoyed a cup of tea (or two!) and have helped make the Teahouse what it is, and what it is becoming.
Jtmorgan: A thank you to all of our incredibly talented and dedicated hosts. Seriously, you gals and guys have taught me so much in the last eight weeks! About a month ago, I had a group of my undergraduate students visit the Teahouse 'undercover' in the context of an assignment I was having them do on Wikipedia. Every single one of them said that the best thing about Teahouse, even more than the content of the answers they received, was the way the hosts answered their questions! It took a lot of the intimidation out of the new editor experience for them, and our survey results indicate a similar impact on other visitors. That is all your doing. Thanks!
The pilot phase of the Teahouse project ends this month. A report on activities and success metrics will follow.
Get your lightsabers ready for next week's Report. Until then, use the force in the archive.
Gabriel Fauré (nom), by Tim riley. French composer, pianist and teacher Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) was one of the foremost French composers of his generation and influenced the reception of modern music in France. Among his best-known works are Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano, and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although drawn to music as a young boy, after graduating college he worked as an organist and teacher, leaving him little time for composition. Most of his compositions were written on retreats in the countryside.
Banksia oblongifolia (nom), by Casliber. Banksia oblongifolia, commonly known as the fern-leaved or rusty banksia, is a species in the plant genus Banksia found in parts of Australia. It generally grows in sandy soils in heath, open forest or swamp margins and wet areas. A many-stemmed shrub up to 3 m (10 ft) high, it has leathery serrated leaves and rusty-coloured new growth. The yellow flower spikes, known as inflorescences, most commonly appear in autumn and early winter. Up to 80 follicles, or seed pods, develop on the spikes after flowering.
Lactarius torminosus (nom), by Sasata. Lactarius torminosus is a large agaric fungus found in North Africa, northern Asia, Europe, and North America. First described in 1774, the fungus has been switched between genera several times. It associates with various trees, and its mushrooms grow on the ground singly or in groups in mixed forests. The pink and ochre-hued caps can reach a diameter of up to 10 cm (3.9 in). The species is highly irritating to the digestive system when eaten raw, but has a peppery flavor when prepared properly.
Mary, Queen of Scots (nom), by DrKiernan. Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87) was queen regnant of Scotland 1542 to 1567. Following an uprising against Mary and her third husband in 1567, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son, James. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled south seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in a number of castles and manor houses in England. After more than 18 years in custody, Mary was tried and executed for her involvement in plots to assassinate Elizabeth.
1740 Batavia massacre (nom), by Crisco 1492. The 1740 Batavia massacre (Dutch: Chinezenmoord, literally "Murder of the Chinese"; Indonesian: Geger Pacinan, meaning "Chinese Tumult") was a pogrom against ethnic Chinese in the port city of Batavia (present-day Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies. The violence inside the city lasted from 9 October to 22 October 1740; minor skirmishes outside the walls continued late into November. Historians have estimated that at least 10,000 ethnic Chinese were massacred. The massacre's legacy is found in Dutch literature, and as a possible etymology for the names of several areas in Jakarta.
Singapore strategy (nom), by Hawkeye7. Between 1919 and 1941, the British Empire developed several war plans to deter or defeat aggression by the Empire of Japan by basing a fleet of the Royal Navy at Singapore. Because of financial, political and practical difficulties, the strategy was not fully and effectively put to use, ultimately leading to the despatch of Force Z to Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941. In February 1942, Singapore surrendered after a week of fighting, described by Winston Churchill as "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history".
Ralph Neville (nom), by Ealdgyth. Ralph Neville (died 1244) was a medieval clergyman and politician who served as Bishop of Chichester and Lord Chancellor of England. Neville first appears in the historical record in 1207 in the service of King John of England, and remained in royal service throughout the rest of his life. By 1213 Neville had custody of the Great Seal of England and was rewarded with the bishopric of Chichester in 1222. He was briefly Archbishop-elect of Canterbury and Bishop-elect of Winchester, but both elections were quashed and he held neither office.
Free will (review); delisted because the article has deteriorated and there are multiple unfixed problems.
Three featured lists were promoted this week:
2011 IIHF World Championship rosters (nom) by Salavat. The 2011 IIHF World Championship rosters consisted of 397 players from 16 national ice hockey teams. Organised by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the 2011 IIHF World Championship, held in Bratislava and Košice, Slovakia, was the 75th edition of the tournament. Finland won the tournament for the second time defeating Sweden 6–1 in the final.
List of Atlanta Thrashers draft picks (nom) by Leech44. The Atlanta Thrashers were a professional ice hockey franchise based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. They played in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Hockey League. The franchise was founded in 1999 and existed for 12 years before relocating to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to become the Jets in 2011. During their existence, the Thrashers drafted 107 players with the 2010 draft being their twelfth and final.
List of New York Yankees owners and executives (nom) by Muboshgu. The New York Yankees are a Major League Baseball franchise based in The Bronx, New York City, in the American League East division. This list consists of Yankee owners, general managers (GM) and other executives. The GM controls player transactions, hires the manager and coaching staff, and negotiates with players and agents regarding contracts. The longest-tenured owner in team history is George Steinbrenner, the principal owner from 1973 until his death in 2010. The current owners are Hal Steinbrenner and his brother Hank Steinbrenner. Brian Cashman is the GM.
Five featured pictures were promoted this week:
Lucky Diamond Rich (face) (nom; related article), created by TOONMAN_blchin and nominated by Crisco 1492. New Zealand-born Lucky Diamond Rich, a performance artist, has held the title of most tattooed man in the world since 2006. This image shows his head and upper torso; reviewers commented that a full body shot would have been preferable.
Supernova Remnant SN 1006 (nom; related article), created by several space agencies and nominated by Brandmeister. In the year 1006, a supernova occurred in the constellation Lupus. The brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history, the remnants of this supernova are shown in this composite image of X-ray, radio, and optical data.
Lava lake in Nyiragongo (nom; related article), created by Caitjeenk and nominated by Crisco 1492. The volcano Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has at several times been home to an active lava lake; this one was shot in 2011. According to reviewer Purpy Pupple, "without a doubt this the sheer amazingness of the image outweighs any technical deficiency."
The Arbitration Committee closed one case this week, bringing the number of open cases to one; that one open case is also in the process of being closed. When that happens, it will be the first time in twenty-two months that the Arbitration Committee would have no cases pending.
A review of the Race and intelligence case was opened in mid-March as a compromise between starting a new case and proceeding with a ruling by motion. The review was intended to be a simplified form of a full case, and had the stated scope of conduct issues that have purportedly arisen since the closure of the 2010 case.
The final decision includes principles that clarify harassment policies and sockpuppet investigation procedures.
Specifically, a passing principle states that it is not harassment for one editor to warn another about disruption or incivility if the warning is presented civilly, in good faith, and in an attempt to resolve rather than escalate a dispute.
The decision lists a long series of findings of fact, which form the basis of sanctions against several editors.
In the last days of the case, new proposals were posted. This caused some controversy on the case talk page because the new proposals added new parties to the case. One involved party told the Signpost by email that the new parties "weren't notified of the review until after the voting for them to be sanctioned had already started, so they didn't have the chance to respond to the evidence against them or present any of their own." Drafting arbitrator Roger Davies responded to such criticism on the case talk page by arguing that the committee should not ignore "compelling new evidence that goes to the heart of the case purely on procedural grounds." He explained that he did in fact notify the new parties of these developments, over a week before the case closed.
When asked about the length of the case review and the delay in posting these new findings, Roger Davies explained to the Signpost that "the main difficulty has been that the case spans about three years, with thirty-plus dispute related processes". On the case talk page he directed specific blame for the delay on one party. "Not only has Ferahgo made an unprecedented number of private submissions, but they have been engaging in serial canvassing and serial procedural manoeuvring. The effect has been to delay the case by two, perhaps three, weeks."
The closure of the case comes more than a month after the review's estimated final decision time.
A case involving accusations of disruptive editing against Rich Farmbrough has ended with the editor's desysopping and a bar on his use of automation.
A motion to close was adopted with the support of five arbitrators on 13 May.
The final decision was drafted by arbitrator Kirill Lokshin. The decision's framework centers around principles of collegiality and behavior with automation tools. The decision removes full administrative privileges from Rich on the qualification that he can seek a new RfA at any time. His ban on using automation is to be imposed in a very strict manner. According to the decision, "... any edits that reasonably appear to be automated shall be assumed to be so."
Significantly, Rich Farmbrough was just desysopped rather than banned. Only two arbitrators maintained their support for a ban throughout the voting. Kirill Lokshin gave his reason for supporting the ban: "Given Rich's history of using automation without disclosing it ... it is apparent that we have no effective means of enforcing [the] remedy [without] ban from editing entirely." However, arbitrator Courcelles described the ban proposal as "too draconian". Rich Farmbrough told the Signpost via email that he considered the site-ban option "extreme", but the Signpost received no comment on the decision to desysop alone.
Smaller chambers of the BASC
Other requests and committee action
Ban appeal successful
Altenmann won an appeal to the Ban Appeals Subcommittee (BASC). After agreeing to a series of restrictions on his editing, and with the blessing of community consensus, Altenmann was formally unblocked by the subcommittee on 9 May. Community comments were largely positive, with one editor detailing how "Altenmann was a valuable, intelligent contributor and a reliable, sensible admin."
A small minority of editors did oppose the unban proposal.
'Secret mailing list' case rejected
An editor's request for arbitration was rejected last week, after seven sitting arbitrators voted to reject the case. Anupam alleged that other named editors were using a mailing list to coordinate disruptive editing. However, no material evidence was provided to substantiate the claim, leading arbitrator SirFozzie to say "I strongly suggest that if they can't show such evidence, that they not make such remarks. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
A compromise candidate? "Unread" changes as indicated by subtle grey underlining.
At 16:47 on May 10, the $wgShowUpdatedMarker configuration variable was set to true for the English Wikipedia (server admin log). Over the next 48 hours, the wiki's Technical Village Pump doubled in size as users discussed whether or not using bold type for "unread" watchlist changes was a desirable addition to what is often an editor's single most visited page on the site.
Although the configuration variable merely allows for the styling of "unread" changes rather than forcing it, the default bold styling quickly proved unpopular among editors with large watchlists. (There was far less opposition to new users enjoying the styling, by comparison, and indeed many English Wikipedians already use the feature while visiting other Wikimedia wikis where they keep shorter watchlists.) The discomfort was mirrored by several users on the German Wikipedia, which experienced the same configuration change. Other groups of users on both sites posted to show their support for the change nonetheless.
Unlike many previous controversies, the watchlist formatting change was the result of a real local consensus, although questions are now being asked as to whether or not two dozen editors should be considered to have surpassed a requisite quorum for such changes. Other participants in this week's discussions have drawn attention to the divergence between the original community request (closed as in support of the change, despite no consensus on the correct formatting being reached) and the result (bold formatting for all). Consequently, no firm plan had been agreed among English Wikipedians as to how to respond when the configuration change was finally made, causing it to go bold by default, and then flick through alternative styles as editors tried to change the default to something more universally acceptable.
As of time of writing, the English Wikipedia had reverted to include styling for "unread" changes by default, though unlike before users are now able to "opt in" to show the changes in bold, italics or other styling by way of personal preference. As with other recent preference change debacles, it is unclear if there yet exist the technical means to set "what new editors will see" without affecting existing users, an issue at the heart of the current strife.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for many weeks.
Bugzilla: in need of replacement? Yet another thread detailing the problems with – and suggesting alternatives to – Wikimedia's installation of bug reporting and feature request system Bugzilla was opened this week on the wikitech-l mailing list. The thread, a response to a detailed, overwhelmingly critical post by WMF Community Liaison Oliver Keyes, has not yet managed to get past the overwhelming inertia that has kept Wikimedia and MediaWiki using Bugzilla for the last eight years; despite the fact that few consider Bugzilla ideal software, proposals to replace it, which tend to surface every few months, have historically failed to provide sufficient evidence to outweigh considerations in favour of retaining the existing system (switching costs, concerns about using proprietary software and a "better the devil you know" consideration, for example). In related news, WMF developer Timo Tijhof announced this week the creation of a new portal, aimed at more efficiently directing both staff and volunteer developers to high priority bugs (wikitech-l mailing list).
Wikimedia MediaWiki configuration files Gerrit-ified: Future updates to Wikimedia's own MediaWiki configuration files – that is to say, the files which govern the specific setup of each of the Wikimedia Foundation's hundreds of individual wikis – will now be processed via code review tool Gerrit, bringing them into the same code review framework as any changes to the underlying MediaWiki software which the wikis run on top of (wikitech-l mailing list). Previously, community-oriented developers could only suggest alterations to various settings (including namespace names and user rights groups), having to then wait for one of a small number of staff developers to effect those changes at a later date; now, all developers will be able to submit patchsets that can be reviewed and quickly and transparently pushed live by staff.
MediaWiki library in possible license violation: MediaWiki developers are facing the possibility of having to write their own CSS "flipping" code from scratch after the licensing requirements of the standard "Janus" library they have relied on for the last 18 months had been found to be (potentially) incompatible with those of MediaWiki as a whole (wikitech-l mailing list). Janus, used for CSS flipping (the automated conversion of styles written by Western developers and optimised for left-to-right writing systems into their right-to-left equivalents), has been included with MediaWiki since August 2009 without legal challenge; consequently, developers such as Director of Platform Engineering Rob Lanphier have said they are confident that a mutually acceptable solution can be found. Such a solution is needed if MediaWiki developers are to avoid having to reimplement from the ground up the functionality currently provided by Janus under version 2 of the Apache License – an open source licence thought to be incompatible with MediaWiki's GPLv2 because of its more stringent "patent termination and indemnification provisions". The discussion mirrors a problem MediaWiki encountered early last year when another library was found upon belated review to include the extra licensing condition that it "be used for Good, not Evil", rendering it also legally incompatible with the GPL.
translatewiki.net considering allowing OpenID logins: translatewiki.net, an externally-run MediaWiki-based wiki, is considering accepting logins not just via local registration and/or via Wikimedia SUL, but via OpenID, a mature system of centralised authentication designed to merge a user's many different website registrations into a single account authentication process. The result of the discussion will be of considerable interest to Wikimedians, and not only because translatewiki.net provides translations for the MediaWiki interface: the wiki has something of a trendsetting reputation, often being the first major wiki to try out so-called "bleeding edge" code before it hits Wikimedia wikis. As such, a successful implementation of OpenID on translatewiki.net could well be taken as an important sign that the technology is mature enough for consideration by Wikimedia developers.
New Pages Feed tested on English Wikipedia: The prototype for a new New Pages Feed (formerly "New Page Triage"), designed as an alternative to Special:NewPages, has now been deployed on the English Wikipedia; currently semi-private, the feed will be tested for bugs ahead a full deployment some time before Wednesday, Oliver Keyes reported this week. He will be holding an office hours session on May 16 at 21:00 in #wikimedia-officeconnect to show it off, get feedback and plot future developments and he welcomes all those interested to attend, according to his regular newsletter. The successful deployment followed two unsuccessful attempts reported last week. Any questions can be directed to the talkpage for the project.
DigiCert take on Wikimedia SSL certificate responsibility: Utah-based DigiCert has been hired "to secure [Wikimedia's] web and mobile properties": or in plainer English, to manage and maintain Wikimedia's portfolio of SSL certificates and to conduct related business. Such certificates form the backbone of secure online transactions (denoted to the user by the protocol https: and an accompanying padlock, tick, or other graphic); crucially, DigiCert offered to manage SSL coverage of Wikimedia's many domains and subdomains in a more flexible manner than most other providers, allowing for new wikis to be created and enabled without prompting the appearance of security-related error messages. The exact cost of DigiCert management is unknown and apparently contractually prohibited from being disclosed; Director of Technical Operations CT Woo did however describe the arrangement (which replaces the procurement of SSL certificates on a more ad-hoc basis) as a "good deal".