Wikipedia talk:Ambassadors/Archive 3

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October 2011 Election

As a notice to the community, there is an upcoming Steering Committee Election, where three, 1-year positions are open, as following: - 1 Committee member from the Campus Ambassador Community - 1 Committee member from the Online Ambassador Community - 1 Committee member at-large

Nominations will be open for just over a week and will close on October 7th 2011.

Voting is open to active Ambassadors (as defined by an Ambassador who has been active in any of the past three semesters), although members of the general community are welcome to make any comments - they will be non-voting. Voting itself will be open for ten days after all nominations are gathered, and will subsequently close on October 17th.

The newly elected members will be subsequently full members of the Steering Committee and will be expected to attend a Steering Committee meeting approximately one week after the elections end (exact time TBA depending on committee member's schedules).

FAQ:
Q: Where is all this fun happening?
A: Head on over to: Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Steering_Committee/Elections/Candidates

Q: What happens if there are no at-large nominations?
A: The nominee who had the most net votes, who was not elected as a representative for either Campus or Online Ambassadors would be eligible for said position.

Q: How is the election being run?
A: Take a look at: Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Steering_Committee/Elections

Epistemophiliac (talk) 15:33, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Just a friendly reminder, voting and questions for candidates are open for another 5 days (October 17th) to eligible voters (Effectively anyone who has been an Ambassador in the past 12 months) and those eligible are highly recommended to vote here
Epistemophiliac (talk) 14:51, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Steering committee election question

I'm posting here rather than at Wikipedia talk:Ambassadors/Steering Committee/Elections/Candidates because this page gets a bit more traffic. I noticed that Epistemophiliac has voted for both of the online ambassador candidates at Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Steering Committee/Elections/Candidates. Am I right in thinking that this is a null vote, unless there are oppose votes that need to be overridden; or have I misunderstood the voting process? I thought there was only one seat available for an OA. I voted for one at-large member and one OA. Is that the right thing to do? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:14, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

The way it worked in the first election (6 months ago) and the way I think it should work this time, is that the Online Ambassador who gets the most votes takes the Online Ambassador seat, that the Campus ambassador who gets the most votes takes the Campus Ambassador seat, and that the ambassador of any type not already elected to the Online Ambassador or Campus Ambassador seats who gets the most votes takes the third seat. -- Donald Albury 01:00, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
That makes sense. I've added a third vote; thanks for the explanation. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:05, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Concerns over impact on article quality

Wikipedia_talk:India_Education_Program/Courses/Fall_2011/Machine_Drawing_and_Computer_Graphics#Queries_from_the_Wikipedia_community Andy Dingley (talk) 21:48, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Hi Andy, thanks for bringing it up here--I've asked our team in India to respond to your concerns on that page. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 23:14, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
We have had similar problems with Wikipedia:India Education Program/Courses/Fall 2011/Data Structures and Algorithms. See, for example, the discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Computing#Deletion precedent. Half of the topics assigned to the students are simply not appropriate for Wikipedia and will very likely be deleted once posted. Topics that are suitable often lead the students to copying and pasting large amounts of material and violating copyright, or making some minor corrections together with the addition of a large amount of source code (the consensus at WikiProject Computing and WikiProject Computer science has always been that this is not appropriate in an encyclopedia.) The "ambassadors" are ignoring any communication directed at them and students keep reposting their deleted articles (and getting frustrated when they keep getting deleted in turn). —Ruud 17:16, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Sadly, there are ambassadors who know little of Wikipedia, and who are working with instructors who know even less - and have no desire to learn. Those are people who do not know what notability is, and who don't read this page... it is not difficult to generate a list of articles for one's students to improve with WP:CATSCAN, but is this part of ambassador training? If not, I'd strongly suggest this is added to it. With regards to plagiarism, ambassadors and instructors should discuss it in class, but we cannot prevent it from occurring - if students think they can get away with cheating, they'll try it. We can just deal with the (in my experience, rare) occurrences and hope that the instructors will be move vigilant in the future. And I'll note that with the globalization of the ambassador program, we will looking at new population of editors who are much less educated (or concerned) with plagiarism (just see scientific plagiarism in India). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 19:13, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
In your experience, they're rare? I'm finding that, of the articles I review that are created for a course, approximately half have at least some portion that are lifted directly from another source or have a few words changed here and there if not a full, verbatim copy/paste of a copyrighted source. I'm not sure if your feelings about the number copyright violations being introduced to WP represent the ambassador program but if they do, we may need to start generating some sort of report to assess the actual size of the problem. With that, we can all be clear on the issue (if there is one) and move forward with some plan of action, if needed. OlYellerTalktome 20:02, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Sadly, the Indian Education system itself is in quite a sad state in most places. Anyway, after a brief review of the articles, its quite plainly evident that its copied straight off a textbook, or typed with some minor changes (as OlYeller said). And the rising number of AfDs going from there is concerning. Probably something is wrong with the designing of the course itself? Lynch7 20:27, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
By all means, please try to generate data. Data is good. And let me clarify: in US, students will also (intentionally or not) plagiarize, but on a lesser scale than in some other places. And it is important for ambassadors to be able to show the students how efficient wiki copyvio procedure is, to convince them cheating in this assignment is not worth the effort. Again, I wonder if the ambassador training includes showing them how to demonstrate copyvio pages to students? Since I started showing my students how Wikipedia catches plagiarism, and telling them about copy paste, close paraphrasing and such, plagiarism in my classes went down very drastically. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 18:19, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
  • I spend much of my editing time reverting vandalism. I do this from my watchlist, not from recent changes. As this is auto-created from articles I've edited, then it tends to reflect my personal interests and areas of knowledge - much of which is engineering history. I am absolutely sick of reverting petty vandalism from what are obviously Indian technical colleges (just look at the article histories for any sort of electric motor). These students are obviously placed in front of articles vaguely on topics of study, then encouraged to edit away. Loads and loads of one-off test edits, frequently adding "Edited by Ramesh" or similar [1]. This is an abuse of WP, albeit innocent. It's also a considerable waste of time for other editors.
I saw this scheme and saw it as a great improvement. Finally an engagement with WP that was managed and well-directed. In practice though, no such thing. Instead it's appallingly bad articles by students who clearly have no understanding of the subject - Boiler design? Nor is there even any attempt to understand the subject before starting to copy & paste. It's just trying to fill space as fast as possible. There's no value to this, either for educating students on a topic, educating students to be editors, and certainly not for writing encyclopedia articles.
How much worse does this have to get before we can just prod or CSD the whole lot as worthless? It really is getting that bad. To hear that ambassadors can apparently "know little of Wikipedia" makes me wonder just how badly thought out this whole scheme is. I'm reminded of a local GLAM project where the "ambassador"'s first action was to delete the first four years of the project's history, because he'd never heard of that bit and hadn't even read the existing WP article on it. Andy Dingley (talk) 21:30, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I'd rather not go into the faults of the Indian education system, but being an Indian student myself (not in the college where the IEP is running), I'd completely expect a student to do such edits, not necessarily because their understanding of the subject is faulty, but plainly because their communication skills are quite bad. Wikipedia in education is a very new concept in Indian colleges, and this is a break from the traditional courses taught at college. Of course, I could go into a lengthy critique of the system itself, but I will not, because it serves no purpose. Perhaps the best option is to set better courses, and bring the whole program onwiki. Currently, all the administrative tasks are being done offwiki I think, and bringing them onwiki will ensure we don't go wrong in the planning stages. I'll drop in a note to Nitika/Hisham on this (the people who are coordinating). Lynch7 16:50, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure if it's fair for me to criticize the whole education program but from what I've seen, at the very least, it's unsustainable. The idea of students creating new articles as their assignments will only work so long if it even works now. This would have been great at WP's start assuming the copyvios were dealt with. As of now, it's akin to having students create a new text book that covers every subject that's notable (WP's notable) and relevant to their course. Eventually, what's being added won't be notable. For a course on Corporate Responsibility, there's a finite number of relating subjects that will be covered in class. Even if the assignments asks a student to create an article about an example of Corporate Responsibility, they will be getting ever closer to creating articles about subjects that aren't notable. This is a hypothetical problem that we may already be experiencing. The number of articles that need created is infinite (WP can never be complete) but will eventually be so small that it will not sustain all courses.
As far as copyright violations go, I have no idea how to solve that problem. As for as WP is concerned, the articles will be deleted and if need be, the editors blocked or banned if they persist (assuming we catch it all). As far as the education and ambassador projects are concerned, I can't help but think that they are partially responsible for their students. As far as making sure the students don't violate copyrights (or plagiarize as far as they and their academic institute are concerned), we'd be talking about making changes that are not only out of the scope of WP but out of WP's control unless we were to start holding academic institutes accountable and banning them from creating courses for not complying (which I think is totally absurd).
Personally, I think having WP ambassadors review articles before they are published may be a good practice. Requiring students to add a template like {{tl:IEP assignment}} to the talk page or adding a hidden category the likes of Category:Articles created via the Article Wizard. So far, I generally go through lists of article kept by instructors or ambassadors but I feel that the lists aren't uniform or that there's no indication that the lists contain all articles created by students. I also worry that we may be setting up some sort of cast system by forcing students to mark themselves or article for checking but with since they inherently have a goal to complete their assignment which might conflict with WP's goals, it may be the only answer.
Perhaps advertising the ambassador program more and asking experienced WP editor for help would work. I'm on WP every day and had never heard of the program until I ran into a wall of copyright violations. OlYellerTalktome 17:23, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
The situation is now reaching such a critical proportion of new pages that our New Page Patrollers are now hardly able to cope with it. The COPYVIO is hard to detect both becaise CorenSearchBot is down, and because the pages are mostly made up with plagiarisms from so many different sources that even the Duplication detector is rendered ineffectual. Pages are often being recreated as fast as the admins can delete them. The problem is also that the pages of the ambassadors themselves are sadly also being deleted for copyvio and other issues. I have spent dozens of hours on page patrol this week, and it looks to me as if the situation is getting out of hand. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 12:26, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Just to be clear: what is the percentage of copyvios from US/Canada to India? Is it right to say that the current troubles are caused primarily by the Indian initiative? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 16:40, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
As I believe we have any actual data, I guess our perception could be anecdotal. From my experience, I believe the ratio is about 1:5 (US/Canada:India). That's only for copyvios. I haven't seen any significant difference for articles about non-notable subjects. I hesitate to take any action without data but I'm not sure how exactly we would collect data and figuring that out may be a solution to our overall problem. OlYellerTalktome 16:49, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
As only the IEP has courses related to the areas I edit in, those have come across my radar. It also seems that most of the images in articles related to Wikipedia:India Education Program/Courses/Fall 2011/Object Oriented Modeling and Design where taken from the internet, uploaded to commons and tagged as PD, CC or GFDL :(. Those need to be deleted as well... —Ruud 16:57, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm going to tag each article in the lists of subjects on the project pages with an outcome (good article, needs cleanup, deleted as copyvio, deleted as non-notable, moved to Wikibooks, ...). That should give some insight after the classes are over. —Ruud 17:01, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Some of us have been noting the status of articles at Wikipedia:India Education Program/Courses/Fall 2011/Machine Drawing and Computer Graphics#List of students (this should really be the job of somebody in the college concerned or perhaps whoever in WMF thought this scheme was a good idea). Some of the students have removed comments (e.g. [2]) so we might need to switch to using a copy elsewhere (e.g. currently ... - possibly covering more/all of the courses. Incidentally User:DexDor/IEP status also has some notes about the numbers of students involved etc. DexDor (talk) 20:38, 9 October 2011 (UTC) (updated) DexDor (talk) 21:27, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I haven't gone to the See Also article but has this tagging been completed? I'd like to take a look and see if I can produce some statistically significant assumptions from the data about our perceived problems. OlYellerTalktome 18:07, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

inappropriately textbooky material

Hello-I recently saw some material added to a page which I strongly felt was too much like material one would have in a lecture or a textbook, but not appropriate for an encyclopedia. I removed it, and suggested on the editors' (there may have been two of them) talkpages that it didn't belong. I did suggest that it might be worthwhile as an addition to a wikibook. Trouble is, at least one of them appears to be doing this as a graded class project (associated with the Ambassadors program) and so is pleading that I not remove the material when they re-instate it. assuming good faith, they probably will try to improve it, but I'm not sure how feasible it is to make it fit the article.

I'm looking for guidance on whether I should handle this any differently from another newbie adding inappropriate material. Since I don't think it belongs, and may not be able to help "improve" it until it does belong, I simply want it out. I suppose it's possible other editors might disagree in which case, we could hash it out on the talk page. Is it possible that the student could achieve their goal of course credit by following through on putting it in a Wikibook instead? CRETOG8(t/c) 19:06, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Huge amounts of this stuff has been reverted/deleted over the past weeks - mostly for WP:COPYVIO - see Wikipedia talk:India Education Program. IMO each edit should be judged on its merits, regardless of who the editor is. They could also write their essays in sandboxes. DexDor (talk) 19:21, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
It's curious that we're "the accursed encyclopedia that's always wrong because any Tom, Dick or Harriet can edit it", yet we're having to lower the standards here to allow students being trained in a particular subject, then supposedly assessed upon it, to post some of the most banal and badly written work yet. I think it's time to stop doing this. If any other editor wouldn't get away with posting it, why should a student? Andy Dingley (talk) 19:36, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Hi Cretog8, can you let us know which student/page? We have education programs going in the U.S., Canada, and India right now, so it'd be good to know which program so we can have the appropriate Ambassadors respond. Thanks! -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:29, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
The article is Walras' law and here's the talk page discussion. (I also posted on the editors' talk pages, but the article talk page is a better place to look.) CRETOG8(t/c) 22:44, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I've asked an Ambassador to reach out to the student and ask him/her to move it into a sandbox so it can be graded there and not added to Wikipedia. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:21, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
OK, I see that on the editor's talk page, and the editor does, in fact, already have a version of the material in a sandbox. (I do think that's kind of a disappointing outcome, but grading issues aren't up to me.) CRETOG8(t/c) 19:38, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Talkback

At User talk:Kudpung#CopyVio and other. This is a message to Mihir, but I think it concerns everyone involved with the IEP. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 01:59, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Well, Mihir, who I presume is the instructor, seems quite willing to talk to us. That's god, we can work with that. And for the record, I am a strong believer in "scared student is a hard working, honest student" :) --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 03:21, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Watchlist suggestion

I found a minor shortcut that others might benefit from so I thought I'd mention it here. As an online ambassador I'd like to have every student talk page and every article they're working on on my watchlist. With 142 pages to watch, for just one of the four courses I'm supporting, that's a lot of clicking. That course page has a table which I was able to manipulate in Excel to get into a form suitable for adding to a raw watchlist (see Special:EditWatchlist/raw if you're not familiar with raw watchlists). Others might want to try something similar (it's much faster than clicking on all the pages) but if anyone does this they could help further by posting the list of page names in a form that others could add to their own raw watchlists, thus saving even more time. I can do this for the course above, if anyone is interested, for example. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:02, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Mike, maybe it is just me, but I am not sure what exactly have you done? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:11, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I found a fast way to convert a tabular list of students and courses, such as Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/U.S. Political Parties (Shamira Gelbman)#Articles, into a list that could be easily added to a watchlist. Most computer savvy editors will have figured out how to do this, but I thought it might be helpful to others, to avoid having to click on each of those links to watch the user or article. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:26, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

IRC Office Hour about India Education Program

The team from the India Education Program is compiling a bunch of information right now so there will be more information on-wiki about the program and the steps they've been taking in an attempt to combat the quality issues we've been having. Unfortunately, they are currently on a flight back to India right now, so it may take a day until they're able to get online again. Please know I and the rest of the Global Ed team are reading all the comments carefully, and I speak for all of us when I say we really appreciate the efforts everyone has been putting in.

I wanted to alert watchers of this page that I've also scheduled another IRC Office Hour at #wikimedia-office with the India Education Program team for Friday at 2 a.m. UTC. A link to the time conversion is available on the Meta page linked above. I hope many of you will be able to join us during the chat to answer some of the outstanding questions about the India Education Program. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:01, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Keeping an eye on student pages

Piotr posted this comment today on the mailing list: "I believe an ambassador should check their students activity every few days, at the very least, and be proactive with commenting (don't wait till the students ask you for help, offer it unasked)." I would like to do this, but it's not clear to me how. Perhaps with a small class one could simply stalk all the student contributions, but some classes have over a hundred students. Even with a small class, if the students are working in sandboxes, I would hesitate to do much more than perhaps fix an obvious formatting error. I'd be interested to hear how other OAs are keeping an eye on their students, and what the instructors would like from the OAs. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:32, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

All student articles, the article talk pages, and student talk pages are on my watchlist. I have over 8,000 pages on my wl and it's never been a problem.--Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 03:49, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
I use the "Contributions by course participants" link in the box at the top of the course page. The course I've been assigned only has 18 students though; I'm not sure how useful this would be for a large class. The advantage is that I can see the edits they make to non-assigned pages. --Danger (talk) 05:19, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't see that for any of the classes I'm trying to work with. Can you link to the page for that course? -- Donald Albury 10:54, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Computational Methods in Engineering Danger (talk) 15:18, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Thank you! We don't have that for the courses in the U.S. program. -- Donald Albury 21:21, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Page patrol statistics

NPP Sept-Oct 2011

The graph looks encouraging, but I guard agaisnt getting euphoric - the drop in only eight days off the near 30-day backlog represents the enormous stops that have been pulled out by experienced members of the community (who don't usually patroll pages) due to the IEP problem. It nevertheless still leaves a 20-day backlog that represents thousands of pages - and this will creep back up.

The community won't take kindly to being expected to do this again. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 11:13, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

The problem is not only India, and ambassadors need to take more reponsibility

Much of the discussion above about article topic selection and quality has been about India, but let's not kid ourselves that things are working fine elsewhere. One example is Politics and Pop Culture In the United States, which, as a topic, can only lead to an essay rather than an encyclopedia article. I'm rather disappointed that two campus ambassadors have responded to the deletion discussion by asking us to relax our usual standards because this article was written by students as part of their coursework. Surely we should expect higher rather than lower standards in such circumstances, because the article authors have the benefit of advice from ambassadors who should know the expected standards. Ambassadors should be explaining this to instructors and students rather than engaging in such special pleading.

If this programme is to achieve positive results for students and for Wikipedia then the students should be steered towards improving existing articles rather than creating new ones, and that focus should be on articles that are currently below GA standard, as we can't expect new editors to be able to improve our higher quality articles. One area that they could help enormously is in the improvement of standards of sourcing, as they have access to university libraries. Phil Bridger (talk) 15:31, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

I wish I'd read some good essays in the last week. I could forgive POV editorial, if only it was competent! Andy Dingley (talk) 15:38, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree that standards should not be relaxed for the students, and I doubt that the instructors of the courses would want that. I think it's important that we not bite the students, but they should be held -- politely -- to the same standards as any other editor.OlYellerTalktome
The example article that Phil mentions above -- Politics and Pop Culture In the United States -- is certainly a very weak article, but I've argued at the deletion discussion that it is a notable topic. Surely both we and the students will benefit if we engage with them to show them both what is wrong with their articles and how they can be improved -- assuming that their topics really are notable, as in this case? I understand there's pressure on the new page patrollers, but the ambassadors should be able to help out. I added a couple of sentences to the article in question to try to save it from deletion; with luck that will show the student what's needed.
There's a real benefit to Wikipedia if we can make this model work -- these students can add (and have added) a great deal of high quality material to the encyclopedia over the last couple of semesters. There's a statistical study that demonstrates the net benefit of their contributions; I'll try to find the link, but perhaps someone else will post it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:49, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Make that three people wishing to keep, even though I'm not a CA, and I'd point out that all three clearly state that they're not looking to lower standards for the completed article, merely to be generous during its creation. Once again, some guidance from CAs beforehand as to appropriate use of drafting outside mainspace might help. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:54, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
The link to the research work on student contributions Mike mentioned is here: outreachwiki:Student_Contributions_to_Wikipedia. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:36, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
  • The question of which articles to choose is a good one. With IEP we've seen greenfield topics (Boiler design), established topics under new names so that we end up with sheer duplication (Automobile design vs. Automotive design), some weak stub articles that clearly deserved better articles (Spark-ignition engine) and even one FA (Welding). Although there is a clear question for create vs. improve, and the issue that it's hard to improve an FA further, these student articles are nowhere near hitting that as a limit on their achievements. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:54, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
(ec * 4, i think) I cannot agree more with Phil Bridger's point; I have long believed that new editors in general should be encouraged to work on existing articles, not create new ones. Oddly, I can possibly see an exception for the Indian universities, if only because our coverage of India is admittedly very incomplete. But existing articles actually gets them interacting with other editors (at least potentially) , which is really one of the most difficult and most important aspect of WP. I can understand why a professor wouldn't like that, though, because I can see it being much harder to evaluate student work (assuming that the professor is of the standard type who thinks that its necessary to do such evaluation). And I've left a comment on the AfD explaining exactly what I think about the idea that these articles should get special treatment. Qwyrxian (talk) 15:56, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Hi all, I would just like to note that we are working with university professors, and the university professors themselves ultimately have the final say in assignments. It's their class, it's their students, it's their job to teach students and to determine learning objectives for the class. We can make all the suggestions we'd like, but the instructor has final say in the course and the assignments. Some instructors will require new articles because they're easier to grade. Others will require expanding additional articles so students don't run into AfD. Others will leave it up to the students to pick the topic. Our training materials for students includes a section on notability and the challenges of starting a new page, and it includes a section on challenges of expanding an existing page as well. Students shouldn't get special treatment on Wikipedia just because they're students, but I'd ask that you assume good faith: these students are trying to make valuable contributions to Wikipedia that also meet their professors' requirements. They're newbies, they're going to make mistakes, and the best thing we can do is help them understand what their mistakes are and how to fix them. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:35, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that the most common mistake is the choice of topic for a new article, which often seems to be something decided by instructors rather than by the students writing the articles. The students are not in a position to fix those mistakes because they risk failing their assignments if the articles are deleted, or so we are told by campus ambassadors in deletion discussions. If campus ambassadors are to add any value to Wikipedia or to the education of those students then they need to be more assertive towards instuctors who don't understand the difference between encyclopedia articles and traditional student assignments. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:22, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
What we're seeing in many cases (with engineering articles at least) is IEP students with limited English skills, little/no subject knowledge, no WP experience and poor guidance trying to add as much as they can to WP on basic subjects that are mostly already well covered (welding, lever, spring ...). The students often don't understand what they're copying/using (in some cases I doubt they even read what they copied in). They seem to have no appreciation of copyright. Given all these problems it's unsurprising that virtually every edit they make is unhelpful to WP. It also wastes the time of experienced WPians dealing with it. I can't comment on how useful this is to their education, but surely that's not the point. If WMF can't advise/tell the instructors what types of articles might benefit from student work then WMF shouldn't be encouraging this scheme at all. DexDor (talk) 19:25, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Relaxed standards, poor training, and inadequate supervision will doom this project. I think the response so far is a breeze compared to the storm that is likely to follow if we don't manage this properly now. Without sufficient resources, including the professors' time and interest, it is likely to fail catastrophically. Jojalozzo 21:06, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
The current problem is India-specific, and based on the near total disregard for copyright/plagiarism that is practically part of the culture in education across Asia. At the moment, the India issue is centred around the project in Pune, but when this project extends throughout India, the problems will reach unimaginable dimensions. The WMF projects to increase participation on Wikipedia are noble, but the India episode has reached breaking point due to extremely inadequate training of the organisers and their ambassadors. I escalated 10 days ago by blocking the engineering faculty and warning the 40 ambassadors about their own copyvio and lack of fundamental editing knowledge, but it hasn't had one ounce of effect; after I unblocked in good faith a few days later, the problems simply continued. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 07:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree that the current problem is by far the largest in the India Education Program (and why on earth is the spelling of that programme's name in US English rather than Indian English - cultural cringe or what?), but my posting here was designed to warn that we should prevent similar problems from happening elsewhere by nipping them in the bud. There seems to be an assumption among some people (I don't include you, Kudpung, and naming names wouldn't be helpful) that we need to clamp down hard on the Indian editors but should allow Western editors a lot more leeway. Let's learn from the Indian experience and prevent the same problems from happening elsewhere. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:39, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
It starting to seem obvious that the standard editor response to problematic editing won't work for the education systems. If you assume that this is going to be a large problem (I personally think it will be but I would like to see numbers from a discussion above), where do we go from here? Do we start banning or sanctioning the programs for having a sort-of inherent COI? Do we rework the programs so that articles/edits are reviewed before posting? Do we force the programs to work with related Wikiprojects to find suitable places to edit? The issue I see is that the answer will have to be applied to all editors as the only distinction between an education program and a group of people that decide to edit is that they put a name on themselves. If a program decides not to declare themselves on-Wiki, then what? OlYellerTalktome
The problem at the moment that we are not applying the same response to problematic editing originating from these programmes. Can anyone truly, hand-on-heart, claim that if Politics and Pop Culture In the United States had been written by an individual at home, without the benefit of the advice of a Wikipedia ambassador, it would not have been deleted by a pretty well unanimous decision? Phil Bridger (talk) 18:55, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I've largely deleted the article contents and replaced it with the minimum necessary to make it a retainable stub. Yes, I can say, hand-on-heart, that I'd have done the same with that article from any other source. The only difference is that I waited a day or two to see if the students would get involved, thinking that it would be educational for them if they were to participate in the process. I hope (and believe) that the reverse is also true: that nobody is being harsher on the students than they would on any other new editor with a weak article, just because the students are contributing as part of an educational program. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:07, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Personally, I think the education programs are inherently flawed in that they need to dictate that content they teach students which is impossible to implement on WP. It's like two puzzle pieces from different puzzles that are being forced together. For it to work, the current WP article landscape would dictate the content of a course. OlYellerTalktome
The programs are somewhat complex; they hinvolve campus ambassadors, wiki ambassadors, students, educational institutions, the ever changing landscape of WP's articles and content coverage, and a large number of WP editors who are uninvolved with the projects. To me, this generally means that the answer may need to be complex but with so many new editors, that will be difficult. An all encompassing rule would be the easiest to set but implementation may be impossible given the workload.
Ultimately, this may be a discussion for a larger venue. Is this the best place to have it? If not, where? OlYellerTalktome 18:01, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
The discussion venue is correct, but maybe it needs to be more widely advertised. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:55, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I cannot see how the programs are "inherently flawed." My students have produced a number of Good Articles; how can any program that resulted in that be "inherently flawed"? Now, I think that there are multiple elements of the program that do not function well enough (plagiarism not mentioned in the Understanding agreements, India and Brazil not required to sign anything (per my links #Persistent students), not enough stress on making the instructors understand Wikipedia, etc.). The community itself is a source of some related problems (the terrible inefficiency in not being able to get the CorenSearchBot up and running after months, for example). But those are technicalities to be worked out, nothing that would make the programs "inherently flawed." --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 19:14, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I said "flawed" not "broken". If a course's goal is to create articles on a subject and they take no care in what the state of the pre-existing articles in that subject, they'll be attempting to force content into a place where it may or may not be needed. It can be fixed but like I said, if their goal is to just produce articles for a subject and nothing else which seems to be the goal at this point, their goal is inherently flawed. This was a misunderstanding. I think we agree here. OlYellerTalktome 19:20, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I think we do. The question is, is the failure with the ambassadors, who did not clarify the issue, or with the instructors, who ignored ambassadors advice? As I said earlier, I have serious doubts about the quality of contributions that are supervised by an instructor who has never edited Wikipedia, nor intends to, and an ambassador with few dozen edits or less... (or, one edit: Adv.tksujith (talk · contribs) (!)). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 19:30, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
That comment cuts to the chase. Surely it would be better to have no ambassador at all rather than one who has not demonstrated competence with Wikipedia, or, more importantly, is not prepared be assertive in dealings with instructors. That needs a student who is prepared to say that a professor is doing things the wrong way, not just the normal type of student who does whatever is necessary to get a passing grade. The concept of campus ambassadors should be something very helpful, and I'm sure that there are very good Wikipedia editors at many universities who would be capable of providing good advice, but this programme doesn't seem to have attracted many of them. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
One inherent flaw is that if (as I hope) the completeness and quality of WP continues to increase it'll be increasingly hard to find opportunities for students in many subjects to do anything useful in WP. For example this years Pune computer science students have transcribed the manual of C functions (e.g. Memccpy) into WP (which probably wasn't the appropriate place, but that's another issue) - what can next years comp-sci class do in WP ? DexDor (talk) 19:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Ideas and solutions

  • I think an assessment and critique of the program is helpful. With that in mind, short of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, what are some ideas that could possibly bring resolve to these issues? Does anybody have some constructive ideas that could help steer the ship in the right direction? Let's brainstorm. No wrong answers. Any thoughts? Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 20:02, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I think requiring new articles created for courses to be tagged as such is a first step. I'm a little nervous about requiring the classes to do anything that other Wikipedians do not but it would at least let us point out where problems are (with courses, students, ambassadors, academic institutes, etc.). OlYellerTalktome 20:06, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
      • Are you thinking something along the line of a tailored "inuse" or "underconstruction" notice to be placed on the article itself? Some people have suggested this, since the tag on the talk page is often overlooked. Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 20:51, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
        • I was thinking more along the lines of a talkpage template which already exists for IEP but not for specific courses (I think). It could also be a a hidden category (a category on the page that doesn't show up at the bottom of the page) like the one on articles created with the Article Wizard. OlYellerTalktome 21:25, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
          • Am I understanding your comment correctly? I'm not quite sure how this would resolve any of the issues. Too often, I find that people don't read the talk page before editing, and rather than a hidden category, I'm thinking we need something more visible. The talkpage tag also already gives a category as a student article. Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 21:42, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
          • Don't these templates (even on talk pages) confuse things by implying the article is "owned" by a college (and other editors should accept deterioration of it) ? Any edit in mainspace that degrades an article should be reverted - students should not expect special treatment. DexDor (talk) 21:45, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
            • No more than the currently used "inuse" and "underconstruction" tags. I don't see those as implying that we should accept deterioration of articles, but rather, continuing improvement. Student articles are no exception. If the students didn't want to learn, they wouldn't be taking the course. Assuming good faith, each student is here to improve articles. The tags should serve as a reminder of the need to refrain from biting new editors and communicate with others to offer help where issues are identified. Rather than making the first choice one of deletion, it should be discussion. Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 23:19, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
            • I think a perception of ownership would be easily handled. No where on the template/category would it say that it was "owned" by anyone and WP:OWN would obviously still apply. As a side note, I don't think that students should receive special treatment. If they need to be treated in a nicer way than we usually treat editors, I think that says more about the way we treat all editors as opposed to the way we should treat students. OlYellerTalktome 23:57, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
          • I wouldn't expect people who come to the page to change their editing patterns based on the template/category but it would allow editors who are specifically focusing on articles created for a course to have a unified portal to go to. A Wikiproject or simply the Ambassador project could maintain this list instead of an instructor keeping track. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe each course decides how articles will be tracked. If one wanted to view a list of all articles created by students, they would have to go program by program the course by course to edit/patroll/assess articles after determining the course's tracking method and that's all assuming that the tracking method used is reliable. A template and/or category would unify tracking methods and give a jumping off point for any other solution. OlYellerTalktome 23:43, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I'm afraid I think the concept of these editing assignments in article mainspace is fundamentally broken, and it does not matter whether the assignments are for new articles or for article improvements. The students are asked to do one or the other of these things, and then after a period of time they are graded on their work. Only the students assigned to work on each article are supposed to do that work, and all of Wikipedia's other editors are somehow expected to know about this and to leave the work alone, neither reverting it nor bringing it up to WP standards, until the grades are issued... regardless of copyvios and other problems. That is an absurd expectation. Would you have your students paste intended "improvements" into a hardcopy encyclopedia in your campus library? Would you then expect the librarians to leave the damaged volumes as they were until grades were issued on the "improvements?" Of course not, as the hardcopy encyclopedia is supposed to be a resource usable by and useful for all. And so is Wikipedia. You don't hang a sign on the library door saying "content untrustworthy until course IEP201 is completed," and WP can't either. If a significant part of Wikipedia contained material of the quality of some of the "improvements" coming from the IEP, WP would be regarded as amateurish at best and would not be trusted as a research tool. And so it would not have been a subject of this program in the first place! If this work had to be done under any of Wikipedia's namespace, it should have been done in user sandboxes. Jeh (talk) 20:29, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
      • Jeh, can you see any solutions to the issues you've brought up? What practical steps can we take to improve the program? Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 20:58, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
        • I already gave my preferred solution: work done under programs such as this should be initially confined to sandboxes in userspace. To amplify: It is reasonable to request that other WP editors stay out of such user sandboxes (except for copyvios... copyvios cannot be allowed to remain anywhere). After the students receive their grades on their work the students' contributions could then be opened up to WP at large for further editing and possible inclusion in mainspace in some form. Perhaps the professors could issue a second grade or some form of additional credit based on how much or how little editing is done by the rest of WP, but that's beyond WP's scope. Jeh (talk) 22:12, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
          • I don't think this will work. It's the same as the AfC. I see so many articles go to AfC, get rejected but have plenty of pointers for the submitter, then immediately appear in mainspace the same as they when submitted to AfC. Furthermore, it would be holding certain editors back in a way that we don't apply to all editors. Besides being possibly unfair (if fair matters), I'm not sure that it can be policed. If anyone can approve it, they can be approved at any level of quality. Even if only ambassadors or instructors approve publishing, it's still up to the people who don't seem to be able to handle that responsibility at this time. In short, it seems like a good idea but I don't see how it will work well in practice given the problems we are already facing. OlYellerTalktome 23:51, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I've given part of the answer to Cindamuse above, that students should be steered towards existing articles below GA standard. I would also say that campus ambassadors should advise instructors that any assessment, if it has to be done at all, should include students' quality of interaction with other editors. If I ruled the world then there wouldn't be any assessment at all, and students would improve articles for the sake of both Wikipedia and their own education, but I know that there are are now very few students who value real learning over grades. Phil Bridger (talk) 20:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
      • Phil, I like your idea about students working on articles below GA standard. What are your thoughts about students participating in DYK? Best regards, Cind.amuse (Cindy) 20:55, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
      • I like this idea but it required a good amount of work by ambassadors and a large portion of them might have trouble making that distinction (what has room for the kind of improvement a new editor can provide in sub-GA articles). I think that should be (or must be) the goal for courses but implementation is still questionable in my opinion. OlYellerTalktome 21:25, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
        • Phil: Regarding its quality of interaction with the rest of WP, I would give the project as a whole a failing grade. Creating or editing articles in mainspace and then requesting other editors to leave those contributions as they are for some time, regardless of poor quality or even copyvios, is just not how WP works. I'm afraid I don't see any middle ground here. I think any program that asks for or depends on such allowances is "broken as designed." Jeh (talk) 22:21, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
          • The class where I have talked to the instructor on the topic thinks the work should be treated just like any other Wikipedia contributions, so no special lenience or attention to clean it up. For copyvios, legal requirement mean they must not be left in place. Perhaps 10% of students respond to feedback online, and many at this point seem like a hit and run. Do something and then never see how it ended up. One class of 1500 students has an assignment to add one or two sentences to articles. This looks to be a potential for a large amount of checking required. For the more general topics where we already have good articles or very good coverage, it would be a good idea to have far more prior discussion with instructors and students before they start writing something that is a waste of time or not an improvement. For the more specialised topics it is much easier to write a new article. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 00:07, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
          • My students had a similar assignment to add 1-2 sentences to articles. I think I got the assignment from one of the suggested syllabi that is associated with one of the wikipedia in the classroom projects. I find the problem is the wide range of student abilities. Some can pound out that assignment with no issues, but others will make all kinds of problems. In future semesters I plan to have students to most of their work in sandbox and only after several peer-edits and instructor approval will their work be integrated into an actual article. I think this seems to be a good way for me to get out of WP what I want, and also for WP to potentially get good content and the next generation of editors. --MTHarden (talk) 02:21, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
    • Maybe the answer is more simple than we think. Perhaps we change nothing but start pushing much harder to find ambassadors. I'd be happy to be a Wiki-ambassador. As much as others are inadvertently working on education programs, they might be willing to help as well. OlYellerTalktome 03:34, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
      • Improvement has to come from the top down. Thorough initiation of the IEP organisers and ambassadors in Wikipedia policies and editing practice. Copyvio and plagiarism are endemic in Asian culture - I once rejected a couple of MA theses and when the students complained I was told by the dean to let it go. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 05:35, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
      • Yeller, we would be happy to be onboard. I don't know about other ambassadors, but as the sole ambassador for west Pennsylvania, I tried contacting over a hundred editors who declare they have connection to local universities, I posted on local WikiProject pages... I got one email that was never followed up :( I am pretty sure WMF run several geonotices, too. We NEED more ambassadors, but where? I, personally, am out of ideas, other than running even more geonotices... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:10, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
  • While it doesn't change the future, after inadvertently finding a mild copyvio in an article from the spring term of the US program, I think perhaps it would be prudent to open a CCI on the articles produced by the whole program or at least the IEP. It would be also be spiffy if a) the people designing these programs had some more experience with Wikipedia (perhaps they ought to do NPP or RfF for a month to see how enjoyable cleaning up these sorts of messes is!) and b) the people ostensibly guiding students (ambassadors) were required to have some real experience with Wikipedia (perhaps they would spend the term before they start leading the blind becoming one-eyed men and women). --Danger (talk) 16:23, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
    I dunno; if they had to do NPP for a month, I think we'd lose them after a few days. I've seen fairly experienced users from Wikipedia try it out, and they don't even make it a week; I've had people ask me how I've gotten through over a year doing it. Making them have some general experience here just seems like common sense, though; I don't think they'd let someone who had no idea how to use an electron microscope bring a bunch of college kids who also don't know what they're doing into a lab and let them test it. But perhaps I'm a bit jaded from my experience with this, so don't accept my idea as The Truth. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 19:36, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I cannot speak for the programs in other countries, but the U.S. program has two kinds of ambassadors working with students. The Campus Ambassadors work with instructors in the classroom to train students in the mechanics of editing Wikipedia and the policies. They do not necessarily have prior experience as editors, but do have to go through a training course conducted by the Foundation. The Online Ambassadors are selected from experienced editors who have demonstrated a good understanding of editing, policy and constructive interaction with other editors. It is the Online Ambassadors that try to work with the students as they edit articles. I think the Online Ambassadors have all the experience you could wish for. -- Donald Albury 21:09, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
      • So what value do the campus ambassadors add? I can't believe that any training course conducted by the Foundation or anyone else can provide the necessary knowledge of our expected standards as well as a good few months editing. This "Foundation-down" model is totally at odds with the basic idea that Wikipedia is built by volunteers editing collaboratively, and any titles, such as "Campus Ambassador" (do you really need to capitalise as if this was something akin to a government minister), should be conferred by the community, rather than conferred from on high to people with next to no experience of Wikipedia. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:37, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
        • (Disclosure: I am a campus ambassador) In short, I find the main value of campus ambassadors to students comes from being there hands-on for their first few minutes editing Wikipedia, and "putting a face" on Wikipedia, which can often seem like a faceless beast otherwise. I know that may sound silly, but I have yet to find a class where I _haven't_ seen a student with a shocked face when I mention that anyone can edit Wikipedia. So based on that, the Campus Ambassador's first job is to try and seed students with some basic knowledge, in the 60-120 minutes they have teaching in the classroom. In my case, I have always been lucky and had 60 minutes to start with, so I can typically cover some basic terminology/wiki etiquette (ie: what is a lead, explaining some basic acronyms, or that you should sign a message with 4 ~), basic editing skills (ie: bolding, adding a reference or time permitting adding images) and how to get help (by messaging other users, or accesing the various help lines). After that it all depends on what the professor/class wants, one time I led a discussion on copyright violations, another time I just answered technical questions. Outside of the time in-front of the class, I find there is a dual-mandate for Campus Ambassadors, partly they are Wikipedia Advocates (ie: the campus ambassador at the University of Michigan, started a Wikipedia club - while others have helped recruit new professors into the program) while also being tasked to help students/professors with other issues as they come up (which varies depending on the class, but for example: I have taught professors about user contribution pages and shown students physical campus resources). Hope that helps, Epistemophiliac (talk) 01:45, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
        • (Disclosure: I am an Online Ambassador and a member of the U.S. program steering committee.) I don't understand your objection to a "Foundation-down" program. I am interested in improving the encyclopedia. I therefore welcome any effort, program, project, or whatever, that is working to improve the scope and quality of Wikipedia articles, whether it arises from user initiative or from Foundation initiative. Wikipedia has not been built solely by volunteers. There has always been a formal entity paying the bills; first BOMIS, and then the Foundation.
        • The Foundation received a grant which funded the Public Policy Initiative last (U.S.) academic year. The grant has ended, and the experience gained from it has guided the establishment of the [Global Education Program. Because of the differences in higher education between countries, education programs are being organized by country rather than by language wiki. There is no inherent tie between education programs and language wikis. While most of the courses in the United States Education Program this term are working in the English Wikipedia, one course is concentrating on the Simple English Wikipedia. As English is a major language in higher education in India, most courses participating in that program will likely be concentrating on the English Wikipedia.
        • The United States Education Program, direct successor to the Public Policy Initiative, now has an all-volunteer steering committee. The education programs in other countries will be developing their own governance (the U.K. Education Program will likely be under the U.K. Chapter). As these programs are the fruits of a continuing outreach effort by the Foundation, it has an interest in having the term "Wikipedia Ambassador" mean much the same thing in each country's program. "Online Ambassador", "Campus Ambassador", and "Regional Ambassador" are specific roles in the United States Education Program, which is why we capitalize them. -- Donald Albury 10:43, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Following an email I sent out to the campus ambassadors in my region urging them to spend some time discussing plagiarism and copyright, I am excited to share this response from one of them:
"It [was] made very clear about copyright violations and the students seem to be following this and are not uploading anything they do not create themselves. "
Campus ambassadors shouldn't have to talk about this, but it would seem that doing so may be worth the time. As the semester closes, perhaps we can evaluate whether classes which were lectured on plagiarism yield better copyright ethics. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 18:24, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps then we need to develop a clear, concise training program on copyrights and plagiarism (because note that the problem is not solved by simple attribution) for campus ambassadors. As Kudpung says, there is actually a fundamental difference in culture. I remember an anecdote from a research paper by an English writing teacher, who talked about how her Chinese students (and, to a certain degree, their native teachers) that students could recite textbook passages verbatim from memory. Copying one's "betters" is actually desirable in some cultures; it would be presumptuous to use one's own words, especially as a student. In other words, "plagiarism is evil" is not a universally held principle, even though it is one that most of us don't question and one which Wikipedia holds. So, if we create a clear program (I don't know enough about what campus ambassadors do, as to whether that should be a powerpoint, a video, or just a simple explanation on a WP page somewhere), while it won't solve the problem, at least it might help them to say "Hey, these are WP's rules...I know that they seem strange, but it's what we have to do if we want our work on Wikipedia." Qwyrxian (talk) 00:21, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

How to stay up to date with an activity of a given course

Check this out. Sage gave me this idea last term, and I think it may be quite helpful for others. I shared it with my students and ambassador, so they can see what's going on. Perhaps this link should be generated for all courses? Shouldn't be beyond getting it automated as part of the wiki syllabus generation template. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 19:07, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

There is also Template:Ambassadors help, which gives me this. -- Donald Albury 20:04, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Persistent students

I was going through the articles at Wikipedia:India Education Program/Courses/Fall 2011/Machine Drawing and Computer Graphics and many (most?) of the students seem to be persistently reposting their articles and changes after they have been deleted, redirected or reverted. What should we do about this? Protect articles? Block students (although they'll probably just create new accounts)? This is all very bitey, but we're talking about hundreds of articles in total here. There is no way this is going to be handled gracefully. Or should we just give up and wait until November when that classes have ended? —Ruud 17:13, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Treat them as any new editors would be treated, no kid gloves - but with respect to WP:BITE (which is, sadly, not always the case, students or no students). So: revert or tag if needed, warn the students. Persistent violators who do not respond should be blocked. This is of course a failure for the instructor/ambassador, but if they fail, so be it: this will mean they need to improve their performance, and we will of course unblock the students when an understanding is reached. Note that instructors and ambassadors should've signed the [[3]]. That said, I see one for Canada and one for US, but where are the ones for Brazil and India?). Also, I think the MOU need to be revised, to specifically mention that instructors and ambassadors have to warn the students about plagiarism, and that students who fail to heed Wikipedia policies repeatedly after warnings will be blocked from editing Wikipedia and will be failing the course. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 17:44, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree completely. Part of learning Wikipedia is learning how to interact positively. Students who disrupt Wikipedia during the course of their assignment should not anticipate any different treatment than normal disrupters, and I'd encourage the relevant professor to evaluate whether the disruption merits a demeriting grade. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 02:03, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
A sad part of all this is that such an approach, "the professor evaluating a demerit" is both inappropriate and unlikely. Students do what they're told, and the way they act reflects what they were taught. It would be unfair to the students if a course punishes them for acting contra wiki, when it was that same course that instructed them to work in that way. Similarly I doubt that a tutor who teaches google as an essay-writing style is even going to notice this. Andy Dingley (talk) 08:19, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
That's not just contrawiki, that's illegal. Professors in America are supposed to take action when they catch students plagiarizing. At the university I went to it was grounds for being kicked out of the university. Students in college should understand at that age that their own actions do have consequences-- they're well beyond the age of reason, and even old enough no one is legally allowed to make decisions for them anymore. That said, yes, this is unacceptable and we should not attempt to shield them from whatever might happen to students who post plagiarized material on Wikipedia. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 17:50, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm asounded by this concept. I've been going through a course and had to G12 nominate or remove text from almost every article made for the course. If a course full of "final year" students at my university were found to be plagiarizing, it would be ground shaking. The dean of the associated college would be calling meetings to figure out what was going on and how far the problem reached. While I'm surprised, it's really out of the scope of WP. We can't tell a university to fail a student or dismiss them. All we can and probably should do is continue to do our best on-wiki to catch copyright violations (or any issue for that matter). Even if we wanted to ban a university, I'm not sure that we can; at least not if the university/institute disagrees. I guess we can "fail" or dismiss ambassadors but I'm not even sure what that would involve (ban/block them or take away a title?). OlYellerTalktome 18:09, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
If plagiarizing students tend to be a problem with a particular ambassador, we might want to take note of that when reconsidering them for the following semester. And I agree that this is not Wikipedia's responsibility to punish them; the best we can do here is treating them as we would any other plagiarizer, and we probably ought to have the ambassador flag the professor as these things happen so the professor can decide what action to take. And two cents-- I don't like the idea of banning a full range of IPs at a university without some evidence of organized vandalism. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 17:38, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I think we can block specific universities. We already blanket ban a school's IP's when too many of the students there (or one or more particularly egregious students) act in such a manner that they are eventually (and reluctantly) banned. Banaticus (talk) 06:47, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
The students in question here have accounts. There is a big difference between blocking all IPs at a university and blocking all registered accounts at a university. -- Donald Albury 11:07, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Presentation on teaching with Wikipedia

Since Wikipedia talk:Ambassadors/Resources does not seem to be watched by many, I'd like to ask here for people to review my presentation posted there (at the bottom), and if you find it useful, including it in the resource list (I never include my own creations without community approval). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 17:22, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Future of the US Education Program

There is a discussion about the future and the growth of the US education program along with the future of the wikipedia ambassador project here. Please have a look at it. Cheers --Guerillero | My Talk 21:18, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

No original research, Verifiability

I think the problem we've been having recently with some new articles and copyvios is caused by Wikipedia's own rules and a misunderstanding of them.

  1. Wikipedia content must be verifiable.
  2. Wikipedia is not a place for original research.
  3. Wikipedia content must not be wholesale copied from another source.

A new editor might look at these rules then say something like, "Everything that I write here must be verifiable, I cannot just make something up myself or write what I think about the subject, yet I cannot use the words of the person who said it first and said it best." When a person attempts to write an article and the entire article is a quote, we reject it as a copyvio (even though it was "quoted" -- anything quote long enough to be an article should probably go in Wikisource instead, by the way). When they attempt to use quotes from a number of different sources, it's rejected as self synthesis. I think the problem is largely one of communication. To actually write a good well-written article that is properly referenced, not original research, and also not a copyio or wholesale plagiarism, can be difficult. Banaticus (talk) 07:02, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

You're argument is concise and I don't mean to sound rude but I think you're incorrect. Articles have been created here for years without this sort of problem and I wouldn't say it's been "difficult". To say that it's more difficult for these students is to imply that there's something different about them and/or their contributions than what we've seen on WP before the education programs started. That is partially the case as their primary language generally isn't English (if we're talking about IEP, the program that's having the bulk of the issues we've been discussion) but I don't see that is means that WP has been unclear, has setup problematic expectations, or that the students' contributions should get any special treatment (which seems to be the consensus regarding reaction).
I'm not sure that I've seen a lot of cases where students' contributions are being deleted as WP:OR unless they're completely unreferenced and I only see those deleted after a PROD expires which essentially means that the student didn't chose to remove the PROD (I don't see that WP can be blamed if they don't understand what a RPOD is and don't try to figure it out). As for verifiability, I haven't seen a single case where an article or even portion of an article has been deleted because the information isn't verifiable.
A student can write about a subject they have knowledge of (which is the underlying purpose of any education program, to give them knowledge). It can be in their own words but preferably not like an essay but that's not grounds for deletion. Claims they make need to be backed up by a reference which they already have; they used it to gain the knowledge they're writing about. Not only does copying line for line and possibly changing some words not satisfy the goal of education, it's plagiarism or a copyright violation and can't be used here.
In short, this hasn't been anywhere near this big of a problem before. Why should we think it is now? I'd be happy to be getting unsourced, non-copyvio, essays at this point but that's far from what we're getting, in my opinion. OlYeller21Talktome 14:51, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
It's different now for a rather major reason -- they don't want to edit, they have to edit. Up till now, Wikipedia editors have been volunteers who want to do what they're doing. Some of these new editors may learn to love what they're doing (and some few success stories of that nature have been reported), but initially these students are editing/writing because if they don't they fail their class, which I think understandably may cause them to approach the situation with more innate hostility than your average Wikipedia editor. These students may see themselves in an untenable catch 22 situation where no matter what they do they're screwed, because they can't write what someone else already wrote (plagiarism) and they can't write their own stuff (verifiability, no original research), and if they don't write anything at all they fail the class. Banaticus (talk) 03:26, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
If I didn't want to be in college and taking a course, I didn't have to and would have failed out. The day Wikipedia is making policies and guidelines based on the motivation of the editor is that day I stop editing. I understand that other editors generally come here at their own accord but I don't see how that changes anything for us. It feels like pandering to a group of people who are either not motivated to do what's required of them by a course they chose to take or to a group of people who wholly don't care to be here. In either case, that's the problem of the student and not even of the instructor let alone Wikipedia. I don't even see how anyone could argue otherwise. I want to be as compassionate and empathetic as possible to these students in a way that will benefit Wikipedia but I don't see how Wikipedia can or should teach college students (emphasis on having been in school for 12+ years) how to write a college level English paper. OlYeller21Talktome 04:29, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Having the level of English competence required of a university student is one thing; being able to write an article in a style appropriate to Wikipedia is another. Both that and writing in academic English is something that needs to be taught (or figured out from extensive trial-and-error, which isn't so easy on Wikipedia these days). What Banaticus was trying to say is that the rules we have set up means obvious things to us regulars, but not to a student who's forced to write a Wikipedia article and has to figure out the rules by themselves. I think we may benefit from more CA documentation about what these content policies mean - are they adequately disseminated to all students participating in an editing assignment? Deryck C. 08:43, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
"The day Wikipedia is making policies and guidelines based on the motivation of the editor..." I'm not saying that we should change, I'm saying that this is their motivation and that they should change. An unfamiliarity with how to write properly (citing sources while not plagiarizing) is what's creating the problem and they need more education -- their schools are failing to teach them properly (advancing them too quickly, perhaps?). I have heard it said, and have now seen for myself that a number of the articles have extremely poor grammar -- I find myself wondering if this is perhaps on purpose, to avoid easy plagiarism discovery. A very poorly reworded sentence won't show up in a Google search for that sentence. Students need to understand that this is precisely how to write -- rewrite, reword what's there, but they should rephrase it in "proper" English (Queen's Own, American, whatever regional variety they want to use, as long as it's an established variety of English). Banaticus (talk) 15:55, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
The bad grammar is not to hide plagiarism. Again, specifically with the IEP students, it's not that they are choosing to plagiarize despite being taught not too--it's that in some Asian cultures, plagiarism is borderline acceptable, and one should always stay as close as possible to what authorities say. A student who can perfectly copy a textbook from memory on a test is a good student, not a bad one. They don't need to hide their plagiarism, because they don't even know why we're saying it's wrong. As others have said, we're doing a poor job of educating professors and ambassadors in these rapidly created programs; as a result, regular editors end up having to take a heavy handed stance against their contributions, and they probably don't understand the disconnect. And none of this even deals with the fact that, at least when I went to university, for many many classes all I cared about was doing whatever minimum work I needed to in order to get a decent grade (without "cheating"). This last point brings me to one thing that I don't really hear talked about much--if we have ambassador programs, we are going to have to accept that a significant portion (possibly even a majority) of the work added will be done by students who have no desire whatsoever to "improve Wikipedia" and only care about getting a passing grade. That's why we even see them saying sometimes "I know that this isn't good enough for Wikipedia, but could you just wait to delete it for two days until the assignment is due?" It would be sheer madness to think that all or even a majority of students care as much about WP as they do about their own personal interests. Qwyrxian (talk) 01:41, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
Qwyrx, I think you should repost that here because I'm almost sure that nobody who is in charge is reading this page. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 03:04, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
You should re-post it over at Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2011-11-07/Special report too, especially your first two sentences second and third sentences. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 12:58, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Looking for three GA reviewers

For my educational assignment. Already have eight :) Please see here for details. It is a bit urgent. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 00:15, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Looking for a wrapup on the Public Policy Initiative

Where is a good wrapup on the Public Policy Initiative? Wonder how much it cost, how much "helper" time spent (in addition to students themselves), and what the results were. Was it a success (yes/no/why/how)? What worked well or bad and what do we learn from it. Was public policy a good uni subject or a bad one (for this approach) and how would things look if generalized to other fields (science, literature, history)?

Are there some good talk threads or posts on this? Here or at Meta?

71.246.144.154 (talk) 18:11, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Sorry for the delay in posting it; it's now up at: outreachwiki:Public Policy Initiative Learning Points. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 01:31, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

User:NSC-WISP

I am unsure if User:NSC-WISP (contribs) is at all involved in the Ambassadors, but he said here that his articles are for a classroom assignment. The three articles written (as of now) are poor in quality, and one has significant copyvio. Not sure what action might be warranted, but I thought to let someone know. Chris857 (talk) 01:28, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Good article reviewers "swamped" by educational projects GA noms

Well, I wouldn't call it swamped yet, but it is being discussed at Wikipedia_talk:Good_article_nominations#Educational_assignments. I strongly believe that instructors should follow my suit and review an article for each one they ask the community to review, and ambassadors should bring this to the instructors in question. When GAN is dealing with ~2 months long backlog on a regular, daily basis, instructors cannot expect the community to review their students work promptly without giving something in return. On that note, I wonder how many instructors (and ambassadors) do not realize that GANs are backlogged and are happily awaiting a review "soon", without so much as asking the GA reviewer community for assistance? I always ask the reviewers for help BEFORE the course is started... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 00:07, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposed a solution. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 21:35, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Not that anybody seems to care much, but do note that there is a backlog of educational GANs. See Wikipedia_talk:Good_article_nominations/Archive_15. I just started another (4th review), and my course is fine, but as I noted earlier, the GA reviewers are not very happy with the current situation and the lack of communication between them and ambassadors is not helping. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 01:25, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Pune Pilot Analysis Plan

(Cross-posting to several pages) I've just created the page Wikipedia:India_Education_Program/Analysis to document our planned analysis of the Pune pilot. We've been collecting ideas in many different places, but we wanted to have one central page where we'll be analyzing the learnings from the Pune pilot over the next few months. We will using the results of this analysis to plan our next pilot in India, which will be kicking off in mid-2012. We will not be running the India Education Program in the first term of 2012. We are committed to using the next few months to get all the learnings we can out of the analysis, so we can launch a new pilot in six months or so that addresses all of the concerns raised from the Pune pilot.

We do have one major outstanding question in terms of how to analyze the pilot, which is how do we measure the impact of the pilot on the community? I really encourage anyone who has good ideas of how to do data collection around this to contribute to the discussion on talk page. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:49, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Unmonitored student projects

I've recently come across what appear to be 2 student projects that are unmonitored and have caused a few problems. Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive729#Likely student editing mentions the case of a bunch of editors with 570 in their name. The person who noticed it suggested Iowa State was the likely university, I'm not sure why. But I note User talk:570csc and User talk:570ces both mention Iowa. Also one of the users disclosed a phone number [4] which is a number for someone at Iowa State. (Since it's on the university website I decided there's no need to suggesting the user consider if it's wise to post a phone number.) If Iowa State is right this course seems likely based on the content that has been added and the course number of 570. (Although it's a distance learning course so the people don't have to be at Iowa.) User:570ajk has what seems to be a list of projects. I don't know if the projects are still ongoing or have finished but at least one of the articles has been deleted and another is at AFD.

The second one is Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive728#Weird activity on fish stubs shows expansion of fish stubs recently by a number of different users. I uncovered one edit which appeared to be one of these probable students editing while logged out with a University of Tennessee IP address. In that case there is evidence it's happened for at least two years, e.g. Conasauga logperch and Yellowfin madtom underwent expansion in 2010. The editors don't have any specific identifiers, but their edits do since they add stuff like 'management recommendations'. However no real idea what course this is for although at a guess something from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology [5] [6] or Fishieries [7] although I had a look and couldn't find any course that mentioned any assignment editing wikipedia, particularly on the Fishieries side. (I was thinking it may be [8] but later realised it seemed to only be a spring course.) Again, I think activity has finished for the year but concerns were raised about the lack of communication and the 'management recommendations' stuff, and as said it seems to have been going on since at least 2010.

Anyway I don't know if this is the right place, but I wonder if there's anyone with more experience who could try and get in contact with those involed to see if they can help improve things. Particularly in the first case I could do it myself since I have a fair idea what course and therefore who to contact, but I was thinking someone with more experience may be better?

Nil Einne (talk) 16:11, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Regarding the 570 editors, my initial suspicions of Iowa State were the result of edits made to Hazard (risk) while logged out, from an IP address that I believe is located at Iowa State (and which were subsequently acknowledged as having been made by of the 570 editors involved). In any case, I think the students involved in that project could be very constructive editors; their writing is technically good and their sourcing is very thorough, but their understanding of what we consider original research needs some guidance. Squeamish Ossifrage (talk) 16:40, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Schools can still run their own, unmonitored, education projects under the old framework --Guerillero | My Talk 18:29, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
This often happens because the instructors are not aware of our new, improved outreach. But all we can do is try to contact them and invite to join us in this new edition. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 00:43, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

WikiProjects for Online Ambassador broad subjects

I would like to suggest that we introduce a new, intermediate level, for the organization of OAs to assist various courses. This could be structured as three WikiProjects focused on broad subject areas (with subsidiary taskforces as well), where OAs can sign up and share experiences between courses of similar subject matter.

I have structured these three after looking at the distribution of actual courses, and considering which might be able to share OAs of similar talents and inclinations.--Pharos (talk) 20:47, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Interesting idea! Or perhaps we could do it as daughter projects of existing ones?
Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 00:08, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
While I am a big supporter of WikiProjects, I have to strongly oppose this idea. Most WikiProjects are inactive. This ambassador project is barely active - we have threads up there that have generated little or no discussion. Splitting us further would create a number of pages with even less of a critical mass of editors. Also, note that in the past few months we have restructured a number of pages and redirected their talks here, to ensure that we have more of a critical mass. I think your idea could be revisited in x years, when the volume of discussions here becomes much, much heavier. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 00:45, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
There is a tension between 'critical mass' in terms of numbers, and in terms of enthusiasm. An overly bland and generalized Ambassador project may not be sufficiently interesting to catch and retain the attentions and efforts of OAs. Still, we shouldn't have excessive multiplication of WikiProjects, and this is why I suggest just three here.--Pharos (talk) 23:28, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Actually, most of the discussions I've partaken in have been mailing list discussions, as I'm overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on this talk page. I believe it would be useful to have some way for professors of related subjects to get in touch with each other. Bob the WikipediaN (talkcontribs) 01:20, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
It would be a nice way to look for people to ask to join a class --Guerillero | My Talk 01:23, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
What people? Students? Ambassadors? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 01:30, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I would very much see it as a way to recruit (and organize) the right Online Ambassadors for each course.--Pharos (talk) 23:21, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps you subscribe to different lists than I, the ones I've seen have been very low traffic. In any case, I agree that professors would benefit from talking to one other, but I think they should be able to do it just fine here if they have education-project related questions, or if they want to interact with editors knowledgeable in their subject area, in the scope of a regular WikiProject - Wikipedia:WikiProject Media, Wikipedia:WikiProject Psychology, Wikipedia:WikiProject Sociology and so on. For regular "help me with Wikipedia" questions, there is the WP:HELPDESK. Until such a time I see a number of professors ask in one place "we need a dedicated noticeboard just for us", I believe anything we create for them is just going to be a dead, unused artifact (and note that is with regards to professors in general, any even more specialized noticeboards - for "professors of media studies", for example - would be, IMHO, even deader than that). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 01:29, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Piotrus; I don't think we need to divide up this area any further, and I think if we do we will be creating dead space. We should let this sort of thing be driven by a perceived need, rather than a predicted need. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:21, 9 December 2011 (UTC)