Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive56

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Essay on FAC from a statistical process control perspective

I have completed an essay on FAC examining the process from the point of view of statistical analysis, looking to first identify the core issues with the process before jumping into solutions. I am using proven process improvement tools taught as part of Lean manufacturing and statistical process control in a new approach that I am very confident will yield satisfactory results. In my real-life work I have seen and have in fact led the application of tools such as these in order to achieve process redesigns that have spectacularly reduced rework, cut down on processing times, and improved the quality of products. I am very optimistic about the application of these tools to the Featured Article Candidates process.

  • The main essay page, where I outline the scope of this review and specifically note certain issues I explicity do not intend to address.
  • Customer expectations and process capability: the first essay, about how to measure our expectations of FAC, compared to what historically the process has been capable of. The use of control charts points out avenues for further process exploration.

I am very interested in everyone's feedback; feel free to provide it either here or at the essay's talk page. Thanks, Grondemar 01:51, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

You may want to mention more about how the higher standards make it all the harder to get a FAC promoted. This combined with declining numbers of active editors will be a significant part of declining numbers of FAs. Throw in all the other things mentioned lately and you have the result we have.PumpkinSky talk 01:59, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
That seems to be rather tautological. Are you suggesting that FAC should lower its standards to allow more FAs? I think that Grondemar has done a good job so far, and I'll be interested to see his analysis of why FACs fail. Malleus Fatuorum 02:18, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
No, but he discusses declining numbers and I'm sure part of the reason is the higher standards and other things I mentioned. PumpkinSky talk 02:22, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
But you say that as if having higher standards is a bad thing. Malleus Fatuorum 02:24, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Not my intent, just that it's a reason for declining numbers AND participation.PumpkinSky talk 02:35, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Regarding higher standards, I think that how much of a factor that is will be been when I complete the analysis on why FACs fail. Grondemar 17:36, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Oh thank goodness. Good statistics. That's a real piece of joy to see on this talk page after these last few months. One question, Grondemar: in the submission/yield calculations, are you applying a correction for those articles which are submitted and immediately closed due to not truly being eligible (not submitted by the primary/a major contributor, etc)? If so, it might be worth creating a subpage with the articles that form the debiased dataset so that the analysis can be replicated/updated as needed. Iridia (talk) 03:26, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • The submission and yield statistics were calculated by adding together the number of promoted FAs per month with the number of archived nominations, as shown on the Archived Nominations page. It did not include any FACs that may have been speedily deleted per G6 as totally unready; any immediate closures that were considered worthy of archiving were included in the dataset. I plan to look into how many of the archived nominations were rapidly closed as unprepared when I do my analysis on why FACs fail. Grondemar 17:36, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Grondemar's analysis provokes immediate hostility on a volunteer project, as it imports a concept of labour as servile in terms of: management; production pricing (its ignorance of the motivation costs of volunteer labour, and the main page's involvement in supplying this cost); and in its phrasing of the output conformance tests as "consumers." Such hostility could be avoided by the author avoiding metaphors that aren't relevant to a volunteer project where labour is management. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:37, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Grondemar, thanks for putting this together. One problem in interpretation is that there are a number of interacting issues. The shortage of reviewing resources is one that doesn't rate enough mention in your analysis. I'm unsure whether the horizontal dotted lines (floor and ceiling) are based on valid assumptions in this context. Tony (talk) 03:45, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I intend to review the shortage of reviewers in the why FACs fail analysis. I did make the assumption that the FAC submissions, archivals, and the yield were normally distributed; I did not test for this, however. Since the point of the analysis was to provide a quick view of process control rather than an in-depth test of what model best fit with these various datasets, I think this assumption is fair enough. Incidentally, this is the same reasoning used by Deming when he first proposed control charts such as these. Grondemar 17:36, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I can't wait to see what final recommendations emerge from this: new factory, higher wages, move production to India? Johnbod (talk) 04:07, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't see how its hostile. It's helpful and things need labels. He could label them something else, but he's using terms he is personally familiar with and when explained are understandable.Jinnai 04:16, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I didn't say it was hostile (I'm not one of those touchy types), but how will it be useful? Let's wait and see. Mind you, this sort of analysis, and policy & reward structures based on it, is widely believed to be ruining universities in the UK. Johnbod (talk) 04:20, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I did, and would say so again. I am not here to be Taylorised or six sigmaed. Grondemar is welcome to analyse process, but the ideological tools chosen to conduct that analysis, the uncritical relationship to ideological tools chosen, and the suggestion that "proven" management techniques widely used to fuck worker control of the factory floor will be useful here immediately raise my hackles. My chief "intrinsic" for volunteering is not to be fucked by a boss. My chief "extrinsic" for volunteering here is to volunteer alongside people in a space without bosses. Grondemar's analysis is one used by bosses, filled with the language of bosses, and hasn't had that stripped out. And I'm completely unwilling to surrender workplace control to a process expert; and I'm completely unwilling to split my involvement here into "bossing manager" and "bossed employee" mode. Grondemar's analysis may have enduring benefits and provide a ground for discussion on restructuring the FAC process. And it may do better in that process if it is stripped of the language, assumptions and hierophantic claims of proof of the bosses when presented for consensus discussion. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:53, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with what Fifelfoo said here. Proper statistical analysis is to be welcomed, but the language, tone, and planning should be that of a volunteer organisation. Having said that, the tones of "bossy managers" is precisely what sets many people against certain types of admins. Carcharoth (talk) 05:31, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • My apologies if my choice of language has caused any discord. I only wrote the essay using terms I have been taught and am familiar with, while also including examples (such as the widget factory example) that I thought would be easy to visualize. I am more than willing to change terminology to more neutral words of your recommendation if that would mollify your concerns. It was not my intent to present myself as a "process expert" looking to become a "bossy manager" of this process. Perhaps my choice of wording at the start of the section conveyed the wrong impression; my goal was only to express confidence in the use of quality tools such as takt and process control charts based on my own positive experiences with them in other contexts. I have never thought of statistical process control and total quality management as "ideological tools"; as someone noted below a key tenet of Deming's work were to practice continuous innovation at all levels of an organization, not just a top-level directed down approach. In fact, that specific approach is most often seen to fail and is recommended against. A tool is just that, a tool; a hammer can be used to build a house, or to smash it. The fact that some companies may have used aspects or at least the name of tools recommended as part of Total Quality Management to harm their employees does not mean that the tools themselves are intrinsically evil. Grondemar 03:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Grondemar, here are your answers for the drops in Oct 2010 and Nov 2011:

  1. There are month-to-month variations depending on which day the delegates go through. Neither Karanacs nor me went through in the last few days of October 2010-- the last promote that month was on Oct 28,[1] and WP:FAS shows there were 108 36 FACs left on the page at the end of the month (which is high-- some October promotions were deferred until November-- I know because I was busy tackling copyvio issues at DYK, and failed to promote that Saturday, and there were several mature FACs). Had one of us promoted on Oct 29, 30 or 31, the drop would have shown in Nov 2010 instead of October. The Grace Sherwood plagiarism debacle occurred on Halloween 2010, and after that, 1) folks who knew they had committed copyvio probably stopped submitting, and 2) we started doing copyvio checks on every FAC.
  2. In November 2011, a document was published that has affected FAC (likely both submissions and reviews).
  • Similarly, the Dec 2009 glitch is explained by looking at WP:FAS and remembering that our production isn't continuous (smooth)-- it's a function of when reviewers show up, and when delegates promote (which isn't daily). The Dec 2009 promotions were low, while Jan 2010 promotions were high, with a lot of FACs left on the page at month-end December (even though Karanacs went through on Dec 29). This indicates to me that reviewers were on holiday, and some FACs that were close to mature ended up being promoted in January. (Note: considering that we have the same irregular demotions at FAR, depending on when reviewers and delegates show up, your conclusions might be improved with some smoothing. Or you could just ask me what the trends are-- I know them :) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:02, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

HTH, thanks for the work ! (PS, if you had asked, I could have told you the data would reveal this, since I spend lots of time agonizing over the numbers-- the good news is, we've stemmed copyvio at FAC. The bad news is-- a massive portion of Wikipedia is copyvio-- just visit DYK, which as Moonriddengirl explained last year, is the best place to begin to stem the tide by catching things early and educating new editors. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:02, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Thanks Sandy; that does match what I thought were probable reasons for the declines at those times when I compiled the statistics. Grondemar 03:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
One thing I'm concerned about is perceptions outlasting change. I've yet to see a proper analysis of DYK. The only analyses I've seen have involved people picking the worst examples, conflating close paraphrasing, plagiarism, and copyvio, and not providing overall numbers (specifically not providing numbers on how many articles are acceptable, or indeed which articles are acceptable). I've also yet to see a proper analysis of FAC with respect to those issues. Both processes probably need independent analyses done (i.e. not by people involved in the processes). The point is, that if (say) DYK has changed, there is nothing to stop people continuing to repeat old news, which wouldn't be good. Ditto for FAC (sometimes people keep bemoaning old trends that have long since changed or reversed). The same applies to the oft-repeated point about declining participation. I saw an analysis that claimed Editor base stabilized at 34,000 active editors. If that is true (I was surprised no-one had commented there), I wonder how long it will take for that factoid to establish itself and how long it will take people to stop saying that editor participation is falling? (The issue will likely then move on to editor quality). Hence what I said about perceptions outlasting change. Analysis usually lags behind actual trends on the ground. Carcharoth (talk) 05:02, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
What a strange thing to say. In which universe could analysis precede trends on the ground? Malleus Fatuorum 05:12, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
My point was more that some analyses are timely (including very recent data), and others are late (the data is several years out of date). It appears that the editor participation data was rather out of date and the latest figures show that things have changed. The same applies when making comments about DYK or FAC - people need to say at what point in time they are talking about - 2 years ago, 6 months ago, last week. Without that precision, it is just more hand-waving. Carcharoth (talk) 05:27, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

A fascinating read, thanks for writing it! I was especially interested in your comments regarding the 50% yield rate - from my experience, I'd say that this may well be due to low reviewer numbers, as, if the article has problems which could be sorted quickly but which require the nominator to have some outside help to fix, reviewers are too busy to help out and so the nomination fails. This has the effect of both decreasing the yield and making the process appear hostile. If there were more people who cold lend a hand fixing some of the more specific issues brought up during nominations, I personally believe that the yield would balloon and, due to editors' better experience at nominating, submissions would increase too. SalopianJames - previously Colds7ream (talk) 07:43, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

It is my impresion that yield has been fairly stable over the last five or six years-- and that is because delegates can manage the page size and apply discretion to try to help as many FACs as possible to succeed. Monthly data could be updated by someone at Wikipedia talk:Featured article statistics#Promote.2Farchive stats (recognizing that a change in archiving procedures occurred after the 2010 RFC, so we would expect an increase in archivals after that RFC). In 2005 and 2006, when standards were much more lax, the yield was much lower than from 2007 on. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:19, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Grondemar, thanks for writing this and doing the work. It might not be an approach all/many are comfortable with but it does no harm to look at things from new angles, and even the flaws can be enlightening. A couple of issues struck me.

The first concerns the final process yield section where you lament the 1000 articles that failed the grade and the "waste" this produced. If this was indeed a widget factory throwing away nearly half the widgets then that would be bad indeed. But an alternative analogy might be one's driving test. Not every one passes first time. Some who fail just got unlucky but many were just not well enough prepared at the time and come better prepared the next time. Ultimately, not everyone gets their licence, and the roads are safer for it. The failed tests are not "waste" but a consequence of the "big test at the end" model rather than continuous assessment by one's instructor.

Someone pointed out further up that some articles come to FAC that fail to meet the basic requirements of having been substantially worked on by the nominator. Others may be nominated by someone utterly ignorant of the high standards. On the other hand there are many folk who don't fit your "nominators want the cost of FA development to be lowest" mindset. Set the bar too high and the test isn't considered achievable by enough editors to produce suffucient FAs to supply the main page or keep the FAC community buzzing. Set the bar too low and the test becomes worthless and the best editors may choose to no longer submit their work for review. After all, there will always be editors who toil to produce the best article they can, regardless of the FA system. Some may choose to exceed the FA requirements. -- Colin°Talk 09:33, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Thanks for your comments, Colin. I believe that I need to write an essay just on the subject of "waste", since the term "waste" has a specific meaning in Lean that does not necessarily match its more-regular use. "Waste" in Lean is defined as all activities that do not add value to the final product. In the case of a Featured Article, "waste" would be any work invested that did not end up improving the end state of the article. It is impossible to ever completely eliminate "waste" from a process; however, the reduction of "waste" improves process efficiency and allows more effort to be directed into activities which do improve articles. Certainly not all activity in the failed FACs was "waste"; however, I am certain that analysis of these failed FACs will uncover means to reduce "waste" in the process and thus enable more activity to be directed at improving articles. I definitely agree that nominators as a rule do not just want "the cost of FA development to be the lowest"; I will almost guarantee, however, that every FA nominator would prefer to avoid doing unnecessary work that does not directly improve the quality of the article.
  • Regarding your driving test example, Lean would argue that a person taking and failing the driving test was indeed "waste", from the perspective of the DMV who employed a driving instructor who had to fail a student, from the perspective of the driving instructor who had to spend time evaluating a student who was unable to meet requirements, and from the perspective of the student, who had to arrange transporation to the testing site and presumably invested time and energy in learning to drive before taking the test. Just because there is "waste" in a process does not mean it isn't absolutely necessary; if a student is not qualified to drive, they absolutely should not be issued a driver's license. However, I would encourage exploring why students were not passing the driving test, and then seeing if there was some correctable cause that could be addressed that would allow students to learn to drive more efficiently, and thus pass the driving test more frequently. Grondemar 03:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks to everyone for your comments so far! I plan to respond to all comments provided, but be forewarned that I only have a limited editing window at the moment; if I don't respond to you now, I will get back to your comments in a few hours. Grondemar 17:23, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • The essay contains the bolded statement: "As of today FAC is not capable of meeting the takt of TFA. This sounds like a grim projection of failure. Yet (correct me if my sums are wrong), we are currently promoting, on average, 29.7 articles per month. That's a rate of 356 a year, an annual shortfall of 9. With presently 1,322 FAs that have yet to be TFAs, if the annual shortfall remains at 9 it will be 147 years before, as you put it, the backlog runs dry. Doesn't that suggest that the decline in promotion rates is not by any means critical yet, at least as far as TFA is concerned? Brianboulton (talk) 19:03, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
You also need to factor in what FAR will achieve over the next century or so. But, as Grondemar has admitted on the essay talk page (lk above), he failed to allow for FAR demoting articles after they have been TFA. Johnbod (talk) 20:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
But it's still going to be 100+ years before we run out. Perhaps we should not be prioritising this aspect? Brianboulton (talk) 21:24, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
This is a typical example of a gross misuse of statistics: the statistical information is not sufficiently accurate to support the conclusions for which it is being used. If the current promotion average were 30.5 articles per month, then FAC would be meeting (and marginally exceeding) the so-called takt for TFA (even without a correction for post TFA FARs). The 29.7 statistic is a single average of data over 3 years, and is being used to estimate the current mean of a random variable (number of articles promoted per month). Now hands up who thinks this statistic is an accurate estimate of that mean to within 0.7 articles per month? Not me, for sure. So what conclusions should we draw from the 0.7-0.8 articles per month shortfall? None whatsoever. Geometry guy 02:01, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I apologize that I presented this point more strongly that it deserved to be presented, especially as it was intended to be a minor highlight. I agree that considering the FAR factor discussed above plus the margin of error, it is as likely as it is not that the true takt of the FAC process would be at least equal to if not mildly exceeding the requirements of the Main Page. I believe the larger point, that the true takt of the FAC process is significantly lower than what several editors had suggested the takt should be, and that the community has the opportunity if desired to target a higher takt that the Main Page's requirement, remains intact. Grondemar 03:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Total quality management: Deming v. Braverman

Contrary to some statements above, Deming's Total quality management (TQM) has been successfully applied in non-industrial and indeed non-profit settings. (I used it to triple the efficiency of a division of a not-for-profit in 5 months, for example.) Deming's principles appear e.g. as an appendix in this book

  • Logothetis, N.; Wynn, H. P. (1989). Quality through design: Experimental design, off-line quality control, and Taguchi's contributions. Oxford U. P. pp. 464+xi. ISBN 0-19-851993-1. 

Central themes of TQM include (1) eliminating fear among employees, and (2) empowering employees to improve quality (rather than treating them as shirking automata), etc. Notwithstanding the claims of Trotskyists (like Labor Notes in the USA), TQM is not a capitalist tool to subjugate workers; of course, TQM can be applied in organizations already suffering from needless strife and unfairness. Are there any examples of ill-fated TQM campaigns being causes rather than symptoms of additional unfairness?  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:15, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Kiefer; you should be well aware of the Value form critique of capitalism. It arises from this post-idealist German fellow whose name escapes me. The critique extends to firms where workers are nominally happy. Joel Stillerman "Disciplined Workers and Avid Consumers" Victims of the Chilean miracle: workers and neoliberalism in the Pinochet era, 1973-2002 Peter Winn (ed) Duke UP 2004, 178 provides a typical example: in a society governed by Value, all management approaches are used to reimpose Value regardless of their idealistic content. Even Taylor wanted workers to smile as he fucked them—its part of the fantasy of humanist management theorists. In practice, of course, other methods are cheaper than smiles. Fifelfoo (talk) 23:47, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Any methodology that attempts to draw conclusions from statistical outliers is fundamentally flawed. Geometry guy 02:03, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
  • It wasn't my intention to draw any definite conclusion from the control charts; I was instead attempting to suggest hypotheses worthy of further investigation. I did attempt to use language such as "would lead me to investigate", "greatly increases my suspicion", and "interesting aspect" to convey the fact that I was not trying to draw a final conclusion based only on the control charts. The final part of the essay, regarding yield, is intended to be justification why this particular avenue should be explored to see if there are opportunities for improvement that could yield a takt more in line with expectations discussed by certain members of the community. Grondemar 03:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
    I appreciate your essay, and the fact that you bring statistical information to the discussion. However, it is very easy to misuse statistics: even if you don't intend to do so, you may blind with the science. I would rather draw tentative conclusions from strong evidence than propose significant action from borderline evidence. As I am sure you are aware, one needs to be careful about deducing cause and effect relations from apparent correlations, especially where these correlations are weak.
    I agree with you that there may currently be a downward trend in FAC output, and that it would be good to seek ways to encourage an upward trend so that the mean net FA output returned to a level more like 40+ articles per month. Each such proposal, though, needs to evaluated against any associated cost to the FA system and ideals as a whole, and that requires realistic analysis of the benefits as well as the costs. Geometry guy 03:47, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Perhaps a more relevant question is at what point does the choice of articles become really restricted? I would imagine that an increasing percentage of TFA-eligible FAs are from categories of articles that we generally run only one of per month but in practice have a large selection, such as roads, video games, hurricanes and songs/albums. I would be curious to know if these worthy articles are increasing as a percentage of TFA-eligible FAs, or not.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:40, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Straw poll: What should be the target takt for FAC?

In the first part of the essay I presented various goals for takt, based mostly on different ratios of Featured Articles to total articles. I noted that multiple editors stated in the original discussions before this talk page was archived that an increase of the ratio of Featured Articles to total articles was highly desirable. I would like to get the community's feedback on what should be the target takt for FAC. Setting this goal will influence the depth of process changes that would need to be considered in order to try to reach this number. Note that we are not making any plans to compromise FA standards or compromise article quality. This is simply an aspirational goal set by the community that can be changed later if it proves to be unrealistic or not demanding enough.

I also think it would be a good idea to have a consensus on this issue so we avoid future debates over whether FAC is promoting enough articles, where there isn't even consensus on what constitutes "enough".

These proposals are based on what I presented in the essay. Feel free to add different proposals based on different end dates or different targets. I am happy to go back and run the numbers for any new proposals anyone wants to make.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Grondemar (talkcontribs) 04:00, 13 January 2012

The question being asked here is a leading one, which supposes in particular that the FA percentage of total articles by December 2015 is an important measure. If so, why? In addition, it is computed inaccurately, assuming "continued linear growth of total articles at the past 3-year average rate", which is nonsense: article growth has been declining significantly since 2006, and has dropped by at least 50% since then. Finally, the historical peak for FA growth is about 70 articles per month, so projections beyond 100 are likely to be unrealistic, yet four such projections are presented! Do we really want yet another spur-of-the-moment poll with a basis such as this? Geometry guy 04:27, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Early in the original 2012 FAC discussion, an editor stated that the fact that the ratio of FAs and GAs to all articles was less than 10% meant that the processes were a failure. Without addressing GA, I wanted the community to assess what ratio of FAs to total articles they would consider a good target. December. 2015 was selected as the deadline date arbitrarily as some target date was needed; I encourage you to propose an alternate date is you would prefer another. The linear growth assumption was based on the idea that eventually article additions would trend linearly only reflecting new events being added. I included up to the 1% target to present all of the options from the essay including the one closest to the original 10% suggestion. Grondemar 05:51, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Grondemar's presenting potential targets, some of which have previously been mentioned. If we choose to have 1% FAs, then, quite likely, the response may be, "Redefine FAs to be B class". If we choose to have 30 FA passed a month as a target, then the response will be, "The current system may need minor tweaks, or could achieve the same goal with less reviewer, delegate and author stress." I think this is just a request for what the community's expectation is. Fifelfoo (talk) 06:09, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
I do not think TFA should be the driver here. Additionally, I'm not sure you are going to get anything reliable, even by "straw poll" standards, given the distraction at the present time. A straw poll taken some weeks from now might yield very different results.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:34, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

What is the point of the sections below? Can we just scrap them please? They are bulking out the discussion page and most of them are crazy numbers. I don't think there's even a consensus that "an increase of the ratio of Featured Articles to total articles was highly desirable". We all agree that having more featured articles is desirable (otherwise we wouldn't be writing them) but why should we care about the total number of articles on WP and the effect that has on some ratio? So a figure of around 30 promotions/month feeds the main page (though Wehwalt rightly points out above that the pool of articles needs to be larger than the minimum so we have some variety to select from). It wouldn't be the end of the world, say, if the main page started repeating articles on a long cycle, though that would clearly be indicative of a supply problem. What I'm saying is let's not get hung up on the main page customer needs. Supplying the main page isn't the reason I contribute here. I seldom read it myself. Colin°Talk 09:40, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree with the above. While the issue of quality v. quantity in FAs is valid and worthy of debate, running a series of straw polls of this nature is pointless, and disruptive at this time. There is no crisis in the "main page replacement rate", and even if the FA promotion rate falls below 30 a month for a while, it will still be decades before there is a crisis. Brianboulton (talk) 10:29, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
My only contributions to these interminable debates seems to be to say that I'm with Brian, so once again — I agree with Brian Jimfbleak - talk to me? 11:52, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Comment. I'm with Brian and Jim. Although the stats are interesting and worth creating per se, why are they being interpreted as a reason for increasing the rate of promotions? I could see this coming kilometres away, but waited until this point to say something.

Long ago I was an academic (and a mixed bag was my performance). In preparing an application for a teaching quality grant, I cited as evidence of my department's improving quality of teaching the increasing proportion of A+ and A ratings given to students. The esteemed Professor Michael Jackson, an education expert brought in to assist in the preparation of such applications (an American, as it happened), read my draft and pointed out something very basic: the ratings you give your students are entirely at your choice and reflect nothing absolute; we could give 90% of our students A+ this year, compared with only 50% last year, but so what? "The shifting boundaries between these ratings in terms of quality are your dirty little secret", he said. It was embarrassing that something so obvious had to be clarified to me.

It looks as though we're making the same mistake at WP. By all means let's have quality drives, but counting the numbers and proportions of bronze stars don't mean nothin'. A rising FA–article ratio could well mean just a drop in standards at FAC. It's really the relationship between FA quality benchmarks and the proportion of articles that are featured that matters; but those benchmarks are hard to quantify, so why bother?

My inclination is to drop this cart-before-the-horse bean-counting approach and get back to reviewing and supporting more quality drives for all articles. Tony (talk) 13:00, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree, although I must admit I was enjoying reading this approach. If any business approach will help FAC it will be a marketing-led one, encouraging more writers and reviewers, and precise, or even imprecise, targets won't help in the slightest. Johnbod (talk) 13:48, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

I am boldly removing the proposed straw poll sections per comments above, and because no one has shown an interest in using them. Editors have noted, for example, that targets put the cart before the horse. We could make all articles FA in a few days with a bot, but it wouldn't mean anything. In addition, straw polls are rarely the best way to find consensus: reasoned discussion, mutual understanding and compromise are much more important. The response to an editor who states "Less than 10% GA and FA articles means these processes are a failure" is not to start a poll asking everyone else "What percentage of articles would you like to be FA by 2015?" but to engage the editor in discussion about what it would take to achieve such a high percentage in a realistic timescale.

Polling is not helpful before substantial discussion has raised mutual understanding, awareness of the pros, cons and ramifications of all the options. If after that, editors still disagree on a course of action, a poll might help, but even that is not guaranteed. Geometry guy 21:26, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

  • I believe everyone except for Fifelfoo misunderstood the purpose for which I posted this straw poll. The goal was to clearly ascertain what the community's consensus was on the subject of article promotion targets, since it had been brought up as a concern in the earlier discussion and no one mentioned the issue in their earlier responses to the essay. "Engaging the editor in discussion about what it would take to achieve such a high percentage in a realistic timescale" was precisely what the takt section of the essay attempted to do through presenting data. From the comments above it seems clear there is a consensus that there is no need to set a FA promotion target, at least in excess of the Main Page takt. In my mind therefore we have the answer that through posting the poll I sought to obtain. Grondemar 18:29, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    I am pleased to hear you have the information you wanted without needing another poll. Polling should be a last resort, and consensus is not the same thing as percentage support in a vote. Writing an essay is also not the same thing as engaging in discussion, although I do appreciate the time and effort you put in, which was definitely worthwhile. Meanwhile, I engaged User:Alarbus and others in discussion, and found no appetite for repeating the 10% target, except in a modified form: 10% of all articles with over 100 hits per day. To my surprise, I found that the latter articles form a rather low percentage: probably not more than 5% of Wikipedia, and perhaps as little as 2%. This revised goal therefore amounts to a 0.2-0.5% target, which GA is already close to achieving, and is much more reasonable as a goal for FA. Geometry guy 23:39, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Before this section archives I want to be contrarian. We ought to set a 3% per year sustained growth rate goal. 3% is a natural increase growth function in advanced industrial economies that is readily achievable. We ought to set this yearly target on a "three year trailing" basis, so that "recession" months or years do not impact on our growth strategies. We ought to aim for a natural increase growth function as what does not grow ossifies and dies. We ought to set a minimal sufficient growth rate to maintain the process as living, but set growth aims as no higher than required to keep the process invigorated rather than dying in irrelevancy. Our growth target ought to be related to our current conduct, not to a planned contribution to the entire project (ie: set against articles promoted per year (3 year trailing average), rather than 1% of "all articles"). I would suggest that if we're modelling potential processes, or growth targets, that such a "natural increase" process be modelled. Even if we don't adopt if, we should ask modellers what we would need to be doing to cause such an increase, and evaluate the proposals required for a natural increase growth against what we as a group of editors choose to do. I'm not saying we should have a 3% annual growth target; but, that we should consider, debate, and then reject or accept what it would do to our processes if we chose to have such a growth target. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:33, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    Sorry, I didn't understand a lot of that (please forgive me for being slow). First question: 3% growth of what, exactly? Geometry guy 02:15, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    Everyone wants more FAs, assuming standards are maintained, but I'm having great difficulty imagining what difference it would make to our actual actions if, say, a 4% target rather than a 3% one was accepted. We don't control enough of the levers, it seems to me. Johnbod (talk) 02:45, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    A 3% growth rate in the number of passed FACs. If over the last three years, the monthly average has been 30, we should be aiming at a monthly average of 30.9 passed FACs for 2012, 32 for 2013, 32.7 for 2014, 33.7 for 2015. Passed FACs represent a combination of author, reviewer and delegate work. 3% is a comfortable lower bound growth that doesn't encourage productivist hysteria. Higher growth rates often encourage cyclic growth. On the otherhand, if someone observed process changes that FAC reviewers, authors and delegates could implement that would make the process more pleasurable, double the output, and keep the standards, while reducing the work volume I'd be all for that. I'm kind of suspicious that such changes aren't likely for various reasons... but I'm open to cogently argued process redesign or automation that doesn't effect the community's policy control, that maintains the quality, and that improves the experience of FAC work. Fifelfoo (talk) 05:05, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    Thanks for clarifying. Unfortunately, the problem with that measure is that the data are not robust enough for it to be meaningful. The October-October trailing 12 month averages of monthly FAC production since 2005 are: 36, 42, 62, 64, 45, 44, 31. The corresponding trailing averages for net monthly FA production are: 31, 30, 43, 52, 31, 35, 28. The data are too noisy for a 3% increase to be significant, which is another way to say "We don't control enough of the levers" as Johnbod notes above. Geometry guy 22:23, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    Thanks. I'm not sure that FAC process can be reduced to "controllable" given the self-motivated volunteer workforces, but if 3% is under "noise" then we can't currently make plans around increased throughput (without compromising standards or pleasure or autonomy) as proportionate, continuous growth. Fifelfoo (talk) 22:33, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    The same is true at GA: the monthly output fluctuates widely, with backlog elimination drives contributing significantly to the average output of 250 articles per month. Not all fluctuations are random. For instance, the high of (64,52) in 2008 above coincides with the first year of Sandy's delegacy, and FAC output remained strong for a couple of years. New energy and vision to improve process and standards can make a difference to output. For another example, FAR demotion figures were (on average) higher during much of 2006-2010 than before or afterwards: I attribute this to a recalibration of quality standards. GA went through similar growing pains with the Sweeps process. FAR is now more settled, but there has been a decline in FAC output. While output may not be controllable in the sense implicit in Grondemar's analysis, understanding what encourages production and what does not can make a difference, and so can anyone with sufficient determination, motivation, energy and bright ideas. Geometry guy 23:39, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    The increased throughput at FAR from 2006 to 2010 was a direct reflection of the change in citation requirements in 2005 after the Siegenthaler incident. Under Marskell's patient and competent supervision, at a time when more than 50% of then-FAs were out of compliance with the new requirement for inline citations, FAR patiently processed through 523 FAs that had few inline citations, bringing a good portion of them to standard (see Wikipedia:Unreviewed featured articles). At the time, FAR was a pleasant and collaborative place to work, with an emphasis on saving as many stars as possible. On the drop in FAC throughput that began in 2009, some remember history ... and those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it. When FA writers and reviewers are beaten down by a mere handful of naysayers, whether at FAC or FAR, throughput will decline-- as it has. Considering overall declining editorship, recovery will be harder than before. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:37, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
    I agree, and thanks, Sandy, for providing historical details behind the FAR figures. At GA, changing inline citation requirements was a much more traumatic process! All this emphasizes the point further: we may not be able to control the throughput, but there are many inputs to the FAC process that we can influence, and our actions and choices can affect the throughput. Analysis of historical information can further inform our choices. Geometry guy 00:57, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • It's difficult for me to comment on a question of this particular quality. The only sane and civil response would be a faint scratching noise, as I scratch my head wondering how anyone one earth could seriously pose such a question, and apparently with a straight face. [I could understand and play along if it were a joke.] So I put it to you: how could anyone ask such a question? Why on earth should numbers be even marginally relevant? Why should we care about numbers? We should not. If we care about numbers, our goal and our mission both become new things. Do you want to re-task FAC, give it a completely new mission statement? I... am.. in my mind I am spluttering helplessly at the sheer... lack of WP:CLUE. If we care about numbers, we become the "people who promote a certain number of articles through our process" rather than "the people who identify articles that exemplify Wikipedia's very best work." I.. cannot see... how you cannot see... that only in some gauzy dream world are those two goals anything other than completely mutually exclusive. No. Really. How could anyone seriously think....? –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 08:57, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    I agree with a lot of what you say, knowledgeable Leaf, but there is nothing wrong with measuring things, or with aspirations. Numbers can inform us in our goals and help us to have realistic aspirations, but in order that they serve us, rather than master us, we must not fear them. For instance, if someone says "FA is a failure because since its inception it has scarcely varied from a coverage of about 0.09% of the encyclopedia", there are many ways to respond: clarity about the mission of FA is crucial, but a thorough answer also involves confronting the numbers and understanding their significance. Geometry guy 22:23, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Demotion of FA's

If I may ask, where would the appropriate process for requesting a FA demotion be listed? I've seen a particular article deteriorate over time because of poor editing... It may now pass as a GA (although I sense this would be generous), but at least in this page the process for requesting a review is not obvious. Would it need specific tags, as to allow a bot to pick it up for review? Demf (talk) 14:46, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

WP:FAR is the process, which is too long to explain here. One alternative is to seek out those who have worked on the article in the past and see if they are willing to renovate.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:50, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

WP:Featured articles/Usage

I'm going to start playing around with a page at this title; edits are welcome. It's mainly for giving a fuller description of abbreviated copyediting notes I'm leaving in edit summaries. I can do it in my userspace instead if you prefer. - Dank (push to talk) 02:29, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

FA record with Nick Drake?

Is this the 2nd FA ever to appear on the main page for more than one day? I know Obama was on it twice, but I can't think of any others. Obviously this is due to the blackout, but it marks for an interesting FA trivia fact. ♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 17:43, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it was the second time I've repeated one, and yes it was due to the blackout. Raul654 (talk) 17:45, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
See TFAR. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:45, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Cool! Yay random Wiki-trivia. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 18:18, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
See Template_talk:ArticleHistory#Nick_Drake. Gimmetoo (talk) 21:38, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

RfC on the leadership of the featured article process

An RfC on the leadership of the featured article process has been opened here; interested editors are invited to comment. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:07, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Reviewing question

Hi everybody, I've started getting involved in FAC lately and am thus far enjoying myself. I have a question about reviewing though. usually if I'm reviewing an article I just look at the prose for errors and clarity and manual of style issues. I typically don't think about the images/if it a neutral comprehensive survey of all the literature/if all the references are sufficiently reliable. So, my question is, how should I qualify my support (without writing all this each time)? Thanks, Mark Arsten (talk) 20:40, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

As I wish everyone would-- per WP:WIAFA. For example,
  • Support, 1a only, or
  • Support, 1a and 4 only, or
  • Oppose, 2 (reason) ...

Some of the FAC pages are insanely long, with narry a mention of Support/Oppose or WIAFA-- one wonders if a FAC page is longer than the article, why someone hasn't opposed? On a separate note, I've often wondered why folks work on prose if reliable sources aren't in place-- that is, if the text has to be rewritten anyway? This was an issue I raised with the GOCE eons ago, when it was new-- why are folks spending time improving prose that is plagiarized or will need to be removed if it is not reliably sourced? So, I always find it curious that people can work on prose independent of sourcing. I'm all ears :) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:46, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

I was thinking about video game articles when it comes to references. They tend to use a lot of websites, and it's hard for me to figure out which ones are OK/questionable so I just look at prose for them (though I've only reviewed one Video Game article so far). So, for the type of review I mentioned above, I would support on 1a, 1d, 1e, 2a, and 2b? (Agreed about the GOCE, BTW). Mark Arsten (talk) 21:07, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Guilty with an explanation, Your Honor. If I have copyedited and supported the article in a previous review, and I got the sense from that review (even if I don't have proof) that there aren't significant sourcing issues, then I will generally try to copyedit the article again as soon as it gets to FAC, before the article changes so much that I have to start again from scratch. OTOH, if I haven't copyedited the article before, I support what Sandy is saying here ... before we know whether the article is faithful to the sources, it can actually hurt the FAC reviewing process to copyedit and/or support on prose, because copyediting includes fixing a number of problems which are sometimes better left unfixed if the sources haven't been examined. The writers' original words can be important clues that they were confused, or that the voices aren't their own. - Dank (push to talk) 21:20, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
That, too ... but generally, why are we copyediting (in many cases, almost entirely rewriting) articles at FAC anyway? Are we changing our purpose from "does this article meet criteria" to "if we keep this here for a month, we can pull it over the line"? Is that what folks want? Is that part of why we don't have enough reviewers? Because "in the olden days", you just had to say if an article met or didn't meet WP:WIAFA, and provide examples. I'm concerned about reiewer burden when I see FACs that are longer than articles, with narry a support or oppose, or articles that have been copyedited three times while they're at FAC, and yet when I read them after they're mature for promotion, I find significant prose errors introduced after the copyedits. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:15, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Before nominating an article, ensure that it meets all of the FA criteria... Too many nominators disregard this. So do many reviewers, alas. The only solution I can think of is to allow delegates to close nominations where it is clear that a peer review or a major copyedit is taking place. Would that be unreasonable? Brianboulton (talk) 00:04, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Depends on who you ask  :) :) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:06, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
You've still got 14 days.... Brianboulton (talk) 01:13, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
This seems equivalent; there was general agreement that this can be done last time it was discussed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:40, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Yep, that was the consensus, and that was how I was operating, and ... well. Delegates have to respect reviewers, and reviewers are digging in and pulling them over the line, and nominators are screaming at delegates when they close them. So, instead of a new RFC, we end up with "elections". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:43, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • SandyGeorgia, are you suggesting that spotchecks should be conducted before copyediting? Spotchecking can be a gutbusting process. It certainly helps for someone to have done the "are these sources even acceptable / formatted correctly" before spotchecking. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:22, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • My observation is that Nikkimaria generally gets in there pretty quickly to do a check for reliability of sources, but sometimes folks plow ahead on copyediting (which I wonder why we're doing at FAC anyway) in spite of Nikkimaria having identified iffy sources. If sourcing isn't in order, what are we copyediting? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:25, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Both can be fixed; I see no reason why one or the other should be prioritized.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 02:26, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • You'd want to check for issues with close paraphrasing, etc. after copyediting, to avoid regression. --Laser brain (talk) 02:33, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Andy, are you saying that after I copyedit something, someone should do another spotcheck to see if I accidentally made the text (which was not previously a close paraphrase) into a close paraphrase? We're having a hard enough time finding people to spotcheck once ... and also, it's not a copyright violation if I've never seen the source, and I accidentally use the same word the source used ... that's my work, not theirs. - Dank (push to talk) 03:03, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • No, I'm saying that it doesn't seem logical to spend time doing spotchecks if substantive prose issues have been identified. The prose can and will change, and you'd want to check the "final draft". --Laser brain (talk) 19:24, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Sturm, the problem is (for example), there's a nomination up now that has been up for two months, reliability of sources was questioned right off the bat when the nom was new, reviewers plowed ahead anyway and copyedited and supported, and there it sits-- two months later, still unresolved questions on reliable sources. Brilliant prose is nice, but WP:V is policy, so I can never understand why articles that don't have clear sources are supported. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:49, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I agree, reviewers should explain which exact criteria they support. Its much more helpful for a writer to know what to take care of in the current and future nominations.--WillC 16:54, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • If the article is factually correct, then it should only be a matter of digging up better sources. Hawkeye7 (talk) 21:01, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • But wouldn't that be assuming that a) the material based on "bad" sources is actually correct, and b) better sources are available? Neither is necessarily true. For example, when prepping Ray Farquharson for review, I found an unreliable website that said he was knighted. That may or may not be true, I don't know, but I couldn't find any reliable source that said so, so it wasn't included in the "finished" article. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:46, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Since Hawkeye7 writes MilHist articles, and I suspect his statement is more often true in that realm than in say, popular culture realms, he might not realize just how often copyedited text turns out to be ... deleted as wrong ... in other types of articles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:50, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
  • If at an FAC I am reviewing sources, I will say "Sources are OK" or words to that effect, subject to issues I have raised being resolved. I don't say "Support on the basis of sources only", neither does Nikkimaria, neither did Ealdgyth when she reviewed sources regularly. The same applies to image reviews (which I don't often do). I believe that a "support" declaration should be taken as covering the whole article, though it might in some circumstances be qualified by something like "subject to all issues concerning sources and images being resolved". Basically I will not declare support unless I am satisfied all the criteria have been met, and of course I'm prepared to rely to an extent on the judgements of others. I think supports based only on selected criteria are confusing, with the delegate having to weigh the value of each declaration. And after all, we don't qualify our opposes; an oppose is an oppose is an oppose. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brianboulton (talkcontribs) 18:28, January 24, 2012‎ (UTC)
  • That's exactly my position as well. Malleus Fatuorum 19:17, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • BTW, I recall that Tony1 did qualify his opposes, typically in the form of "Oppose, 1a)". Malleus Fatuorum 20:06, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
    • I don't think this is realistic given how complex FACs are. That there are independent source, grammar and image reviews attests to this. If we look at this current review for example, you can see separate source and image reviews. One reviewer, who has done a great deal of research into the Korean War, marks a support with: As far as content is concerned at least, it contains everything it should. This is clearly a content review. It is precisely the kind of review that we want. Given how difficult is is to get good reviewers, I don't want to turn reviewers away by insisting that they review everything. Rather, I would prefer to encourage reviewers to take on a part of an article, a single aspect or perhaps a single section. My preference is for the delegate to synthesise the reviewers' reports. Hawkeye7 (talk) 21:01, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
      • I think it's perfectly realistic, just as Brian says. Nobody is asking that reviewers look at everything, but if another reviewer has checked images, sources, whatever, why should I not take them at their word, perhaps after checking for myself if something doesn't seem quite right to me? Malleus Fatuorum 21:42, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Agree: otherwise we'd descend to the situation at DYK reviewing, where apparently reviewers are expected to review everything (but don't). Tony (talk) 06:43, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Spotcheck swap, anyone?

The articles I've currently nominated, Nyon Conference (FAC), needs spotchecks - there are PDF articles that cover the vast majority of it I can provide to an email address. If someone takes this on, I'm more than happy to do the same for another nomination if the FAC in question has online sources (Google Books, for example) or they can provide me with enough. Thanks, Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 20:47, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Um, Grandiose, I completed spotchecks on that article several days ago and doublechecking to make sure I'm not going crazy noted my findings on the review page - you're clear. Nikkimaria (talk) 20:56, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm very sorry Nikkimaria, I have no idea how I overlooked this. Will attend to shortly. I would extend the above principle to any FACs I have in the future. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 22:47, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Made a start on spotchecking 1907 Tiflis bank robbery for the good of the 'pedia. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 23:18, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Source spot-checking

What are the requirements for source spot-checking and is this something anyone can help with? If I review an FA, what proportion of citations should I check for it to be considered properly spot-checked? How much information should I then post to the FAC page? SpinningSpark 15:24, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for asking, Spinning-- there are quite a few nominations listed in a section above that are awaiting spotchecks. [2]

Since the Halloween 2010 discovery of copyvio in a Featured article, we have attempted to have every nominator see at least one spotcheck of their sources for 1) accurate representation of sources and 2) no close paraphrasing or copyvio issues. It would be optimal if every FAC could be checked, but we just don't have the resources, so at minimum, I tried to make sure every nominator was checked, on the notion that it just doesn't make sense to expend resources on, for example, checking Brianboulton nominations when he has never been discovered to have sourcing issues.

How many sources to check depends on what you find as you begin checking-- if there are concerns, you'd check more.

What to check for? We're looking for too close paraphrasing, text not accurately represented by sources, text not in sources, etc. Close paraphrasing can involve some judgment, so if you find anything iffy, you can just post it to the FAC and let others decide.

I hope we'll hear from others here, re how they spotcheck. It would be good if we could somehow standardize this, in the sense of asking nominators to link to any of their previous sourcechecks, and keeping records on what sourcechecks have been done on what nominators. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:29, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

I have a couple questions, how many sources need to be checked and is spource spotchecking meant to be the final step? LittleJerry (talk) 03:18, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Sandy provided an answer above about the number of sources. I will generally check 2 or 3, looking for close paraphrasing, mis-attribution, etc. If I find problems, I oppose the nomination and suggest a full source audit. This task should not fall on the shoulders of FAC reviewers—the nominator should go seek an interested party, preferably someone familiar with the topic and ideally someone with access to some or all of the print sources used. Sourcing problems indicate that the article has not been properly prepared for FAC, and the nomination should be withdrawn. The source check does not have to be the final step of the FAC, but it should not be done if the article is undergoing copyediting. --Laser brain (talk) 19:25, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I know User:Fifelfoo wrote a very detailed how-to a while back (I think for the Bugle?). Iridia (talk) 23:40, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Are you thinking of this: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Military_history/News/June_2011/Op-ed? Carcharoth (talk) 01:19, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
Regarding Sandy's comment "It would be good if we could somehow standardize this, ..." it may be worth considering a checklist similar to the one often used in GAN: Template:GAList. A FAC checklist could be like that, with the addition of a couple more items such as CopyVio check, spell check, disambig check, Source check, etc. --Noleander (talk) 01:30, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
Some of those have to be redone if editing takes place during the FAC. And I think objections to templates and checklists have been raised before. I suspect what delegates are looking for is a mix of 'checklist' style reviewing and 'holistic' reviewing, with them ultimately pulling things together to decide if the article has met the criteria. Carcharoth (talk) 01:35, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I suggest reading all citations of the most-cited source that you can access. I suggest sampling sources at 10% of total sources, and 10% of total citations minimum. I suggest interrogating sources to determine which are most likely to involve a failure to support claims, close paraphrase, or copyvio—and spotchecking those. I strongly suggest that when you note your spotcheck to the FAC, that you say how you did it; and, which sources you checked!  :) Fifelfoo (talk) 01:35, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    Would you be able to advise on the best way to state such concerns in a FAC review? I know from personal experience that this can be a sensitive subject. Close paraphrasing in particular is something that can be argued over, with some insisting that something is close paraphrasing, with others insisting it is not. What then? Carcharoth (talk) 01:47, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    I like to quote the source, giving a fullsome academic citation. Then I like to quote the article. Then I provide an analysis of how it is a close paraphrase with detail. So for example:
    Source: "I walked my dog down the road, and then had a porter at the lady's bar of my pub." Kevinson, Kevin, "Places I like to Drink," Kevinson's bumperbook of Kevinsonisms London: Palgrave, 2012: pp110–112.
    Wikipedia: "He was walking down the road, and then drank beer in the side bar of the hotel."
    Close-paraphrase from verb clause, "[walking] down the road, and then"
    Close-paraphrase from sentence order, "Walking" "road" "drank" "location in" "hotel."
    And similarly for trivial inversions containing the same fact set per sentence / per para.
    I mostly pick close paraphrases from sentence order, identical sentence composition, and from verb clauses. I'd also suggest that identical sentence order in a paragraph starts to become very very worrying, and again can be evidenced. The largest reason I've spotted for close paraphrase is inappropriate mention of facts that aren't significant. When noting shocking encyclopaedism in an article, it pays to be fulsome with the explanation. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:14, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    My experience in two venues, DYK and FAC, has been that if people are convinced of something, they will argue about it rather than talk about it, even if a full analysis is done like you say. And sometimes with justification. Different topics areas have different breadth of sources (some have only limited sources, so internalising and summarising is far more difficult), and some are very fact-dense, so again, summarising can be difficult. And if a source presents something chronologically, sometimes that is how it needs to be presented in the article as well. I should give examples, but those involved at DYK and FAC would probably not like it if I did that. Is there a way to use actual current examples and discuss them somewhere? And have you ever encountered a situation where someone disagreed with you on a spot-check, and what did you do at that point? Carcharoth (talk) 02:32, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    For historical reasons: here's an example of why we do it. It's also an example of how to do it. Note the page has since been scrubbed and rewritten but not by the original editor who has hundreds of unscrubbed pages littering this place. Truthkeeper (talk) 02:39, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    If people won't listen to expert reason, I oppose with a copyright and/or plagiarism rationale, and rely on the delegates to note that my opposition relates to basic encyclopaedic standards. Last time there was a kerfuffle I looked for an appropriate expert noticeboard, but the copyright crew don't deal with issues like this. (Close paraphrase is both a copyvio and plagiarism.) Fifelfoo (talk) 02:42, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
    Thank-you both. I do have further questions, but I'll take this up at Fifelfoo's talk page. Carcharoth (talk) 02:45, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Ok, I've done one (Franco-Mongol alliance). Let me know if that was all right and I might do another one sometime once I have recovered from the shock of just how long that took. SpinningSpark 17:15, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

  • That looks like a good spotcheck for me. I prefer to put "good" cites in a single line Checked okay (fns 23, 33, 43, 53, etc...), and break out only the concerning ones / AGF ones. Yes, spotchecking takes ages. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:41, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Question about including speculatory material

Would an FA biography be expected to include speculatory theories about someone's personal life? I'm talking about my nomination for Katharine Hepburn: the issue about sourcing that came up in the FAC page today made me question if I should be including the speculation that she was a lesbian/bisexual. It's a fairly well known rumor but it really is nothing more than speculation, not based on any solid research and dismissed by people who knew her. But I wanted to check now before the issue was potentially raised by a reviewer (as being in breach of NPOV, or something). --Lobo512 (talk) 20:29, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

The question you should always ask is: what do the reliable sources do? If this speculation is prominent in reliable sources (e.g., academic biographies), it should be covered; if it's limited to fansites, it shouldn't be. Ucucha (talk) 20:46, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. Well I wouldn't say there have been any "academic biographies" about Hepburn yet, unfortunately, but it is a central argument of William Mann's Kate: The Woman Who Was Katharine Hepburn and that claims to be a serious biography. It has been widely discredited by people who knew her though. James Curtis writes (author of an excellent Spencer Tracy bio) "the book inspired a backlash from fans, relatives, and friends who often knew the situations far better than the people assigned to review it". None of the other bios I've read suggest she was bisexual, although there are some other seriously trashy [3] [4] ones that do. My inclination is not to bother including it (which is why I haven't), but I don't want to face challenges of "not presenting all viewpoints". --Lobo512 (talk) 21:18, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
One more thing, Curtis' book definitely would count as an "academic biography" (extremely well researched and sourced), and a considerable amount of that includes Hepburn. And like I said, he dismisses the Mann book. He does say "a thorough criticism of [it] will have to wait until an authorized biographer is granted access to Hepburn's journals", but he hasn't incorporated any of Mann's "research" (which also claimed Tracy was gay) into his own book. --Lobo512 (talk) 21:29, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Well I've decided it's for the best to include a brief reference to it. By a bizarre coincidence, I logged in this morning to find an ISP editor had added a comment related to this speculation (the same guy Mann used as his source that Hepburn & Tracy were gay has published his own book [5]). So that felt like a sign, heh. If someone thinks it's inappropriate, however, I'll remove it. --Lobo512 (talk) 12:21, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I had a similar issue with Cosmo Gordon Lang, the bachelor archbishop who was subject to unproven charges of gayness, during and after his life. Nothing was proven, but I thought it necessary to mention the rumours briefly, without dwelling on them. You appear to have done much the same thing, and I think that's fine. Brianboulton (talk) 15:15, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Just to throw out a few more examples: James Dean, Anderson Cooper, Shepherd Smith, and Whoopie Goldberg are all gay/bisexual who did/have adamantly avoided discussing the topic in public, though it is essentially an open secret. Ucucha's position is correct - we should defer to the reliable sources and do what they do. Raul654 (talk) 15:18, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Very sensible. For example, we are keeping out the fringe theories that have recently arisen about Richard Nixon and the claims that John Diefenbaker had an illegitimate son. If such things become substantiated by multiple mainstream writers, every case being different, then you cover them neutrally and tastefully. Giving them no more or less emphasis than anything else in the article.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:55, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
So you think speculatory stuff shouldn't be included unless/until it is accepted by multiple writers? --Lobo (talk) 18:15, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
Keep in mind also that the terms we use today for lesbian and bisexual were not widely used when Hepburn was young. I'm sure you know the arguments revolving around Eleanor Roosevelt, who had an intense relationship with Lorena Hickock, evident in a series of letters they wrote to each other. Roosevelt discussed acts of affection we would most certainly connect with being a lesbian in today's society, but in the mindset of someone writing in the 1930s, who had grown up around the turn of the 20th century, it might be jarring and confusing for her to be identified as a lesbian. At the time, "lesbian" would be synonymous with a mental disorder, specifically a woman who refuses to adhere to the strict gender roles of the day. Ditto for Jane Addams, who had two long-term relationships with women. Affection between women at this time was very different from what it is now and completely free from neat boxy terms like "homosexual" or "bisexual". So the way you might present it is "Historian X documents relationships Hepburn had with Woman A, B, and C," and have the historian's words identify Hepburn as possibly lesbian or bisexual, then rebut with the evidence against. Or decline to place a label on her at all. --Moni3 (talk) 19:35, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh no there is no documentation to suggest she had any sort of relationship with a woman. She had very close friendships with a few women, and sometimes lived with them. The speculation more or less stems from that (along with her fashion sense and small behavioural things like that). I agree that sexuality wasn't so boxed-in back then, but people certainly knew of homosexuality and there were definitely rumors that she was gay. I don't think it's inappropriate to say "rumors have persisted that Hepburn was a lesbian or bisexual" - especially since they are just rumours, and there's no specific examples to cite. And the source I'm referencing specifically says "Rumors accusing the pants-wearing actress of lesbianism date to the early thirties" (my emphasis). --Lobo (talk) 19:57, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
Your first two sentences are confusing. Friendships are, of course, relationships, and it was fashionable (actually, it was virtuous and honorable too) in the 19th century for women to have very close friendships with each other, often living with each other, with all the trappings of writing each other love letters and such. Very little of this written documentation addresses outright sexual acts. This behavior now we call "lesbian" or we raise an eyebrow and wink at it, warranted little suspicion or character questioning until after World War II. You might also consider that when accusations of homosexuality--particularly for a woman--became enough of a weapon to be considered a rumor, it meant that the woman in question had quite a lot to lose. Such rumors may have been spread by people simply wishing to kill Hepburn's career. --Moni3 (talk) 20:21, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm confused as to what your ultimate point you think it's appropriate to include a reference to this or not? Because that's all I'm trying to find out. In a nutshell: there were rumours that she was a lesbian (I don't know the intricacies of these rumours, but I really don't think they were that different from any rumours you'd get now..and the majority of time we're talking about is after WW2); a couple of trashy biographers have attempted to prove this was the case (that she had romantic relationships with women and/or was not interested in men); there is no eye-witness or documentary evidence to support this speculation (while there is concrete evidence of heterosexual relationships); people who knew her have denied it; the majority of Hepburn bios (and the brand new Spencer Tracy bio) present her as heterosexual, and do not suggest any of her female friendships were in anyway romantic. So - warrants a mention or not? --Lobo (talk) 20:46, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
I just finished one of the trashy biographies of Hepburn and I think that it should be mentioned as speculative and that nothing can be confirmed one way or another.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 20:55, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Submarine articles

Can short (less than 750 words) articles about SSBNs, the operational nature of which is heavily classified, become FAs? Or are those articles can only advance to, and be perpetually stuck at, GA? Thanks --Sp33dyphil ©hatontributions 05:11, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

I think they hypothetically could make FA at less than 750 words. My pagesize script is showing Tropical Depression Ten (2005) at 625 words, and that is featured. Mark Arsten (talk) 05:42, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
On a similar note, Wikipedia:Featured articles/By length is a really fascinating page. Mark Arsten (talk) 05:44, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
Looking at the FAC page for Tropical Depression Ten, much of the support for its promotion seems quite begrudging. I imagine that with an understandable cap on sources size won't be seen as an obstacle but it might mean that the other aspects of the article will need to stand up to a much higher degree of scrutiny in way of compensation. Small but perfectly-formed, as they say. GRAPPLE X 05:47, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
I guess if it were easy to get <1000 word articles to featured status, a lot more people would be doing it! Mark Arsten (talk) 15:32, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
Another thing shown by Tropical Depression Ten is that FA has become a much more difficult and torturous process since that time. SpinningSpark 18:49, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
I may be kidding myself here, but I'm *only thinking* about bringing a host of articles abut SSBNs (American nuclear-powered submarines that carry nukes) to FA. They'd be really easy to write, certainly much easier than Michael Jackson. --Sp33dyphil ©hatontributions 03:28, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
I'd be inclined to challenge them on the grounds of completeness, but that's a problem with information that should be in an article, but isn't available and how that's treated. Personally, I tend to be rather strict on such things at the A or FA-class level. Some articles just can never qualify for either of those two grades, IMO.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 04:22, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

With the caveat that I'm not exactly a subject matter expert, I'm quite sure there's a lot more out there that could be written about them than 750 words. There's whole books on the subject which could be used. Raul654 (talk) 04:39, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

As a general rule I agree with Storm that some articles just won't qualify for A/FA, and that's one reason we have GA -- as an end in itself, not simply a stepping stone to higher things. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 14:06, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

@Sp33dyphil: This topic seems to resurface every few months. I'm sure you've now seen that there is no straight answer, but that people will be all over your article like flies on a rump roast trying to discover which sources you've neglected. --Laser brain (talk) 14:52, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

And, those very short articles are typically stalled at FAC for a very long time, since reviewers don't like to engage them, so they aren't a good route to a [[WP:CUP] win, btw. YOu could probably get two serious articles through FAC in the time you could get one quickie through. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:54, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
Looking at USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730), the service history section is blank, which one could see is typical if that is classified. I'm sure it could not get through FAC without a service history - otherwise it is presumably just a standard member of its class, and one could repeat almost the same article for each vessel in the class. Better to put the class article up. Johnbod (talk) 15:23, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

(repetition) Do the class article. You can pull Janes and Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet and then get a bit more and go to town. The individual sub articles will have very low viewership, will be repeating class info, and the interesting aspects of the ship in terms of its service history or modifications are mostly classified. All you do is some simple things like dates of refueling. It's really churning, Sp33dy, to do these individual sub articles. Besides boomers never do anything interesting, just hide with pride and wait for a phone call to end the world. Fast attacks really do play all the games from the movies and have interesting service histories, but then that is all TS SCI for good reasons and even any sources you get that opine on such need to be couched with a caveat that they are speculating, etc.TCO (talk) 21:38, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

@Raul654 Sorry, I should've made myself much clearer. What I was referring to were individual ballistic submarines such as USS Ohio (SSBN-726), USS Georgia (SSGN-729) and USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740). Of the five (US, UK, France, USSR/Russia, China) traditional nuclear powers, the US is about the only country that declassifies its command logs and documents years following the events ([6], [7]). Although these are no way as transparent as surface vessels, the US is much more transparent that the remaing four countries, who put thick blankets around the operations of their ballistic subs. Yes, SSBN is much much easier to write, as there are plentiful resources to choose from.
@Sandy Thanks for the valuable tip.
@JohnBod After a short search, there are documents about operations about the boat, but those are about the only reliable sources you'll get for the article. --Sp33dyphil ©hatontributions 09:18, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
<cough> Reliable? Recommending someone digest pure primary documents and commit original research on a history article? The appropriate place to use those logs is in a reliably (preferably high quality) publication that we could then cite. We aren't in the business of conducting vessel histories, we're in the business of writing encyclopaedia articles based off other people's vessel histories. Fifelfoo (talk) 09:36, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
Well, can you find any reliable secondary sources that could help fatten an article? Besides, doesn't the guideline that recommends the usage of secondary sources exist to dissuade editors from adding OR statements and to adhere to NPOV? I can't see any problems regarding such issues in those sources, as they are 100% observations, and as such, are hard facts. --Sp33dyphil ©hatontributions 09:50, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
No, just no—these are documents produced by a portion of a military of a government, all with certain biases. Military reports regularly systematically under-contextualise their subjects, and don't speak to meanings. These "hard facts" turn into limp opinions in the hands of editors; not because our editors are flawed human beings, but because the facts were never "hard" to begin with. See Historiography for a start. Fifelfoo (talk) 10:01, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I really don't think the military service would contextualise the operations of its SSBNs, which are designed to be ultra-stealthy. Remember, the sources you're reading are supposed to be classified, but they were released to the public years after the events documented in them had taken place. As I said above, and I will illiterate further, the whole point of Wikipedia is to produce a reliable Wikipedia, how? Mostly by using facts from high-quality secondary sources to compose articles. There are some subjects for which such sources do not readily and widely exist. In such case primary sources may have to be called upon. The purpose of WP:SECONDARY is too discourage editors from inserting OR and adhere NPOV, is it not? What about a primary source which tells black and white almost 100% of the times? "The Blue Crew conducted a series of acoustic trials followed by one month of Demonstration and Shakedown Operations. This shakedown period culminated in the firing of a Trident C-4 missile." -- now I don't see a lot of OR and NPOV in that. Well, maybe "a series of acoustic trials", as it can be three or ten acoustic trials, but my point is, these sources list observations, which are facts, which are in turn desired by WP, isn't it? Also, they're "hard facts" because they don't include opinions, which are produced by the authors. I feel that some of your reasoning are based on non-verifiable findings -- please produce some evidence if you do have 'em. Having said that, I withdraw my comment above that [8] are the only RS, and I will try to find more secondary sources. --Sp33dyphil ©hatontributions 11:11, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Fifelfoo here. Short stubs are possible, but using vessel logs to try and pad things out, or write an original account that has never been written before, is problematic. If no-one else has yet written a history of the individual vessels, Wikipedia is not the place to start. Primary sources, as well as being used sparingly, have to be bolstered and supported by secondary sources. Carcharoth (talk) 12:53, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Four more days

I should say here and now that I'm petrified that I'll go on automatic pilot some day after my resignation is effective, and accidentally close a FAC !! If I do, please Assume Old Memory, and quietly revert me  :) I'd appreciate it if someone else would start updating the urgents; that task was exhausting even when I was delegate, I wished others would help, and don't want to do it now :) I've said many times here that if the community doesn't use and update that page, we should send it up for deletion. Also, I don't know how to fix the editnotice at WP:FA, so will some techie person remove my name from there on the 7th? Thanks in advance for your forebearance, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:43, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

  • I used to only edit the "urgents", but since have had a change in philosophy & think hitting earlier is better. Do a poll thingie here on FAC and ask if anyone relies on it heavily. If not, delete. Ling.Nut3 (talk) 17:48, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I use it, but I wouldn't say that I rely on it. If I'm out-of-pocket for a few days (or months, as was recently the case) it helps me prioritize. I will volunteer to update it. --Laser brain (talk) 18:03, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I use it too (or I did when I was reviewing last year, haven't reviewed in some time now, but that is for reasons unrelated to the current discussions as I've been consciously trying to write and edit articles more instead, albeit not entirely successfully). One way of getting an idea of how many people use or did use it is to see how many user pages it is transcluded on. If it has become unused, I suggest marking historical rather than deletion, as that enables it to be revived later if needed. Carcharoth (talk) 12:47, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Missing link (FAC RFC still open)

The link to the RFC has disappeared from this page as a result of bot archiving. Is the RFC closed? If not, maybe someone will reinstate it. Brianboulton (talk) 19:10, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

It closes tomorrow-- you can find a link at the top of the archive identified as RFC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:12, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I don't need it myself – but you know how conspiracy theories begin... Brianboulton (talk) 23:02, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
OK, here we go: Wikipedia:Featured articles/2012 RfC on FA leadership SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:49, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

I corrected the info above-- no closing date in sight. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:14, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Rule of thumb for consensus on promotion?

I assume Raul and his delegates exercise some discretion to not promote if they see real problems even in a nomination with only supports, but I also take it they will not promote even the finest content without some supports on which to base a finding of consensus. Is there a rule of thumb on the number of supports that is considered sufficient for consensus at FAC?--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 00:37, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

I've never promoted articles with fewer than three supports. Of course, three supports are not a guarantee for promotion if there are issues that the supporters did not address; for most articles I'll also want to see an explicit image review, source review, and spotcheck. Before promoting an article, I'll read over it and see whether I can find any glaring issues that the reviewers missed. Ucucha (talk) 00:48, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Just to expand on what Ucucha has said, another thing delegates generally like to see is that the supports don't all come from members of the same wikiproject as the nominator, e.g. (to take an example close to my heart!) MilHist articles aren't supported purely by MilHist people. This isn't so much that bias is suspected, but simply recognising that it's good to have fresh eyes to pick up jargon and so on. Delegates giving a nom the once-over can accomplish the same thing, of course, but best it comes from someone else again. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 01:01, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
The other reason for wikiproject and non-wikiproject is how it reads to those familiar and unfamiliar with article material I'd think. As a wikiproject member I'll support a bird or fungus article but expect it not to be counted as much as an entirely new set of eyes...Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:11, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
FAC is not a !vote, meaning the number of Supports is not entirely relevant; the question is, has every aspect of WP:WIAFA been examined, by both content experts and uninvolved editors. There is no set number of Supports to assure promotion, but on the other hand, articles are not promoted with less than three Supports. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:01, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks all. I was really looking for the minimum support threshold only. Three it is. I am certainly aware we are not counting heads nor conducting a straight straw poll.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 02:44, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

FAC workshop, panels or talks at Wikimania?

In case you don't follow the signpost or village pump closely, I want to make sure FAC people know about Wikimania 2012. It's in Washington, DC this year, in July and hope to see a good number of content people there. The call for participation is open (and travel scholarships) and I think hearing about aspects of the FAC process and content issues at Wikimania would be fabulous. Types of sessions can be panels, talks, workshops, etc. and there will be an unconference day which is more suited for working sessions, discussions, workshops, or whatever. Cheers. --Aude (talk) 17:23, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Moving forward

The pre-RFC discussion brought up some areas that bear discussing. In particular:

  • Increasing the quantity and quality of reviews and reviewers (including ways of giving reviewers feedback)
  • Whether or not it would be worthwhile to clerks for FA-related processes (and what they would do if the position existed)
  • Emergency FA blurbs which could be used in case of a snafu. (Creating the blurbs is no problem. I'd be more concerned about defining the circumstances under which someone is allowed to 'break the glass' and make the switch, and who that person or persons will be)

Now, given that we've spent most of the last two months discussing/arguing about FA, first on this page and then later on the RFC, I know that everyone is probably more-than-a-little tired of this conversation. I agree. So we're not going to talk about them just yet. Everyone relax, take the time to think about them, and them I'll kick off a new discussion in a few weeks.

Second, as promised, now that the RFC is concluded, I'm going to appoint some new FA delegates. They are user:GrahamColm and user:Ian Rose. I'm confident they'll do a fine job. Raul654 (talk) 04:28, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

  • One: congrats to Raul654 for the RFC's expression confidence in their position as Director. Two: congrats to GrahamColm and Ian Rose. Three: thank goodness for a break to go away and think in. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:43, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
    • I second Fifelfoo.--WillC 05:02, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
      • Eminently sensible choices as delegates - maybe any delegate can place an emergency blurb? Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:06, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
        • Yeah, I was thinking that too. It greatly increases the probability that problems will be responded to in a timely manner. --Rschen7754 05:07, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
          • Excellent choices! What's a blurb? Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:19, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
            • The text on the main page representative of that day's TFA. Generally a boiled-down version of the article's lead with some standard changes to things like linking and the sort. GRAPPLE X 12:39, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
As for the last point that Raul brought up (the emergency blurbs): If it is 23:50 and a) there is no featured article scheduled for the upcoming TFA slot, and b) there has been no response from Raul or Dabomb to the inevitable questions about the problem, I'd propose that any admin in good standing can select one of the pre-made emergency blurbs as the next day's TFA. I'd be wary of making it any more complicated than that to prevent instruction creep. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 08:40, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
There's been other scenarios brought up, such as the incident where a TFA had to be pulled mid-run earlier this week due to plagiarism. --Rschen7754 08:42, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Could you please provide a link to the discussion on this, as I have an ongoing interest in FAC plagiarism issues and spotchecking them. Fifelfoo (talk) 22:21, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Here Raul654 (talk) 22:29, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

What happened to George W. Romney nomination?

It's unclear to me what happened to Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/George W. Romney/archive2. It was on the nominations list from January 15 until this Raul654 edit yesterday which had the comment "promoting some and restarting one". But the nomination article itself was not updated at all, so I'm not sure what the status is. Thanks ... Wasted Time R (talk) 17:21, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

It was added to Wikipedia:Featured articles, so as far as I know, User:Gimmebot will close the nomination page based on this and update the article history with the promotion. Not sure how often it runs, though. GRAPPLE X 17:27, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
There was a template we used to place at the bottom of nominations ({{FACClosed}}) explaining that it was archived or promoted, and was waiting for the bot. It looks like Raul and Ucucha are not using it, but it might be a good idea to head off any confusion like this. --Laser brain (talk) 17:42, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the info, GimmeBot has now run and done the updates. It's been a while since my last nomination so I'd lost track of how it worked ... Wasted Time R (talk) 19:06, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

For info

Most editors will have seen it already, but for info, Jimbo has started a very FA-relevant thread at User_talk:Jimbo_Wales#.22Not_the_kind_we_want.22_to_attract. Geometry guy 21:51, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

Rlevse request to return to editing

This was posted to DYK, so it should be posted here: [9] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:36, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

self-archived FAC

Just a note in case something wasn't done properly ... User:Khanassassin apparently archived his own FAC (the most recent one). - Dank (push to talk) 22:04, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

I noticed it too and added the FAC to the log and reverted a few things that are better left to Gimmebot. Ucucha (talk) 00:00, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

April Fools

palgrave mcmillan1 month free access (?)

I've got whiskey, all you want!

Laser brain's precious Redbreast 15

There is a little tiny box in the upper-right hand corner called "FACs needing feedback" that I endeavor to keep current. Won't you please take a few moments from your day and show these articles some love? They have been here for over a month and are in dire need of solid declarations so our hard-working delegates can deal with them. I'm offering a dram of my Redbreast 15-year-old. In case you were wondering: Oh yes, it's much better than the 12. --Laser brain (talk) 16:07, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Ooh, now that's tempting! ;) I had a look at one of them and declared, but unfortunately it was an oppose. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 18:29, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
I'll review the biology-related ones this weekend--don't archive anything yet! Sasata (talk) 18:58, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
I've done two, so do I get a double? Malleus Fatuorum 23:06, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Absolutely, cheers. Although I have to warn you that the last time I had a double of this one, I ended up playing darts with a stranger at the pub and later making a pact that we would climb Everest next season. --Laser brain (talk) 23:56, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
That's basically a suicide pact ... I think I'll pass on the Redbreast if you don't mind. Malleus Fatuorum 03:26, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

question, sorry

  • hello, I know this isn't the right forum for this question, but I like to ask where I know people. Please forgive if it is an intrusion... is there a way to have the best of both worlds: Named refs without eight billion separate little blue superscripted thingies in the references section? Look at List of endangered languages of the Pacific. Ref 5 currently has a gabillion links and will have a gabillion more (hundreds, literally) as time goes on. I remember something about grouping references, but I have never used that trick... thanks! Ling.Nut3 (talk) 11:27, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Hi. Your best bet might not be to group the references; instead, you could create separate "Notes" and "References" sections; this will solve your problem if all those references to the atlas are from different pages. See Bone Wars for a straightforward example. This approach not only makes verification easier, but will provide a good referencing structure should the article be expanded later. All the best, Steve T • C 11:57, 3 March 2012 (UTC) EDIT: Sorry, I didn't even notice who I was replying to. You already know how to do all that stuff and you don't need my patronising you. :-) Steve T • C 12:03, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Don't worry, you weren't patronizing. :-). I actually doubt there is a way to do what I want to do: all of the in-text notes go to the same ref, but that ref doesn't have a million little superscripted links back to the text. Mmm, maybe an option? Will look... Ling.Nut3 (talk) 12:08, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Got it, a trick i used years ago on Taiwanese aborigines and had forgotten about, using {{wikicite}}. You can now safely ignore this thread (or go on ignoring it, as the case may be). Ling.Nut3 (talk) 12:22, 3 March 2012 (UTC)


Shamelessly stolen from Arbcom clerks, with tweaks

I've been mulling this over for a while, and I've decided that I don't know what I think, so I'll just throw it out there. A lot of Wikipedia's success has been due to the principle of deflection, across multiple scales ... there's no one in charge, so the more contentious fights generally wind up looking like someone has picked a fight with a cloud (or a tar baby). Some amount of deflection is essential when the essence of what you're doing is conflict, but FAC has evolved way beyond just settling squabbles; we have a lot of competent participants who are counted on to do good work and who feel some responsibility to each other, or at least to what we're producing. What would be the best way to attract people to share the workload at FAC? Could we trial some kind of clerking position? - Dank (push to talk) 17:30, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

(edit conflict) I'll be interested to see what the delegates think, but it seems to me that there are two kinds of work at FAC: reviewing and deciding on consensus to either promote or archive. So what would the clerks be doing exactly? Malleus Fatuorum 20:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Agreed ... if the job is completely tedious and unglamorous, no one will sign up, and if it requires a lot of delicate judgment calls, then it's not clear that we even want to define that job, and if we did, it would be hard to find many candidates who could fill it. I know bragging on Milhist gets tiresome, but I really like the way Milhist solves this problem with the position of "coordinator" ... we don't define what any one coordinator does, we just have a list of things to do. Some jobs are high-profile, and that helps us attract candidates to run for the position, but most jobs aren't, and that leaves lots of work for coords who aren't looking for something complicated to do, or might not know how. Perhaps we could do the same thing with clerkship, and let the clerks work out among themselves who's covering what. If we don't get it right, Raul can sack all of us :) - Dank (push to talk) 20:51, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
We're almost certainly wired differently Dank, as I couldn't imagine ever putting myself forward for a clerking position, or accepting one if it was offered. But that's not to say that your idea is without merit; thankfully I don't yet rule the world. Malleus Fatuorum 21:00, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you have in mind Dank, but there are a few chores that would help the delegates. Some of these are under the heading "Monthly updates" on my User Page and also here User:GrahamColm/FAC notes, which is a pasted copy of one of Sandy's subpages. There's already lot to do when a FAC is promoted – well, it seems a lot to me at the moment as it is not second nature yet – and if someone is prepared to take on some of the peripheral tasks, this would help. Graham. Graham Colm (talk) 20:01, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
There's a fair bit to do when listing a GA as well, so it's a general problem that maybe could be more automated? Malleus Fatuorum 20:06, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I'm easy, I'd be willing to be a clerk whether the position is seen as a big deal, a tiny deal, or something in-between ... but only if clerkship actually works and means something, and that's going to depend on who signs up. I recently signed up as a coord over at WP:GOCE with hopes that I could educate people about FAC and enlist some help, but that hasn't worked. Enlisting help might work if we approached the problem the way most volunteer organizations do, which goes something like this: define a position that needs filling, talk up how desirable it is, get competent existing volunteers to mentor the new people, stroke people for doing a good job, let the positions evolve to some extent ... and fire the volunteers if they're not working out. The more peripheral you define the job to be, the harder it's going to be to sell it. - Dank (push to talk) 20:19, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
My problem is we lack reviewers already, promoting a few more for clerk work is just cutting into this problem. I'm still not happy we didn't get much accomplished in that book and had to focus only on Raul....Mitch32(There is a destiny that makes us... family.) 20:18, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I guess a clerk could help out by creating the monthly archive/promoted logs, updating WP:GO, and things like that, but there is more important work to be done. The cajoling for image and source checks would take a lot more off delegates' plates than the maintenance tasks. Also, making sure nominators are following rules about time passed since last nomination, etc. --Laser brain (talk) 20:43, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I can see that, but why would anyone want to do it? The enticement of clerking at other places is that it leads to positions of greater authority. What's the bauble here? Malleus Fatuorum 00:20, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. Why would anyone want to be an FAC delegate either? I suppose I always assumed people who are involved in GA and FA processes are doing it because they fancy being involved in producing high-quality content. --Laser brain (talk) 01:08, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I have done bits of informal clerking on the FAC page from time to time, which has not made me exactly popular...Personally, rather than seeing people making logs of which articles need source or media reviews, I'd like to see them actually doing the reviews. Source reviewing requires a sharp eye and a high boredom threshold, not much else; image reviewing requires expertise that few active reviewers have at the moment, but we are all capable of learning. There is useful stuff around, e.g. this. I have been fairly inactive on the page for the past couple of weeks or so, but hope to pick up soon. Brianboulton (talk) 01:16, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
The whole reviewing thing is a nightmare. I've hardly written a word on anything I'm really interested in for months now. But where's my badge? Malleus Fatuorum 01:20, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges. [10] --Laser brain (talk) 02:07, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I want to help others to write, which is why I do the reviews, but that's not why I'm here; I came to write. But maybe I'm too much a child of the '60s to understand what's really going on. Malleus Fatuorum 02:18, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I get it, believe me. The pressure to review is always there. It's more acute when you walk into a nomination with six supports and find problems in the first paragraph. I'm now forcing myself to write, because I feel like I've put in my time reviewing. I don't know where my badge is, either. --Laser brain (talk) 02:39, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Because it's seen as a position of authority. Malleus Fatuorum 01:24, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Reviewing is the danegeld you pay so that your own articles in return get reviewed by others. There are no badges, just the (occasional) pleasure you get from seeing an article you've helped get through. It used to work that way. Brianboulton (talk) 09:48, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Okay, the approach I mentioned is, to the best of my knowledge, more or less standard with volunteer organizations that have a list of services that they want to perform reliably and responsibly: define a position that needs filling, talk up how desirable it is, get competent existing volunteers to mentor the new people, stroke people for doing a good job, let the positions evolve to some extent ... and fire the volunteers if they're not working out. Generally, there are valid reasons that WPians are leery of elected or appointed positions ... a "flat" structure is great for deflecting corrosive conflict. Of course, FAC's solution of appointing "delegates" has been successful by any measure, and it wouldn't make any sense to appoint "reviewers" ... reviewing is always going to be a matter of taste and judgment, and open to the whole community. But there are jobs that don't get done efficiently, reliably and consistently ... when they get done at all: image reviews and spotchecks, anything that might be called copyediting or reviewing for deficient copyediting, and the many odd jobs that delegates are responsible for but would gladly hand off if they could find someone to hand them off to. WPians' aversion to getting people to commit, training them, and assigning them to positions is fairly nontraditional among volunteer organizations, and IMO has been counterproductive, at least at FAC. Does this make sense to anyone, and if so, what version of "clerkship" would you prefer? - Dank (push to talk) 18:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC) This is not a complaint about the fantastic job Nikki and others have done ... only an observation that we could probably get more people doing those jobs if we weren't so stubbornly "Wikipedian" in our recruitment methods.

I think it makes sense to have one or more clerks that check for image reviews, source spot-checks (on the current nomination for editors that have never had an FA, or on a nomination in the last 1–2 years for an FA veteran), and that rules have been followed (time between nominations, major editors consulted, etc.). We could place some kind of small infobox-looking thing in the upper right of each nomination with indicators that those things have been checked. Better yet, a table at the top of the whole FAC page that indexes current nominations with indicators. This would save a lot of delegate time, as they wouldn't need spend as much time looking at nominations that aren't ready to be promoted. --Laser brain (talk) 07:11, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Old archives

Following a link, I landed at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Archived nominations/Index/June 2004 and ended up reading many of the debates. To my surprise, every one of them seems to have been declared not promoted. Is there a separate archiving system for old nominations that ended up being promoted? Nyttend (talk) 05:51, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, link here. Brianboulton (talk) 09:53, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

FYI: Survey

Participants here may be interested in this. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:26, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Done, thanks. I'm interested in checking the text of FACs and GANs against the text of the sources, so I checked the boxes for access to books and databases. - Dank (push to talk) 00:54, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Me too, but how will I get the books I want? They didn't ask my username or anything. Matthewedwards :  Chat  06:03, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Participation in this process

Is goddamned pathetic. ResMar 18:12, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

It is a wonder to me that anything gets done, when a volume the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica has been written about one rogue administrator who was banned. Who has time for anything else? As to the review you linked your comment to, I just took a peak at it and it looks to me like the nom addressed everything a month ago and no one came around to promote it. I do not understand why the nom was archived instead of promoted. But then again, there is a lot about Wikipedia I do not understand.--Ishtar456 (talk) 19:17, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it is at times. Some types of articles have always had difficulty attracting reviewers. A lot of old-timey reviewers are burned out and working on other things. Others are bitter about things that have gone on here and may never return to reviewing. Aside from the normal challenge of finding reviewers, this part of the project is healing from some deep wounds, some of them self-inflicted. Add to that a major shift in leadership, in which one of the most visible editors on Wikipedia stepped down.
All of the delegates are relatively new, and you can believe they will err on the side of caution when promoting nominations. In Graham's defense, I can tell you from my experience as a delegate that even two substantive supports are incredibly weak grounds on which to promote a nomination. If you think delegates take a lot of heat for archiving nominations, you should see the heat when they promote something that shouldn't have been. All-in-all a thankless task that's largely damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't. It could have been left open longer, but to what end? No one was showing up to review it, some reviewers weren't entering declarations, and Volcanoguy wasn't actively looking for reviewers.
Either the reviewers will evolve or the process needs to. I don't see the reviewers evolving any time soon. I've been reviewing FACs for over four years and the problems then are the problems now. Only the character names have changed. Reviewing is a rewarding job, but one fewer and fewer people have the constitution for. --Laser brain (talk) 23:02, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
In all honesty, perhaps we should hire someone to be director and to review comments. Before people start yelling foul I'd like to point out that the Foundation is currently sitting on a massive cash surplus, and this is precisely the kind of area where hiring someone part-time would help massively as part of Funds Distribution. ResMar 03:27, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
A paid director but unpaid delegates and reviewers would be the end of FA. Malleus Fatuorum 04:02, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Probably, but anyway WMF won't do/pay for anything that directly impacts on content, apart from anything else so that they do not become legally responsible for the content on the projects. Johnbod (talk) 09:18, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Why do we pay the programmers? Expecting one group to dedicate their time while paying another group always causes tensions. Paid editing, reviewing, programming, and managing aside, the problem here, IMO, is that too few people are being asked to do too many things. There are a ton of editors on Wikipedia, but we all have other responsibilities on here (not counting real life), and that keeps us from doing what motivates us to work for free. Personally, I hate doing reviews, not because I'm a selfish prick, but because I know that in order to do it right, I need to dedicate nearly the same amount of time to a review as I do towards writing my own FAC. And if we require three or more thorough reviews and supports for our stuff to pass, and each of those requires us to review one or two other FACs, you're looking at a massive time expenditure. Now I've already had some nasty spats with the Wikimedia Foundation over their drive to attract new editors, so I'm not really looking to pick a fight here, but I sincerely believe Wiki needs to shift focus from attracting editors to attracting copy editors and reviewers. Some people hate to research and write, but love to read and critique. People like that do exist, but there is absolutely no effort to attract them to Wikipedia. If we all need more reviewers, then Wikimedia needs to start attracting reviewers. It can't get more simple than that. – Maky « talk » 18:26, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I always squirm when people blast FAC. It simply is not fair. FAC reviewing is a very demanding pursuit – in some ways it may be the most demanding aspect of Wikipedia (please do note that I said "in some ways" before you scoff). For example, editing in nationalistic areas or a few political debates (e.g. AGW) is more emotionally draining, but FAC pulls a close second. Editing highly technical articles is more technically challenging, but FAC pulls a close second. In fact, think of anything that is hard on Wikipedia, and you can probably say "there is one area that is harder, but FAC pulls a close second". Add up all those "close seconds" and you get FAC reviewing as a good candidate for the toughest overall place to be. 'Nuff said. Ling.Nut3 (talk) 11:59, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
What is so hard about writing "Ok, You've addressed all my concerns now so I'll support."?·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:43, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Generally people are concerned that by declaring support, they are certifying that they examined every aspect of the article, which is of course very difficult. Some reviewers have taken to statements like "support on prose", "support on sourcing", etc. Others drive by and leave comments without declaring anything, which is useful to the nominator but doesn't help the promote/archive process. --Laser brain (talk) 16:24, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
This case was a guy who addressed all comments by the reviewers and still nobody actually bothered to support. That it just wrong, and "difficult" has nothing to do with it. I refuse to believe the notion that reviwing is harder than the actual writing of FA level articles - ending a process with no promotion because the reviewers are too halfassed to either bothering to review it thoroughly enough, or to take responsibility for declaring support is just demeaning and copletely disrespectful to the article writer . A reviewer who acted like this in the academic review process would not get another chance to review for that jorunal.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:57, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Some people, sometimes including me, just make quick comments without having read the article fully or carefully, and then never get round to doing that (I'm not saying this was necessarily the case here). This should not be criticised. I agree this looks like an unfortunate case, but we all know we are short of reviewers. Johnbod (talk) 18:18, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Why shouldn't that be criticized? Thats about as useful as a nominator nominating a halfwritten article and then not responding to the comments. The problem with the FA process is that the reviewer/writer divide exists and that it sets up the process as "reviewers against the author". If reviewers and writers actually collaborated in the process this kind of nonsense would not happen. In the peer review process the responsibility for an article (and the benefits) is on the author and it makes sense for reviewers to be demanding - this is not the case here - the responsibility is on the community and so are the benefits. There is no reason to copy the peer review processes antagonist and competitive model here.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 18:34, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
It shouldn't be criticised because we're all volunteers here, doing what we can when can. And I have to say I find your analysis of the respective responsibilities and benefits of peer review and FAC to be incomprehensible. As a matter of interest, did you review the article you're complaining about? Have you ever done an FAC review, and if so, how long did it take you? Malleus Fatuorum 18:46, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
No, I have given up on FAC after experiences reminiscent of the one above. My point is exactly that we are all volunteers and we're all supposedly working towards the same goal, namely that of having a good encyclopedia with top quality articles. I am stating that FAC as it currently works is not the best means to that end. And I will will keep saying that until something changes. For the record I am not criticizing the reviewers who do very good volunteer work - but the review process. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 18:51, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Are reading the same thing? In what way is "the reviewers are too halfassed to either bothering to review it thoroughly enough, or to take responsibility for declaring support is just demeaning and copletely disrespectful to the article writer" not a criticism of the reviewers? It's difficult to see "halfassed" as a term of endearment. Nevertheless I'm sure everyone is open to hearing whatever suggestions you may have for improving the process in the face of a declining number of reviewers. Malleus Fatuorum 19:00, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
You are right, that wasn't meant as harsh as it sounds since I was basically talking about a hypothetical situation. But uyou are right I was not being fair. I apologize and retract that comment.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:07, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • My main idea is to turn the process into something collaborative instead of a process where the nominator is responsible for the article, and the reviewers are responsible for not letting the nominator off too easy - this seems like the perfect recipie for grief and gripe. I was thinking that reviewers ought to identify canidates for FA and then work them up little by little and deciding by consensus when it was ready. Then there wouldn't be a process of nomination and review, but a process of flagging articles that could potentially become FAs - then reviewers would decide which articles they would want to work on and make a note on the article talkpage to see if there are contributers to the article interested in helping out. In some cases there may not be, but I think it would be more motiovational for reviewers to actively choose articles they think have promise, and for main contributers to be approached by someone telling them that they've done good work and asking if they want to work together on getting it to the next level. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:16, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
    Deciding by consensus when it was ready for what? Promotion? If so, I don't see how it would be much different from the present situation, as it would necessitate the involvement of several reviewers. And it goes against all notions of fairness for anyone to make the final judgement on something they themselves have worked on. And if you mean consensus for nomination then it would be exactly like the present system. Malleus Fatuorum 19:34, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
It only goes against notions of fairness if your are framing it as an achievement for "the writer" as if he is giving himself a badge of distinction, it wouldn't if you are framing it as a collaborative achievement - whereby the group simply simply decides that this article is as good as we can get it. The difference is about how reviewer and contributers interact and about what motivates them. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:38, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

As a major contributor to the Mount Meager article and the FAC, I think this article should have been promoted. There were no opposes and everything got commented on and fixed. As I know there is no information about skiing, climbing and hiking simply because Meager is not a big subject of those activities and I couldn't find any reliable sources to add in the article. It is similar to every other FA volcano article. Volcanoguy 02:33, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Very unsure I would pass this article on prose as it stands... made a few exploratory ce's... but that is irrelevant. My key point above was that slamming FAC is unfair. We do the best with what we have, and we frequently get browbeaten by "jilted FAC brides" or for offering corrections during review . 'Nuff said. Ling.Nut3 (talk) 10:54, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Yeah, I don't really see this as a big deal. Last month I had an article with no supports and no opposes archived after a few weeks, so I can identify with some of the frustration here, but since it can be renominated after a couple weeks I don't think it's worth complaining about. I've had a couple FACs promoted pretty quickly too, so I guess it all works out in the end. Mark Arsten (talk) 17:11, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Question about attracting reviewers

Hi guys,

Very new to featured articles so be a bit gentle... I'm interested in attracting reviewers to an article, but I'm aware that some of the possible approaches might fall afoul of Wikipedia:Canvassing.

So I'd like to check if it's a reasonable thing to

  • a) ask on relevant wikiProjects for FAC reviewers,
  • b) ask people who've previously reviewed articles for you for another review,
  • c) ask people who you've had pleasant interactions with on wikipedia and who you know have previously reviewed at FAC for a review.

I can see an argument were all of those count as Wikipedia:Canvassing, but I can also see an argument that says they are not, what's the accepted consensus here? Fayedizard (talk) 23:37, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

All of those sound fine to me. It's more the manner of asking than the place and person. Just be clear that you are asking for a review and steer clear of language like "Can you come support my nomination?". Consider pointing them to the Review FAQ if they've never reviewed at FAC before. --Laser brain (talk) 23:49, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Or how about giving the review process over to the wikiprojects entirely?·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 23:52, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
I can count on one hand the WikiProjects I would trust with the rigor and attention to detail required for this standard of article. Most of them lack the participation, organization, and maturity. Would you seriously trust the Madonna WikiProject with this morass? They've continued to defend the main editor of the article even though he mis-applied or completely fabricated sources, and busied themselves with sending me hatemail instead of fixing the mess. --Laser brain (talk) 00:01, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  1. How would you keep FAs to a common standard if 700 wikiprojects could each make their articles FAs?
  2. Milhist would probably be able to review their own FAs, but how many other wikiprojects would be able to have multiple reviewers per FA?
  3. How would you ensure that the FAs were written for a general reader and not aficionados of the subject of the relevant wikiproject?
  4. What about subjects that don't fit any active Wikiproject? ϢereSpielChequers 00:12, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree with that - plus some of the Ceoil-led noms have had just about all the most active people at the Visual arts project as co-noms. But in general I think a short neutral note on project talk pages is to be encouraged, as we may get more reviewers with good knowledge of the subject area. Not quite so sure about the others. Johnbod (talk) 00:34, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Let's also keep in mind that there are very few active WikiProjects -- and "active" doesn't necessarily mean "well-organized" nor "knowledgeable of FA standards". My last few FACs have been literary in nature, including my current nom. While I could mention its nomination at WikiProject Books in the hope of attracting reviewers, I'm afraid the tumbleweeds would drown out my pleas. María (yllosubmarine) 00:53, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Yep, posting to WikiProject Books is virtually useless. The literature related projects are mostly moribund and it's difficult to attract reviewers for literature related articles. I try to review anything that's been nominated, time permitting, but mostly because I do try to keep an eye on the list of noms. Truthkeeper (talk) 01:01, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Laser brain, I've done a little bit of advertising. :) Fayedizard (talk) 08:07, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Copyediting question

A current FAC begins: "Gustav Julius Werner Hartenstein (27 February 1908 – 8 March 1943) was a Korvettenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and U-boat commander of U-156. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes)." How easy is that to read? - Dank (push to talk) 15:15, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Easier to read than to try and say if you don't speak German. But I don't like it. Malleus Fatuorum 20:08, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I don't like it either, and I've argued against using too much German too soon before at A-class, with mixed and unpredictable results ... which is fine at A-class, but I like to have more solid guidance to follow at FAC. - Dank (push to talk) 20:35, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Does anyone want to argue for the text as-is? - Dank (push to talk) 03:44, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't like it either, but be prepared for an uphill battle. I remember Tony and I used to tangle with video game editors about fully 1/3 of the first two sentences being Japanese-language. We got nowhere. --Laser brain (talk) 03:53, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I did the parentheses thing. Is that better? It would read more smoothly (in English) with the German-language text simply removed, but I too anticipate a long and tiring argument over trivia... so... Ling.Nut3 (talk) 04:25, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I've asked over at WT:MHC if anyone can find an article in any printed English-language encyclopedia on any subject that has as high a proportion of German as this article does. - Dank (push to talk) 13:15, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
It's perfectly fine.--GoPTCN 13:32, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
So what's the difference between "Kriegsmarine" and Navy? There is probably no english language rank that corresponds directly to "Korvettenkapitan", so that could be left? Why use the nominalization "was recipient" instead of "he received", generally too many nominalizations make the text harder to read and makes the prose unengaging.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 15:09, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

It's much better now and I've supported. MisterBee has an engaging style ... it's not just a lot of "they went here and did this" ... and I hope we can get more reviewers. Note that this is one of the "urgents" (see top of this page). - Dank (push to talk) 15:15, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Another database available

Hey folks. User:Ocaasi has organized an opportunity for Wikipedians to get free access to another large online database. Here's the breakdown:

  • HighBeam Research--an online, pay-for-use search engine for newspapers, magazines, academic journals, newswires, trade magazines and encyclopedias has agreed to give free, full-access, 1-year accounts for up to 1000 Wikipedia editors to use. HighBeam has access to over 80 million articles from 6,500 publications, most of which are not available for free elsewhere on the internet. Aside from a free 7-day trial (credit card required), access to HighBeam would cost $30 per month or $200 per year for the first year and $300 for subsequent years, so this is a wonderful, free, no-strings-attached opportunity. To qualify, editors must have at least a 1 year-old account with 1000 edits. Please add your name to the WP:HighBeam/Applications account sign-up page if you are interested.

Might help you with your next FA. The Interior (Talk) 18:48, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Three cheers for Ocaasi! Binksternet (talk) 04:04, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Applications for free, full access, 1-year accounts from HighBeam Research officially open

Just a reminder that 1000 free accounts are available from the internet research database HighBeam Research. HighBeam has full versions of tens of millions of newspaper articles and journals and should be a big help in adding reliable sources--especially older and paywalled ones--into the encyclopedia. Sign-ups require a 1-year old account with 1000 edits. Here's the link to the project page: WP:HighBeam (account sign-ups are linked in the box on the right). Sign-up! And, please tell your Wikipedia-friends about the opportunity! Cheers, Ocaasi t | c 20:40, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

Question on source spot check: foreign language sources

I'd like to help with the review of Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Chrisye/archive1, but virtually all the sources are in the Indonesian language. The article is the first FAC from nominator User:Crisco 1492 (although they do have several featured images, and a few featured articles in the Indonesian WP). The article, on its face, seems fine (that is, it does not contain any unusual claims or outrageous material). Is there a procedure used in this situation for source spot checks? Should I just ask the nominator to provide a few translations from the sources to support a handful of random footnotes? --Noleander (talk) 13:36, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

I think we just need to show due diligence and good faith. Asking for translations of a few of the sources is probably fine. We will not likely be able to check for close paraphrasing, but you could fact-check using even Google Translate. In the unlikely event that anything appears to be "off" we should probably find another Indonesian Wikipedia to offer a second opinion. --Laser brain (talk) 14:47, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
I tried using Google translate, but the problem was that some of the key sources are books in Google books, and it is not possible to copy text from the book to paste into the translation tool. I had better success with some web sources. --Noleander (talk) 15:16, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
  • The most heavily used source is Endah's Chrisye: Sebuah Memoir Musikal; if you would like a translation or transcription of the source, I'll prepare one. Also, I have digitized (copy and pasteable, mostly) versions of the Kompas sources which I'll be glad to email whomever does the spotcheck. Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:29, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
If anyone ever needs Spanish spot-checking, just drop me a message on my talk page - but I doubt there's a shortage of Spanish speakers anyway. Simon Burchell (talk) 15:08, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
If spot checking of the Indonesian-language sources is needed, it would probably be worth asking for help at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Indonesia. Nick-D (talk) 23:57, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Shame the project is not quite active (in a collaboration sense) Crisco 1492 (talk) 02:29, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Image or source checks pending

This discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
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  • That's done, they need to clear up a couple of file description pages, nothing major. I'm not touching the video game as I'm not confident in my grasp of NFCC as applied to video games.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:35, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the help, but images had already been reviewed. Not done, per my comments there, it needed a source check. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:38, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Sandy I had a look at this and not a single source is available to me on google books so perhaps someone else in a different geographic region can get access. Truthkeeper (talk) 17:55, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks, TK; I have pinged Rif Winfield, and will try to do some myself here. [11] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:15, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Did what I could myself, nobody was gonna do it after mutliple pings, promoted. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:44, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
Let me look in on it.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:04, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Now promoted. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 05:31, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you Clay (done, problems found). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:34, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Done, but I flagged an image.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:25, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • No, not done-- per my comments, it was a source check I requested. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:39, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, they should look at those images anyway. Or not.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:42, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Done. 01:16, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
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  • Done. Sasata (talk) 16:13, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
Done thanks. Graham Colm (talk) 18:30, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Could we archive these instead of hatting them, so we don't have screenfuls of white space next to the sidebars? - Dank (push to talk) 12:57, 30 April 2012 (UTC)


Over the last month, I've been in talking with the people at the WMF about JSTOR access and I have some news I'd like to report. They've identified a Foundation that may might be interested in funding JSTOR access for Wikipedians. They're in the process of working that out now, but it will take some time to work that out. In the meantime, the WMF is willing to pay out-of-pocket to provide two or three Wikipedians with JSTOR access. What we're looking for are people who don't already have it through their university, but who do featured article quality editing in areas that would benefit from JSTOR access.

I'd also like to single out Steven Walling for special thanks for his help in making this possible. Raul654 (talk) 16:49, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't have it through my university, but I can get it if I drive an hour to go to a local university. While I'd love to have it at home... I'm not going to demand it in place of someone with zilch way to access it either. Ealdgyth - Talk 16:54, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Hi Raul, this kind of donation is highly sought after, so can I suggest you (or whoever is organizing it) open a page for it, and allow people to sign up within a certain time frame? We did that for the Credo donation last year. We gave people a week's notice, requested certain criteria, then left the sign-up page open for a week. At that point it was first-come, first-served for people who met the requirements within the time frame. Ocaasi is currently organizing a similar distribution of Highbeam accounts: see Wikipedia:Highbeam/Applications. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:00, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, when accounts are ready and depending on how many there are, we were definitely wanting to open a page like the Credo accounts system. In this case, I might prefer some kind of combination of "first come, first served" and consideration of people's activity in FA/GA. In any case, I just wanted to emphasize that we're still in talks with another foundation for more systemic support, so if the consensus is that the process we used for Credo works best, then that's great. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 19:48, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I'd be interested in access, but past experience suggests that by the time I find out what's happening, everything's already gone ): Jimfbleak - talk to me? 17:42, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Wow, what an incredible opportunity. Thanks for spearheading this effort. --Laser brain (talk) 17:47, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for organizing it, Raul, and thanks to Steven too and anyone else involved. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes indeed! I'd be interested, but I agree a "pitching" page is a good idea. By the way I can offer a free one year postal subscription to the excellent London Review of Books to anyone in the UK who has never had one before. Contact me by e-mail. Johnbod (talk) 18:56, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I'd love access to JSTOR, but with only two or three available initially I'm sure there will be others who could make better use of it than me. Malleus Fatuorum 19:11, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I too, would love to have access to JSTOR to assist in finding and citing sources, and in expanding article content. Binksternet (talk) 19:31, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I support this idea. I have access via uni already. Casliber (talk · contribs) 20:33, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I could get access at my old university (which I left more than 30 years ago), but it's almost 200 miles away. I know that's probably just a routine day trip for some in the States, but it's completely impractical in the UK. Malleus Fatuorum 20:39, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
If there are only two or three available, one way to proceed would be to draw up requirements, make sure there's wide notification, open the page for names for a week, have someone uninvolved check eligibility, then get a bot to choose two or three of the names at random. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps clarify: is it two or three people, or two or three slots? If the latter, they could be awarded for, say, three-month periods to indivduals, and more editors would benefit. At present I beg and borrow JSTOR where I can, from other helpful editors (take a bow, Tim), from my daughters' universities etc, but access from home would be fantastic, even for a short time. Brianboulton (talk) 17:11, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I could benefit from JSTOR access. I take it, from what is not said above, that JSTOR does not offer a "group" subscription which can be shared by a handful of individuals? For example, if JSTOR offered a, say, maximum-10-person corporate account, WP could purchase several of those to be used by specifically named WP contributors. --Noleander (talk) 17:18, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Steven emailed me last night to say that a group rate is exactly what they are currently trying to work out with JSTOR. Raul654 (talk) 17:30, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I'd love JSTOR access - at the moment I have to request everything via the resource exchange - which isn't too bad, so far everything I've asked for has been supplied by someone. But it means I have to really want the article if I'm going to request it; usually I hit the paywall and go look somewhere else. Simon Burchell (talk) 20:14, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I have JSTOR access for the foreseeable future, but was quite unaware of how significant that seems to be, judging from the replies here. If anyone wants to make use of my access (not sure how this works), you're welcome to get in touch with me. But congratulations for securing this opportunity for other members! MasterOfHisOwnDomain (talk) 15:50, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

From reading the above discussion, it looks like a JSTOR sign-up page should be created in anticipation of a large-scale acess to JSTOR become possible. And we can use such a list for picking which two or three people get first dibs (which I would prefer to see done on the basis of need and merit, without having to do it randomly) If no one else does it within a week or so, I'll create it myself. Raul654 (talk) 18:33, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, that is a great idea. Thanks Mark. :) Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 16:30, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Just wanted to add my name to the list of candidates for this. I have needed to retrieve JSTOR articles on numerous occassions but only have partial access. SpinningSpark 20:24, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

IMO, the offer should also be extended to people who do lots of citation work, such as User:Rjwilmsi, and bot coders, such as myself (via User:CitationCleanerBot and User:Bibcode Bot) or User:Smith609 (via User:Citation bot). Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 21:06, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
Why do bot operators need access to the full database? Surely only the citations are required by bots. SpinningSpark 21:41, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
For troubleshooting purposes mostly. It could also lead to bot improvements, although that would highly depends on the exact nature of the database in question, and the quality of its metadata. It could also lead to the development of new bots, such as those checking for WP:COPYVIOs which would benefit from full access. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 22:36, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
JSTOR has full text searching, even of documents the user cannot access. All a copyvio bot needs to know is that the database has a match, there is no need for it to actually access the document. I really cannot agree that bot operators should be put in front of content providers for this - the content of Wikipedia is what we are all about. SpinningSpark 10:05, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

The JSTOR signup page is up: Wikipedia:Requests for JSTOR access Raul654 (talk) 17:52, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

This would be an extremely valuable resource, thanks to Steven and Raul for taking the initiative on this!♦ Dr. Blofeld 20:27, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps the user group rights could be extended to include groups such as "JStor" and "HighBeam", which would grant users in those groups access to resources at the respective archives. This may make it easier to dynamically update the list of users, though it would remove control from the providers of the data, which may not be keen about this. Mindmatrix 01:10, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

I just wanted to check - does everyone here know about the resource exchange? If you don't have access to sources, someone else likely does and will be willing to share. SmartSE (talk) 10:11, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Subscription required and access templates

Is anyone here able to point me to where the stuff about 'subscription required' tags is documented? There is Template:Subscription required, but I also found the paired templates Template:Closed access and Template:Open access. Is this something covered by the Manual of Style? Carcharoth (talk) 10:03, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

I can't find where it is documented. It doesn't seem to be discussed in WP:CITE or the MoS anywhere. --Laser brain (talk) 14:48, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

10th anniversary of FAC

If my investigations are correct, then next year we are coming up on the 10th anniversary of the creation of the WP:FAC page: June 24, 2003.[12][13] That might be worth celebrating with a little horn tooting and retrospective commentary. Milestone celebrations are nice for building community and teamwork. I'm not one for organizing such things, but I thought I'd mention it. Thanks. Regards, RJH (talk) 16:10, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

No interest at all? Okay. RJH (talk) 02:32, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
Well it is more than a year off. But it does make me feel suddenly old. Raul654 (talk) 02:33, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
Too true. Thanks. RJH (talk) 16:40, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
I think it's an excellent idea to celebrate the anniversary; there's time enough to think about how. The Signpost would surely be interested in covering it. You might mention this to Crisco and Mathew Townsend, who write Featured content nowadays. Tony (talk) 13:32, 29 April 2012 (UTC)


Hey, I was just wondering if there was a page detailing precisely what a spotcheck entails, or if someone could explain it to me? I'd be interested in helping out, but I wouldn't want to miss something significant. I appreciate that a spotcheck involves checking cited sources to see if, firstly, they say what the article says, and, secondly, to make sure that the article has not paraphrased them too closely. Is this all there is to it? Typically, how many sources would we be looking at checking? Thanks. J Milburn (talk) 14:18, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

I don't know if there is a dedicated page but Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive56#Source spot-checking gives some info. Simon Burchell (talk) 16:02, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2009-04-13/Dispatches might be helpful, or there's my own effort. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:10, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the links! J Milburn (talk) 16:43, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I wonder if it would be beneficial to have a brief glossary section for FAC terminology on the WP:FACR page? Regards, RJH (talk) 16:42, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
What would such a glossary include, other than "spotchecks"? Nikkimaria (talk) 17:47, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
High Quality Reliable Source? Fifelfoo (talk) 13:27, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

FACs with mostly non-English sources

I just want to point to this FAC and this one, and also this one that was just archived today. Many nominators are putting considerable time into FACs that are heavily based on non-English sources, so I'm sure a little clarity would be greatly appreciated by everyone. WP:V, one of our three core content policies, says "Because this is the English Wikipedia, English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones, assuming English sources of equal quality and relevance are available." There will, of course, be many sources on an event of historical importance to a country that are written in that country's native language(s); these sources are likely to cover some topics and express some points of view not found in English sources, so in articles on historical topics at least, it's hard to see how prohibiting foreign-language sources at FAC would be consistent with WP:V. On the other hand, it's hard enough to get consensus on "big" questions, such as questions of notability and undue weight, when all the sources are in English; in practice, it's going to be very hard to know what to say when sources in different languages come to different conclusions. Also, more often than not, for FACs mostly based on non-English sources, we haven't been able to find a variety of objective, knowledgeable reviewers who can read the foreign language(s) and have access to the sources, particularly if the nominator(s) don't already belong to a community of Wikipedians that can regularly provide the reviewers. Should we perhaps add some explanatory note somewhere so that people will have more realistic expectations of what it's going to take to get these articles through FAC? - Dank (push to talk) 17:30, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Speaking as someone who uses a lot of Spanish-language sources, trying to prohibit or reduces foreign-language sources is just going to reduce the amount of world coverage and increase the systemic bias already present on Wikipedia, and pretty much kill coverage of non-English speaking countries. Simon Burchell (talk) 17:41, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
The general problem of how to get, say, Italians and Americans to believe in the same political and historical realities is a tough one. (Or Americans and Americans!) Not impossible ... it depends very much on the nominators, languages, articles and reviewers involved. If I could have one wish for the FAC community, it would be that, when we see some kind of pattern where things are much harder than they should be, where a lot of time is being invested without a lot of gain, we make an effort to at least describe the general outline of the problem and offer some pointers on how to get things to work out. - Dank (push to talk) 18:20, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
The key words are "assuming English sources of equal quality and relevance are available". There are topics, like the May Revolution (of the second FAC pointed) that have full bibliographies in their non-English native countries, but generate low interest abroad. Not all authors that write about history are the same: there are real historians (who investigate documents, other author's investigations, investigate the accuracy or validity of the content of primary sources, filter the bias that may be present in other works, etc.), there are mere divulgators or "parrot" historians (who just explain history to the mass public, merely re-telling the work of real historians), and there are some works of such divulgators that explain topics worth of several books in just a 5 pages summary or less (the worst sources). I guess that nobody will deny or discuss that featured articles should work with just the first type of authors, or at least have the core of the article referenced in them. The problem of the third type of works can be easily seen here: that was the state of the May Revolution article before I began working in it, and the state it would stay if we used just what we may find in books in English (because I did search for them, several times, and any coverage of the event was even smaller than this). And the problem of "parrot" historians is that they are often inaccurate: if they have to choose between explaining the complex modern historian knowledge, or just repeat common assumptions as if they were the truth, they will do the later. There are historians who make investigations about the May Revolution, but (no surprise) they are all here in Argentina and work for the people of Argentina, in Spanish. Avoiding such authors would make the article outdated and unreliable. Cambalachero (talk) 01:41, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Hmm. I'm noticing a predominance of 2 digit page refs in the notes, suggesting many short books are being used; the main exception is Abad de Santillán, who was published in 1965 I think. Johnbod (talk) 02:20, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
If works are solely about the entire subject, then I'd expect a 40:30:30 split between i-99, 100-199, 200+ given that most monographs seem to end up around 300 pages in English in current publishing. If the works are about a period, with the subject occurring at the start (or end) of the period I'd expect similar movements. I'm sorry I've not been reviewing history articles, but I've got way too much on IRL. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:29, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
We could kindly let nominators of specialist articles based primarily on non-English scholarship that they may have a long wait until someone with discipline expertise and sufficient language skills is available. It is regrettable, but it is honest. And it in no way impugns their choice of sourcing basis. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:29, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Maybe we could set up a subpage with a list of editors by language who are willing to help out with source checks? Simon Burchell (talk) 08:45, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Me, Spanish (and by the way, I sometimes find that when text is added to Venezuelan articles based on Spanish-language sources, the text is trivial to undue-- important content is almost always covered in English-language sources, and that text is often omitted or overlooked as folks who don't speak English don't read and add those sources ... however, that is an issue not at the FA level). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:33, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I've just set up a page User:Simon Burchell/FAC foreign language reviewers to list those reviewers with foreign languages, feel free to do whatever you want with it. Simon Burchell (talk) 15:03, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Full disclosure of paid editing?

In view of the dramatic events over the past few days involving User:Cla68's $1000 invitation to use his services to prepare and presumably nominate FACs, the time has come to consider addressing this issue in the instructions. It's highly probable that some FACs have already been shepherded through by paid editors who've not declared their status; I'm not banking on honesty in every case, but don't editors think FAC should at least require a declaration? Then, failure to declare becomes an ongoing liability for both paid editor and client. Possibly a new fourth instruction under Nomination procedure, making six instructions in all, could be this:

4. If you have received or may receive a monetary or other reward—aside from social esteem—for your contribution to a nomination, you must disclose this on the nomination page.

Tony (talk) 07:55, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Although it's impossible to effectively prevent someone of charging to edit here, Wikipedia (and thus, the FAC) should have a zero tolerance regarding this kind of behavior. Its will be a matter of time until we have paid editors with paid supporters. Editor A charges $1,000 and he has Editors B, C and D giving their "support" to his nomination, perhaps by giving them part of the money, I don't know. All I know it's that it will run out of control eventually. --Lecen (talk) 17:34, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

If it's to be permitted (and I'm still firmly in the 'no it should not be' camp for reasons explained here) then yes, the instructions should absolutely require that such a conflict of interest be disclosed. Raul654 (talk) 17:41, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

I haven't formed a proper opinion about the whole issue (not yet, anyway). I've read your post at Sandy's page. What bothers me is that most of your points are in relation to the surface, the disclosed, and fall apart when you consider the amount of UNdisclosed paid editing that surely goes on. Are you being practical? I note that Sandy has said she'd rather know who's doing it than encourage an environment of total subterfuge. Tony (talk) 08:36, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
I generally agree with Tony's proposal, though the currently wording may give the impression that the community thinks it's OK for there to be paid editing. I'd suggest strengthening it to reference WP:COI and/or WP:NPOV or similar. While I support Cla's right to do what he's done under the current rules, and think that this has lead to a useful discussion, it's fair to say that his next FAC will attract a lot of attention! Nick-D (talk) 10:15, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I think Tony's proposal is about right on the money (pardon the pun). We already request that WikiCup participants disclose, and the bot automatically tags them. Points for a FA in that contest are a form of "reward" or "payment", so why not hard currency? I trust editors with established track records to omit minor compensation (an organization involved merely bought lunch or supplied photocopies/scans of requested research materials at no charge) when that action didn't substantively affect the article, if there's a general culture of disclosure for the larger compensation or less established editors. I'd be more worried about reviewers being compensated to go easy on an article and support it improperly than an editor that said they're getting something other than bragging rights and social esteem for the nomination. Imzadi 1979  10:23, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps unfortunately, I have already ranted and raved elsewhere (quite briefly, by my standards) about this pay-for Wikipedia-editing thing.. just in the past week or so. Even more unfortunately, not only did my rants fall on deaf ears, they fell on remarkably smug, self-satisfied, almost arrogantly deaf ears. Whatever is not proscribed for all is glorified by some... I think we have seen the trickle before the flood. This is much like the "should we hand out condoms in our high schools?" dilemma: if you do it, then it gives the All Clear for the behavior; if you don't, people will be doin' it anyhow. Me personally, if Sandy did say she'd prefer it out in the open, I disagree with her. I'd prefer it proscribed. Put it in the open, and we will be overrun by paid editors in about 2 years or less. It's almost Free Money; all you have to do is write a report. So Color Me Opposed to permitting paid editing, though I doubt it will help. Ling.Nut3 (talk) 12:50, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
If it weren't for the impossibility of policing what happens under the surface, I'd be for an outright ban. I do worry about the possibility that volunteers will feel deflated if some people are on the pay. But on the other hand, if we know who's on the money-drip, their work will certainly come under scrutiny for neutrality and quality in all other respects. We are hampered by the fact that paid editing is currently not proscribed.

And perhaps we're overstating the size of any trend towards payment that might touch this forum: the blanket $1000 fee that Cla68 has specified seems rather paltry for the amount of work involved (unless it's a very short nom) ... it's preparation, shepherding it through the nom process, and looking after the article for at least a while afterwards, I guess. Cla hasn't specified any of the details I'd regard as part of the deal with a client if he were going to do it on a professional basis. If editors are going to approach paid editing in a shambolic way in commercial terms, it won't be a threat. You'd need to make a whole lot of things clear to a client, and you'd probably need a contract spelling out a few things. Anyway, is FAC really the best way to go for a client, considering the high level of scrutiny and of failure? Just having an excellent article attract a high google ranking is worth much more.

I just think FAC should make its insistence on openness about financial reward quite clear, if nothing else to encourage anyone who does accept payment to disclose it here and to ensure that their client knows that neutrality and high standards of sourcing are required. Tony (talk) 13:29, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Shambolic now; super hurricane later. My first Geocities page was kinda hot crap about a million years ago. If it came out now it would be.. crap. Same dynamic here. Because we do not proscribe paid editing, two years from now, paid editors will be a very substantial minority, maybe a majority. Ling.Nut3 (talk) 14:20, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Paid editing—at least the kind we're wary about—is unlikely to manifest itself here to any substantial degree. A person paid to edit Citibank is doing PR and damage control, not going anywhere near FAC. However, would you really care if a biologist was paid to bring sloth to FA standards? Additionally, such a requirement is creating a layer of control beneath one (WP:COI) that already suggests that editors should disclose conflicts of interest. --Laser brain (talk) 18:28, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Cracker Barrel is an interesting case. As I understand it, a user was paid to improve their article, and apparently his contract expired but he kept working on it--it's now at FAC. (It could use some reviews too, if anyone reading this is interested.) Mark Arsten (talk) 00:16, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I think it's about to happen. Watch this week's Signpost. Tony (talk) 06:56, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm the COI editor responsible for most of the Cracker Barrel article, and co-nominator for FAC—a fact we disclosed at the outset. Mark Arsten's description of that project is correct; the FAC was going well for awhile, however there hasn't been any discussion around it for a few weeks. I plan to start pitching in on other reviews this week, in hopes of getting more help with ours. Also, the discussion Ling.Nut3 alludes to above was with myself and User:Qwryxian on the GPG Talk page; others can look at that discussion to form their own conclusions. If I came across as smug, this certainly was not my intention. And I should note: while I have researched, written and proposed new material for inclusion in the mainspace, my activity has been confined to userspace and discussion pages since Jimbo first laid out his "bright line" concept earlier this year. And I'm more than happy to discuss any aspect of this, if there are questions. Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 21:48, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Remember, Jimbo's "Bright line" is simply Jimbo's idea. It is not policy or even necessarily generally accepted among Wikipedia's community. Just follow the editing policies, which you appear to be doing, and there is no need for you to be apologetic about having been paid to edit any articles. Cla68 (talk) 22:57, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
This is true, I am well aware that it's contested—and that it is contested is reason enough for me to stay out of the mainspace on COI subjects. Until very recently, I would occasionally make direct edits following WP:COI#Non-controversial_edits, but controversy found me nonetheless (long story). I don't wish to be controversial; I do wish to find areas of agreement between Wikipedia's goals and those of my clients, and focus on that. Direct edits may be fine for others, but until there is consensus, I prefer to be more cautious. WWB Too (talk) 01:00, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
the reasons why one should continue to be a real Wikipedian keep dwindling.....Ling.Nut3 (talk) 04:24, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I've begun to regard it much like a Cloud backup system, until something better comes along. Without all of the bullshit and administrative hypocrisy. Malleus Fatuorum 04:29, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Today's featured article, May 1, 2014: The Exxon Valdez Environmental Reclamation Project was a massive restructuring of the ecosystem of Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. In order to rebuild the ecosystem from scratch, the Exxon Valdez, a baby-otter-friendly rub-a-dub-dub ship bound for Long Beach, California, deployed 260,000 to 750,000 barrels (41,000 to 119,000 m3) of organic, all-natural material in Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef. This is considered to be one of the largest and most successful environmental reclamation projects in the history of mankind, with beneficial economic spillovers that will last for generations to come. [ExxonMobilWikipedia® is a registered trademark of the ExxonMobilWikimedia Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization.] Ling.Nut3 (talk) 05:06, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm not really sure what you're after, Ling, however I wish you could see that my goal for Wikipedia is very much like your own: that Wikipedia continue to develop as an encyclopedia, first and always. The difference seems to be that I know outside interests wish to have input in making sure that Wikipedia portrays them fairly and accurately. That's what I try to do, and I wouldn't be writing this comment if my intentions were otherwise. WWB Too (talk) 07:33, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Today's Featured article continues: Reminiscing about his days at the helm of the Project over a nice cup of General Foods International Maxwell House instant coffee with ExxonMobilWikipedia textual engineers WWBToo and SilverSeren, Captain Joe Hazelwood said, "Above all, I love baby otters. At ExxonMobil, it's all about the baby otters." – Ling.Nut3 (talk) 23:48, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
So, essentially, you're on a vendetta and aren't going to listen to anything anyone has to say, so there's really no point in bothering to discuss anything with you? SilverserenC 02:17, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm, product placement. I can see some mileage in that Ling.Nut. Malleus Fatuorum 03:00, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I see Ling.Nut's point—no problem there—but the larger issue is that it's been happening for some time now. Why relinquish any of the community control, accountability, expectations that openness would bring, just to let the submarines have a monolopy on paid editing? Please be practical. Tony (talk) 02:27, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Ling Nut. Tony, you say the problem is that paid editing isn't proscribed. Well, if that's the problem, let's proscribe it and say clearly that paid entries are not permitted at FAC. Adding to the criterion that it's allowed if declared, is announcing to the project that the content process at the top of the tree permits it, and that will help to open the floodgates elsewhere.
A major problem with paid editing is that you're asking volunteers to review the work of people who are not volunteers, and that is one of the things that will kill Wikipedia. People will do the review work at first -- to do their bit to make sure paid articles are neutral -- but they'll soon realize it's a mug's game to do for free what the guy right next to you is doing for pay. And so the volunteer review processes will grind to a halt, here and elsewhere.
Presumably, we would all be stunned if our favourite newspapers were to announce that their journalists were now allowed to take money from the companies they were writing about, so long as they declared it. We wouldn't listen to arguments about how "it's probably happening under the radar anyway, so we thought we'd try being open about it." SlimVirgin (talk) 03:56, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Except, we know newspaper reporter's real names. Cla68 (talk) 04:20, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't follow. How is knowing a reporter's real name relevant? (Does knowing a reporter's real name, as opposed to not necessarily knowing a Wikipedia user's real name, change whether it would be appropriate for the reporter to take money from subjects that he or she covers?) --MZMcBride (talk) 04:31, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Routine in this country. Journalists are supposed to disclose who is paying them (in addition to, of course, the media company), but often they do not. Hawkeye7 (talk) 04:59, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't know whether you've all been following the Leveson Inquiry in the UK into dodgy relationships between government and other authorities and Rupert Murdoch's News International -- relationships that might never have come to light without the work of several reporters, mostly notably from The Guardian. Now imagine the Guardian's editor solemnly announcing that, because the inquiry has shown Murdoch's influence was pervasive, the newspaper has decided to allow several of its reporters to be directly funded by Murdoch, in the interests of transparency, because the fear is it was happening anyway. But not to worry -- The Guardian is confident that its review processes will catch any lack of neutrality, and articles written by those reporters will have "sponsored by Rupert Murdoch" added to the byline.
That's in effect what's being suggested here and elsewhere on Wikipedia, and it's actually significantly worse than that, because unlike The Guardian we have no professional review processes in place, and our volunteers will get increasingly fed up being expected to make up the shortfall.
I realize that people's intentions here are good, but the problem is that each case is being examined in isolation, rather than stepping back to consider the effect paid editing will have on the project as a whole. The bottom line is that volunteers will slowly drift away from a two-tier system that will make them feel like fools, and we'll lose the credibility with our readers that those volunteers spent years trying to build up. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:33, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
So, basically, if a paid editor has ever worked substantially on an article, then that article can never, ever be featured for the rest of time, is that what you're proposing? SilverserenC 05:44, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm arguing against Tony's proposal to add to the FAC criteria that paid articles may be nominated if flagged. I oppose it because it would create a new fact on the ground (I mean no disrespect to Tony when I say that; Tony is an editor I have a huge amount of respect for). My hope is that reviewers will not review any such articles that are nominated and/or that the director and delegates will not promote them -- because this is a volunteer project and our readers rely on that, and FAs are supposed to represent the best efforts of this project.
If there's consensus that something does have to be added to the criteria, I would like to see us state that no article will be promoted to FA status if the director or delegates have reason to believe that the article has been sponsored by outside interests.
We could add a caveat that by "sponsored," we don't mean that the editors went to lunch with someone, or that someone sent them a review copy of a book. We would leave it to the director's and delegates' discretion to decide what level of external involvement might constitute "sponsorship" in any given case. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:55, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
You haven't answered my question. Does that mean any article that is substantially edited by a paid editor is then forever not allowed to be submitted to FAC? SilverserenC 07:16, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

I hope I can dissociate myself for a minute from my role in reporting the facts in The Signpost to respond to my good friend, Slim, and others—and let me say now that I remain open to changing my mind. If it were feasible and realistic, I'd ban paid editing altogether. But the pragmatist in me says that this is a pipe-dream. By superficially banning the phenomenon or pretending it doesn't exist, we'd continue to allow the submarines to operate without let; that is what bothers me, and it's rife as we speak. We need to be smarter about creating effective infrastructure for assisting and monitoring the edits and requests of BLPs and company/PR people. The absence of such infrastructure is one of the main complaints of the outside professionals (see last week's Signpost). So at the moment we have the worst of all worlds: no encouragement of people who are paid or affiliated with their subject to do their stuff openly, honestly, above board, and in the cold light of our extra scrutiny. It's the reverse: we make it attractive to indulge in subterfuge, in the project as a whole and at FAC. As Sandy says, we'd rather know who's doing it. And I'd rather enjoy poking holes in the work of someone who's paid, would you all?

I'm interested in your point that volunteers might find it a downer to have to rub shoulders with those who are paid. This is something I've raised, but I've not seen it taken up and discussed until now. Perhaps there would be multifactorial psychological and social effects on volunteers of making the current binary system open. What do people feel about reviewing the Cracker Barrel FAC? Feels the same as any other review to me, except I'd be inclined to come down harder on it in terms of balance than I normally would.

Slim, why will an openly two-tiered system make us volunteers "look like fools"? At The Signpost we write as volunteers, except that the foundation pays someone to do most of the preparation and writing of one article a month, and to provide us occasionally with technical advice and support: User:HaeB (Tilman Bayer). Elsewhere we work side by side foundation employees on the money drip: the Teahouse project for newbies is run by the paid foundation contractor SarahStierch, but couldn't exist without volunteers (it's made for volunteers); Pete Coombe, a foundation summer fellow, is about to start paid work with volunteers on en.WP to revamp the help space; the foundation's technicians often commune with community technical volunteers; and the new WMF project Wikidata is largely being prepared for launching as a pilot by the German chapter's full-time employees, in collaboration with many volunteers. I have the distinct impression that the WM horse has bolted from the stable as a wildly successful part of human knowledge, but that volunteers alone are struggling to manage the beast nowadays. Perhaps my experience in gnoming has made me hyperaware of the proportion of articles that are pretty lousy stubs, too, and likely to remain so without concerted efforts to improve them.

I also want to throw into this debate the fact that in some countries the sharpest scrutiny of politicians and public policy is by public broadcasters; in Australia, in particular, the ABC is funded from federal tax revenue—its journalists and commentators are in one way civil servants. Yet they are the ones to ask the hard questions of their paymasters, and sometimes to trash them in public. I don't believe there's a simple, one-way connection between financial reward and spin. Indeed, we're more likely to end up with spin from submarines. While on that topic, new rules are being introduced to get tough on Australian radio talk-back shock-jocks who don't declare payments by outside interests (the Cash for comment affair); for so long the public has been taken for a ride. Openness is the obvious antidote, I believe.

What we do need is a boilerplate rule for paid editors to use in their contracts with clients making it abundantly clear that if there's dirt, it's probably going to have to be included in the article (I express this very loosely here; you know what I mean, and it could be written more formally). I see dirt in the Cracker Barrel FAC. It makes me recoil, but I'm comforted that it's there. Tony (talk) 08:07, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

  • However, if you work to improve the Cracker Barrel FAC, you are voluntarily leaning over the greasy sink washing someone else's big stack of dirty dishes, while that person is sitting back and collecting a cold hard cash paycheck for the copy editing work that you actually did. Frankly, it's mildly disgusting. If I am gonna shove my arms up to my elbows in greasy dishwater, either I get paid, or no one gets paid... And all of this is in addition to the COI and commercialism objections that the Exxon Valdez Ecological Reclamation Project raised above. – Ling.Nut3 (talk) 08:35, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
    • You've raised what I think is an important point here. As a community, we are pretty good at dealing with the blatantly problematic COI edits - we either delete the content or the article. When things become more problematic though - i.e. content is sourced and the subject is notable - it is much harder for volunteers to deal with COI edits. Artie04 (talk · contribs) and Expewikiwriter (talk · contribs) (both socks) are a good current example of this - most of the articles they wrote have been deleted, but ones such as Gregory Scott Cummins and Young Entrepreneur Council are much more difficult to deal with. I agree that it is not exactly rewarding to clean up a paid editor's mess - it feels like you should be being paid yourself. It's pretty similar with the rest of the articles tagged for COI review. To be certain that all the content is neutral and accurately represents the sources, a volunteer needs to check every source. For an FAC that's nigh on impossible. Jimmy's WP:BRIGHTLINE is kind of useful, but not if it just encourages people to think we'll do half the work for them, and all they need to do is request it. If our founder thinks that this is a suitable way to request content being added, then I have little hope for BRIGHTLINE working. SmartSE (talk) 08:52, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
    • Again I have to ask, Ling, would you have the same problem if a chemist was paid by a foundation to make Boron an FA? Is it just that Cracker Barrel is a commercial entity that bothers you? I personally have no interest in reviewing it—because I have no interest in the topic, not because the editor was paid. I've not looked at the article, but if it's a "big stack of dirty dishes", then it shouldn't even be at FAC and Cracker Barrel ought to see about getting their money back. --Laser brain (talk) 14:15, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
      • late reply to laserbrain: Right at this moment in my thought process, I have 3 probs w. paid editors: COI (Exxon), commercialism (coffee in Exxon), and they get paid for stuff that is done with huge helpings of collaboration from unpaid editors. If an ichthyologist is paid a non-eye-popping amount of money (though i suppose i would never know the details) to bring a rare species of fish to FA, then issues 1 and 2 would be irrelevant. As for 3... the ichthyologist brings an expertise to the table that I do not and cannot. I think it's fair, especially if she/he spreads the non-monetary love aorund by acting gracious etc.. The prob with 3 is when the only thing the editor brings to the table is his/her Wikipedia editing and/or copy editing skills. Then it is patently unfair. – Ling.Nut3 (talk) 14:52, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
  • The problem with the Cracker Barrel article is that it's written as a PR piece. A more encyclopedic treatment of Cracker Barrel would be considerably shorter for one thing, and might go into more detail about the alleged racial segregation (note: not only discrimination in employment practices and lack of diversity, but actual segregation of customers into black and white areas; see USA Today, May 2004). There is no mention of the segregation allegations in the lead, just a couple of sentences at the end of a 2,270-word article, though the lead does mention the discrimination in hiring.

    Maybe that's the right approach, but to find out whether it is someone would have to do a fair amount of unpaid research to edit someone else's paid work, which is a bit much to expect. But at first glance there seems to be a lack of balance, given the attention to detail about other aspects of the company, and given that issues that are both chronologically and logically dependent on the segregation allegations (i.e. the company's response to them) are treated higher up in the article. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:26, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

  • I agree with Tony that the problems from paid editing can never be solved by banning. In terms of editor motivation, there will never equality between the moralistic non-commercial spirit and the paid commercial contributions, especially where there is big money involved. We sometimes see them at work in articles about politicians, and occasionally scandals ensue. Fortunately, these do not seem to be problematic per se, unless we loosen the definition of the opposing sides of the 'global warming' debate. What seems to be a greater problem, however, is the perennial issue of disputes involving religious zealots, whether they be Scientologists, Falun Gong, or others – here few dare to declare an interest, probably because of past intervention of Arbcom. Past experience would suggest that blatant advocacy is more likely to lead to topic-bans, and making a declaration would be like raising one's head above the parapet. But we know who they are by how they see the world in binary terms, and by the way they behave – there's often little or no moderation of their advocacy or their stances; the assault is unrelenting. Soldiers that fall are replaced by a newer generation of more sophisticated warriors. It is this unrelenting advocacy that should be targeted and stamped out. These advocates are not driven by money but something potentially more sinister. They now adopt editing behaviour more like a "normal" volunteer. They edit more widely to disguise their allegiances; they also appear to be more willing to engage in dialogue, even if they are merely engaging in a charade with stale arguments. They no longer disrupt by simple edit-warring. The advanced armoury includes increasingly esoteric debate that tends to drive "unconflicted" editors away (whilst mouthing platitudes about welcoming wider editorial participation), "lawyering", filibustering, mock consensus-generation. We need to accept that COI-editing takes place on a huge scale on wikipedia. Whilst requiring declarations as suggested by Tony may work for some cases, it is ultimately unenforceable for religious orders – membership to these groups is notoriously difficult to prove. We also need to toughen up the behavioural rules and the policing against the "barbarians at the gate", but I've got no solution to propose on that front yet. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 04:34, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Where have all the reviewers gone...?

I notice that a number of FAC nominations near the top of the list have few significant comments, though some have been on the page for a week or more. In particular:-

Maybe some of the pages's regular watchers could help to keep things moving? Some of the attention given to the above thread could surely be diverted towards keeping the system healthy and operative. Brianboulton (talk) 14:02, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

I'll endeavor to review the first three in the next day or two. I was trying to knock off the urgents list first. --Laser brain (talk) 14:38, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
What we really need is a couple more copyeditors ... of any skill level ... who make a list on a new nomination of some simple things that need fixing (if there are any). Some nominators, for various reasons, sit back and wait to see if someone else will fix problems for them ... and you can't necessarily tell if the nominator is one of those guys just because they haven't responded to a complicated review ... maybe they disagree and they're waiting for the cavalry to come riding over the hill, or maybe they're waiting on more sources to back up their position. (That's one huge benefit to what Nikki does, getting in quick with an easy-to-digest source review ... on top of the obvious benefit, it's a good way to find out if anyone's home.) I'll go see if I can get a recruit or two from GOCE. - Dank (push to talk) 15:45, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Agreed and, more to the point, the copyeditor can make a statement if the prose is too messy to be ready for FAC. We need to remember that articles should be ready when they get here. If they need too be pulled up to FA standard, they should be opposed early and advised to withdraw. --Laser brain (talk) 16:20, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Depending on what you're saying, I might disagree, a little bit. If someone has clearly stumbled into the wrong place, or if they have a habit of nominating FACs that soak up a lot of reviewer time, then yes. But I don't think that there's any consensus among reviewers that bad copyediting is a mortal sin, while other sins deserve forgiveness and months of patience. Some outstanding writers just can't spot misspellings, and don't always use the perfect word, but otherwise write authoritatively and beautifully, and support other writers in a variety of ways. I guess what I'm saying is ... if someone volunteers from GOCE who's good at spotting misspellings but otherwise has no experience at FAC, I don't want to give them the message that it's their job to decide whether the FAC lives or dies ... that takes some seasoning. - Dank (push to talk) 16:40, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This time of year is by far my busiest in real life. After submitting my own FAC, I always review at least one other article to balance the load I placed on the FAC system, but I have not been able to put together long stretches of quality time to analyze and consider more than one other FAC. The last ones I worked on were Stephen Hawking in March and Birth control movement in the United States in February; both of these during times when I had Santa Maria de Ovila up for consideration. I will be able to take on more reviews in July when the pace of my real life work slackens. Binksternet (talk) 16:35, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Me too - juggling a lot :/ Casliber (talk · contribs) 21:09, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

YouTube as a source

I have been the primary editor of Justine Ezarik for some time and have consistently tried to eliminate use of YouTube as a source. This includes, citing its pageview statistics as a source for popularity. I have recently been involved in a pair of popular viral videos (Kony 2012 and Cat Daddy) and am now wondering if it is Kosher to cite YouTube for number of pageviews and upload date.--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 08:24, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Although I agree that for the most part youtube should be avoided as a source there are exceptions. For example, the Wikimedia software has a 100MB upload limit so it has been necessary in the past to load some freely distributable video's to Youtube so that they are available. A good example are a large number of the videos that have been made available through the Fedflix project.Kumioko (talk) 13:03, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Another good example are Videos like this one about the Washington Navy Yard Gun Factory that was made by the Government. Kumioko (talk) 13:07, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
There is a bit of OR to say "ok, this video has x million views, therefore it is popular." If noted by a third-party, that's fine - that takes the OR out of our hands into theirs (this I've done with several OK Go music videos). One problem is we do that is then that would create an implicit line that if any video gets over x million views, it's popular and ergo should have an article on it, which is not always the case. --MASEM (t) 13:12, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Maxim, you seem to be saying we need secondary sources to point out pageviews. So in this case, we have the original Cat Daddy video with over 66.5 million views and a later posting with over 4 million views (see talk page) have a lot of page views but no RS mentioning their popularity, making the popularity non-notable. Meanwhile the follow up video with less than 2 million views has tons of RS talking about it, making it more notable. It is correct to omit mention of the 70 million pageviews from the Cat Daddy article because it is not notable, but we should mention the 1 million plus because it is notable.--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 13:26, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
If there are RS's talking about the topic to make it notable but they just don't happen to mention pageviews, that's fine. That's just a piece of data that you shouldn't include. Note that you've already established notability of the original video so you don't have to re-establish that for the followups - as long as they are noted by third-parties, they can be discussed in the same article as the notable video(s). What I'm not clear on is what video the "1 million" views you're looking to add applies to. The Kate Upton one appears to be readily sourced to how fast it collected views, so that's fine, but I'm not sure wehre the 1million applies to. Remember: notability != popularity - just because something has a lot of sources talking about it may not make it popular, nor does its popularity necessarily imply that it is necessary facet of something being notable. If no RS that make it notable indicate its popularity, we don't include that ourselves. --MASEM (t) 14:21, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
One source said 750k in less than 24hours before being banned and 200k in the first two hours after being reuploaded. I am having trouble finding that at the moment. I have to make sure the article points to the right source on that.--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 14:56, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
If those exist and are RSs, sure, they can be included and its not SYNTH to add them to say "nearly 1 million views" if you want to include that. --MASEM (t) 15:05, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
 Done.--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 18:19, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Getting a TFA rescheduled

There are only 5.5 hours left before South Side, Chicago goes on the main page. I left a message at Raul's talk and WT:TFAR. I don't see any responses regarding rescheduling. What should I do?--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 18:29, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

I'll take care of it. Raul654 (talk) 18:47, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Although for future reference, if I'm not around and you want some TFA rescheduling, user:Dabomb87 would be the best person to contact. Raul654 (talk) 18:52, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Education program research planning

Since a few FAC participants have an interest in the education program, I thought it might be worth posting a note here to say that there is a discussion at Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research and the associated talk page about what kind of data gathering should be done to determine the value of the program. Please comment there if you are interested. My own opinion is that the education program has the ability to have a far bigger impact (positive or negative) on the encyclopedia than almost any other factor over the next few years, since we are seeing hundreds of classes and thousands of students editing Wikipedia as a part of that program. Getting this right is very high value, and getting it wrong could be a first-class mess, so I encourage everyone to contribute to that conversation. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:40, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

It's already a first-class mess, and since the WMF is in charge and running it and has shown little inclination to listen to regular folk, I don't expect much to change. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:49, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Didn't the foundation run an Indian education program late last year that turned out to be an utter debacle? Tony (talk) 06:58, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes. It would be hard to imagine a worse outcome for the education program than that effort. A summary report is available here, written by an outside consultant; I haven't read it in detail but I think many of those involved in the clean up would use much stronger language than is used in that report -- it says the program placed a "large burden" on the community, which is an understatement.
The WMF does now seem to understand that to avoid that sort of failure they need to engage the community, and that's what this effort is about. I don't think it's going to be possible or desirable to point-blank prevent schools and universities from working on Wikipedia articles, so I think we need to figure out how to make it work. I'm sympathetic to Sandy's pessimism, because I know she's suffered more than most from the negative impacts of the program, but to me that just makes it more important to get involved and figure out how it can be made to benefit the encyclopedia. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:10, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Free Highbeam accounts

Has anyone gotten anything useful from their free HighBeam account? I recently got mine and have searched every topic of importance to me, and have found nothing of use that I didn't already have. Maybe there's a secret key I'm not unlocking. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:49, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Nope. It's useful if you have no library access or if your library subscribes to only 1 or 2 major news databases. In these cases Highbeam is a useful generic search tool that spans multiple indexes. However, if you're like me and have already searched the major databases, Highbeam will not deliver anything extra. --Laser brain (talk) 17:57, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I have no access to a major library or university database, and I still couldn't find anything in there of use. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:59, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
(ec) That's surprising, then. I've found lots of results, but nothing I hadn't found in EBSCOhost, LexisNexis, etc. If I hadn't had those, HighBeam would have been a goldmine. --Laser brain (talk) 18:16, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Since a lot of my work is based off of newspaper articles, I have found useful stories. I haven't looked at it too closely yet, but this may help my eventual push to get "In Flanders Fields" from GA to FA. Highbeam is about what I expected it would be. Another tool, but not necessarily my first point of research. Resolute 18:14, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
It really depends on the topic you're researching. Highbeam's primary database is just articles from major western newspapers in the past 20-30 years. And then only the most major newspapers elsewhere in the world. So, overall, it's rather limited. Though it does have a significant amount of magazines and other such small sources that you've likely never heard of and wouldn't have found anywhere on Google. That's why I find it most useful when i'm working on a business related or technology related topic, because there are industry specific magazine articles that Highbeam pulls up for me. SilverserenC 18:16, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I have, a few things of interest including some good reviews of children's literature and a 2006 paper from the British Journal of Psychology on the misattribution hypothesis: "Belief in psychic ability and the misattribution hypothesis: a qualitative review". Malleus Fatuorum 18:17, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I haven't really used my account all that often. During the recent FAC of Dan Leno, I found a couple of interesting images I would have liked to of used. However, it failed to give me the information needed to identify it as within the PD. They clearly were as they were taken pre 1903 but lacked the information to back this up. Still good though, and I'm glad I signed up. -- Cassianto (talk) 20:07, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
For my kind of stuff, they do have the last 20-odd years of The Art Bulletin which is a key academic journal, & some ok reviews, but it's nothing like as useful as JSTOR would be. Johnbod (talk) 20:28, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree. I have pulled off one very useful article from Antiquity, but most of the stuff is fairly lightweight for my work - and the journal articles are stripped of their illustrations. Simon Burchell (talk) 21:33, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

It is limited, but it's a nice supplement to lexisnexis and google news. It's free. Free stuff is good, even if you only get one decent article out of it. Juliancolton (talk) 02:22, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

If only we had access to Lexisnexis as a project :/ --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 02:24, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

My main problem with Highbeam is navigating it. I don't know how to focus my searches so I can't really find out what is there. But I live in hope. Brianboulton (talk) 23:06, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Gosh, my problem is the opposite: anything I'm interested in, I'm lucky to get 10 hits returned, and they have nothing I don't already have. Well, per Juliancolton, free is good and I while I did not find it on Highbeam, a Highbeam article did point me to where I could find one teensy bit of important info I'd been searching for for at least five years, so I got my money's worth. Sure would rather have JSTOR though. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:11, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

I have struggled to make use of Highbeam so far as well; with the same problem as Brian and Sandy. The main search terms I used (obscure names) threw up, initially, thousands of unrelated hits. Filtering and adding keywords rendered zero articles. After much fiddling (about 3 hours) I managed to extract one usable source. I don't think it is quite the right venue for my topic (semi-obscure WW2 history) but even so! With that said, when I searched on a more modern topic (Linda Norgrove) I found a wealth of useful material. So the topic seems to be the key. --Errant (chat!) 12:09, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Small articles


is there any guideline, criteria or policy that explicitly state that small articles are ineligible for FA-status? There is currently one which is only 24kb large and 7kb of which is the "readable prose size". Regards.--GoPTCN 08:11, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

I don't believe so. Given WP:SUMMARY, FAs should be as short as is needed to ensure that criteria 1b and 2a are met. As such, they can be quite short if the topic can be comprehensibly covered in a few paragraphs. Nick-D (talk) 08:26, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
From a practical standpoint, the shorter the article, the more likely it is to attract reviewers. OTOH ... that's not necessarily good, as reviewers are often skeptical of short FACs. Be prepared to show that you've made an effort to locate every source that's likely to be useful. - Dank (push to talk) 11:42, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
As can be seen at Wikipedia:Featured articles/By length there are four FAs with less than 10kb of wiki text (not actual prose), and User:Dr pda/Featured article statistics#Ten shortest articles shows that very small articles can indeed be FAs. The important thing is that the article satisfies WP:FA?#1b (ie: the article is comprehensive). Nev1 (talk) 11:56, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Is there a limit on how short would be considered acceptable? I have an article that, once my final source text arrives, I doubt will go over about 4kb of prose. I'd generally assumed it wouldn't get through a featured article review, but if that's not the case it might be a good first run for me :) (compared to the other option I have, which so far is around 30kb of prose :P) --Errant (chat!) 12:05, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

It's exactly as Nev1 says; the only question is, does the article meet FA criterion 1b, is it comprehensive. If you like, let me know what article you have in mind I'll take a quick look and give you my impression. Malleus Fatuorum 12:12, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Ha, yes, I wasn't being coy; Victor Jones (colonel) - it's just rough at the moment. He's not recorded in any detail (i.e. his life outside of 'A' Force) but there is enough to just about warrant a standalone article. --Errant (chat!) 12:14, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
As the article really only covers his wartime service I think it could be a struggle to persuade reviewers that it was comprehensive. You'd need to be able to present a strong case that there really was no more information on his life before or after the army, which I'd certainly be reluctant to believe. Have you checked in all the obvious places such as Who was Who and newspaper databases? Malleus Fatuorum 12:20, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
It's not uncommon for the era. You had relatively middle class people become crucial to the Allies during wartime; but afterwards slipped back into obscurity. Even Dudley Clarke, one of the most important people in Allied wartime strategy, barely has any record of his post-military service (even the book that acts, essentially, as his biography covers it in the briefest way). Jones is a bit odd in the sense that he appears to be landed (one source refers to his "estate") but as best I can make out he was a gentleman farmer, nothing big. The search for source material has been a 6 month effort so far. --Errant (chat!) 12:36, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, but the Clarke article offers much more of the detail (including a reasonable amount on his personal life) that I'd expect of an FA-level biography than the Jones one, which looks more suitable for GAN than FAC. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 12:53, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Even if that material simply does not exist? (FWIW that was exactly what I figured, but it seemed worth asking, cheers :)) --Errant (chat!) 13:07, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
I've been at this point before and yes, if the material even doesn't exist, it probably will never be able to get to an FA since it lacks content completion expected for said topic. --MASEM (t) 13:10, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Right! Some articles are not destined for FA because there is not enough published material to provide cites for comprehensive coverage. Binksternet (talk) 13:19, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Good to know! I have booked in to review some of the relevant military records next month, so hopefully I can finish my book and fill in that gap :) --Errant (chat!) 13:23, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

RFC on Murasaki Shikibu

I don't think the current lead image of the FA article is appropriate because costume and hair style are incorrect. Comments are needed at Talk:Murasaki Shikibu#Wrong picture. Thank you. Oda Mari (talk) 16:10, 13 May 2012 (UTC)


Does Wiktionary count as a reliable source for FA articles or would another online/paper dictionary be preferable? I don't think it does, but it never hurts to ask for an outside opinion. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:13, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

If you're going to source something to a dictionary I'd assume it would be better in general to use one of the older established ones; I guess this might prove trickier for neologisms or recently-adopted loanwords though. I've a few large reference dictionaries lying around if you'd like me to check something out though. GRAPPLE X 23:17, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm asking because it's used to cite Western Jackdaw, currently at FAC. It supports the statement "The metallic chyak call may be the origin of the jack part of the common name" — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:35, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
    Had a check, no etymological information on "jackdaw" in what I've got. For something like that I'd probably want a better source than wiktionary, though. GRAPPLE X 23:48, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
    Whoever added that reference can't spell wiktionary and hasn't formatted the reference correctly. I'd check the page history and see if it was added recently after the FAC started. Wiktionary is a wiki and so should not be cited. Even if it was not a wiki, like any source, it is only as reliable as the sources used to construct it. If those sources are provided, then you can consult those. This wiktionary entry doesn't provide citations (the citation tab at the top is red, not blue), so it is doubly useless (an uncited wiki page). Carcharoth (talk) 00:13, 14 May 2012 (UTC) Or as Malleus said, in less words, no. And it was added recently, see here.
No. Malleus Fatuorum 00:15, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
Wiktionary is not a reliable source. Tony (talk) 01:24, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Just to echo what's been said above, Wikimedia projects (including Wikitariony and Wikipedia itself) are not considered reliable sources for the purposes of citing them in an article. Raul654 (talk) 02:16, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

My bad - missed that one, but one question I do have is linking, such as gregarious instead of gregarious as sometimes the target pages are more apt links. How do folks feel about those? Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:57, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't mind that one.  — Crisco 1492 (talk) 07:55, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Pointless, and as a general rule inline links ought not to direct away from Wikipedia. Malleus Fatuorum 14:56, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

For what it's worth, the OED Online gives a different etymology of "Jackdaw". Apparently, the species was originally called a "daw" (for which there is an extensive etymological explanation), and "jack" is used "[i]n names of animals (sometimes signifying male, sometimes small, half-sized)." Equally, there exist jack crows, jack rabbits, jack snipes, jack curlews and jack fish. J Milburn (talk) 15:16, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Ellipses naming conventions

I have noticed that WP:FA has articles named These Are the Voyages... and 0.999.... I am creating a bunch of Roy Lichtenstein articles for the retrospective that opens on May 22nd, including I Know...Brad, Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too...But..., Torpedo...Los!, I Can See the Whole Room...and There's Nobody in It! and Ohhh...Alright.... It has come to the attention of the folks at WP:WPVA that MOS:ELLIPSIS suggests that spaces should come before and after the three periods. Can you explain why FA is approving articles with names that seem to be against MOS?--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 03:42, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Because it's a name, not a typographical choice. Malleus Fatuorum 04:33, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
That does not make sense to me. It sounds like "We allow it to be named in a manner inconsistent with MOS usage for Ellipses. . .because!" Is there a name policy that provides an exception to the ELLIPSIS policy?--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 10:42, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
  • If that's the official name, we have no choice. Look at the typographical nightmare that is iPad, iPhone, etc. For 0.999..., it seems to be a standard in mathematics, indicating that the nines continue ad infinitum. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 10:57, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
That's right. It was pretty much agreed at the other discussion that if the titles had a clear style, that should be followed regardless of MOS. But in the cases Tony was asking about, Roy Lichtenstein paintings, there seemed to be no clear style in the sources, which varied a lot. Johnbod (talk) 12:35, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
"If that's the official name, we have no choice" and "Because it's a name, not a typographical choice" are arguments that failed to prevent an article name change from On The Issues (magazine) to On the Issues (magazine). The capital "T" in the name of the magazine must must must must be lower case, it seems, but here, a few periods and spaces here or there are trivial. What a schizophrenic application of guidelines. Binksternet (talk) 00:30, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
That was clearly a poor decision and it ought to be reversed. Malleus Fatuorum 00:37, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, but it was (wrongly I think) treated as a trademark not a title, so different guidelines applied. Johnbod (talk) 01:09, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
In 0.999... the ellipses are actually part of the number itself. It is mathematical, not typographical. Hawkeye7 (talk) 00:49, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Quite. Malleus Fatuorum
What is the advice for the Lichtenstein works?--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 20:36, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Are there criteria for removing an article from the list of "good articles"?

I ask in reference to the Barack Obama article. Frankly, at this point it's nothing but a puff piece, with a community of commited editors who insist on keeping the article criticism-free or nearly so. This is in stark contrast to the articles about Reagan and both Presidents Bush. It does not deserve to be listed as a "good article."William Jockusch (talk) 14:19, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

If you mean featured article, the procedure for removing the article is outlined at WP:FAR. Nikkimaria (talk) 14:28, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Though do note that it's been taken to FAR 6 times before and kept every single time. SilverserenC 18:55, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
The number of previous FARs is not entirely relevant, since most of them were brought by socks, were not well presented, and did not engage WP:WIAFA. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:12, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
It's probably worth noting that a FAR of this article is very likely to attract media attention (possibly significant attention), and so should only be undertaken if there are very solid grounds for why the article no longer meets the criteria and efforts to improve the article have been unsuccessful. Nick-D (talk) 11:49, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
  • It might be worth having some people experienced with the FA standards take a look at it, at a glance there is some minor cleanup needed, i.e. reference formatting and comma use are inconsistent and there are some link issues. I doubt it needs to be de-featured though. Mark Arsten (talk) 16:37, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia's brave new world: volunteers as the guardians of values in a binary system

Perhaps the real think-tank was always going to be on this page rather than at the RfCs, MfD and user talk-pages that have recently hosted rather cranky discourse on paid editing and on-wiki advertising/disclosure of such. After all, for years FAC has set the highest standards for articles. Here, the battle has been won over professionalising our best articles in every possible way. The standards I see here sometimes trump those of professional academics. We can afford to be proud, although never complacent.

But now the whole project—not least FAC—faces a new challenge. Six years ago, WP's extraordinary freedom of access and the "anyone can edit" idea were still novel, and WP was expanding at a speed that stunned everyone. However, people are no longer stunned, and our very success forces higher benchmarks. WP is so big and powerful that, like the internet itself, the world has come to rely on the site (witness the success of the one-day outage over SOPA, which if nothing else made many people realise that no WP can be like no lights).

This sheer size and complexity now threatens the volunteer-only model that has characterised WP since its inception. Everywhere the strains are apparent: thousands of volunteers have not a hope of servicing the site's needs of the site, and the satisfaction we gain as individuals remains dependent on defining ourselves in relation to one tiny part of it. It's not just properly policing copyright, plagiarism, and CoI, and turning two million lousy little stubs and another half a million indifferently translated dumps from other language WPs into something we can be satisfied with. The pressure to perform like paid professionals—and our aggregate shortfall as busy volunteers—can be felt all over the place. The copy-edit drives we routinely run are laughably inadequate. Many WikiProjects are moribund. Admins are run off their feet. Arbitrators say they put in a full-time effort just for arbcom. Ask Raul and Sandy and the other delegates at featured content forums how much pressure they feel; observe how short of reviewers we often are. The Signpost is somehow published to a weekly deadline on a bare thread. Many of our policies and guidelines need rationalising and are not properly implemented.

This scenario has crept up over years, ironically as we've triumphed; but the paid-editor imbroglio has brought it to a head, and it's only comments from Slim Virgin and other editors above that have forced me to think through the longer-term picture, at least in my own terms. I put it to you that WP cannot succeed by continuing to conceive itself through the volunteer-only model; that the time has come to accept that a new model is going to evolve—not over weeks or months, but certainly over the next few years.

It's not as though new components will be introduced to our labour force; but the future will involve changes in the status, emphasis, and interactions between the three components:

  1. the volunteers;
  2. the foundation's (and the chapters') salaried and contracted input, much increased over the past year and likely to increase further; and
  3. paid editors, until now largely occupying a twilight zone and barely acknowledged.

Let's look at 2 and 3. The movement, with its sudden increase in funding and the introduction in July of the FDC (funds dissemination committee) is likely to supply sharply increasing job-specific input to fix aspects of projects that are crying out for improvement and that volunteers find themselves unable to address (through no lack of their own skills). This is already happening beyond the purely technical remit that Sue Gardner told The Signpost will be the main contribution of the foundation to the projects.

We need to dismantle this idea that there's a hard-and-fast nexus between CoI and money. Volunteers have driven CoI in the past, and always will. Paid editors under the radar have indulged in CoI, but they've also done sterling work that would do any of us proud in terms of balance, neutrality, and sourcing. We cannot do without their input if the project is to come to grips with its own size and the demands of readers; better to have paid editors as collaborators we know than submarines we don’t. Indeed, it’s our moral responsibility to know them.

The root of the angst about the inevitable normalisation of paid editing is a fear that volunteers will lose control and the whole social texture of the project will change for the worse; but if we're smart about it, neither will occur. I want to suggest that the natural role of volunteers in the emerging system will be at the top. This is because, of the two engines of WP—social trust/esteem and the one we're not acknowledging, financial reward—volunteers have a monopoly on the first. It is they who’ve built the system and it is they who’ll run it, not only for historical reasons but because they have a permanent moral and practical claim as the judges of standards; critically, this includes the maintenance of neutrality, balance, and quality. Editorial clients certainly can't occupy that role, and while paid editors themselves need to aspire to those values, it's only volunteers through their disengagement with clients who will set and police the standards.

The three labour components will reorient themselves, and in doing so will experience dynamic stress and drama (so what's new?). Volunteers will continue to do everything they've always done; the difference will be their gradual adoption of new responsibilities, in being the guardians among others of everything we hold dear about the project. In this role, the relationship between volunteers and paid editors, yet to be shaped, will be crucial. We need to plan systemically how that relationship can play out to everyone's benefit. Tony (talk) 15:31, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

  • It would take me days to draft an appropriate response to this. [Similarly, this appears so well-written that it probably took days to compose as well.] As a quick response: the bolts of pure sunshine emanating from this essay can only be viewed safely from behind the shelter of a pair of rose-colored glasses as big as Elton John's.
  • The reason Wikipedia still functions at all is explicitly because paid editors are skulking in the twilight. What happens if they come out into the daylight? They blink a bit first. They quietly celebrate their win, and fantasize a little how they will spend their paychecks [Pay off Junior's braces? Check! New floor tile for the kitchen? Check!]. They follow the rules like good little boys and girls. But... then they get used to being in the daylight. They get used to having a voice. They wake up one morning feeling a strange new emptiness in the pit of their stomachs: they want more. They start associating together more and more, and exercising their voices. They make Paid Editor barnstars (and templates, please see example at User:Cla68). They form a Wikiproject of paid editors. They accumulate a mass of paid editor admins. They edit various policies etc. to make them not only paid editor friendly, but paid editor favoring [Crap, there are calls to delete COI etc. right now.. the calls will be shut down.. for a while...]. Bit by bit, they will leech the center of gravity away from volunteers. Their numbers will grow, because money will attract them. Numbers of pure volunteers will continue to shrink, only at an increasing rate. Formerly pure volunteers will flip and become paid editors (please see ref: User:Cla68). The siren call of money will win. It will win. It not only will win, it must win. It is a pincer attack push-pull dynamic of resources and incentives: paid editors will have more of both. Thus armed, they will slowly but surely peel apart the volunteer-driven culture of Wikipedia and supplant it with a paid model.
  • It won't even be 100% intentional: to a very large extent, the paid model will simply attract more resources, create new resources, and grow by itself. Rather than revolution, it will be a process of one model supplanting another.
  • I know people will fault me for resorting to military symbolism. They will say I'm combative & fear-mongering. Perhaps you would be more comfortable if I said it this way: Darwin would agree with me. This is simply competition. Having a culture of paid editing is like having an opposable thumb: multiple dynamics will conjoin to guarantee that your volunteer-only competitors will recede into the shrinking rain forests. Eventually, volunteer editing will disappear. I give it 3 years at most, but perhaps less than that. – Ling.Nut3 (talk) 00:34, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

One of the things missing from the analyses above by Tony1 and Ling.Nut is that those volunteering their time to edit and build and maintain and administrate Wikipedia do so to varying degrees, many because they participate in their spare time, or as a hobby, and many of those have full-time work already and/or have established careers, or have retired. Then there are students who can have more spare time than those in full-time work, and those who are retired who can have more time still. Then there are those who are unemployed, can't work, or don't need to work, who can (in theory) edit Wikipedia practically full-time. All of these types have various forms of economic pressures working on them (if only because time can be money). And then there are those who edit full-time (or for large amounts of the day) because they are paid to do so, or because they get an indirect source of income from it. The latter point is worth making because there are more ways to 'leverage' Wikipedia experience than merely just paid editing. The skillset of competent Wikipedia editors, or the contacts built up, can be used to gain paid employment, short-term contract work, and consultancy work (you can even publish books about Wikipedia, though those don't tend to make much money). The most obvious route to paid employment is with the Wikimedia Foundation, though there are other routes as well (e.g. employment with the chapters if they are hiring, or application for grant money). Then there are those who start off either as students or in some other job, and are prompted by their editing of Wikipedia to change direction and retrain and become a writer, or historian, or librarian, or archivist, or museum curator, or some other occupation (often GLAM-related). The Wikimedian-in-residence roles are relevant here. More cynically, some may just use Wikipedia as a stepping stone to other things, or to accrue power in the surrounding frameworks (chapters and foundations). The point being that there is a difference between those who switch between editing Wikipedia in their spare time and working for pay in their 'day job' [the 'hobbyist' Wikipedians]; and those who make editing Wikipedia a full-time occupation (whether paid or not) [the 'assimilated' Wikipedians]. A small matter of perspectives. Carcharoth (talk) 01:26, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm not happy with any of the analyses yet presented. To the extent that we change our labour process from one of personal freedom and satisfaction, to one of meeting valorised output targets—then we've fucked the volunteer project, we've fucked the encyclopaedic project and we've fucked ourselves up. The key difference between FA editor (or could we consider FA reviewer or FA delegate?) who takes pay for their work, and the encyclopaedist who skives time off the side is the production of surplus value. The apparent quality of the content may not change for our user base, but, by inflicting wage labour on a portion of our editors, we'll taint the creative and productive process of volunteer work of the rest of them. Turning FooBar into a paid worker, turns me into an unpaid worker. I'd rather remain a free volunteer. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:50, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Ling.Nut, it took about 90 minutes to write, but a considerable time in the hours before mulling over the issues, piecing together the opinions of senior WPians I've been exposed to privately over the past few days.

Slim, pointing out the omission of the race thing in the Cracker Barrel FAC is tops; we need to show them they can't get away with it, whether they're paid or unpaid, and in doing so to force the culture. Keeping paid editors on the straight and narrow, poking and picking where called for, should actually be regarded as a high-status activity. We have the moral, social, political, and technical high ground in what should be an upholding of the values that volunteers have worked for among paid editors.

I don't give a toss, actually, that they're paid and I'm not. I've never got the shovel out and directly helped to fix FACs; I've just visited nom pages and niggled by example, prodding nominators to be more self-critical about their text. I could earn more by taking on more paid work (I don't mean paid WP work) instead of doing unpaid work for WP, but I'd be a total slave to money then and my life would be reduced. Also, the pay I'm seeing bandied about is kind of low: I wouldn't do it for that little <nostrils flare open in snobbery>. Tony (talk) 04:25, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I've often "got the shovel out and directly helped to fix FACs", but if I had reason to believe that the nominator was being paid I most certainly would not have done so without a cut. Malleus Fatuorum 04:52, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I can see that companies and some individuals might find it worth their while to pay for articles on themselves and their products, and we are seeing now the first paid wikipedians in residence, but beyond that I don't see how there is any real market for editing for the vast majority of articles, especially to FA level. Johnbod (talk) 04:29, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
To Tony's three groups of editors, we should add students and their teachers. They also have different motivation and goals and their collaboration can distort the more random consensus we get naturally. The issue, Malleus raises of helping a paid editor for no gain is also relevant to student work: at what point does the help you give to a student distort the grade they get for their work.
We have a paid-for situation with photographers on WP, to a small degree. Some pro/semi-pro photographers upload to WP, and advertise themselves on their user pages and also on the photograph's description page here and on Commons. Often such images are greatly reduced in size for WP compared to the version that can be purchased. Generally, a less restrictive licence (that doesn't require attribution) can be purchased. Sometimes, the licence chosen (GNU 1.2) is specifically picked because it is nearly impossible for commercial reuse. I'm not criticising these things here. We end up with pictures that we wouldn't otherwise, and many of them are fantastic. It does distort the FPC system a bit (mainly because these size-reduced pictures look so darn good compared to pixel-peeping the original) but overall it appears to be a net benefit. It does rub a bit against the principles of giving stuff away, however. And uploading photographs isn't as collaborative an exercise as writing articles.
Would an editor polish one section of an article as a teaser, and post a request (possibly off-site) that the rest of the article could be upgraded to that standard for a fee. Would an editor replace mediocre but sourced body text with brilliant prose that was completely unsourced (because their employer doesn't pay them to cite sources, just to write words). Would an editor replace existing text merely because they need it to be in their own words? Why would the paid editor help the unpaid editor, and vice versa? Would you have to pay to get your article peer reviewed? What if nobody reviewed your FAC? The temptation to canvas/bribe would be large. -- Colin°Talk 09:39, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I like the idea of the Foundation noticing good content contributors, and just letting them have some kind of a grant to carry on what they're doing, so they're not so pushed financially that they have to devote more time to paid employment and less to Wikipedia. Having a Foundation grant for "continuing to provide, police, and review good content", for those with a history of having been doing so, might be worth thinking about. Pesky (talk) 15:54, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

The root of the angst is, as mentioned strongly on multiple occasions, the attempted commodification of volunteer engagement—there are not "three arms of labour" present on wikipedia, there are two arms of labour and post-wage-slavery volunteers. Reductivist conceptions of labour inputs by volunteers are just as abhorrent as paid editing. Wikipedia's success is a problem for the general way in which things are produced today in the world, and with a pool of consistent volunteers numbering in the thousands, it is highly susceptible to being reduced to wage labour. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:06, 31 May 2012 (UTC)