|Volume 4, Issue 12||17 March 2008||About the Signpost|
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Best of WikiWorld: "The Rutles"
- This WikiWorld rerun is from March 5, 2007. Over the next two weeks, a tribute to The Rutles, produced by Eric Idle and Lorne Michaels will appear in Hollywood and New York City.
News and notes
Single User Login to be tested
Developers are planning a pilot of the CentralAuth extension (better known as single user login); this pilot will be limited to administrators only. (Note that this was accidentally enabled for a short time last week.)
The pilot is opt-in, and for the time being will only cause accounts with the same name and owned by the same user to be merged together into a single 'global account'; other existing users with the same name will not be affected. If and when the test takes place, administrators should note that setting a common email address or password on all accounts they own will help the merging process to identify which accounts are owned by the same user.
Even the full planned version of single user login itself does not do much more than associate accounts owned by the same user together, and allow a common username/password across all Wikimedia wikis; other similar features, such as crosswiki talkpage notification, are not part of the extension, although will become much easier to implement as a result of it.
Election Committee named
Last week, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution, announced on Saturday by Chairperson Florence Devouard, that named the Election Committee for the 2008 Board elections. The seven-member committee's membership includes:
- Arria Belli, French Guiana
- Daniel Bryant, Australia
- Jesse Plamondon-Willard (Pathoschild), Canada
- Jon Harald Søby, Norway
- Kwan Ting Chan (KTC), Scotland
- Mark Ryan, Australia
- Philippe Beaudette, United States
The committee is "responsible for planning and maintaining virtually every aspect of the board election." One of the responsibilities of the Committee is planning the type of voting used in the election; in previous elections, some users have questioned the traditional approval voting method used, arguing for other voting systems instead. Other responsibilities include determining suffrage criteria, drafting election pages on the Meta-Wiki, and vote auditing.
Second Wikipedia podcast started
- As of press time, the final decision on the host city for Wikimania 2009 had not yet been made.
- Keilana was successfully nominated to the Mediation Committee; a current nomination for Wizardman looks likely to pass.
- The Russian Wikipedia has reached 250,000 articles.
- The English Wiktionary has reached 750,000 entries.
- The Belarusian Wikipedia has reached 10,000 articles.
- The Spanish Wikinews has reached 3,000 articles.
- The Scottish Gaelic Wikipedia has reached 5,000 articles.
- The Central Bicolano Wikipedia has reached 200 articles.
- The Kazakh Wikipedia has reached 2,000 articles.
In the news
Decline in print encyclopedias
Start Writing the Eulogies for Print Encyclopedias - The print encyclopedia appears to become the "first casualty in the end of print". Take for example the printed Encyclopedia Britannica, whose sales are now said to be 10 percent of what they were in 1990, but the company says that the print edition is still profitable. Other companies are not doing as well though; German encyclopedia Brockhaus might never appear in print again, while Gyldendal, a Danish publisher, is finding the online subscription model is "misguided". Despite nostalgic recollections of childhood memories of reading the encyclopedia, the "electronic hearth" is providing new opportunities for encyclopedias in providing information that updates quickly. Wikipedia is naturally cited as an example, in addition to the Encyclopedia of Life and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
More trouble for Wikipedia
Open-Source Troubles in Wiki World - This week brings more coverage of the recent controversies surrounding the actions of Jimmy Wales. In what is said to illustrate growing pains, Wales has been accused of spending frivolously on his expense account and on intervening on the article about someone with whom he had a relationship. On top of that, there is now a new controversy about Wikipedia's relationship with venture capitalists Elevation Partners, after one of its partners helped find two large donors, although apparently in his personal capacity. The chair of the Wikimedia board, Florence Nibart-Devouard, has expressed concerns with becoming reliant upon venture capitalist donors, and said that the board recently passed a resolution requiring all donations larger than two percent of revenue be approved by board. Despite these controversies, it seems like there will always be a place for Wales, who is a "hero" in the Wikipedia community, the article says.
Other recent mentions in the online press include:
- What Wikipedia can teach us about SEO - Wikipedia is a good model for search engine optimisation.
- The scandal of Olivia Newton-John: 12 surprisingly controversial Wikipedia pages - The title says it all: an overview of a dozen pages that have caused controversy on Wikipedia, from oral sex to spam.
- Drama on Wikipedia Street - The continual reversion and consequent removal of newer material to the featured version of the cold fusion article from 2004 has troubled this commentator from a pro-cold fusion website.
Dispatches: Changes at peer review
More Peer Reviewers needed!
Peer Review is a busy place: there were at least 156 peer review requests in December 2007, 184 in January 2008, and 188 in February 2008. Reviewers are always needed and welcomed, so please volunteer here, or just review a single article; constructive comments are always helpful in improving articles, and are a major contribution to the project. Despite a number of process improvements at Peer review – on top of a house style check generated by a script written by AndyZ and operated by Ruhrfisch – more participation at peer review is needed to help raise the standards of WP's articles.
New: the volunteers list
To assist intending reviewers, we've recently made a significant change by introducing a volunteers list of peer reviewers and their reviewing interests. This helps editors with peer-review requests to find interested reviewers, and hence increases participation at peer review. More than 90 reviewers are listed (although some reviewers are listed more than once). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the scheme has been a success; one reviewer, Jayron32 commented that
"Under the old system, I would check in here once in a while, and maybe pick up a new article to peer review ... With the new volunteer page, I am able to list myself by area of preference, and article custodians come to me to request a review. I always get an article I am interested in, which is helping me review a LOT more article."
The volunteers list is organised by Wikipedia 1.0 topic names. To help reviewers find articles to review, the peer-review page is now organised in a similar way; a separate page lists peer reviews by date of request. There's also a new backlog list. This shows peer-review requests at least a week old that have received no comments (beyond the semi-automated review).
Automation is streamlining the process
The automation which has made some of the above changes possible is also helping behind the scenes with the maintenance of peer-review pages. In the past, old peer-review pages had to be moved to make space for new requests, and these page moves broke many links. This issue has been addressed by starting each peer-review request on a unique page. The unique page is determined through a template system developed by Geometry guy and Gimmetrow. The main peer review page is automatically generated by VeblenBot, a bot operated by Carl (CBM); the monthly peer-review archives, from February 2008 onwards, are created in a similar way.
These changes have reduced the number of edits required for requesting or closing a peer review, although unfamiliarity with the changes may make the process seem more difficult at first. Editors are encouraged to read the instructions at Wikipedia:Peer review and to raise any queries or comments on the talk page. (Editors nominating an article as a featured article candidate (FAC) or featured list candidate (FLC) should first close the peer review.)
Listing an article at peer review
Editors are encouraged to allow ample time – at least several weeks – for an effective peer review, and to actively recruit knowledgeable editors to review the article. There are at least three standard ways of locating peer reviewers:
- contacting editors listed on the peer review list,
- posting to relevant WikiProjects, and
- browsing featured articles in similar topics to find editors with similar interests.
WikiProject Report: Tropical cyclones
This week we interviewed one prominent member of the Tropical Cyclones WikiProject, Mitchazenia. A relatively small project, it has transformed into a high-achieving group with seventy-five featured articles or featured lists, eleven A-class articles, one hundred and fifty three good articles, four featured topics, a featured portal, and five featured pictures - ranking among the small group of other projects which have very high numbers of good or featured content.
- Apart from the Project's aims, what does it strive to achieve?
- To: 1) Keep up with new tropical cyclones that occur, 2) Update on older storms when info becomes available.
- Have there ever been any discussions pertaining to the progress of the Project, and if so, how do you think that may have affected its aims?
- There was a major issue in 2006 to the notability of tropical cyclone articles. This seems to have bit the wind, as the project now covers over 1000 articles, many in the Atlantic Ocean, many on little notability storms. Some of the notability of these articles has been disputed, such as the talk page of Tropical Storm Lorenzo (2001). However, as I said, nothing has really happened. Instead, there's more GA's, FA's, and A's than most projects, made mainly out of new articles. There was also a discussion in 2007 of the amount of inactive members the project, which was starting to reach over 50 members. The project is now down to mainly 24 members and is working on a normal basis again.
- Have as member or small group gone out of their way to make the Project better?
- User:Hurricanehink, our largest article writer has been the main contributor to over 6 dozen of the aforementioned articles. He recently just gained adminship as what's pretty much keeping this project together.
- What do you think the Project's success can be put down to?
- The project strives for success and high quality work in our articles.
- After achieving so much, where does the Project go from here?
- We hope to become the most comprehensive tropical cyclone information source on the internet.
- How could somebody who isn't a member of the Project become involved?
- The project welcomes anyone interested in helping out the project. There are several users willing to guide you during the way, and anyone can be considered a real benefit to the project.
- The project welcomes anyone interested in helping out the project. There are several users willing to guide you during the way, and anyone can be considered a real benefit to the project.
Tutorial: Editing Monobook, installing scripts
This week's tutorial explains how to install user scripts that increase the functionality of the encyclopedia's interface. Such tools range from rather simple scripts - for example, that replace some text with other text - to complicated behemoths that do everything from fighting vandalism to closing AFCs.
If you are using the Monobook skin (for more on skins, see WP:SKIN), your scripts page would be at this location. In general, if you use skin X, your scripts page would be at User:(your username)/X.js.
Once you have navigated to the page, you should see the following box:
This means that unknowingly putting malicious scripts on your scripts page may lead to your account being compromised. One must always be careful when installing scripts.
What can scripts do?
A better question would be, "What can't scripts do?" Scripts, as mentioned briefly above, can change Wikipedia's interface in drastic ways, as well as providing semi-automated ways to edit. The latter is particularly useful for vandalism fighting, though it has many diverse applications.
Some of the most well-known scripts are:
Which tools should you install? Consider first which tools you will actually have much use for. If you spend your time voting in XfDs, vandalism reversion scripts may not be useful for you, and vice versa.
If you wish to use the same scripts as another user, there are two methods. One is to simply substitute their script page onto your own. The second is to use the importScript command, which works as follows:
importScript('OTHER USER'S SCRIPT PAGE');
A more recent feature is the "Gadgets" tab in your preferences page. If you want to use a gadget (user script or CSS modification) that is listed, you simply check a box and save your change. The list includes some of the more well-known scripts. (If you want to customize a script, you'll need to install the scripts manually.)
- Guide on writing user scripts from the WikiProject.
- Ajax guide, also from the WikiProject.
- "Piles of code"; guess where it's from.
- The "User scripts" section of the Editor's index to Wikipedia
Features and admins
Seven users were granted admin status via the Requests for Adminship process this week: Seraphim Whipp (nom), J Greb (nom), Poeloq (nom), Discospinster (nom), Toddst1 (nom), Tivedshambo (nom), and Scott5114 (nom).
Fifteen articles were promoted to featured status last week: Royal Blue (B&O train) (nom), In Rainbows (nom), Tyrone Wheatley (nom), The Last Temptation of Krust (nom), England national football team managers (nom), Barthélemy Boganda (nom), Final Fantasy XI (nom), Neptune (nom), NoitulovE (nom), French Texas (nom), Rotavirus (nom), Jack L. Warner (nom), The Guardian of Education (nom), Defense of the Ancients (nom), and Discovery Expedition (nom).
Eleven lists were promoted to featured status last week: List of Meerkat Manor meerkats (nom), List of billionaires (2007) (nom), List of wettest tropical cyclones in the United States (nom), List of wealthiest foundations (nom), List of participating nations at the Summer Olympic Games (nom), List of UEFA Cup winning managers (nom), List of European Cup and Champions League winning managers (nom), List of tallest buildings in Toronto (nom), List of Heisman Trophy winners (nom), List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Iwo Jima (nom), and List of UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winning managers (nom).
No topic was promoted to featured status last week.
The following featured articles were displayed last week on the Main Page as Today's featured article: Slavery in ancient Greece, John Knox, Melodifestivalen, Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, Oxygen, Trapped in the Closet (South Park) and Storm botnet.
Former featured pages
The following featured pictures were displayed last week on the Main Page as picture of the day: Diffusion tensor imaging, Parthenon, Tufa towers in Mono Lake, Mira, Edward VI of England, Leucospermum and Ireland viewed from space.
No sounds were featured last week.
Eighteen pictures and one video were promoted to featured status last week and are shown below.
Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News
This is a summary of recent technology and site configuration changes that affect the English Wikipedia. Note that not all changes described here are necessarily live as of press time; the English Wikipedia is currently running version 1.34.0-wmf.17 (6566628), and changes to the software with a version number higher than that will not yet be active. Configuration changes and changes to interface messages, however, become active immediately.
- Two bugs were fixed in the Cortado player (one of the options that can be used to play back audio and video files):
- Special:MovePage now again repeats the current title as the default destination; this behaviour was broken by mistake. (r31911, bug 13343)
- Redirect pages now work properly if they start with stray whitespace. (r31922, bug 13344)
- Links to sections now work correctly in Internet Explorer if there are two sections on the same page with names that are almost the same but have different capitalisations. (r31931, bug 10721)
- YAML output from the API now escapes strings properly. (r31927, bug 12120)
- Special:Allpages can now handle the " character in page names. (r31984, bug 13359)
- The incorrect markup
#REDIRECT [[target](with a missing trailing ]) is now handled more sensibly. (r31996, bug 2084)
- Redirects are now not listed on Special:UnusedTemplates. (r31841, bug 8157)
- All special pages have now been standardised to use CamelCase names; however, they are case-insensitive, and so using the old names will continue to work. (r31844, bug 11986)
- Internationalisation has been continuing as normal; help is always appreciated! See mw:Localisation statistics for how complete the translations of languages you know are, and post any updates to bugzilla or use Betawiki.
The Report on Lengthy Litigation
The Arbitration Committee closed four cases this week, and opened one case, leaving only two cases currently open.
- Franco-Mongol alliance: A case involving alleged misconduct over a dispute on Franco-Mongol alliance and related articles. As a result of the case, PHG was prohibited from editing articles relating to medieval or ancient history for a period of one year.
- Mantanmoreland: A case involving alleged sockpuppetry by Mantanmoreland, which he denies. In a decision, the committee found that a "definitive conclusion" cannot be reached (although they found that "the weight of the credible evidence taken as a whole is suggestive of or consistent with a relationship between the two accounts"), placed some articles on article probation, placed restrictions on current and future editors to the articles, and imposed a topic ban and direction only to edit from one account on Mantanmoreland. After the case was closed, Mantanmoreland was indefinitely blocked per this discussion, although this was later overturned, and a request for clarification was opened on the permissibility of the block.
- Ehud Lesar: A case involving a dispute involving Ehud Lesar, with alleged sockpuppetry on his part and alleged harassment by Fedayee, Eupator and others. As a result of the case, the committee found that there was insufficient evidence of sockpuppetry and overturned the block.
- Episodes and characters 2: A case involving alleged continuing disruption of articles concerning television series episodes and characters, following on from a prior case. An injunction had been enacted halting certain editing activities on these articles until the case is resolved. As a result of the case, TTN was prohibited from requesting merges, redirections or deletions of these articles, and all parties were instructed to "cease engaging in editorial conflict and to work collaboratively to develop a generally accepted and applicable approach to the articles in question".
- Betacommand 2: A case involving the actions of Betacommand and others in relation to BetacommandBot, a controversial bot which tags some non fair use compliant images. Betacommand's actions had previously been discussed on a subpage of WP:AN.
- Highways 2: A case involving editing by NE2 on articles relating to WikiProject U.S. Roads, allegedly against consensus of other editors involved with that wikiproject. A remedy has been proposed, with the support of five arbitrators, counselling editors to consider contributing outside of disputed articles. Other remedies admonishing NE2 "to act with more awareness of the general needs of his co-editors and non-specialists", and encouraging him and other editors of the roads wikiproject in their work have the support of four arbitrators.