Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

2019-01-01 Thread Jonathan Cardy
Yes the greying of the pedia is a real phenomena, and I am sure that an editor 
survey would confirm that on average we are getting older.

You posit two reasons for the community to be in decline, that the easy 
articles have been written and that it is difficult to edit Wikipedia on a 
mobile. I agree with the second reason, and it is possible that the 2015/16 
rally has run its course. Editing volumes in late 2018 are dropping, but still 
above late 2014 levels, however I am not sure whether that is a real drop or a 
symptom of some of the infobox work moving to Wikidata. I am not convinced 
about your first reason. But there is a third that we should not underestimate, 
over the last decade or so expectations have risen and there is now little room 
for editors who add unsourced content. In quality terms this is a good thing, 
but it has repercussions on the quantity of editors (and I am sure contributes 
to the greying of the pedia). If as I suspect it is true that our decline is 
only among those who add uncited content, and that we are replacing those who 
add cited content as fast or faster than we lose them, then we can dismiss 
editor decline as no longer being an existential threat to the project.

I am sanguine about the mobile editing problem. It is a known issue. People are 
working on it, so we may get a technical fix. Fashions in technology have 
changed in the past and will change again, so we  may find that more people in 
the future have suitable devices to edit with. My own medium turn fix would be 
to launch an intermediate platform for tablets. This would leave the mobile 
platform for smartphone users, and I know we have at least a couple of editors 
who use smartphones, but the ratio of editors to readers is very much lower 
than among PC users. A Tablet platform would enable us  to offer tablet users a 
more editor friendly environment than could fit on the mobile platform.

As for screenagers with damaged attention spans, I think that some research 
would be useful. My expectation is that we would find that a maximum section 
size would be helpful to mobile users, and maybe we should also break up some 
lists into categories of stub articles. But the way to convince the community 
that such changes were useful would be first to commission some research so 
that we could propose evidence based changes. My hope is that if we knew that 
mobile users could only handle sections of a certain length, the Manual of 
Style would be changed and such indigestible articles would at least get 

To go back to the heading. No the death of Wikipedia is not imminent. I have 
known charities and not for profits where the volunteer community was far older 
and more closed than we are, and such volunteer communities can persist for 
decades even if a new generation doesn’t come along. Wikipedia is about to have 
its 18th birthday, if anything kills it in the next decade or two it will be 
something as yet scarcely on our radar as a risk.

Get Outlook for iOS

Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2018 22:34:27 +0100
From: Yaroslav Blanter 
To: Wikimedia Mailing List 
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"

I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
apologize in advance.

I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
more complicated.

Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
on. As any Web 2.0 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] New Wikimedia Foundation has soft launched!

2018-08-13 Thread Jonathan Cardy
Editing via a mailing list is clearly not ideal. I was going to add the missing 
r to “do not add you own bio”, trivial compared to the licensing issue that 
Andy mentioned, and typical of the minor edits that I do on Wikipedia and other 
wikis. But there doesn't seem to be an edit button on I fear it isn’t a proper wiki.  Phabricator may 
suit some, but in my experience it is not a wiki and definitely not a place 
that anyone who isn't a programmer would be comfortable returning to.

Can we migrate that site to mediawiki? Or at least in the short term set up an 
area on Meta for people to propose changes to it?

During the process of fixing the Visual Editor there were project areas setup 
on Wikipedia for liaison between the Foundation and the community, that worked 
and bridged some of the gulf between the volunteer community and the 
Foundation. If the Foundation wants to use phabricator and wordpress to keep a 
distance between it and the volunteer community it would make sense to maintain 
such embassies or monitor this list. I hope no one  wants to return to the bad 
old days of a few years ago when the Foundation appeared to be more responsive 
to criticism on badsites than from the volunteer community.

On 11 August 2018 at 23:19, a b  wrote:

> On Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 5:50 AM, Andy Mabbett 
> wrote:

[Two outstanding issues with the new website]

> Please file the relevant tasks in phabricator to enable better tracking of
> issues compared to on the mailing list:

Thank you; no.

Andy Mabbett
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid translation

2018-03-05 Thread Jonathan Cardy
James, I don't think anyone has suggested using the endowment money to fund 
translations. That money is being collected for the purpose of guaranteeing the 
projects future, even if we enter an era where the fundraiser doesn't work. 
Repurposing that pot of money in such a way would have ethical and hopefully 
legal implications.

But once that endowment is big enough to take over the task of funding the 
foundation, the annual fundraiser will no longer be needed to fund core 
foundation activity. It could then be repurposed with translation as one of the 
things that we ask people to donate to, and in such a scenario there is very 
little exposure to the Foundation, especially if the banner is asking people to 
donate to the chapter or other organisation that is organising the project. In 
the past several chapters have been "payment processors" - funds collected in 
their country were collected by them. Moving back from our currently over 
centralised organisation to a more decentralised one would mean that money 
collected in say India stayed in India at least if it was being collected to 
fund translation into Indic languages. 

The Foundation doesn't have to handle the money if our fundraising banners were 
to ask our readers to fund the activities of the Wikimedia chapter in the 
country where they live, or even if people in wealthy areas of the world were 
being asked to help people in countries without the libraries that they are 
used to, and without the plethora of material available to people who are 
literate in one of the main languages of the Internet.



> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2018 15:30:13 -0700
> From: James Salsman 
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List 
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid translation
> Message-ID:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid translation

2018-02-25 Thread Jonathan Cardy
There were two presentations on paid translation at Wikimania in Gdansk. I 
think that would be 2010? One by, the other by (charity 
and corporate wings).

I'm afraid my memory of the event is far from perfect. But some things stuck in 
my mind.

As one would expect, many of the things that could go wrong had gone wrong. 

Translators were not recruited from the community and did not understand the 
need to interact with the community.

The aims of the two projects were very different. .org wanted to make basic 
medical info available in a number of languages that were emerging on the 
Internet; .com wanted to give responses to common search terms in those 
languages. Bangla, Tamil and I think Telegu were among them.

One, I think it was Bangla had banned a group of translators, on another an 
irate attendee explained that people who spoke his language did not want 
articles on Hollywood film stars: I suspect that shows a disconnect between 
search engine results and the wishes of wikipedians, it illustrates the 
concerns others have already raised re colonialism, and the difficulty of 
mixing volunteers and paid staff in one project. 

No surprise that one of the two projects was much more contentious than the 
other, and not just among Wikipedians on the target project. I can understand 
the frustration of a wikipedian volunteer who realises he is fixing for free 
work that someone else has been paid to do.

I don't know whether the concern about Hollywood was just an inter generational 
thing, whether the people with access tohollywood films were representative of 
the young, or representative of the tech savvy verbally bilingual early 
adopters in that society and unrepresentative of the tens of millions in that 
language who were about to come online.

But I do remember the "common search term" project being much more contentious 
than the medical one.

My experience from here and several other part volunteer communities is that 
there are two golden rules to follow when mixing paid and unpaid staff.

1 Only pay people to do things that the volunteers want to have happen but 
aren't volunteering to do.
2 As much as possible recruit your paid staff from your community of volunteers.

Sadly almost all my examples of getting this wrong come from this movement.


Jonathan / WereSpielChequers

> On 24 Feb 2018, at 19:41, wrote:
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>  2. Re: Paid translation (Michael Snow)
> --
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> Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2018 03:05:41 +0800
> From: Gnangarra 
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright enforcement?

2018-01-28 Thread Jonathan Cardy
I wouldn't express it quite so bluntly, but agreed at a time when editing seems 
to have stabilised again after the 2015/16 rally, shifting the Foundation to a 
strategy of promoting compliance with both BY and SA would address a lot of 
problems. It is probably demotivating for editors to see their work used 
without attribution, and whilst a link back to Wikipedia is not as going to be 
as good as an edit button, we are greatly limiting ourselves if we rely on 
people coming directly to our sites and treat every extract from our sites as 
CC0 or Fair Use.

A few legal letters and maybe a court case a year should be easily affordable 
for the WMF and an excellent investment. 



> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2018 00:12:43 +
> From: James Salsman 
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List 
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright enforcement?
> Message-ID:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Welcome messages at arwiki

2017-12-30 Thread Jonathan Cardy
Hi Amir,

It isn't too late to ask about the utility of welcome messages, but be aware 
that there are reasons for their evolution over the last decade. Your email 
almost implied that this has been an unreviewed area  for the last decade.

There was some research a few years ago that concluded that welcomed editors 
were more likely to stay, despite many welcomes being of the "welcome your 
article has been tagged for deletion" variety. If someone fancies digging 
further it would be good to compare welcomed  and unwelcomed editors among the 
75% of newbies who edit existing articles and also among the 25% or whatever is 
left of that who come here to create new articles.

I think that now would be a good time to develop tailored welcomes for mobile 
and V/E newbies. I'm conscious that the Welcome I usually use assumes that 
newbies who do good edits are using the classic editor and contributing with 
something bigger than a tablet. So sometimes I leave newbies unwelcomed rather 
than give them a potentially confusing welcome.

As for getting a welcome message from a wiki where I have visited but not 
edited, I consider that a privacy violation. We normally claim not to log 
anything about our readers, but if a logged in Wikimedian visits arwiki a log 
is created artificially by issuing them a welcome. It isn't a Privacy violation 
that especially irks me personally, but if we allow it we should change the 
global privacy statements accordingly.



> On 30 Dec 2017, at 13:38, wrote:
> Message: 4
> Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2017 10:29:34 +0200
> From: "Amir E. Aharoni" 
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List 
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Welcome messages at arwiki
> Message-ID:
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> It's a good opportunity to step back and discuss a little something.
> The existence of pretty much every bot is a reason to think of a missing
> feature in the site's software. The same goes for templates and gadgets.
> Why do many wikis have custom welcome templates and bots that send them?
> The intuitive answer is "to send a personal message to a new user", but if
> it's done by a bot, it's already not personal. What does the bot actually
> automate? The placement of a template? But what is the actual purpose of
> the template?
> Is it to say "hello and welcome"? The notifications feature already does it
> nicely.
> To send people a list of useful links? I heard many times that new users
> actually do find them useful, and it's a good thing. But it's nevertheless
> an anecdotal claim, and smarter questions should be asked:
> * How many people actually read these messages?
> * Are all the links useful? Do people actually click them?
> * Could some be removed? Could some be added?
> * Why is it different in every project? Could at least some parts be reused
> across languages in a robust and properly localizable manner?
> * Is the talk page really a good place to do this?
> * How useful is it for people for people who come from another language and
> have an account auto-created?
> And so on.
> Welcome templates have been a part of our sites for well over a decade, but
> it's never too late to ask fundamental question about what purpose do they
> serve, and how could this purpose be served better.
> Happy New Year :)
> בתאריך 29 בדצמ׳ 2017 11:21,‏ "John E

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimania-l] Update on Wikimania '17 - Scholarships, Registration, Submissions

2017-05-17 Thread Jonathan Cardy
Hi Dr Pavanaja,

Back in April you asked for a list of scholarship applicants and people 
explained why we only publicise the list of people who are awarded a grant, not 
the people whose applications are declined. The list of people awarded a grant 
has been published, your request for a list of applicants has not and hopefully 
won't ever be published. Nothing has changed. If people apply for a scholarship 
and are declined that remains a private matter between the applicant and the 
scholarship committee, unless of course the applicant chooses to say that they 
applied and didn't get a scholarship.



This was your email in April.

>>> I would like WMF to make the list of applicants, their contributions, the 
>>> weightage used for each kind of contribution and the final list of 
>>> scholarship awardees in a table form. Since WMF is run by the contributions 
>>> of the volunteers, such a transparency is definitely needed from WMF. I 
>>> hope WMF will oblige.
>>> Regards,
>>> Pavanaja

> On 17 May 2017, at 06:07, Dr. U.B. Pavanaja  
> wrote:
> Hi,
> Long back when I asked for list of scholarship awardees, with their 
> usernames, someone answered saying that the usernames of scholarship awardees 
> can’t be disclosed. How come they have been disclosed now?
> Regards,
> Pavanaja
> From: Wikimania-l [] On Behalf 
> Of Ellie Young
> Sent: 17 May 2017 12:49 AM
> To: Wikimania general list (open subscription); Wikimedia Mailing List
> Subject: [Wikimania-l] Update on Wikimania '17 - Scholarships, Registration, 
> Submissions
> Here's an update on various activities pertaining to our the upcoming 
> Wikimania '17 which is being held August 9-13 in Montréal, Québec, Canada.
> WMF Scholarship Program:  110 people were offered and subsequently accepted a 
> full or partial scholarship to attend.  The awardees are listed by user names 
> and the list is posted here:
> Submissions:  The program committee has just finished it's review and 
> deliberations.  Rejections and acceptance emails are going out this week and 
> next.  We expect to post the program by the end of this month.
> Registration and accommodation information is now up for everyone at:
> If you are a scholarship or other WMF funded attendee (staff, contractor, 
> board, etc), please wait until you hear from the WMF with your registration 
> and accommodation instructions.
> If you have any questions about the conference, please email 
> Please spread the word
> Thanks, Ellie
> --
> Ellie Young
> Events Manager
> Wikimedia Foundation
> ​ 
> ___
> Wikimania-l mailing list
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] proposal for regular surveys of community opinion

2017-02-26 Thread Jonathan Cardy
I'm keen on surveys, used to work in that line a few years ago, and the first 
we did was I think at least in part a response to a proposal I made on the 2009 
Strategy wiki. In hindsight the big mistakes of that survey were that we didn't 
repeat it annually, and the lack of community input in setting and analysing 
the questions.

I'm not convinced that we need to move to a monthly survey, I could live with 
quarterly but still prefer annual as the ideal interval - long enough to avoid 
survey fatigue, short enough that we can plan around it and use it to answer 
questions worth addressing. As for recruiting people, make it annual and I'd 
hope we could get consensus for a site notice. I'd like that site notice to be 
tailored to ask different and relevant questions based on people's number of 
edits. - not much point asking someone with less than a 1000 edits if they are 
an admin.

The place to set the questions is on meta, not on some external site.

There are of course biases in self reported surveys, there could even be a 
seasonal bias, but biases tend to even out as your sample size grows, and an 
annual survey of the editing community could get a very high turnout. Also 
biases don't necessarily hide trends, provided the biases are consistent. If we 
were doing an annual survey of the editing community I suspect we wouldn't need 
many years before we knew whether our gender skew was stable, growing or 

As well as the gender skew, it would be good to have an updated age profile of 
the community. We still sometimes see people referring to teenage admins 
without realising that the adolescents who were our youngest crats and admins 
ten years ago are now mostly graduates. I suspect that a new survey would 
confirm the theory of the greying of the pedia - our growing number of silver 
surfers combined with our near total failure to recruit very active editors 
from tablet/smartphone only users means that the average age of our most active 
editors is going up by more than a year a year.

I'm happy with most of Will's suggestions re questions, but instead of date 
people started editing you really want month or quarter to keep the survey 
anonymous. On smaller wikis that would need to be year.

It would also be good to survey former editors and particularly those who left 
after only a brief period of activity. We have a long tail of people who 
probably don't consider themselves Wikipedians but who have fixed one or two 
things while they are reading Wikipedia. But we also have a huge attrition rate 
among editors who have started out and done 50 or 500 edits. Many will have 
gone because sourcing edits is too much like hard work, their view on 
notability was different to ours or because they couldn't work out how to deal 
with an edit conflict. But it would be good to get an idea of the ratio between 
those main reasons, and also to find out if there are other significant reasons 
for losing goodfaith newbies.



> Message: 4
> Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:18:47 -0700
> From: Bill Takatoshi 
> To:
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] proposal for regular surveys of community
>   opinion
> Message-ID:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Discussion about proposed Technical Code of Conduct (TCC)

2016-11-20 Thread Jonathan Cardy
I'm partly in agreement with Pine, this is more about policy than a bug and it 
should be being discussed on meta not phabricator.

I disagree with Pine re the IRC channels. If the people running a particular 
IRC channel want it to continue as the recommended channel from a particular 
Wikimedia wiki then it is reasonable for the community to require that channel 
to comply with community norms. What happens on IRC channels that are 
unconnected with the movement is arguably out of our control. IRC has been a 
problem area in the past, I doubt I'm the only person on this list who has 
discovered, sometimes long after the event that community IRC channels were 
misused either to canvas against them or to say things that you'd be blocked 
for saying on wiki. Clearly we can't implement an IRC policy on freenode 
channels that conflicts with freenode policy. But I'd be surprised if we 
couldn't require a stricter policy than freenode seems to for IRC channels 
promoted on wiki.

More broadly my concern with the approach is that it misses the main target. 
The nastiest trolling, personal attacks and certainly the rape and murder 
threats will get people blocked anywhere in the movement except maybe, 
definitely in the past but hopefully not today, on IRC. We need to think how to 
protect members of our community from people who barely count as members of our 
community and who may not even consider themselves as such.

There is an argument for being stricter about incivility amongst the community, 
I suspect with the ongoing greying of our communities this will happen 
regardless. My main concern is not with shifting the boundary of what is or 
isn't acceptable but with dealing more effectively with the worst stuff that is 
currently happening. That has implications both technical and for 
legal/privacy. I'd like to change our privacy and Checkuser policies to presume 
in favour of "fishing trips". If members of our community are being seriously 
harassed on wiki I think it should be the norm to check the IP address and see 
if any good hand accounts are also run by the same person. We all as 
individuals have patterns around our editing, it shouldn't be beyond the 
capabilities of modern technology to flag up a warning to the check users when 
a new editor appears with a similar pattern to a banned troll. Dealing with off 
wiki harassment is more complex, the technology and social mores may be outside 
our control. But some of the nastiest stuff that happens online such as revenge 
porn is illegal or at least culturally unacceptable pretty much everywhere. 
Tracking down where servers are, whose jurisdiction they are in and liaising 
with local law enforcement are big tasks. I'd like to see the movement and 
specifically the foundation and chapters as trail blazers in this.



> On 20 Nov 2016, at 12:00, wrote:
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>   2. Re: Implementing Katherine's Vision: "DiscussingDiscussions"
>  (Pine W)
> --
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2016 21:45:42 -0800
> From: Pine W 
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List ,  Matthew
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Discussion about proposed Technical Code of
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Affiliates] Changes to current chapter and thematic organisation criteria

2016-08-20 Thread Jonathan Cardy
Just one small point, "and to conduct programs and events at least once every 
two months" reads like a rule set by Americans who deliberately or otherwise 
don't want too much emphasis on the education program.

Most western countries have remuneration packages that put more emphasis  on 
holiday time than the USA, and in some countries there is a month of the year 
when only an expat would try to organise things. In such countries the two 
month rule imposes an unnatural focus on the fortnights adjacent to the 

I suspect any chapter that took a strategy of mostly focussing events on the 
education sector would also have difficulties melding that two month limitation 
with the academic year.

There is also the issue that not all events are of equal value to the movement, 
and I say that a one of the de facto hosts of the London meetup ( If we were a 
chapter Wikimedia London would have no problem with that particular  rule as 
our meetups are monthly).



> On 20 Aug 2016, at 13:00, wrote:
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>  organisation criteria (Pine W)
> --
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:05:37 -0700
> From: Pine W 
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List ,
>Wikimedia Movement Affiliates discussion list
> Cc: Wikimedia Chapters general discussions 
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Affiliates] Changes to current chapter and
>thematic organisation criteria
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