Then divide the CoD by job size. The job with the highest WSJF is the next most important item to do. As we have described, another advantage of the model is that it is not necessary to determine the absolute value of any of these numbers. Instead, you only need to rate the parameters of each item against the other items from the same backlog. Finally, as the backlog estimates should include only the remaining job size, then frequent reprioritization means that the system will automatically ignore sunk costs.
Job size does not always make a good proxy for the duration of the WSJF algorithm. For example:. But rarely do we need to worry about these edge cases because if there is some small error in selection, that next important job will make its way up soon enough. Find it here! What's new in SAFe 4. DevOps and Release on Demand. Business Solutions and Lean Systems Engineering. Lean Portfolio Management.
If you only quantify one thing, quantify the Cost of Delay. Details Reinertsen describes a comprehensive model, called weighted shortest job first, for prioritizing jobs based on the economics of product development flow . Figure 1. Calculating the Cost of Delay In SAFe, our jobs are the epics and the features and capabilities we develop, so we need to establish both the Cost of Delay and the duration.
Three primary elements contribute to the Cost of Delay: User-business value — Do our users prefer this over that? What is the revenue impact on our business? Is there a potential penalty or other adverse consequences if we delay? Is there a fixed deadline? Will they wait for us or move to another solution? Are there Milestones on the critical path impacted by this?
Risk reduction-opportunity enablement value — What else does this do for our business? Does it reduce the risk of this or a future delivery? Is there value in the information we will receive? Will this feature open up new business opportunities? Figure 3. A formula for WSJF Then, for example, we can create a simple table to compare jobs three jobs, in this case , as shown in Figure 4. Capitol computers. Congressional staffers edit Wikipedia a lot, often embarrassingly, sometimes scandalously. Over the next few years, CongressEdits would prove to be the source of news stories both serious and just for fun, revealing efforts to hide unflattering information and announce the availability of Choco Tacos in congressional vending machines.
But then, in late , CongressEdits disappeared. CongressEdits in Almost from the start, CongressEdits was the subject of supportive coverage—first from tech and politics sites like Ars Technica and TechPresident , and soon enough from The New York Times as well. Before long, the bot had its very own article on Wikipedia. Summers is happy to have played the role he did, but also thinks it would have happened without him.
Later, he returned to CongressEdits and added screenshots of each edit, making it easier still for followers to scrutinize congressional IP edits. On multiple occasions, Wikipedia went so far as to temporarily block IP addresses from editing Wikipedia, for periods of up to three months, before restoring access in the name of openness. Some wondered if CongressEdits actually encouraged bad behavior. Which brings us to the autumn of The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh started off as a routine exercise in shared powers among the U.
On Wednesday, September 27, in a dramatic sequence of events before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christine Blasey Ford, a former high school classmate of the judge, accused him of sexual assault, a charge Kavanaugh angrily rebutted. It was the next big moment in the metoo movement, and the fight turned personal—in the committee hearing room, around dinner tables, and especially on social media.
Redacted CongressEdits doxxing tweet. Aghast, Summers was ready to simply give up. His mind changed after speaking to Daniel Schuman , policy director for the government transparency organization Demand Progress ,  co-founded by the late activist, programmer, and Wikipedia contributor Aaron Swartz who persuaded him that additional code could be introduced which would scan edits for patterns common to such information: seven-digit strings for phone numbers, symbols for email addresses, and the like. Offending tweets could be withheld, or put in a queue for review, and Summers was willing to do it.
He appealed again to Twitter, explaining that he would introduce a filter were the account to be restored. As of January , the account remains suspended. It now has just followers. The controversy surrounding CongressEdits thus became another casualty of the weaponization of social media, an increasingly common phenomenon. Twitter knows it has a harassment problem , has made repeated pledges to address the issue, and has taken serious steps to crack down on abusive bots and individuals.
So far, they have yielded mixed results.
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To be sure, bots deserve more scrutiny than individual users. Last summer, Twitter introduced stringent new guidelines requiring botmakers to resubmit applications to continue their operations, no matter their content. These rules have apparently imperiled another internet-famous bot, RealPressSecBot , which reformats tweets from RealDonaldTrump to look like an official White House press release. In a December tweet thread , its creator, Russel Neiss, expressed his frustration and refusal to comply, and promptly began selling sponsored posts to monetize his protest until such time as this bot, too, is shut down.
Should CongressEdits return to Twitter, it will return to a much different internet than the one that gave birth to it. Using open technology for spirited problem-solving has given way to recently-realized threats and increased security measures. Given the events of last fall, its critics might seem to be vindicated. Year in Review. Were you exhausted by ? Indeed, this is just how things are now. But is Wikipedia different?
Yet, if we look closely, we can see where the real world has seeped in. In this blog post, for the ninth year in a row , The Wikipedian will present a summary of ten events, trends, phenomena, and people that marked the year in Wikimedia. But he had announced the concept in a Wikimania speech five years ago, and it certainly got a lot of attention when it launched.
Well, it also got some attention when it laid off its entire staff this fall, having burned through its funding without otherwise making a dent in the broader media ecosystem. This was entirely foreseeable, as the idea always involved a leap of faith but so did Wikipedia! Will we see WikiTribune mentioned again next year? For several years now the Wiki Education Foundation has been trying out different models, and this year they may have had a breakthrough with their Wikipedia Fellows pilot program , inviting academics from associations in multiple disciplines to try improving Wikipedia.
The project has had some early success , though the number of participants were few and achievements relatively limited. Bringing more subject matter expertise to neglected areas of Wikipedia is still a daunting task that may not scale, but these experiments show promise and warrant further study. Spearheaded by another independent group called Whose Knowledge? Actual outcome? Lots of discussion, a published report outlining agreement on issues to address not always easy in sometimes fractured, identitarian spaces and the creation of working groups to tackle specific issues.
Whether this effort will have any measurable impact on a recognizable time frame is still an unknown, as the report acknowledges, but formalizing such efforts outside the WMF is nevertheless a major development. Although the WMF estimates it has reached more than million people in more than 70 countries, the criticism never subsided and there was no corner to be turned, so in the program was shuttered. One would-be contender is the independent Internet-in-a-Box initiative, which seeks to put a copy of Wikipedia and other digital libraries on a low-cost computer currently a Raspberry Pi and distribute it the old-fashioned way.
The tradeoffs are stark, and a sign of the times. These days Wikipedians worry about different charts going not down, but going up too much. While Wikipedia still has more than active administrators, there was a net loss for the year and no sign that will turn around. As attrition advances, will Wikipedia decide to lighten up, loosen requirements, or learn to live with fewer admins? There are two widely held and mutually exclusive ways to think about the durability of content on the internet: nothing is forgotten , and everything is ephemeral.
And this year, in one sense, it did. The Internet Archive was established in the mids—practically the dawn of time, as the internet goes—to combat this problem by actually crawling the web, page by page, and storing all kinds of content long after its original publishers decide they no longer care to. This year a three-year effort in collaboration with Wikipedia delivered on rescuing millions of links to references once used in Wikipedia articles that later disappeared.
The Wikimedia movement may be a global one, but considering its flagship Wikipedia edition is in English and its nonprofit foundation based in the United States, in hardly a week could go by without some intersection between the metastasizing national shitstorm that is the U. Most of the time, this involved harmful edits that require, ahem, administrators to combat effectively.
The account, much celebrated since its launch, has not returned. Like much else these days, it makes for a tidy symbol of the nice things we can no longer have. Both have come a long way in recent years, and they are growing together. Maybe in some of this will become more comprehensible. Speaking of very successful computer people, in October the Canadian physicist Donna Strickland was awarded a Nobel Prize for her work in chirped pulse amplification.
At the time, Wikipedia had no biographical article for her, and very quickly, this became an international incident in itself. In fact, it turned out an article about Strickland had been proposed in the months prior, only to be declined by a reviewing editor. The Wikimedia Foundation, which absorbs every column inch of bad press that Wikipedia gets, was put on its heels, eventually publishing multiple explanatory blog posts about the matter, first by a mere staffer , and later by its executive director , Katherine Maher.
This is not unusual, as academics nearly always toil in obscurity. Understandable, yes, but defensible? Perhaps not. And so the line out of the WMF is that yes, Wikipedia has to do better, but so must we all. Meanwhile, there is another female physicist whose Wikipedia article was successfully created in early Jess Wade , who happens to be a Wikipedia editor herself.
And not just any editor, but one who is the creator of hundreds of articles about other female scientists and who has received considerable media attention because of the fact. Which could still happen to some unicorns , actually. How would this be done? What videos would be flagged? What articles would be linked? Among those asking : the Wikimedia Foundation, which quickly put out a statement saying that Wojcicki had not shared this information with them.
Following the announcement, you could be forgiven for thinking they just dropped the whole thing. In fact, YouTube did start including Wikipedia-sourced advisories with some videos, at least in some instances.
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Has the internet already forgotten? But was it also one by the Wikimedia Foundation as well? Will that gap narrow in the coming year? See you in ! Future of Wikipedia. Why do some people contribute to Wikipedia? Ever since Wikipedia became a self-aware community, this question has vexed those who participate in it, and would like to see more people pitch in and help build the encyclopedia. After all, Wikipedia was created by a community of individuals with diverse interests and motivations.
Some stay for a short while, and others stay much longer, but no one can stay forever. For this reason, the community must analyze itself and attempt to address the problems which hold it back. But this is a very, very difficult topic to grapple with. In mid-June, an editor named Ziko van Dijk, who happens to be one of the longest-running active contributors, posed a version of this question on a Facebook group for Wikipedia editors called Wikipedia Weekly.
Few people enjoy writing, and those who do prefer to express themselves, rather than impersonally collate facts. Therefore, in his view, existing Wikipedians must be clearer about what being a Wikipedian really means. A discussion ensued, and weeks later, the thread had grown to more than comments, with numerous current and former editors, including Wikimedia Foundation personnel, weighing in. This blog post is an attempt to summarize some of the more interesting arguments; the following are presented without judgment as to their correctness, but simply to describe the views in circulation:.
Hopefully, in the meantime, discussions like this can help shape more rigorous explorations of this subject matter, and point toward solutions that benefit Wikipedia and its contributors, present and future. Every year since , The Wikipedian has delivered a roundup of the most interesting events, trends, situations, occasions, and general goings-on that marked the foregoing year on Wikipedia and in the broader Wikimedia community.
Where does Wikipedia fit into that? Following the U. These ten stories depict a Wikipedia editorial community and readership not necessarily in the midst of a crisis, but of life during informational wartime. But the document received overwhelming support by community members in October, which is at least a positive sign in this otherwise fractured age. This apparent decision was widely reported , including by this blog. This is how Wikipedia works: it has very few rules that cannot be overcome by editorial clout, determined obstinacy, continued evasion, or blithe disregard.
On the whole, Wikipedia works pretty well, but breaks down at the edges: and that is still where the Daily Mail remains. Wikipedia played only a small role in the legal case , which primarily involved nature photographer David Slater being sued by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on behalf of a Celebes crested macaque who had no idea any of this was taking place.
By virtue of its high profile, Wikipedia magnifies everything. Why am I using the photo here, then? For the same reason Wikipedia uses copyrighted logos: for identification. It seems indisputable to me that the copyright should belong with the human who went to considerable lengths at personal cost to facilitate its creation, regardless of which bipedal mammal clicked the button, and if the law is unclear on this, then the law should be clarified.
In April, Burger King announced a television ad for the U. They were probably right. But this year, we got something else: ostensibly serious news publications marveling over a pattern of self-aware edits coming from U. In December, a college student and former congressional aide claimed credit in The Daily Beast , which led to other former interns and anonymous persons crying out for recognition as well. A year ago, this list bemoaned the decline of Wikipedia criticism, largely based on the departure of critical thinkers or at least decent writers from forums such as Wikipediocracy.
The editor, a longtime community veteran and onetime WMF staffer, in fact ceased editing Wikipedia almost entirely. By June , a skeleton crew of former contributors had banded together to put out an edition on at least a once-per-month basis , with a new permanent editor named as of September. Its editorship should be a stipended position, funded by but free from oversight of the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia does not depend upon volunteer developers, nor should it depend on volunteer reporters. The most interesting thing about Everipedia, though, is its pivot to using blockchain technology and announced development of a cyrptocurrency with which to pay contributors.
Culture is impossible to replicate, and extremely difficult to develop. What happens if and presumably when revenues slow—will the Wikimedia Foundation adjust spending downward, or start taking on debt? Although the rhetoric was probably excessive, it struck a nerve, attracting an overwhelming number of comments in a discussion that continued for months. Given the lack of high-impact news events surrounding Wikipedia, here is a new one: nothing really happened this year.
But as I contemplated the mood around Wikipedia over the past twelve months, I found it rather fitting. Trolls, especially of the GamerGate variety, continued to be a nuisance, but for now are not an existential threat. Yes, Turkey blocked Wikipedia , but following China and Russia having done so in previous years, it hardly made a dent.
This is what maturity looks like: Wikipedia is Wikipedia, and seems likely to continue doing what it does for a long time to come. Early reviews were not enthusiastic , and it has been little remarked-upon since. As of this writing, it has continued publishing a few stories a day, none with any apparent impact. WikiTribune offers little more than what other news operations are doing, and less of it. In May, this blog offered advice about how it might stand out in a crowded online world: by focusing on developing news teams at the local level, and trial-run innovations that might be ported back Wikipedia.
But WikiTribune seems determined to cover international news with no discernible viewpoint or special access, and has no connection to Wikipedia besides its name and famous founder. Why would anyone visit WikiTribune for news over any other publication? I have no idea. Alas, WikiTribune looks like just another much-heralded effort to reinvent news by doing the exact same thing that other news publications were already struggling to keep doing in seemingly impossible circumstances.
Whether WikiTribune survives to see the end of , or makes this list a year from now, I have no idea either. Direction of Wikipedia , Wikimania , Wikipedia culture , Wikipedia scholarship. Wikimania , the thirteenth annual global meeting of Wikipedia editors and the larger Wikimedia movement, was held in Montreal last weekend. For the fifth time overall, and the first time in two years, I was there. One nice thing about a conference for a project focused on the internet: many of the presentations can be found on the internet!
Some but not all were recorded and streamed; some but not all have slides available to revisit. The second half of this post is a roundup of presentations I attended, or wished I attended, with media available so you can follow up at your own pace.
As one would expect, the memo acknowledges the many types of contributors and contributions, brought together by a belief in the power of freely shared knowledge, and a committment to helping organize it. It also focuses on developing infrastructure, building relationships, and strengthening networks. After all, Wikipedia is arguably more important to the movement than the iPhone is to Apple: Wikipedia receives Now the stewards of each are looking beyond the cash cow for new areas of growth. But the answer is also partly about building in the cloud, at least figuratively.
Although both Wikipedia and the iPhone will remain the most publicly visible manifestations of each organization for the foreseeable future, the leadership of each is focused on what other services they enable, and how they can even make the core product more valuable. You know, those lo-fi Wikipedia entries that remain so enduringly popular. They lack structure now, but they might not always. Imagine a future where Wikidata provides information not just to infoboxes although that is a tricky subject but also to boring old Wikipedia itself.
Using AI and machine learning, entire concepts can be quickly linked in a way that once required many lifetimes. Now more than ever, the real action is happening behind the scenes. This presentation, offered by San Francisco State visiting scholar Jackie Koerner , focused on how to recognize this and think about what to do about it. Slides are accessible by clicking on the image below, and notes from the presentation are here.
Readership metrics: Trends and stories from our global traffic data. How much do people around the world look at Wikipedia? How much do they look at it on desktop vs. How have things changed over time? All of this and more is found in this presentation from Tilman Bayer , accessible by clicking through the image below. The Internet Archive is not a Wikimedia project, but it is a fellow nonprofit with a similar outlook, complementary mission and, over time, increasing synergy between the two institutions.
Every serious Wikimedian should know about the Internet Archive. State of Video in the Wikimedia Movement. Her response to each experienced instance of gender-based harassment on the internet was to create a new biographical article about another woman scientist on Wikipedia. Aaron Halfaker , a research scientist at the Wikimedia Foundation, crunched the numbers using the new-ish machine learning article quality evaluation tool ORES. More than just a victory lap, the question they asked: can it be done again? Update: Looking for more slides and notes?
Wikipedia in the news. Almost four years ago, Jimmy Wales stood before an audience of Wikipedians at the Wikimania conference in Hong Kong , delivering his annual keynote address. Mere weeks had passed since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had become famous or infamous for releasing sensitive U. But Wales had another topic in mind, inspired in part by then-current events, which media outlets mostly mentioned only in passing. Here, too. This is what The Wikipedian had to say , based on having witnessed the speech at the time:. On April 24, Wales announced the creation of an ambitious newsgathering and reporting project called Wikitribune with the debut of a placeholder website , promotional video , crowdfunding campaign , and launch coverage led by NiemanLab.
Following the lead from his intro video, a fair bit of Wikitribune coverage is centered on its stated goal of fighting fake news. The most critical perspective so far comes from Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic , questioning the volunteer-professional hybrid collaborative concept, i. There is a similarly important distinction to be made in managing paid vs. A topic for exploration another time. Another cautious note was sounded by Mathew Ingram at Fortune , listing failed previous attempts to launch crowdsourced news sites.
The first is that Wikipedia has tried this before, as briefly noted in my excerpt above: Wikinews launched in , when Wikipedia was growing rapidly and adding new sister projects. But it never reached critical consensus, and few contributors ever produced meaningful original content for the site. These days, Wikinews has only a handful of active users. The Wikipedia entry does something that no other website on the internet does: it serves as a one-stop aggregator of everything important in the ongoing political crisis, first with a high-level but substantial summary in the introduction, and then a deep dive into the particulars.
The Wikinews article is a rehash of a few other previously published stories from traditional news outlets, offering no new reporting, ending at less than words, and on a fixed date, like an Associated Press wire story might because of real constraints on the AP that Wikinews imposes on itself arbitrarily.
Wikinews offers nothing new, is less good than what it imitates, and frankly has no reason to exist. Also, the Wikinews article has four sources; the Wikipedia article has Case closed. And yet past attempts to close Wikinews have been resisted, both by a handful of dead-enders, and by Wikipedians who hold out hope for a future renaissance. His next most successful venture is Wikia, a collection of wikis on entertainment topics, the best known of them probably being Wookiepedia but also including communities for fans of music, TV, movies, video games, comics, and other geek subcultures.
The internet has dealt a nearly lethal blow by creating effectively free distribution, both upending its advertising-based business model and subjecting it to competition from low-quality but highly engaging clickbait infotainment. As Ingram documents , others have tried and failed. No, if Wikitribune is going to have even a chance of success, it needs to figure out where its comparative advantage lies, and design its plans accordingly.
The Wikipedian posits that Wikitribune must absolutely learn the lesson of Wikinews: that loosely organized, come-and-go-as-you-please, volunteer-based networks are no way to develop in-depth, sustained news reporting of the investigative or beat varieties that are the principal job of national and international news organizations.
To the extent that it succeeds in these areas, it must develop tight-knit reporting teams, who will be professionals, and largely based in London  where Wales resides and Wiktribune will presumably be headquartered , New York, and Washington. The role that volunteers will play here would be very similar to the one already played by volunteers at traditional news outlets, where they go by a different name: sources. But Wikitribune has no advantage over traditional news organizations in this kind of reporting.
While the news industry overall is doing poorly, some major publications like The New York Times have seen subscriptions soar as their value has become clearer to readers following the U. So the opportunity to have a positive impact here is not clear, either. The problem for local news publications is that the internet has kicked its advertising base out from under it, beginning with classified ads in print newspapers and later extending to the problems of infinite supply of web advertising devaluing the ad unit, not to mention the challenges of attracting audiences big enough or targeted enough to be worth selling ads to.
Earlier this week, Thompson wrote a long piece assessing the prospects of local news, arguing that local news publications would need to be subscription-based, rather than advertising-based, to succeed. But why should it even be subscription-based? The subscriptions could be donations, which might have the added benefit of generating investment beyond cash—even creating passionate user-contributors.
Wikipedia has succeeded at harnessing passions in a way few other sites have, building miniature newsgathering communities around subjects like major weather events, geography and places, physics and astronomy, transportation and infrastructure, major sports leagues, etc. All are limited spheres of interest that more readily map onto a city or region than matters of national politics and international diplomacy, trade policy, or ongoing military conflicts.
However, with a professional editor at the center of the operation—as Wikitribune seems like it might—well, that could actually work. Such a project would benefit at scale the same way Wikipedia does, not in developing one large ecosystem of researchers, writers and editors collaborating on a medium-sized number of topics, but multitudes of ecosystems working in parallel across many, many topics. And the benefit to readers is obvious: the experience reading of Wikipedia pages on familiar topics in the past prepares one to navigate Wikipedia pages on less-understood subjects in the future.
Likewise, reading Wikitribune Peoria could prepare one to read Wiktribune Palermo. Consistency not just of branding but of style—a style native to Wikitribune, not to existing wire services as Wikinews does—could be useful to readers and a valuable differentiator for Wikitribune itself. For example: implement a discussion system that was designed less than fifteen years ago. Wikitribune would be wise to resurrect it, and perhaps show Wikipedia how it could actually benefit the original project.
Wikis turned out not to be the way to build a search engine, and some lofty rhetoric about transparency aside, Wales had no background in mobile telephony that would make him suited to lead an MVNO. So while there are reasons to be cautious, the more like Wikipedia his subsequent projects are, the better their outlook.
Wikipedia succeeds without a profit motive, and local news is unprofitable now. Its real, and possibly only, chance for success lies in reinvigorating a diminished local news industry. I hope Jimmy Wales takes it. Reliable Sources , Wikipedia in the news. Earlier this week, Wikipedia editors decided to restrict the use of a publication as a source for information in its articles, and then a funny thing happened: it made international news. First The Guardian , and then many other publications , reported on the outcome of a proposal to prohibit the UK tabloid Daily Mail from reference sections in Wikipedia articles.
The first paragraph of the decision summary reads :. Consensus has determined that the Daily Mail including its online version, dailymail. As a result, the Daily Mail should not be used for determining notability, nor should it be used as a source in articles. An edit filter should be put in place going forward to warn editors attempting to use the Daily Mail as a reference. In fact, it has the biggest online reach of any news website around the world, according to comScore. An effort is now under way to replace all existing Daily Mail citations with better sources.
The pithiest take—. Under NO circumstances should the Daily Mail be used for anything, ever. They have proven themselves to be willing to make up fake quotes and to create doctored pictures, and nothing they say or do is to be trusted. To be sure, the Daily Mail is not the only publication that cares for clicks more than facts, but the determination of editors was that it cares for attention to the exclusion of facts. Wikipedians argued about it until the story was confirmed by others. Still, it would be very bad if this became a trend. The latter category should be a very small number.
Moreover, Wikipedia should be careful not to apply a political test, even a de facto one, for publications. Wikipedians frequently argue over the political leanings of certain sources, but in all but a few cases, reliability can be established separately from a given point of view. The reasons must be based on trustworthiness of factual reporting, not the gloss added by the writer or by editors.
The reliability of Wikipedia depends on the reliability of reporting in the news media, which is the source of most information in articles about current and recent events. Journalism is in the midst of a long, slow decline accelerated by the internet first Craigslist , then Facebook and over the long term, this is bad news for Wikipedia, too.
You can listen to it here:. Campaigns , Citations. The Wikipedian has long been of the opinion, perhaps controversial on Wikipedia, that it is a mistake to think that it can recruit the entire world to become Wikipedia editors. Start with the fact that anyone can edit almost any page at any time. But along with scholars and other knowledge-loving contributors comes the riff raff.
On one hand, it is an article of faith not rigorously tested. This is great! But asking a very specific type of person to make just one contribution actually turns out to be massively more powerful because it is vastly more effective. Speaking anecdotally, the greatest hurdle to becoming a Wikipedia contributor is figuring out how to make that very first edit.
Encouraging the determination to give it a try, and creating a simple set of steps to help them get there, will do a lot more than the sum of all lofty rhetoric. If you decide to get involved, you should also consider posting with the obvious hashtag on Twitter or another social platform of your choice. You have no idea how hard it was to write this without making either a Bob Marley or U2 reference. If you now have one song or the other stuck in your head, you are most welcome. In matters of war and peace, politics and governance, arts and celebrity culture—not to mention unexpected crossovers among them—it was a year that seemed to come off the swivel.
Was this true on Wikipedia as well? In this post The Wikipedian will attempt, as it has done each year since , to summarize the year in the Wikimedia movement by itemizing and ranking ten of the biggest trends and events. That said, in Wikipedia still had more than its share of turmoil, more ominous signs than one ever really wants to see, plus the occasional inspiring story that makes for much more pleasant anecdotes.
The sudden micro-celebrity placed her in the unique category of Wikipedia editors with a Wikipedia biography earned as a result of their editing activities. And then she started med school. Yes, sometimes it can actually be funny. Occasionally, even heartwarming. In early , former WSJ reporter and Wikimedia staffer Jeff Elder called out the trend , spotlighting the tedious extra work it creates for Wikipedia volunteers. VentureBeat followed up by making the argument it was time for sportswriters to move on.
And so that put an end to it? Yeah, right. While individual writers or readers may tire of it, the thing about sports is that every big win is a moment without precedent, that obliterates all reason, and naturally seeks a good, mean-spirited to laugh top it off. All things considered, better to vandalize Wikipedia than light a car on fire. Wikipedia is alone among the top 50 global websites give or take for the lack of advertising to be found on its pages.
As a consequence, its funding model is the focus of fascination and frustration for both the editorial community and news media alike. To be sure, Wikipedia also raises money via grants and gifts from wealthy donors , but the vast majority comes from the annual campaign. And what do you know, it worked: this year Wikipedia reached its annual goal faster than ever before. Such success cannot come sans scrutiny. All of which is fair, and one should be so lucky as to have to answer for this kind of success. As The Wikipedian sees it, the question of how much money WMF raises should be secondary to how it is spent , a topic historically less-well reported.
About a dozen of the most-active Wikipedia language editions have one, and it is by its nature the locus of controversy, year in and year out said fundamental dysfunction last made this list in This is based on two separate incidents on the two most prominent Wikipedias. Worse between them, the German ArbCom saw eight of its ten members resign in the last third of the year. The decimated German ArbCom now lacks a quorum to act, and seems likely to remain inactive at least until new elections are held in May.
Second was the near-election to the English ArbCom of a Canadian editor with a troubling Reddit history that included activity on the Gamergate-affiliated WikiInAction subreddit , dedicated to promoting alt-right views on Wikipedia. This candidacy was not successful, but it was a nail-biter, and close ArbCom observers are not reassured about future elections. Wikipedia has always had obnoxious contributors with noxious views, but their dispersal across the vast expanse of topics meant the problem areas were fairly isolated, and usually avoidable. But ArbCom is one of the few places on Wikipedia where actual power is concentrated.
Some think so. And will ArbCom face an organized assault like the one the Hugo Awards has faced in recent years? Our installment listed the rise of Wikipediocracy , a website devoted to criticism of the Wikimedia movement. What happened? The biggest factor was the departure of its most serious contributor, Andreas Kolbe, who took his talents to The Signpost. Second was an apparent falling out between mainstays Greg Kohs and Eric Barbour. The latter went on to create an alternative site named, hysterically, Wikipedia Sucks!
And So Do Its Critics. The decline of Wikipediocracy highlights the dearth of effective Wikipedia criticism. What have we got? Wikipedia Sucks is a joke, itself barely registering a pulse. This site offers Wikipedia criticism, but will admit to being pro-Wikipedia in most ways; The Wikipedian is an apologist, if also a realist. There is something about Wikipedia criticism that attracts people with fringe views, who are not always the most stable personalities, and whose obsessions tend toward the arcane.
As of late, the best criticism happens at The Signpost , especially under former editor Kolbe, and now under Pete Forsyth. We now arrive at the first of a few related topics which dominated the early months of the year, a series of interrelated controversies far greater than this annual list has previously contemplated.
Geshuri received no public vetting, as most appointed board members do not. In another year, this could have been a top story. But had only just begun. Another contender for top story in a less eventful year: the Wikimedia Foundation got a new leader. Katherine Maher was named interim executive director ED for short in March, and was made permanent in June. She is the third person to hold the title—the third woman, in fact—and brings experience in global governance, international institutions, and even the Arabic language.
Maher also brings something her predecessor lacked: a great deal of experience with Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement. The U. A chief attribute of Trumpism is, well, bullshit—in the Harry Frankfurt sense of the word —and anti-intellectualism as a virtue. With the mainstream  OK, fine, liberal media casting about for a better model, what better exemplar of valuing real facts over imagined realities than Wikipedia? The Wikimedia comms team took something of a victory lap in an early December post, declaring:. Still, it would be a mistake to think that Wikipedia is free of falsehoods.
It is only as good as its contributors and the reliability of the news sources they rely upon. Long-persisting hoaxes are not unheard of. Therein lie the biggest threats to Wikipedia: it must maintain an editorial community to uphold its own standards, and the media must keep up its end of the bargain with good reporting. Not unlike democracy, eternal vigilance is the price of an encyclopedia anyone can edit. Tretikov, whose tenure got off to a rocky start for reasons not entirely her own fault and not worth going into again here,  if you must, you can go here was eventually forced to resign after losing the confidence of Foundation staff.
Morale fell to such depths, and management became so unresponsive that, once the dam burst, virtually the whole thing played out in public, online. Low-level staffers came out of the woodwork to say what managers would or could not, and community observers filled in the gaps. This very blog took the highly unusual step of actually calling for her ouster , a position this blogger never imagined when launching this site late last decade. Nobody wanted things to arrive at this dire situation, but once they had, Tretikov could no longer effectively lead the organization, and resign is what she did.
The biggest story of actually began unfolding in the waning days of , when just-elected community board trustee James Heilman announced his resignation with a cryptic message on a community email list. Subsequent comments from other board members failed to resolve the ambiguity. The lack of public discussion was echoed in the catastrophic appointment of Geshuri to the board, establishing a pattern that could no longer be overlooked. More important probably was the botched Knight request, which contradicted good sense, and was seen to have damaged an important outside relationship.
If you really must have the whole story, and you have a few hours to spare, I recommend the following links:. The regrettable history of the Knowledge Engine, the wasteful exit of Heilman from the board of trustees, the ill-advised appointment of Geshuri to same, the calamitous leadership of Lila Tretikov, the unfortunate departure of so many valuable foundation staffers, were separately and collectively the biggest story on Wikipedia this past year. Wikipedia has two kinds of problems. The first category includes problems it recognizes and realizes how to fix, sometimes through a policy change but more often, in recent years especially, by administrative actions or PR activities led by the Wikimedia Foundation.
For example, educators once warned students away from Wikipedia, but now editing Wikipedia is an increasingly common pedagogical tool , for which a great deal of credit is owed to the Wiki Education Foundation. The second type of problem comprises those issues it cannot or will not fix, for reasons as diverse as the problems themselves. In each case, both men found fault with their biographical entries on Wikipedia, and used their access to the mainstream media to call attention to the changes. I am not a vain guy. I am ugly and know it. But this was still a hard column to write.
The problem we are highlighting is that anyone who is written about in a Wikipedia entry typically has no idea what they can or cannot do if they have a problem with said entry. I tried asking Wikipedia to change or delete this picture. No answer. So I did what any user can do, and deleted it myself, on seven occasions — which, yes, was in blatant and shameful contravention of all Wikimedia Commons policies blah, blah, blah. This seems like the right outcome. So, everything worked itself out, right? Mostly, and yes, and this is nevertheless somewhat regrettable.
As Weingarten writes in his piece:. Anyone can make ephemeral changes to my Wikipedia page, any time. The causes of this failure are many. We can assign some as well to the contradictory message of Wikipedia as the encyclopedia anyone can edit—just not when the subject is the one you know about best, yourself. In the four years since the Roth episode, Wikipedia has had time to come up with a process for accepting, reviewing, and responding to feedback. I still think the feedback button is a good idea, but I recognize it is not sufficient: it would also needs an ombuds committee set up to triage this feedback.
Perhaps this could be community-run, but this seems too important to be left up to volunteers. This work could be performed by WMF staff even if, for complicated reasons every Wikipedia editor understands but would need a lengthy paragraph to explain, they could not implement them outright. Of course, Wikipedia already operates on this very model, in a way: it solicits edits from its readership, and then also spends a lot of time reverting unhelpful edits, and the difference between bad edits with good intentions and bad edits with bad intentions is often impossible to tell.
Providing a clear option for expressing a specific concern rather than forcing the expression of that problem to be an edit rather than a request is something Wikipedians should think about again. Ten years ago today, I created a Wikipedia account for the very first time, and made a few small edits that I probably would not make exactly the same way in For those who know about my Wikipedia participation over the past decade, you may not be surprised to learn that my initial series of edits was made at the request of my boss.
As it happens, my very first edit was in fact to a discussion page, explaining my rationale. But anyway, I came back the day after, and a few days after that, and started making edits based on my own interests. So: action movies, college football, indie rock, and amusing political jargon. I continued making small edits over the next two years, learning more as I went, until finally building up the confidence to create my very first article, about legendary Portland, Oregon retailer and TV pitchman Tom Peterson.
Oh, and I started this blog, now more than seven years old. To say that Wikipedia has changed me far more than I have changed it would be an understatement. I owe a great deal of this decade to Wikipedia and everyone there, and this put me in mind of what, specifically, I have learned from it. Dare I say, to finally invoke the title of this piece, all I really needed to know I learned editing Wikipedia. So, does all this mean Wikipedia is perfect? Heck, no! Wikimania , Wikipedia scholarship. At this very moment, Wikimedians are traveling from all over the world to attend Wikimania , the annual conference for Wikipedia and its sister projects.
Fortunately, it remains on the schedule, because my co-presenter, Andrew Lih , is committed to making the heroic journey to the Lake Como region of Italy. Since , we have been reaching out to Wikipedians involved in the top 30 language editions of Wikipedia to find out: what official rules does each edition have about paid editing? What are the community norms?
Have there been similar controversies? Whereas we had hoped to present our findings at this conference, instead we will be using this Wikimania to draw additional attention to the topic. And that is what this blog post seeks to do as well. If you are interested in helping us understand better how the multivarious Wikipedia communities approach this thorny topic, and you contribute to one of the top 30 language editions,  Besides English, of course.
To see if yours is one, click here and sort by Active users. And if you have any questions about the project overall, hit me up using the contact link above. Alas, my non-attendance at Wikimania means I am unlikely to write a summary post like I have in past years. Influencing Wikipedia.
Another reason you may have missed it is because no one picked it up. As far as I can tell, The Wikipedian is the first to write about it at length. Before I go any further, I actually want to recognize InstallAware for trying, however imperfectly, to do the right thing. Instead of trying to sneak an entry into Wikipedia, they used the Articles for Creation AfC process as it is intended.
Wikipedia has a big enough problem with anonymous PR activity that—regardless of other mistakes the company and its consultants made along the way—Wikipedians should be grateful they tried to follow the rules and use the appropriate channels. That said, this is a hot mess of a situation. Eight times since September of last year, using two separate Wikipedia accounts , InstallAware has submitted a draft entry , in slightly different versions, to AfC for review. Eight times they have been rejected, with some reviewers offering a couple of jargon-laden phrases to explain the reason, or nothing more than the required template.
Most companies in this situation would slink away, dejected and angry. InstallAware seems to feel that way, too—but took a different tack. As InstallAware sees it:. InstallAware has been repeatedly frustrated in its efforts to contribute an article about itself to Wikipedia. InstallAware, the largest independent software installation vendor for Microsoft Windows, hired a specialist and conducted months of revisions, which ensured that the InstallAware article had more quantity and quality of citations than InstallShield, a similar product which does have a Wikipedia article.
There are two arguments here: a InstallAware deserves a Wikipedia entry on its own merits, and b InstallAware deserves a Wikipedia entry because InstallShield, a rival software tool, has one that contains fewer citations than the one they prepared for InstallAware. To evaluate the first argument, we must consider the guideline Wikipedia editors use to determine whether a given subject should have its own page: Notability. When it comes to extant organizations, this often means mainstream and industry news publications. The draft is at least an honest attempt to reshape a press release into something resembling an encyclopedia entry.
Of course it still makes lots of mistakes: toward the end it reads increasingly like a brochure, offering simply too many product details for an encyclopedia. It actually boldfaces Install Aware like that, which is pretty silly in the press release, and completely absurd for an encyclopedia entry. Those problems can be dealt with. The very first draft cited a couple of press releases, and called it good.
Once InstallAware was informed they needed better references, what else did they do but add more. One thing is definitely missing: serious coverage from recognized news publications. As one Wikipedian put it:. Sorry but it seems the currently listed sources are simply not enough, what is needed is solid in-depth third-party sources such as news any time of news is acceptable except press release and trivial passing mentions.
That sounds right. Curious whether they were aware of these issues, I reached out to InstallAware via the media contact listed on the press release. Over the course of a few polite if pithy emails, I got a better understanding of where they were coming from. No, that one had escaped them, and earlier this week the consultant added a disclosure notice to the draft discussion page. An unfortunate error, but a fair course correction.
What was their goal with the press release? It turns out several of the articles they believe support their eligibility are quite old and no longer online. To make them available for inspection, InstallAware simply scanned them and posted them to their own website, without making this clear to anyone.
Did they attempt to discuss the article with Wikipedia editors? So, guess what: no one read it. Overall, it is not: InstallAware does not have sufficient coverage to meet the Notability requirement. Indeed, the entry for InstallShield has only two citations, and one of them is actually a press release. The page was flagged more than four years ago for requiring additional citations. Otherwise, the page seems appropriate enough. In fact, the entry has existed since , long before Wikipedia was a place to be seen. InstallShield software, via Wikipedia. The results did not bolster their argument.
Although the InstallShield entry contains inadequate citations now, they definitely exist. The software has received less press recently, but the snarky IT news site El Reg has mentioned it twice in news stories this year. As noted above, Wikipedia itself outsources many content decisions to the judgment of working journalists, of whom there are fewer than ever. Their errors are specific, attributable to individuals, and therefore simple to point out.
But a close second is the fact that Wikipedia editors made only a half-hearted effort to communicate with them, and third is that AfC is just about impossible to navigate for anyone. InstallAware is only one company, and if this is actually the end of the road for them at Wikipedia, there will still be countless more companies asking for an entry after them.
Guest post , Wikipedia culture. Wikipedia has rules—mandatory policies, even— requiring civility and prohibiting harassment , but in a community that prizes free speech and values second chances, these admonitions to good behavior are rarely taken seriously. It was probably fall My dad turned the knob on the attic bathroom door in the house where I had grown up, and the reaction on his face was devastated. He just saw his year old son, feverishly tinkering with electronics on the edge of a full bath, completely nude, oblivious to anything else, or anything wrong.
A boy had gone missing, turned up in a morgue clearly beaten beyond breath by police. Facebook pages organized gatherings that filled immense public squares. Protests turned into uprising turned into revolution. And I, alongside 4 exceptionally dedicated editors from 3 different continents, monitored the Egyptian Revolution Wikipedia article hours-a-day with equipoise and fervor.
The world would come here to find the facts; those that would dispassionately drive understanding without embellishment or motivation, for the hundreds of thousands of people reading that page each day. And I would make sure of it. From my bathtub. But suffice to say that it builds upon moments. Like the moment when you start chatting off-channel to a Wikipedian on irc-help, just to talk to someone again. Or when you put on a suit for the first time in 6 years, to give a talk on conflict-of-interest to a gathering of pr folks at a posh downtown bar.
Or when you step into the hostel at Wikimania in in D. The moments gather momentum though. Soon you are calling up major media companies to ask for donations. But calling rather, as a piece-of-Wikipedia… Do you know what doors that opens? Not too high, not too low. Not too moody, not too flat. Every pill presented a trade-off, but we found a consensus pharmacology that worked.
The diagnoses I received were varied and all increasingly off-the mark. I was bipolar, but generally calm through even the grittiest edit wars. I was agoraphobic and socially anxious, but traveling to Hong Kong and Quebec and Berlin for meetups with strangers from myriad countries. I was depressed, but could not control an urge to improve a bit of Wikipedia, every day, most of the day. They say that Wikipedia is NotTherapy. No one knew me on Wikipedia, except for my words, the wisdom of my input, and the value of my contributions. In the 8 years since I started editing, first in my car outside a Starbucks, and then throughout the dull shifts of a mountain-town Staples store where I squatted for wifi, and then still more through 3 years back at home under blankets between dusk and dawn, I met hundreds of people with whom I shared the same passion.
I received, quite marvelously, 49 barnstars from peers, friends, and fans.
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