News and notes

News and notes: Possible main page redesign

Last week saw some renewed discussion about the possibility of changing the content that appears on Wikipedia's main page. The developers also implemented a change to the blocking feature and added a new tool for name changes.

New articles or pictures?

A proposal was made last week to add the Picture of the day to the Main Page (currently it appears at the bottom of the Community Portal). Raul654 suggested that it could replace the Did you know template, saying that the template is not well maintained and the articles on it tend to be of poor quality. To encourage feedback on the idea, he created a demonstration of what this might look like.

A few people objected to losing the "Did you know" section, saying that it motivates them to produce new articles, and no decision has been reached yet. Solipsist mentioned that the base of featured pictures is still small, but also pointed to the consideration that "As Wikipedia matures, putting our best material on display is plausibly more important than stimulating new articles." As a compromise, Mindspillage brought up the possibility of rotating between the two features.

Change to blocking feature

Developer Tim Starling added some code to the MediaWiki software to modify the restrictions on blocked users. The change, which allows an account to edit its own talk page even after being blocked, is a temporary workaround while Starling works on a feature for per-article blocking. It was done partly to relieve the pressure on the wikiEN-l mailing list (see archived story), to which blocked users are directed when inquiring about the reasons for their block. However, some concerns were also raised on the administrators' noticeboard about how to deal with potential abuse, and whether it would be necessary to protect talk pages on occasion.

Name changes

In another programming note, Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason has created a tool to allow bureaucrats to take over the function of changing usernames, a task previously handled by the developers. After briefly being disabled due to security issues, the tool was fixed but is only able to perform this operation for accounts with fewer than 5000 edits. Also, a significant difference is that instead of a person having two accounts, and migrating from one to the other, the tool requires that the requested new account not exist yet.

Dealing with imitation names

The proponents of a policy proposal dealing with so-called doppelganger accounts are planning to start a vote on the policy today. The vote is scheduled to run through Tuesday, 9 August.

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