News and notes

News and notes

Fundraiser goal met

The Wikimedia Foundation 2008 met its fundraising goal in the last days of 2008, reaching $6.1 million dollars on January 1, 2009. According to Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Foundation, this amount will cover all of the WMF's projected costs for 2008–2009.[1] Just over $4 million of this amount was raised during this fundraiser, which opened on November 5. The fundraiser was originally scheduled to end on January 15 (Wikipedia Day), however, the goal was reached earlier than anticipated. In part this success was due to a fundraising sitenotice banner that contained a link to "a personal appeal from Jimmy Wales", which helped raise over $280,000 in a single day.[2] The fundraising banners across the English-language projects and Commons have now been replaced by a thank-you banner, which will be up for "probably a week", according to Gardner.

MediaWiki interface to get a facelift

The Wikimedia Foundation announced on December 3 that it received a $890,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation to make Wikipedia's editing interface more user-friendly. The Wikimedia Foundation has recognized that the mixing of ordinary sentences with wiki markup has probably turned off users who could be valuable contributors. According to Wikimedia Foundation's executive director Sue Gardner, "Wikipedia attracts writers who have a moderate-to-high level of technical understanding, but it excludes lots of smart, knowledgeable people who are less tech-centric." The grant will be used to identify and remedy what is turning these people off.

The project, which will be led by a five-person team of three software developers, a user interface designer, and a project manager, the newly hired Naoko Komura, is scheduled to begin in January 2009 and finish in April 2010. The goal is to hide some of the complexities of the MediaWiki software from users who do not need to see it. According to Erik Moeller on the Foundation-l mailing list, the main focus of the project will be "user testing designed to identify the most common barriers to entry for first-time writers, and a series of improvements to the MediaWiki interface…to issues identified through user testing and…hiding complex elements of the user interface from people who don't use them. (Specifically, we'll focus on complex syntax like templates, references, tables, etc.)" There will be two phases to the project. Phase 1 will address some of the simpler barriers to editing, such as the visibility of the "edit" button. Phase 2, which will start in late summer 2009, will focus on simplifying the wiki code.

Some critics have suggested that the MediaWiki interface is intentionally difficult to use in order to lower participation and increase ease of management. A post, "Wikipedia’s WYSIWYG Dilemma", quoted an estimate by Jason Calacanis (CEO of that a WYSIWYG interface would only cost around $50,000, but that the additional contributors it would attract would bring Wikipedia to a "grinding halt" (the stumbling block perceived is the difficulty of fact-checking in the expected drastically increased amount of contribution).

This earmarked donation is separate from the over $6 million raised through this year's fundraiser. For more information on the grant, see the Wikimedia Foundation press release, the Stanton Grant Q&A, and Erik Moeller's post on Foundation-l.

100,000 archival images donated

Starting on Thursday December 4, 2008, Wikimedia Commons witnessed a massive upload of new historical images. About 100,000 files are anticipated from a donation from the German Federal Archive. Included in the donation were pictures from the Weimar Republic, German colonial era, Third Reich, and Germany after reunification. Angelika Menne-Haritz, vice-president of the Federal Archives in Berlin, said "The public had a right to access the photos," and that "the deal with Wikipedia would facilitate public access to the material." This was the largest single donation of material to Wikimedia Commons since it was established in 2004.

These images are licensed Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License (CC-BY-SA). Wikimedia Germany and the Federal Archive have signed a cooperation agreement that, among other things, asserts that the Federal Archive owns sufficient rights to be able to grant this kind of license. The images were scaled down to 800 pixels in size on the longer side.

The other part of the cooperation is a tool for linking people from a list compiled by the Federal Archive to the German Wikipedia Persondata and to the person authority file of the German National Library (something the German Wikipedia has been doing since 2005).

Biology journal requires summaries on Wikipedia

The journal RNA Biology has begun requiring authors to submit summaries of their work to Wikipedia before publication. For more, see the Wikinews story: RNA journal submits articles to Wikipedia.

French Wikipedia uses image pages to sell posters

On the French Wikipedia, all description pages for images hosted on Wikimedia Commons have been changed to include a link to purchase a poster print of that image from "WikiPosters", a service run by Messages SAS (a 90 employee printing company based in Toulouse). The company has donated €500 to the Wikimedia Foundation and €500 to Wikimedia France, and intends to donate €1.50 to Wikimedia France for each poster sold. However, the agreement between Messages SAS and the French Wikipedia community, while requiring the latter to insert those links, does not seem to place binding financial obligations on the company.

On each image page, a link appears (as in this example image) labeled "Obtenir un poster de cette image (nouveau !)" ("Obtain a poster of this image (new!)) at the top right of each image description page. After clicking on the link, the reader can choose between the ordering pages of different poster vendors (currently only

Wikinews stories appear in Google News

Until recently Google News would not list articles from Wikinews, because of the editorial process requirements. Wikinews would sometimes republish original reporting on a blog that was listed on Google News, to attempt to draw some outside eyeballs. Now that is no longer necessary, and every Wikinews story is available in Google News search results.


In December:

Also this week:
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  • Virgin Killer
  • Editing stats
  • Drug comparison
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    Biology journal requires summaries on Wikipedia

    Isn't it a red flag to expect a major influx of original research into wikipedia? `'Míkka>t 20:07, 4 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

    Original research might be used as a reference if it comes from academics and has been published, I guess. Nicolas1981 (talk) 14:01, 5 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    You didn't read the news text carefully: "to submit summaries of their work to Wikipedia before publication". `- 7 bubyon>t 17:08, 5 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

    French Wikipedia uses image pages to sell posters

    Isn't it against the policy against advertising on wikipedia? `'Míkka>t 20:57, 4 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]


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