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New Georgia Encyclopedia, BLPs, Ombudsmen, and more

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By Phoebe, seresin, Tilman Bayer, and Smallbones

New Georgia Encyclopedia releases content

Eleven articles from The New Georgia Encyclopedia, a specialized web-based encyclopedia about the U.S. state of Georgia, have been licensed under CC-by-SA and have been imported into Wikipedia. The project page lists the eleven test articles that have been imported, which are currently being wikified and merged with existing content; further help is welcomed for this effort.

The project has been led by user:BD2412, who contacted the editors of The New Georgia Encyclopedia to see if they would be willing to release their articles under a free license. After negotiations, the editors agreed. According to BD2412, if the editors of the encyclopedia are satisfied that the eleven test articles have been integrated into Wikipedia in a professional manner, they will be willing to release their entire collection of over 2,200 articles to be moved or merged into Wikipedia.

New Georgia Encyclopedia articles are professionally reviewed, copy-edited and fact-checked, and are authored by a variety of experts. The project is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council, the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor (Georgia). If the merge of content into Wikipedia goes well, it could serve as a model for similar publications to release their content under a free license.

BLP update

The first phase of an RfC on BLPs (Biographies of Living Persons) has been closed (see archived story). Risker provided a closing summary of the RfC, which received over one hundred proposals and expressed views. She found that there was a "surprisingly clear consensus that some form of BLP-PROD is the preferred method of addressing unsourced BLPs", and recommended a second phase of the RfC. Objectives she outlined for this phase were: to develop consensus on specific implementation of the BLP-PROD process; to craft a time frame of how the current unreferenced BLPs will be dealt with; and to determine standards for newly created BLPs. The full closure may be read here; a numerical evaluation of support levels of some of the views from Phase I may be found here.

Since the initiation of the first phase of the RfC, other pages dealing with unreferenced BLPs have been created. Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Biographies of living people/Content was called to seek to clarify consensus on the word contentious in the phrase "Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced" from the BLP policy. Wikipedia:Mistagged BLP cleanup provides a list of BLPs tagged as unreferenced, with the aim of editors reviewing the appropriateness of the tag. Wikipedia:WikiProject Unreferenced Biographies of Living Persons was created to organize efforts to source unreferenced BLPs.

In related news, the "On Wikipedia" blog reported that it had conducted a survey among the subjects of 26 randomly selected BLPs, 15 of whom responded to the questions (the article does not list them all, but mentions Piero Scaruffi and Daphne Clair). Among the results: 8 out of 15 were aware of the Wikipedia article about them. 5 of the 15 judged it to be mostly or entirely fair and accurate, 6 as somewhat fair and accurate, 4 as significantly inaccurate or unfair. Only one of the subjects regarded the biography as a violation of her privacy (a second one expressed limited privacy concerns). The two blog authors also report on several "Common Themes" among the replies they received, among them:

Almost all of the people we contacted were extremely happy to talk to us about their biographies. Most of them asked for our help in correcting problems with their biographies and several wanted to know about contributing to Wikipedia. In general, however, despite the high self-awarded marks for familiarity with Wikipedia, the subjects were clueless about how Wikipedia works, who to talk to about errors, etc.

Ombudsman commission members

Members of the new Ombudsman commission have been announced. They are Lar from the English Wikipedia and Commons (whose Checkuser and Steward rights are suspended while he serves as Ombudsman), Elian from the German Wikipedia (who had served there as Checkuser from 2005 until last year) and Palnatoke from the Danish Wikipedia (who had served there as Checkuser from 2006 until last year, and has also been active on the English Wikipedia since 2002). The previous commission, whose one-year term had run out, consisted of five members; two of these slots are remaining vacant for the time being. - The Ombudsman commission was set up in 2006 by the Wikimedia Foundation and is tasked with investigating complaints about violations of the privacy policy (in particular concerning the use of CheckUser tools) on any Wikimedia project in an official manner.

Kiswahili contest ends

Google has announced the winners of their "Kiswahili Wikipedia Challenge" student contest (see previous Signpost coverage), led by the "Grand Prize Winners" Kandyzo, Coolsam, Abbasjnr and Maria alphonce. During the first month of the contest, the Swahili Wikipedia grew by 30%, and according to a New York Times article published shortly before the results announcement, at that point more than 800 contributors had added more than 900 articles, mainly translations from the English Wikipedia using the Google Translator Toolkit. Google remarked that "we're quite thrilled to hear that many participants would like to continue to contribute articles and content to benefit the online community". Two finalists who were interviewed by the New York Times also said that the contest had changed them from passive readers into active contributors, but still expressed skepticism about the use of material rewards for writing articles. One of them created one of his contest entries on the English Wikipedia first (Drug abuse in Mombasa) before translating it into Swahili; the New York Times observed that "English Wikipedia editors have asked for citations and threatened to remove it."


This week in history

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Fantastic on the Swahili contest. I've always thought it'd be neat if someone funded a "Summer of Wikipedia" to support young scholars to write on the often ignored, esoteric topics. Little did I know that Google was already experimenting like this. Joshdboz (talk) 21:55, 16 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Update: After this article was published, DR (until now a Checkuser on the Russian Wikipedia) was named as the fourth Ombudsman Commission member, filling one of the two vacant slots. Regards, HaeB (talk) 05:53, 18 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]

New Georgia Encyclopedia

This is great news and signals a potential new chapter in Wikipedia growth. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 14:50, 20 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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