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Wikiversity controversy, Wikimedian-in-Residence, image donation, editing contest, WMF jobs

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By Phoebe and Tilman Bayer

Wikiversity dustup

A community debate is ongoing at Wikiversity over appropriate content and the viability of the project, sparked by a wheel-warring and deletion incident. The issue had to do with a page created by Privatemusings called "Ethical Breaching Experiments," which was for designing and recording experiments designed to test Wikipedia's vandalism defenses and processes for removing false content. As reported last week, a false biography was on the front page of Wikipedia on 2 March as a DYK; the bogus information was designed as a breaching experiment, and the appropriateness of such experiments has recently been under community debate.

After being notified on his talk page about the new project, Jimmy Wales deleted the Wikiversity page as being "out of scope" (later referring to it as disruptive) and indefinitely blocked the primary contributor, Privatemusings. The page was restored by SB Johnny, who also undid the block; finally, Wales redeleted the pages, restored the block, and desysopped SB Johnny. Gbaor resigned his Wikiversity adminship in protest of Wales' actions.

On 13 March, the day that the pages were initially deleted, Wales stated that:

I am currently discussing the closure of Wikiversity with the board. That is an unlikely outcome, but I mention it because I really want to press the point that the scope of Wikiversity has to be restricted to genuine OER. I think that my actions here are strongly supportive of the genuine community who want to do that, making it clear to them that they have very strong support for making it happen. Some may feel that Wikiversity should be a place for silly and juvenile experimentation. If people want to discuss such things, there is an entire Internet open to them - they should not hijack Wikiversity for these purposes.

This was met with some dismay, and Wales clarified:

I do not want to see Wikiversity closed - very far from it. What I want to see is Wikiversity's community feeling brave enough and strong enough to simply ban trolls on sight, and ask them to take their silly projects somewhere else.

Discussion is currently ongoing at Wikiversity about the appropriateness of the pages.

Wikimedian-in-Residence at the British Museum

Liam Wyatt is undertaking a five week project at the British Museum as "Wikipedian-in-Residence", where he will work on writing articles about Museum holdings and will liaise between the Museum and Wikimedia communities. Wyatt will be a volunteer, based in London. The project is a pilot project, and will be assessed along the way; Wyatt notes in his blog post that it may even become a continued volunteer position. He notes that it is not intended as a marketing project, but rather to improve content related to the British Museum and improve its visibility. According to an announcement by Matthew Cock of the Museum:

Liam's underlying task will be to be to build a relationship between the Museum and the Wikipedian community through a range of activities both internally and public-facing. These will include: creating or expanding existing articles about notable items or subjects of specific relevance to the collection and the Museum's expertise; supporting Wikipedians already editing articles related to the British Museum both locally and internationally; and working with Museum staff to explain Wikipedia's practices and how they might be able to contribute directly. As this is a pilot project the scope and scale of the activities will necessarily change as the project progresses.

The British Museum is the first institution of its kind to have a Wikipedian-in-Residence, paid or unpaid. Wyatt has been heavily involved in GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum) and Wikimedia issues, and has organized several outreach events around working with cultural institutions, including last summer's GLAM-WIKI conference in Australia.

30,000 images of minerals donated

U.S. mineral collector Dr. Robert Lavinsky has released almost 30,000 photos of mineral specimens under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, which will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons soon. They consist of the (currently about 29,000) images from Lavinsky's picture database on, and of the images from his own homepage, the web site of his mineral business "The Arkenstone".

The donation came about after Dr. Lavinsky had been contacted by German Wikipedian and Commons user Ra'ike for permission to use a small number of these photos. According to his biography on, "The Arkenstone" was one of the first mineral businesses to move onto the Internet in 1996, and Dr. Lavinsky gave academic lectures on the "Impact of the Internet on the Mineral Hobby" in 2006 and 2007.

Indonesian writing contest

Wikimedia Indonesia is sponsoring a writing contest called Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010 (Free Your Knowledge 2010). The chapter is recruiting participants from ten universities in Indonesia, who after training will compete by writing articles in Indonesian language over a three month period. The chapter is sponsoring a trip to Gdansk for Wikimania 2010 as the grand prize for the winner of the contest.

The goals are to increase active contributors in the Indonesian Wikipedia, promote free content, and improve articles in the Indonesian Wikipedia. The contest is sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Pertamina, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia, and two local news stations.

WMF jobs posted

Two high-level jobs at the Wikimedia Foundation were recently posted: Chief Development Officer and Chief Global Program Officer. The Chief Development Officer will be in charge of the fundraising team and overall fundraising operations. The Chief Global Program Officer will be in charge of the programs department, which works on outreach initiatives and includes recruiting new editors and engaging readers, as well as supporting current editors.


This week in history

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as a historical note, Wikiversity started out as part of Wikibooks and was eventually spun into its own, more inclusive project. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 15:36, 18 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • On a different topic, I'm glad to see that someone has finally implemented an idea I've had for many years, but never managed to do anything substantial with. Congrats to Liam, who in any case deserves all of the credit for making it work! -- llywrch (talk)
I am seriously confused by these deletion discussions and the incident of an ethical breaching experiment. Considering myself a less regular but (in my estimate) consistently productive contributor in terms of minor (while in a swarmy way important) activities, I feel like the alienated base of a political system; or, to use an entirely different metaphor, like a mortal facing the incomprehensible olympian Gods' decisions over the Earth. As far as I comprehend the situation, I would support Jimmy Wales' decision, as the reasoning behind it seems fair and sound to me. Above all, the (sarcastic? cynical? ...?) undertones of the deletion proposals in the comments above seem incomprehensible to me - if someone is tired of sacrificing time and effort for certain projects, why don't they just leave those alone with it, who still try to build something up? Guys, seriously, I think you have a real life you can work on just as well as tearing down the spirit of those who still believe in a project. If I am mistaking something right now that I could have known better by deeper research into the topic and its timeline, I regret that I don't want to know it. Regards, --Klingon83 (talk) 13:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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