News and notes
New board member, rights elections, 1 April activities, videos
New board member
On 5 April, it was announced that the remaining vacant seat on the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees had been filled last month by Bishakha Datta, an Indian journalist and filmmaker who leads a Mumbai-based nonprofit organization that "focuses on conveying women's perspectives in culture and the media". Michael Snow, the board's chair, wrote:
- "In a bit of an ironic twist, Bishakha's organization is called Point of View, but rest assured that she understands and endorses the neutral point of view approach for Wikimedia projects. Her journalistic background means she appreciates the value of an objective presentation, and throughout our conversations with her it was clear that she supports our mission and values."
Datta is the first Board member from India. Her term will end in December 2010.
In an interview with Indian business newspaper Mint, Datta explained some of her objectives as a Board member.
CheckUser and Oversight Elections
The Arbitration Committee has determined that there is a need for additional oversighters and checkusers to improve workload distribution and ensure complete, timely response to requests. Experienced editors are invited to apply for either or both of the Oversight or CheckUser permissions. Current holders of either permission are also invited to apply for the other. The last day to request an application is 10 April 2010. For more information, please see the election page.
Main page continues April non-fool tradition
The tradition of "reverse" April fools' jokes on Wikipedia's main page – statements which are designed to appear made-up but are factually accurate – was continued this year. For example, the featured article of the day was wife selling ("a traditional English practice for ending an unsatisfactory marriage"), and the featured image was an ad for a dietary supplement that promised to help customers concerned about their figure to "get fat".
As TheDJ observed on his blog, many readers, including journalists,
- "do not realize that everything on the page is true. Basically the editors are putting the joke on the 'quick critics'. The people with an opinion about Wikipedia, without truly knowing what and why they are critiquing."
Before the current custom was established, the main page had featured actual hoaxes on 1 April, leading to considerable controversy (see 2005 Signpost coverage).
Rewrite of MediaWiki parser
On the software side, the long-standing goal to rewrite the MediaWiki parser "in a more friendly and accessible implementation" was achieved on 1 April by porting it to the LOLCODE programming language.
Introductory videos about Wikipedia
On the Wikimedia Foundation's blog, Erik Möller drew attention to two recently created introductory videos about Wikipedia.
Wikimedia Italia produced a video guide to Wikipedia (in Italian); it is available on the Italian Wikipedia, or a smaller version on Commons. It is also on Youtube with subtitles in English and Spanish. The text of the video is available here for translators who wish to translate into their own language.
The second video, "How To Create a Wikipedia Article", was produced by Howcast.
More videos are available at Commons:Category:Instructional videos on using Wikipedia, including two introductory videos produced in 2008/2009 by Wikimedia Deutschland.
- A thread on Foundation-l discussed differences between the content policies of Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap that appear to prevent OSM editors from using location data from Wikipedia, out of copyright concerns. Topics included: Whether location data is to be regarded as (non-copyrightable) facts, what the effect of contract law restrictions imposed by sources such as Google Maps might be, and possible implications of the fact that Wikipedia and OSM are hosted in different jurisdictions (the latter in Europe, where database protection laws might apply)
- Andrew N. Nelson, a Sociology major at James Madison University, is working on his senior thesis "Locating Knowledge and Power within an Open Source Community". A sample of the top 4,000 editors by edit count have received an email from JMU researcher alpha (talk · contribs) with a solicitation for participation in an online survey.
- WikiProject Essay Categorization and/or Classification has been renamed WikiProject Essays and re-invigorated in recent months, with an effort to tag all Wikipedia essays for automatic classification based on the number of watchers, incoming links, and pageviews. A portal has also been created to showcase significant essays.
- The Living People Task Force invites comments about the draft of its recommendations, which will be presented to the Foundation's Board of Trustees for adoption at its next meeting (the date of which hasn't been published yet). The aim is to create a guideline and policy applicable to all Wikimedia projects.
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