Voting in the annual election of members of the Arbitration Committee has closed. The voting period saw the withdrawal of two candidates, Balloonman and FT2, and the community ban of another candidate, Loosmark. They will be included in the tally, but are ineligible for positions on ArbCom. Thus, 18 candidates are competing for a possible 12 seats.
The four independent scrutineers, all stewards based on WMF projects other than the English Wikipedia, have begun the task of enforcing and ruling on the validity of individual votes, and certifying the results of the election. The role of the scrutineers is outlined here. Their work is expected to take up to a week, after which they will post the tally on the election page. Jimbo Wales is expected to formally announce the appointments a few days after this.
A feedback page has been established for community comments on all aspects of the election process.
PediaPress, the print-on-demand partner of the Wikimedia Foundation, is now giving access to its PDF rendering servers for Wikipedia books. This would enable the community to review books for rendering errors and licensing issues, as well as layout problems. In the past, Wikipedians only had access to the "Download PDF" function, which used the PDF renderer from the Wikipedia servers.
There are two main differences between the renderers. On Wikipedia, PDFs are downloaded several tens of thousands of times per day for at-home printing. Because of these constraints, these PDFs are optimized for A4 paper size and for rendering speed. However, the PediaPress renderer has a much lower workload, as it is only used for printed books. It is also optimized for A5 paper and rendering quality.
The annual Wikimedia fundraiser reached slightly more than $6.5 million in donations to the Foundation on December 5, according to the official Fundraiser Statistics page – corresponding to about one million donated during the third week after the fundraiser's official launch on November 15, considerably less than in earlier weeks. As indicated by Philippe Beaudette, the head of the Foundation's fundraising team, such a slowdown had been expected from the beginning and the campaign was moving into different phases. While the graphic banners featuring Jimmy Wales' personal appeal (which had generated numerous parodies across the Internet - see last week's "In the news" - and a kind of "Jimmy fatigue") were still displayed to Wikipedia users in most of the world last week, in the United States of America readers were seeing more and more banners featuring personal appeals from various different Wikimedians instead.
Beaudette explained that the following phase of the fundraiser would see "a campaign update, probably from Sue, with the introduction of a graphical thermometer treatment" (a graphic displaying the amount of donations so far as a portion of the $16 million fundraiser goal, similar to those used in previous fundraisers).
Most of the editors banners featured participants of this year's Wikimania in Gdansk, where the Foundation had invited volunteers to participate in video testimonials. The first personal appeal to be tested was that of 22Kartika, an Indonesian Wikipedian who had attended the conference as the winner of the Indonesian chapter's "Free Your Knowledge 2010" writing contest (see also brief news). One version of her letter featured the tagline "If you have knowledge, you must share it". (However, elsewhere the Indonesian chapter quoted her with critical remarks about Wikipedia, stating she was "not interested to [become] involved socially in Wikipedia, since she thinks 'there are many weird people'.")
The changed banners received some positive media coverage - one writer asked himself "why was Joan so much more successful in getting my money that Jimmy was?" Seth Godininterpreted them as a message of "You own Wikipedia".
An infographic titled "the science behind Wikipedia's Jimmy appeal" on the "Information Is Beautiful" blog by David McCandless, purporting to demonstrate the banner testing results that had shown the effectiveness of the graphical banners featuring Jimmy Wales, was widely circulated in recent weeks. However, in a posting on his visualjournalism.com website ("Another beautiful infographic with glaring errors goes viral"), Gert K. Nielsen compared it against its source data from Wikimedia and found several serious errors in the visualization, concluding: "The story is correct. The Jimmy-appeal is a lot more effective than the text-based ads. But the visualization is not showing why and how." - Some months ago, an earlier Wikipedia-themed infographic by McCandless had likewise been shown (by User:WWB) to contain serious errors, see Signpost coverage.
In countries where there are Wikimedia chapters that can accept donations on their own behalf, these chapters control the content of the landing pages. Beaudette voiced some frustration on the lack of different language versions of these pages in some countries, likely causing a loss of donations there from readers of projects that are not in the country's main language.
The German chapter had collected more than one million Euros in donation as of December 6. In related news, the controversy in the German chapter about the process by which a new nonprofit corporation had been created to meet the demands of the fundraising agreement (Signpost coverage) has recently led to 66 members expressing their distrust in the chapter's board's handling of the issue, reaching the necessary quorum to request an out-of-schedule member convention, to possibly displace the current leadership.
Olympics and Africa star in uBLP drive
New figures have been published showing the success or otherwise of over 600 Wikiprojects at reducing their unreferenced Biographies of Living People in the five weeks to 4 December.
The net decrease was of 2,853 articles or 12.5% in just five weeks; obviously the total number of articles dealt with was far greater, as more are found or created all the time.
The biggest success amongst the WikiProjects for this five weeks was Olympics which reduced its backlog from 496 to 77, but honourable mention must be made of reggae with a 65% reduction, and Africa with nearly 60%.
Disclaimer. Figures can go up as well as down, and major drops or increases can relate to random factors such as which categories are being trawled for uBLPS and whether an inordinate number of your uBLPs were created in the months most recently cleared by the Wikipedia:Unreferenced BLP Rescue team.
Wikimeetup Dubai: The first Wikipedia meetup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates was held on 4 December 2010, hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director Sue Gardner and her assistant James Owen. Gardner was in Dubai from 1–6 December on the occasion of a speaking event at TEDx Dubai. A total of seven Wikipedians from the English, Tamil, Malayalam, and Urdu Wikipedias attended the two-hour meetup. The topics included the development of the Arabic language Wikipedia and the possibility of establishing a UAE chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. James Owen also distributed Wikipedia souvenirs and publications among attendees.
Wikimedia NYC meetup: On Saturday, 4 December, Wikimedia NYC held a meetup at the Brooklyn Museum to observe the Museum's First Saturday events, and the Seductive Subversion exhibition and its WikiPop component (iPad-based kiosks for which the museum wrote its own open-source software, see (Signpost coverage). Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum, tweeted: "Really great moment to see Wikimedia NYC checking out Wikipop tonight".
GLAM-WIKI Paris: Wikimedia France hosted the Paris edition of GLAM-WIKI 2010 on Friday and Saturday, 3–4 December. Highlights included a discussion of the partnership between the French National Library and Wikimedia France to scan books and upload to Wikisource, a discussion of Creative Commons licenses, a presentation of GLAM partnerships from outside France, including Liam Wyatt's experiences as "Wikipedian in residence" at the British Museum, and a presentation on the partnership between the City of Toulouse and Wikimedia France announced in September (as mentioned in The Signpost). The Museum of Toulouse contributes photographs of prehistoric artifacts to Wikimedia Commons, and the Archives of Toulouse contribute digitised photographs by its former curator, French naturalist, mountaineer, geologist and photographer Eugène Trutat. Video recordings of the sessions will be published. See also blog posts by Wikimedia France, and check next week's Signpost for full coverage.
New outreach material: As part of its "Bookshelf", the Wikimedia Foundation's Outreach team has published an eight-page brochure on "Evaluating Wikipedia article quality". Also last week, the Foundation's Public Policy Initiative published a sample syllabus, "a week-by-week breakdown of how professors might be able to incorporate Wikipedia assignments into their classes" (designed for a 12-week teaching term).
Indonesian Wikimedian tells her story: Siska Doviana, a founding member of the Indonesian Wikimedia chapter and recently its acting Executive Director, described how she became involved in Wikipedia in a guest post on GerardM's blog (privacy caution: site tracks and publishes visitors' referrer and geolocation data). The blog post was written on the occasion of a two-week visit to the San Francisco offices of the Wikimedia Foundation, where she discussed collaborations and initiatives with the staff, including the chapter's recent Free Your Knowledge 2010 writing competition (Signpost coverage).
Social media presence for copyright tutor: "Puzzly", the cartoon character created for the illustrated licensing tutorial on Wikimedia Commons, as part of the Foundation's Multimedia usability initiative (Signpost coverage), has been given a presence on Facebook, Twitter and identi.ca.
Jobs still open: A number of listings on the Foundation's "Job openings" page have been extended from 30 November to 15 December, among them a Data analyst (a job title matching that currently held by Erik Zachte, reporting to the Chief Technical Officer, Danese Cooper), and a "Bugmeister" – as reported earlier, this position was originally intended to be filled during October, and is seen as a response to criticisms of the existing MediaWiki development processes, where difficult bug reports and feature requests can languish for years (about the position, Cooper remarks that the plan is "to get one that isn't so over-qualified that they're bored with pruning bugs").
Northern Ireland less well represented on Wikipedia : Geographer Mark Graham blogged about maps and the analysis of the geographic distribution of Wikipedia articles (with coordinates) in the UK. Looking at raw counts of articles per district, larger rural districts in northern areas of England, Scotland, and Wales have higher counts. If the counts are normalised by kilometre area, maps show that urban areas have high densities of article coverage, and with more rural areas of Cornwall, Somerset, and the Isle of Wight as exceptions. Graham found that Northern Ireland has a particularly low level of coverage on Wikipedia. The data were also normalised by population.