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Israeli news focuses on Wikimania; worldwide coverage of contributor decline and gender gap; brief news

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By Jorgenev and Jarry1250

Wikimania coverage

Shalom Life described Wikimania as "the largest wiki conference in history"

As expected, this year's Wikimania conference has attracted a significant amount of media coverage, particularly within the Israeli press who were pleased that Israel had been allotted the event. For example, the pride of the outgoing chairperson of Wikimedia Israel was evident in a quotation selected by YNetNews, the English-language edition of a popular Israeli news site. "In the world of free content," wrote Shay Yakir, "the decision to hold the conference in Haifa of all places is like having Israel host the Olympic Games". The article also included a positive quotation attributed to the mayor of Haifa and thoughts from an American Wikimedian at the event. Similar coverage could be found in the Jerusalem Post (Israel's "most-read English website"), whose article, entitled "Wikipedia: Prophecy fulfilled or info apocalypse?" rounded off with a positive review of Wikipedia, concluding that it was "a happy accident that has surpassed all expectations". Haaretz included an article focussed on Wikimedia's effort in outreach (both in terms of GLAM-collaborations and in distributing offline copies of content), whilst the Jewish Chronicle was one of a number of sources to highlight the fact that Wikimedians had flocked to Israel even from countries that do not officially recognise Israel (Venezuela and Indonesia). Shalom Life described the gathering as "the largest wiki conference in history".

Wikipedia's decline in contributors draws media coverage

Outside Israel itself, the international media tended to focus on specific aspects of the news from Wikimania, including Jimmy Wales' concern that the number of Wikimedians on big-language projects cannot be sustained in the current editorial climate. Following an article by The Associated Press published on Thursday in which Jimmy Wales was quoted as saying "We are not replenishing our ranks, it is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important", there was additional media coverage of the issue in PC Magazine ([1]), The New Republic ([2]), The Atlantic Wire ([3]), Boston Globe ([4]), and PCWorld ([5]). Frederic Lardinois, writing for PaidContent, a site that focusses on methods for monetising the web, described Wales' remarks as "[probably] the first public acknowledgement by Wales and Wikipedia that the number of contributors is indeed declining... [and] that it's an issue". Although this may be true, the rush of press coverage follows months of internal analysis on editor trends (see previous Signpost coverage).

In attributing causes to the decline, the articles cite Wales' concerns over "impenetrable" editing practices in addition to other possible factors, including the diminishing amount of so-called "low hanging fruit": opportunities for ordinary people to write about things they know, rather than more specialist topics. In addition, The Atlantic Wire jokily suggests the problem might be the advent of Google's new social networking site Google+, which has rapidly built up a large number of young male users. According to the news site, Wales described the average contributor to Wikipedia as "'a 26-year-old geeky male' who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website". By contrast, The Independent quoted Wales as saying that "the current number of contributors is stable and sustainable" and that he only wanted to increase visitor numbers in order "to improve Wikipedia's accuracy and reach".

Gender gap also revisited

An article in British newspaper The Independent this week covered Wikimedia's "gender gap" in an article entitled "Wikipedia seeks women to balance its 'geeky' editors". The article contains the rather dubious assertion that "Mr Wales revealed that he plans to double the number of people actively editing the site's pages within a year", probably a misquote. A leading editorial for the newspaper agreed with the desire to get more women involved in Wikipedia. "Mr Wales is right," said The Independent, "Women of the web: Wikipedia needs you".

Following the publication of The Independent's article, a number of other news outlets devoted space to the issue, including The Guardian ("Women! Wikipedia needs you"), ITProPortal ("Wikipedia Seeks Balance, Recruiting Female Contributors"), New Zealand-based TopNews ("Wikipedia founder wants more female contributors", and articles syndicated from the QMI Agency, including CANOE ("Wikipedia wants women").


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Ref types, old and new

   I share the interest in "When Knowledge Isn’t Written, Does It Still Count?" (WKIW ??). I think this is important for WP, and/but i am toying with the concept of an en.WikiOR, perhaps conceived as an appendix to en.WP; that might be the interim way (today? our second decade?) to "catch this wave" while we hash out policies for e.g. templates that paint paragraphs yellow to indicate they're an exception to WP:OR. Is this where we start discussing the issue as opposed to the article? Should it go immediately onto VP?
--Jerzyt 19:17, 8 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

There is some discussion at m:Research_talk:Oral_Citations. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:57, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The project on oral citations reminds me of a type of reference that could be novel: the text of historical markers, photos of which can be shown simply via a click-through from the citation. Right now if you cited one with a <ref> element, dullards would accuse you of malpractice. But there's actually nothing wrong with it. The text of historical markers tend to be a highly vetted and pretty reliable source (WP:RS). — ¾-10 03:49, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Text of markers and labels is, indeed, verifiable, and has been used in the past. Rich Farmbrough, 12:56, 10 August 2011 (UTC).[reply]


The article contains the rather dubious assertion that "Mr Wales revealed that he plans to double the number of people actively editing the site's pages within a year", probably a misquote, but also . [sic]—What happened at the end there? howcheng {chat} 23:35, 8 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Regarding contributor decline a friend of mine recently joined Wikipedia for the first time. Lacking auto patrol his first article (on a secondary school) came under sustained deletionist attack and although the article survived he gave up contributing afterwards saying it was too much hassle. If Jimbo is going to find new editors we need to make this place a little more welcoming first!  Francium12  00:20, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think it's worth throwing (divisive) terms like "deletionist" around. The simple, clear fact is that people that start out by contributing new articles tend to get their hands burnt. Either we need to relax the existing consensus on speedy deletion, or we need to discourage article creation in mainspace. Probably the latter IMHO. - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 11:44, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think you can discount wikiphilosophy entirely on this point. It definitely affects how people approach this. Being an incrementalist and eventualist, I'd vote for the former rather than the latter. I think the latter is a step toward killing the incentive for new editors to start contributing to Wikipedia. I even view it as a latent form of newbie-biting in itself. It implicitly says, "Your new article about secondary school XYZ is worthless to us. Go away." Bad idea, IMO, and deletionist and immediatist. Kills the community and the potential of what Wikipedia can eventually become (i.e., evolve into). — ¾-10 03:58, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That's an odd attitude to have, Jarry1250 -- "people that start out by contributing new articles tend to get their hands burnt". If I had gotten my hands burnt when I started, I doubt I'd still be contributing eight and a-half years later. And from discussions I've had with a number of non-Wikipedians, I've received anecdotal evidence that confirm Francium12's story. Most people who get their hands burnt never go any further with Wikipedia, & many of them form a hostile opinion of it, & the community around it. -- llywrch (talk) 04:51, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying...? I meant that the answer to the question "Where should I start?" should not be article creation, because starting there results in a lot of burnt hands and therefore a lot of potential contributors driven away (I was agreeing on this point). Much better to start on something of lower stakes (editing existing articles) and working up. - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 11:36, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Because of our rules, we basically don't let newbies create lasting articles. We should probably stop pretending that we do, and make them edit a certain number of times first.- Peregrine Fisher (talk) 20:26, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps seasoned editors could actually sit down and make in-depth, carefully considered, additive contributions to the corpus, working in better collaboration with newbies, in subjective distinction to their addictive policing habits.FeatherPluma (talk) 05:22, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


The Jewish Chronicle is not an Israeli newspaper, but rather a British one. It is indeed Jewish, pertaining to the British-Jewish community, and it is considered pro-Israel, and yet it is not Israeli. (talk) 04:24, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Well spotted, I've removed that description. Robofish (talk) 21:19, 15 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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