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Last-minute candidates for ArbCom, the Sue Gardner European Tour hits London

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By Tony1, Rock drum, Skomorokh and Aude

ArbCom election: 18 editors step forward

Voting in the Arbitration Committee elections is due to commence on Sunday.

Nominations for the annual elections to the Arbitration Committee are now closed. There are 18 candidates, vying for a maximum of seven vacancies (sitting arbitrators are marked with an asterisk):

AGK, *Coren, Courcelles, DeltaQuad, Eluchil404, Geni, Hersfold, Hot Stop, *Jclemens, *Kirill Lokshin, Kww, Maxim, NWA.Rep, Panyd, *Risker, *Roger Davies, SilkTork and Worm That Turned.

These community-run elections involve candidates' nomination statements, a guide to the candidates, questions for those running, links to individual voter guides, and discussion pages; all are accessible through this template. The five "fallow" days for voters to further question and discuss candidates have begun. Voters can view candidates' responses to a set of common general questions, and to specific questions that editors have posted. These specific questions have included queries about a candidate's statement, requests to comment on scenarios involving problematic editors, questions on individual ArbCom cases, and issues concerning real-world legal threats.

The election, via the SecurePoll voting interface, will go live from 27 November to 10 December. MediaWiki sysadmin Tim Starling will assist with the setting up and troubleshooting of the SecurePoll interface. Three WMF-identified editors—Happy-melon, Tznkai, and Skomorokh—have offered to be election administrators. They will oversee the election, including the SecurePoll voting system.

The vote will then be audited by three independent scrutineers drawn from the ranks of non-native stewards, to ensure the election is free of double-voting, sockpuppetting, and other irregularities, and to tally the results and announce it on the election page. The stewards will be Bencmq (originally from the Chinese Wikipedia), Trijnstel (originally from the Dutch Wikipedia), and Vituzzu (originally from the Italian Wikipedia). All community editors will be invited to scrutinise the list of those who have voted as the election proceeds, using their knowledge and intuition to help ensure that all votes are legitimate.

The results will be announced on the election page. Successful candidates will start their two-year terms on 1 January 2012.

Sue Gardner at Imperial College, London

Sue Gardner presents a graph showing the number of views to information-sharing websites (Wikipedia is the blue line).

As part of her annual European travel, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, spoke at Imperial College, London last Sunday 13 November on the participation of female editors on Wikipedia and its sister projects.

More than 40 people attended, including around half a dozen students. Gardner opened the address with an introduction to Wikimedia projects, the slides of which talk are available on the Foundation wiki. She suggested that attendees watch with the intention of giving the same talk themselves someday. The introduction focused on the remarkable popularity of Wikipedia, which dwarfed that of conventional informational outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, BBC and so on.

The gender imbalance of editing on Wikipedia was first brought to the attention of the public after an article on the topic was published in The New York Times in January of this year.

Gardner addressed the reasons put forth to explain the gender gap, substantially recapping her landmark February blog post Nine Reasons Why Women Don't Edit Wikipedia (in their own words). She referred frequently to data to support her analysis, citing amongst other studies the 2011 Women and Wikimedia Survey. The first – and simplest – reason she gave was that MediaWiki markup is "a pain" to learn. She said that a WYSIWYG editor is in the works and will help all editors to contribute. She used several direct references to opinions from women who had been quoted in the survey results; one woman had stated that she was "not thick-skinned enough for Wikipedia" – an opinion Gardner endorsed. "Many of the editors," she said, "used the heated discussion as a form of intellectual sparring" and that it's "not necessarily as serious as it seemed."

One female Wikimedian had also voiced the worry that "[Female YA author(s)] are not notable, meanwhile 1-Book, Nobody Dude's Wikipedia page is 14 printable pages long!" Gardner agreed that topics of interest to female editors were often less well-developed than articles on areas of interest to men, citing hairstyles as an example. The issue of Wikimedia culture being sexualised also arose, as she recounted a problem she herself had come across where she was surfing Wikipedia articles and had arrived on an article on garment necklines of shirts. The article was illustrated with an image of a woman wearing a round necked shirt, and while the content of the image itself was fine, the file was denoted by a "less than satisfactory name: it was called Boobies.jpg". Although the file was renamed during the talk, the notion was a cause for concern; a culture which produced such decisions as well as phenomena like userpage galleries of sexualised depictions of women lent weight to the conclusion that "Wikimedia can seem like a smutty mens' locker room at times". Another worry highlighted by female editors was that, in some language projects where words are gendered, female editors have been addressed by the male version of the word "user" – "the software called me male!".

Gardner elaborated on "what it took to be a Wikipedian", describing a conversion funnel which begins with being literate, proceeded through requirements as having access to the Internet, having spare time (however little), being reasonably tech-literate and thick-skinned and being pedantic and emphasised the importance of having a topic you love. She made the remarkable admission that despite their keen appreciation of the significance and causes of the gender gap, Foundation staff had no plans to specifically combat it, but were instead relying on existing outreach efforts such as the Global Education Program to attract a more balanced gender distribution than that of the existing editing community. The talk ended with a brief question-and-answer session and a presentation of gifts to the speaker by Wikimedia UK volunteers.

In brief

Chris Nunn, subject and lead vocalist of the Chris Nunn article (recording)
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ArbComm election

Your list of Arb candidates is wrong. There are 18 candidates but you only have 17 names - User:Panyd is also standing--Elen of the Roads (talk) 01:31, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I noticed that, fixed it, then noticed this. Sven Manguard Wha? 02:00, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
If you don't mind some criticism of prose style, the parenthetical bit in the opening of the lead story strikes me oddly. The asterisked arbitrators are only "outgoing" if they lose: "incumbent" might be a better word choice. And about "asterisked": this may be normal parlance is some circles but verbing weirds language. ~ Ningauble (talk) 15:25, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
And here I thought that "outgoing" referred to our personality traits! :-) Risker (talk) 18:13, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Per Risker, I've changed "outgoing". I'd written "sitting", which I think is the standard epithet in this context. "Asterisked", yeah, not pretty. Any suggestions for a better wording? I've had a go. Tony (talk) 13:27, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


WMF-chief's tour of Europe

"Sue Gardner European Tour", really? And yet no comment about how much it's costing taxpayersWikipedians, or highlight from her excessive rider. --pfctdayelise (talk) 02:47, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

What? You think she's just hitting up spas? No, she's hitting up the chapters and major Wikipedia events in Europe. I don't see a problem moving the leader of the WMF around from major Wikimedia event to major Wikipedia event. Sven Manguard Wha? 03:06, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It is always nice to take a business trip to a foreign clime; I've done it myself. But of course it is a business trip and that's why the business pays for it. Nothing to see here: Move along. Yours, GeorgeLouis (talk) 07:13, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Sue Gardner's citing a convenience sample as though it were useful for drawing conclusions should concern college-educated editors.
Her stating that women are less likely to edit because the editing-interface is difficult to use is surprising; I had understood that women were able to complete difficult tasks, and had never heard of any systematic tendency for women to quit before men. Perhaps her putting down of women should stop before she lectures the rest of us again.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 22:34, 22 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Just because someone has not identified themselves as female doesn't mean that they therefore must be male. I think it is entirely possible that there are more women editors that Wikipedia/Wikimedia realizes. Shearonink (talk) 02:51, 23 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
We now have multiple diverse indicators, survey responses, attendance at meetups, choice of userboxes, user preference gender choice which on some languages is more meaningful than in English. I could believe that any or all of them are out by a few percent, but as all of these indicate a substantial gender skew it seems reasonable to me that we assume a dramatic gender skew unless we get evidence to the contrary. ϢereSpielChequers 13:07, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The photos of Sue Gardner's presentation seem to illustrate the problem of the lack of female editors ;) Nick-D (talk) 07:25, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hi folks. Just replying quickly to a few things here. First, I read pfctdayelise's comment differently from others here. I assumed she was poking a little fun at the Signpost headline, which could be read as implying that my trip was a junket. I didn't think she was, herself, criticizing it for being a junket. Regardless, thanks to the people who defended it as a perfectly normal work trip, which indeed it was. It was actually fairly gruelling, although in many ways enjoyable.
A couple of other comments:
On the whole I thought the Signpost article was accurate and fair, although I have two quibbles with it. One, I'm not sure that everything put inside quotation marks were actually direct quotes -- for example, I can't imagine myself using the word "smutty": it's a word that's fairly commonly used in the UK, but isn't much used by Canadians, including me. That's a small thing, not important. Slightly more troubling to me was the sentence "She made the remarkable admission that despite their keen appreciation of the significance and causes of the gender gap, Foundation staff had no plans to specifically combat it, but were instead relying on existing outreach efforts such as the Global Education Program to attract a more balanced gender distribution than that of the existing editing community." I do think the phrase 'remarkable admission' shades into editorializing. It wasn't an admission: it's our considered strategy. As I explained at the talk, the Wikimedia Foundation is aiming to reach women who are 'one degree of separation' from the current editing community. We don't think it would be very effective to aim to reach out to, for example, elderly women, or women who are less-educated than the average current editor today. That's predicated on the assumption that not everybody is suited to editing Wikipedia or will enjoy Wikipedia, and we will therefore likely increase our success rate in recruiting women if we focus on those who share many of the characteristics of our current editing community. That's why we're focusing on outreach efforts aimed at people in post-secondary education -- because there are lots of women in post-secondary education, and our experience with for example the Public Policy Initiative tells us that, when invited to participate as part of general outreach campaigns, women do respond to that invitation. In the PPI, for example, 40-50% of people who responded to the call for Campus Ambassadors were women. So, the Wikimedia Foundation reaches out to women via our global education initiatives, because we believe it will be the most effective way to recruit female editors. I felt like the wording of the article ("remarkable admission") implied there was no rationale behind our strategy, or that I did not explain the rationale -- neither of which is actually the case.
For Kiefer.Wolfowitz: I didn't say that the editing interface was a deterrent for women only, and of course it is not -- it is a deterrent to many people. Actually, almost all of the deterrents I discussed in my talk also apply to men: I am sure that many men feel they aren't thick-skinned enough for Wikipedia, for example. But the subject of my talk was the reasons women have given for not editing Wikipedia, so that's why I focused on what women have said.
For Shearonink, yes, ϢereSpielChequers is correct. The Wikimedia Foundation's primary source for data about the gender gap is the editor survey (which you can read about here on the Wikimedia Foundation blog, or go here to read the complete survey results), not the gender flag that people can set in their Mediawiki preferences. I think the editor survey is the best source because it's anonymous, and so there is no skew in the data resulting from people not wanting to publicly disclose their gender.
Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 20:00, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I was also taken aback by the "remarkable admission" clause, which seems to express an editorial disdain for the Foundation's efforts. A targeted and sustained campaign of outreach and consciousness-raising is hardly a case of doing nothing specific. Sue and the Foundation are engaged in a concerted effort to influence the organic development of the community in a manner that is entirely appropriate for the relationship between the Foundation and the projects it hosts. It is hardly a remarkable admission that they are not attempting direct intervention. ~ Ningauble (talk) 17:53, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

For the record, yes, Sue, you understood my comment as I intended. :) --pfctdayelise (talk) 08:07, 29 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  • Perhaps unnecessary pedantry might be one of the things that we could actually do something about. Of course there are content issues and technical issues where an unusual level of exactitude are required, but some small percentage of the community do seem to see others as a collection of diffs rather than real people. Just sayin'. Rich Farmbrough, 18:38, 23 November 2011 (UTC).


I think the file File:Boobies.jpg was given that name by a flickr user and automatically copied to Wikimedia Commons using that name. No nasty Wiki people involved. It is only recently that we have been able to rename files. The same problem happened with File:Strawberry Love.jpg (NSFW) which was "polluting" the search results for the word strawberry. John Vandenberg (chat) 21:58, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The file was incidently renamed during the event by an attendee. Regards, Rock drum Ba-dumCrash 18:34, 25 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, I was happy it was renamed: I'm grateful to whoever did that. And yeah John, I had heard it was probably a Flickr import. I wasn't trying to make the point that naming a file Boobies is a bad thing in-and-of-itself, or that people who do it are in any way nasty --- my point is just that if someone is reading an article and sees on it an image called Boobies, it might lead them to feel more like they're in a lockerroom (a comment that I've seen made by a few female readers, mostly related to image galleries on Commons userpages), rather than in an encyclopedia. Because boobies just isn't a particularly neutral, educational choice of words ;-) So I'm glad we can rename files now. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 22:42, 27 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Sue's tour

Sue also kindly stopped by to join the Wikimedia UK board meeting - you can see the video recording of this here. AndrewRT(Talk) 22:16, 26 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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