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Wikimania warning; Wikipedia "mystery" easily solved

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By Gamaliel

Mayor of Esino Lario warns Wikimania 2016 "at risk of disappearing"

Image from the Wikimania 2016 bid for Esino Lario

A week before the start of the 2015 Wikimania conference in Mexico City comes troubling news about next year's conference. Esino Lario, a small village of only 750 people in northern Italy, was selected earlier this year as the site of the 2016 Wikimania conference, to the surprise of many (see previous Signpost coverage). To host the event, the town needed hundreds of thousands of Euros from the Wikimedia Foundation and the Fondazione Cariplo, significant improvements to infrastructure, including buildings and internet connectivity, and the labor of a raft of volunteers. Despite this, the mayor of the town, Pietro Pensa, warns The Local Italy that the event is "at risk of disappearing".

At issue is a new group of migrants the town has been ordered to absorb. The European Union is currently struggling with a huge influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East—a 149% increase in numbers from last year. Many are fleeing armed conflicts in Syria and the Libyan crisis. Due to its ample coastline and location in the Mediterranean, Italy is one of the European countries most affected by being the destination of numerous maritime asylum seekers. The largest influx of people seeking asylum in Italy come from Eritrea then Somalia, Nigeria and Syria.

The new group of refugees located in Esino Lario numbers 60, adding to the population of 41 refugees already living there. Their numbers are small, but altogether would become more than ten percent of the town's population. Pensa worries that the volunteers needed for Wikimedia will instead be diverted to assist the new arrivals. He said, "They are not so independent and need a lot of help. Each migrant will have a volunteer with them for two or three hours a day." Pensa also complained that a nearby town, Lecco, with a population 100 times as large, has absorbed no migrants.

Whether this is a legitimate concern that threatens Wikimania or merely a way to complain about an unfavorable decision remains to be seen. However, Pensa promised the town will still try to make Wikimania a success. "We'll do everything we can to host the convention. We want to show everybody how great Esino is by hosting the best and craziest Wikimania convention possible." (June 8)

"Wikipedia's greatest mystery" is anything but

This bird was photographed on March 27. Coincidence?

Vocativ reports on what it calls "Wikipedia's greatest mystery", namely why the article March 27 lists more births and deaths than any of the other articles on other dates on the calendar. Vocativ consulted "12 scholars" who mostly dismissed the matter, though one noted "the gaps between maximum and next maximum in both your series [of dates for births and deaths] suggest that this coincidence does have some deeper, though mysterious explanation." The explanation is not mysterious, nor is it a "loophole", as Vocativ describes it. Lists of births and deaths in these articles are not assembled from data taken from Wikipedia or Wikidata, they are created manually by editors, and thus any data taken from these articles will be skewed by the biases and interests (or disinterests) of those editors. The data spike for March 27 can be attributed to the edits of a single editor, Wikimedia Foundation data analyst Erik Zachte explained to Vocativ that "Maybe that person was born on March 27, and took pleasure in finding many famous people with some link to that date." A similar spike for March 4 can be attributed to Acumen76, who for the last several years seems to have mostly edited only that article, and mostly only during the month of March. (June 7)

In brief


Next week's Signpost will feature a Special Report on the European Union freedom of panorama issue.

Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or contact the editor.
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  • Okay, Francesco Yates enthusiasts, the basic structure of an article has been hung so go fill it in. Many hands make article construction light work. - Dravecky (talk) 07:08, 11 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • We want to show everybody how great Esino is by hosting the best and craziest Wikimania convention possible. Crazy? ResMar 13:09, 11 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'd like to thank the Signpost team for keeping the community updated on developments relating to Esino Lario. I certainly think the town's mayor should be listened to, though my main focus is still on concerns raised before now (particularly accessibility), for which answers have often been off-topic, vague, or unclear. CT Cooper · talk 01:54, 12 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • For anyone who wants to know more about how the Freedom of Panorama votes went in the European Parliament, I've written another piece for Vantage on Medium: "Street photography in Europe: We just won, right?", which goes through the key votes, what they mean and what happens next. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 16:16, 11 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • While I'm sure some great "posts" about West Virginia's "most successful women" will be created, what we actually need is articles on second and third tier people, activists, religious leaders, authors, functionaries and even criminals. Certainly the "gender gap" in editors can be addressed by bringing in new tranches of editors with a more even gender spread, but whether this will produce a change (and in which direction) in the medium term requires research. To tackle the gender gap in content requires more sophistication than "writing more articles about women", since research has already suggested that the number of articles is not an issue, differences lie in presentation and such things as centrality.
  • A great asset of WVU is the West Virginia and Regional History Center, it would be a great service to the project to employ this to improve local and regional coverage.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 18:10, 11 July 2015 (UTC).[reply]
  • I'm glad I have a place to vent about this. Esino Lario—where? I get that we want to be global and everything, but I read that same news story. If this little town can't handle 60 migrants, how on earth are they going to host Wikimania? I don't know how this decision was made, but it's worth seriously rethinking. By the mayor's own admission, Esino Lario doesn't seem capable of hosting such an event. --BDD (talk) 16:38, 14 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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