The Signpost

From the editor

Ships and shoes – and if you don't like it here, just go away!

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Kudpung
Black-and-white photograph of sailors scrubbing a ship's deck
Will there be another crew willing to sweep the deck (note supervisor at right)?

In this issue, the Admin Ship berths in home port, a re-sysoping warns admins to think again before handing in their tools, and some older advice from a well-known admin warns editors to think again before launching a RfC. A reprint of an essay from another well-known admin and former arbitrator suggests quite bluntly that if you don't like it at Wikipedia, please leave.

Three months ago, I never saw myself in the shoes of E-in-C. I just missed the paper very much, and if anyone had suggested it to me, it would have been the last thing I would have thought of doing. I just jumped into the breach. However, it is time-consuming and it also comes with a certain level of responsibility (not to be confused with 'competence') which not everyone would be entirely happy about having to shoulder. Notwithstanding, having been a teacher of creative writing, and during the 1980s a freelance reporter for a certain popular Berlin-based daily newspaper, I like writing.

With this therefore being our third issue with me (kind of) at the helm, if only temporarily, I believe we need to understand the reasons why The Signpost dwindled from being weekly, then fortnightly, then monthly, to nothing at all until we somehow roped it together again. There is a lack of motivation in every corner of Wikipedia right now (and that's enough for an article itself), and people have left the editorial team for many reasons – some legitimate, some simply from disinterest.

Since Pete Forsyth's 'From the Editor' in the January 2017 issue – 18 months ago – the wished-for changes have not materialised and The Signpost is still very much in a kind of limbo with at least two 'new' editorial staff retired already. There have recently been a lot of very good suggestions for The Signpost which generally repeat Pete's pleas for involvement.

We heard from several readers who reported reading The Signpost for the first time after having seen the recently implemented watchlist notice. Many more silent readers were probably drawn by it as well.

There were several suggestions that it should take the shape of a monthly news magazine. A monthly issue is going to be fatter. It will have accumulated everything that would previously have been dished out as hotter weekly news, and it must have an interest level beyond simply being a (fairly) dry report on what's going on. But it needs writers.

Most importantly, however, The Signpost frees us – and the Wikipedia community – from the strictures associated with the composition of Wikipedia articles. While nevertheless avoiding being too critical of what we all work for (there are plenty of Wikipedia hate sites doing that, and sadly authored by some of our regular editors), it is an opportunity to make a broader audience, including the world's established media, aware of the things that Wikipedia is not and what is required from its corporate owners to do something about it.

As always, if only we had more ideas and submissions from our readers at our suggestions page...

Animation of the Wikipedia logo's omega puzzle piece circling the globe
The Signpost is hiring!
More of a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle than a bung for a hole in the sinking ship that the periodical once was, we are now looking for a permanent Editor-in-Chief to fill a vacant slot in the editorial team. Start 31 August or sooner. Candidates should expect to work in excess of their contracted 30 hours per month for no additional remuneration. Salary $00.00 commensurate with age and experience.
In this issue
+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

Any requirements you have for being editor in chief? --Nerd1a4i (talk) 01:18, 1 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]

I just peeked at your userboxen, and maybe half tongue in cheek: 10,000 hours editing Wikipedia English! We'd love to see newcomers in the Newsroom if you need to log some hours ... the U.S. work year is 2,087 hours so five years is about 10,000 hoursBri (talk) 07:11, 1 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Keep The Signpost, even with reduced frequency as a monthly or, if necessary, quarterly publication.--FeralOink (talk) 15:05, 18 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Surely there must be journalistic courses requiring intern placements - maybe nobody knows about the signpost out of the dwellers of the WP underground? thank you again to all signpost contributors/curators! Lee∴V 18:55, 5 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Lee∴V, other types of courses might benefit/help out, such as technical communication, and even a proofreading course might need a real-life way to practice... I'm sure there's a list of things that need to get done. So, take that and match it up with possible course subjects, find out where communication gets a lot of attention in those groups and seek advice there on how to find the teachers, students, and student clubs that might help out.
And use my favorite, me-created method of finding the help I need when all seems lost and so do I: "I know you're not here to help me with X, but could you tell me somewhere I can get closer to finding someone who can?" Hey, I didn't even know I was disabled until I found my way to Disabled Student Services through this method! It only took me three groups at my college before I went there, and wow! They were there for me, because I WAS disabled! I thought I was just ill!
Buuut this is probably all the help I can give due to my aforementioned real-life limitations, so I hope something I said was helpful. I'll be thinking about you guys! Go Team US GUYS! —Geekdiva (talk) 05:03, 6 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Um, ps. Do we use bullet points to start each comment? Lee, I fixed it so that your paragraphs are now on the same level, and then bumped mine up a notch to match. Thanks! —Geekdiva (talk) 05:12, 6 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
A) For the most part I think we are victims of our own success. We are approaching 6 million articles. The vast majority of things that people like and find fun already have articles. Articles that don't exist tend to be on topics that are obscure or "boring" or very scholarly subjects. The low hanging delicious fruit is gone! The work in improving existing articles tend to be grind work like adding references or copy editing; these activities are more demanding exercises requiring more Wikipedia experience than casual site visitors have. No matter what we would have done, a decline would have occurred eventually. We just should have planned for it better. And this decline was foreseeable: unending sustained growth is impossible. Yet, as with so many businesses and now Wikipedia, we made the critical error of assuming growth will occur forever. This was dumb. We should have planned for an eventual steady equilibrium that maintains what we have while slowing improving the overall encyclopedia. Just too bad it's hard to raise money with such a prosaic yet practical and realistic pitch.
B) That said, there were several events that harmed the site. One was the tightening of policy and enforcement of content in 2006/2007. The deletionism that accompanied that alienated many editors and they never returned because they felt like they had wasted their time. Further the new tools that helped revert edits ended up making the experience for first time editors less friendly and gave them bad first impressions. This, in turn, gave rise to a myth that editing Wikipedia is a waste of time because "elite" editors will just revert your changes. For the most part, I think we did the right thing in 2006 and it helped build a better encyclopedia. Regardless, whether the change was good/bad, it was done in good faith with the hopes of improving the encyclopedia. Nobody is to blame for this.
C) There is however a self-inflicted wound on our site that I do feel is deserves some finger pointing. This involves our handling of gender imbalances on Wikipedia. Wikipedia does have gender imbalances but I believe that the Wikimedia Foundation's former executive director Sue Gardner handled this very poorly and her approach was detrimental to the project and we are still feeling the repercussions. She tried to solve this problem very publicly by issuing WMF statements and talking about it in various conferences or in the media. Similar to the Streisand effect, there's the so-called cobra effect, where your solution to a problem causes more harm than good. Bringing the problem to the public's attention so forcefully added an unfair sexist stigma to the public's understanding of Wikipedia culture. This severely harmed the reputation of the encyclopedia in a way from which we haven't yet fully recovered. The approach I think probably dis-inclined women from being new editors rather than encouraging.
Sorry for the long comment. This are each big issues and would require much more to fully elaborate my ideas. The most important point I make is A because we are not going to experience a sudden surge of new interest that brings back the glory days of Wikipedia. Our strategy should be to provide the best tools to editors to build the encyclopedia and provide support that causes self-motivation to edit. Jason Quinn (talk) 07:22, 7 August 2018
Jason, Our strategy should be to provide the best tools to editors to build the encyclopedia and provide support that causes self-motivation to edit.
Not 'our' but the WMF, but try convincing them. With vast surpluses of funds, they appear to spend their development time on helpful but non essential convenience gadgets rather than a proper welcome/splash page that we have been begging for, and a far more modern skin to the Wikipedia. One only has to look at wikiHow, just for example, to see how much more attractive its pages are, and how much more user friendly its editing and article creation is. It runs on MediaWiki. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 08:01, 7 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]
FeralOink, please look up corporate in a dictionary, then you'll understand. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 23:12, 28 February 2019 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0