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Unbiased information from Ukraine's government?

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By Bri, Eddie891 and Smallbones

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine starts project

The logo of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine launched an "Ambitious Campaign to Enrich Wikipedia with Unbiased Information on Ukraine and the World" on April 22, in cooperation with Wikimedia Ukraine. The initiative is aimed at reducing disinformation about Ukraine and spreading "unbiased facts about the country in various languages on Wikipedia". The campaign is set to begin with an online editing marathon - 'Month of Ukranian diplomacy' in May and will ask Wikipedia editors and Ukrainian diplomats to 'correct' and fill in information gaps about the nation. The ministry plans to publish data that can be incorporated into Wikipedia.

After Раммон posted the original MFA announcement to Jimbo Wales' talk page, users had mixed responses. Guy commented "Good news, well-informed Ukraininans to counter the GRU disinformation campaign", but Carrite considers the campaign tantamount to an "assault on NPOV".

The original announcement included surprising wording such as "mega campaign to saturate Wikipedia with unbiased information" in the title and "Ukrainian diplomats will also help to write Wikipedia's articles". The original also mentioned "Russian aggression against Ukraine".

The next day, following inquiries from The Signpost, the announcement, including its title, was restated. "Ukrainian diplomats will also organize campaigns for writing Wikipedia's articles in languages of different countries to give the international community a better understanding about Ukraine," replacing "help to write" with "organize". The sentence containing "Russian aggression" was left unchanged.

Anton Protsiuk, Project Manager for Wikimedia Ukraine, replied to The Signpost that the chapter "will not directly work with diplomats to edit Wikipedia. But we cannot prohibit Ukrainian diplomats from editing Wikipedia on their own, so we want to explain to them how Wikipedia works, what are the relevant policies, including copyright and NPOV. In other words, we will do everything so Ukrainian diplomats do not push a Ukrainian point-of-view in Wikipedia and understand the nature and rules of Wikipedia."

The chapter will conduct online webinars for the diplomats so that they will understand Wikipedia's rules. The diplomats will then publish information useful to Wikipedia editors on the MFA website, which is now freely licensed.

This is not the Ukrainian government's first such campaign. Notably, KyivNotKiev is a campaign begun on October 2, 2018 to get English-language media to spell the name of its capital "Kyiv", which is transliterated from the Ukrainian language, rather than "Kiev", which is transliterated from the Russian language. As part of a larger "CorrectUA" campaign, the government has seen some success, with several large news organizations changing their usage, including the BBC, the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The New York Times.

Russian reaction to the MFA's initiative, as shown by two reports from the wire service RIA Novosti, has been critical. The first report notes that "relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated after the coup in Ukraine, the reunification of the Crimea with Russia and the beginning of the confrontation in the Donbass." The second report speculates that the project will be used to whitewash the history of Ukrainian nationalists who fought against the Soviet Union during World War II. RIA Novosti labeled these nationalists as "active accomplices of the German Nazis."

Access to information during the pandemic

Illustration of controlled digital lending

Since the beginning of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, various information-sharing organizations have responded by making some (or all) of their content freely available. JSTOR announced that they were dramatically increasing the content available to 'participating institutions', expanding the free-article limit for registered users from six to one-hundred articles a month and making over 6,000 articles related to the disease free through June 30, 2020. Project MUSE made various resources free to the public (list here), including over 25,000 books and 300 journals.

Hathitrust announced a similar service on April 22, giving member libraries who have disruptions to their services the ability to access materials from Hathitrust that match physical copies the libraries hold. The Internet Archive announced it would would modify its controlled digital lending to lift check-out limits for 1.4 million non-public domain books in its Open Library, becoming a "National Emergency Library" through June 30 or later.

Various authors and writer advocacy groups slammed the Internet Archive, calling its decision "an excuse for piracy". The Authors Guild stated it was "shocked that the IA would use the COVID-19 epidemic as an excuse to push copyright law further out to the edges, and in doing so, harm authors, many of whom are already struggling".[1]

A very big long-term project

There are more than 3,000,000 stub articles on the English Wikipedia. That's right – more than half of enWiki's articles are stubs. The 50,000 Destubbing Challenge is taking the bull by the horns. Encyclopædius helped start the project, and 32 contributors are signed up on the main project page as of April 26. They've destubbed 1,105 articles as of April 21, having started in March with The Great Britain and Ireland Destubathon. The goal is to destub 5,000 articles per year for ten years and ideally move on to a 1 million Destubbing Challenge.

Wikipedia Weekly returns

WikiSeder on Wikipedia Weekly

The Wikipedia Weekly podcast was dormant for several years, but has been revived in the current pandemic as the livestreamed Wikipedia Weekly Network. One of the first episodes was an online, non-religious WikiSeder, adapting the Jewish tradition remembering the plagues and liberation to a celebration of wiki wisdom in the age of the quarantini. This is best enjoyed if you play along and toast the "Four Cups to Free Knowledge" together at home—that will surely prepare you for the song at the end. WWN is now podcasting several times each week, and hopes to release summaries of highlighted episodes in The Signpost as a monthly column.

Brief notes

The mainpage hooks included President Clinton's hankering for bacon butties, Volkswagen's ketchup lubricated part, Captain Kirk's computer encryption skills, and sexy Pepsi cans.

References

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Well, that's a bleak point of view. Let's see what happens first, with our eyes wide open, before we leap to accusations of Neo-Nazism and anti-semiticism. Liz Read! Talk! 06:10, 27 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is already happening for years, massively, just nobody cares.--Ymblanter (talk) 06:25, 27 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me remark for the context that NickK is one of the few really constructive editors in the topic area, which features mostly driveby editors and editors with the agenda (not necessarily pro-Ukrainian, could be anything).--Ymblanter (talk) 06:41, 28 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just to clarify, it was not the government who restored employment of that diplomat but a court of appeal. Here is the comment from the MFA (Ukrainian version is more detailed): the government still wants to fire him, but the court made them restore his employment. Labor Code of Ukraine is from 1971, so firing people is tricky in Ukraine, but that's not MFA's fault — NickK (talk) 23:09, 27 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh please, Labor code from 1971? you are kidding me! In the country so proud of decommunization? "Ostatechne proschewaj", my ass. The UA court system is completely dysfunctional when it comes to violations of human rights or making big circles around proven murderers who happen to be "activists". Every dissent is quickly labelled as Russia's/Putin's hand. Corruption is rampant. "Bloody Yanykovych"s times is the golden age compared to what's going on there now. Current clown's government is a hostage of "activists", who have more arms on their hands than the regular army and therefore feel nonpunishable. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:42, 28 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it would be fair to say that the Ukrainian court system is dysfunctional, period. It is not pro-Russian or anti-Yanukovych, it is dysfonctional at least since Wikipedia exists. It is sad, but we are not working with these courts and are not interested in it — NickK (talk) 13:19, 28 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Trying to move? YOu must be kidding. Probably listening to Ukrainian propaganda too much. Since 2014 corruption increased enormously. New president, as it always happened, promised to fight corruption, but he doesn't. The most egregious case is making dirty money on military supplies. Mass evidence collected, but no move. I guess that's why there is still shooting in Donbas: big money involved. Russia backed off long time ago when their idea of "Neo-Novorossia" sizzled. Of course Russia never gives Crimea back, but Donbas could have been easily reintegrated back under minimal political concessions. But Ukrainian nazis think that Poles, Russians, Hungarians who live in Ukraine, are Untermensch (but this doesnt prevent ukro Gastarbeiter in millions. Due to coronavirus Polish argiculture is in grave danger due to lack of cheap wetback workforce). Ukrainian WMF chapter is obviously just the same overrun by ukronazis, if you read ukrainian wikipedia , which glorifies killers and robbers. Staszek Lem (talk) 19:54, 30 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Staszek Lem: - you should be very careful about personal attacks and even about BLP violations. Please do not call people "ukronazis," "wetbacks", "Untermensch", and, smearing an entire nation "neoNazis and racists ". In any case you seem to be proving all the Ukrainian complaints about propaganda. Please drop the stick or just avoid this page if you can't. Liz gave you a polite warning early on. I tend to be more direct. Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:20, 30 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When I say ukronazis, I mean ukronazis, not the entire ukrainian nation. When I say wetbacks I mean people toiling for a dime, and it is not an insult for ukrainians, but for Poland, which takes an advantage of the rampant poverty in the neighboring country. When I wrote unermensch, I was presenting the worldview of ukronazis on non-ethnic citizens of ukraine, and so on. BLP, personal attacks? seriously? You are welcome to file a complaint. In any case, I am taking your advice and moving away from this subject. BTW, FYI, just in case, I am not editing Ukraine-related topics due to my COI: I hate what is going on in Ukraine now. Staszek Lem (talk) 20:42, 30 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]





       

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