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Wikimedia power sharing – just an advisory role for the volunteer community?

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By Andreas Kolbe, Bri and HaeB

Global Council draft comes under fire from European Wikimedians

Placeholder alt text
Symbol used for the Global Council in the draft Movement Charter

The Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) recently invited feedback on the latest draft chapters for the Movement Charter (which aims "to define roles and responsibilities for all the members and entities of the Wikimedia movement"):

The discussion page for the Global Council draft saw the most participation. This included some strong criticism, especially from European Wikimedians. A key point of contention was that the Global Council, as envisaged in the draft, would only have advisory powers. Former WMF board member User:Jan-Bart, for example, said:

The movement strategy process and especially the work of the Roles and Responsibilities working group did give a baseline of what we as a movement wanted to achieve (some said that the recommendations did not go far enough in distributing the "power" within the movement but let's leave that aside for a minute)

So reading the current drafts makes me wonder what happened? One of the most important aspects of the recommendations was the equity in decision making within our movement. Reducing this by (for example) reducing the global council to an advisory body is not something that I had expected to read here. [...]

Wikimedia Sweden added:

From the draft text it seems clear that there is no intention for the GC to exert any control over the funds within the WMF, especially since it is not even clear where the funds for the GC itself will come from. This is understandable if this power, for legal reasons, needs to reside with the BoT. But if this is the case the legal limitations should be clearly laid out. We should also consider if such legal limitations are the result of some pre-existing structure or mechanism which could be changed.

But if the relationship to the WMF is simply that the GC provides advice which the WMF can then choose to ignore, this runs the risk of becoming a source of potential conflict [...]

A summary of German Wikipedia community discussions by User:Denis Barthel said:

There were many comments on the draft on the Global Council. All were characterized by disappointment, outrage, or resignation. Many community members felt their assumption confirmed that the Wikimedia Foundation was unwilling to share powers. The "equity in decision-making" promised by the MCDC and the Movement Strategy, allowing a stronger representation of all groups in the Movement, was regarded by many voices as an obviously vain hope.

In particular, a kind of parliament or general assembly was missed, as well as powers beyond those already exercised by various volunteer bodies. There was a clear desire for the Global Council to be more than just an advisory body.

Mysterious "external legal feedback"

Another key point of contention was an "external legal feedback" shared by the WMF, authored by an undisclosed law firm advising the drafting committee:

The legal feedback doesn't reveal the author and it is qualified as an "external legal feedback" at Movement Charter/Content/Global Council. Could you tell us who was the commissioner and who was the author? Alice Wiegand (talk) 20:34, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

[...] Is there any reason not to say who wrote the document, who commissioned it, and what terms of reference were given? Many thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:23, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

@Lyzzy and The Land: hi, the external legal review was provided pro bono by a reputable multinational law firm, based on information provided by the MCDC. Under the terms of this engagement, the law firm’s services were limited to providing advice to the Wikimedia Foundation only, and their work product was not intended for publication. In the interests of transparency for this project, they have permitted us to share this document here without attribution. Thanks, RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 03:42, 9 August 2023 (UTC)

Thanks Ramzy. Could this be changed for future legal reviews so that the name of the firm, the terms of their commission and their full opinion are shared? Without this information I don't think the document will fulfill its purpose. Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:41, 9 August 2023 (UTC)

Wikimedia Germany suggested that alternative legal advice should be sought:

[...] There are reputable law firms in the US that bring the necessary expertise in designing inter-nonprofit legal relationships, and that have not had WMF as a client previously. WMDE suggests that it may be time to figure out together how we can commission this expertise, so that we can have a fuller and more neutral understanding of what is actually possible – to ultimately arrive at a governance structure that does justice to our movement and its diverse stakeholders and lets us move towards the strategic direction. Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 10:50, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

The use of unclear or meaningless buzzwords was another point of criticism. Overall, the feedback pages for Hubs and Roles & Responsibilities saw somewhat less participation. The Hubs draft also received some praise from community members. Even so, questions and concerns about fundraising and funds dissemination were recurring topics on both feedback pages. – AK

WMF reconsiders Africa approach

"A new approach to contributor growth in Africa" – presentation at Wikimania 2023 (slides as PDF)

The Wikimedia Foundation is piloting a new approach to contributor growth in Africa (see presentation, pictured), noting that past approaches aimed at increasing coverage of African topics – and thus the amount of time African citizens spend online reading internet coverage of African affairs – have been hit and miss.

Recent projects have included contests such as Wiki Loves Africa 2023 and the Africa Day Campaign 2023, whose winners were announced at the end of August.

Some initiatives have caused controversy, such as the $20,000 project on Deforestation in Nigeria that was discussed at the WP:ANI noticeboard last month.

The WMF's analysis of its efforts, and the opportunities and challenges involved in Africa (presented at last month's Wikimania conference), highlights the importance of intrinsic motivation:

Historically:

  • Our eagerness to see more programmatic work in SSA has resulted in funding of projects with moderate to low effectiveness, sometimes even repeatedly.
  • We have been investing in those who showed up, sometimes without intrinsic motivation. We suggest we should have instead been:
    • seeking out self-motivated contributors and investing further resources only in them.
    • Verifying organizers possess the skills to effectively deliver their programs (edit counts and time-since-first-edit are insufficient indicators)
  • We have been slow or reluctant to recognize and stop resourcing ineffective organizers.
  • If proven effective, our proposed approach would increase the pool of skilled contributors and potential leaders and organizers, thereby increasing programmatic funding opportunities.

Similar concerns about attracting mainly extrinsically motivated contributors go back to at least 2010, when Tanzania-based Wikipedian Muddyb expressed his deep frustrations about finding himself cleaning up the results of a Google-funded initiative that awarded prizes for adding content to Swahili Wikipedia. (See "In the news" from the July 26, 2010 issue of The Signpost.)

The Foundation's analysis also highlights that "Too much programmatic outreach work in the region is ineffectively carried out by volunteers who have insufficient familiarity" with the platform, the policies (e.g. on copyright and licensing) and the culture of Wikimedia projects. Accordingly, the pilot aims to test the hypothesis that audiovisual training materials on core policies along with live tutorials can achieve significantly higher retention.

The pilot is currently limited to the English Wikipedia and envisaged to run from September to December 2023. – AK, H

WMF publishes 2022–2023 Funding Report

The Wikimedia Foundation last month published its Funding Report for the last fiscal year:

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the Wikimedia Foundation awarded 638 grants to mission-aligned organizations and people around the world, totaling $17,512,472 USD. Of these funds, 381 totaling $16,032,838 are administered by the Community Resources team (other funds are summarized below). 2022-2023 marked the second fiscal year of Community Resources' Grants Strategy Relaunch, prioritizing the Movement Strategy goal of Knowledge Equity.

Below are some key graphics from the report. First, an overview of grants and grant money by fund program:

Regional breakdown of funding administered by the Community Resources team, 2015–2023:

Overview of WMF-distributed funds not managed by the Community Resources team:

For further details see Meta-Wiki. – AK

Code of conduct committee draft charter ready for review

The U4C Building Committee has announced:

The Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C) draft charter is now ready for your review.

The Enforcement Guidelines require a Building Committee form to draft a charter that outlines procedures and details for a global committee to be called the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C). Over the past few months, the U4C Building Committee worked together as a group to discuss and draft the U4C charter. The U4C Building Committee welcomes feedback about the draft charter now through 22 September 2023. After that date, the U4C Building Committee will revise the charter as needed and a community vote will open shortly afterward.

Join the conversation during the conversation hours or on Meta-wiki.

The committee's language use was mocked as "highly bureaucratic and unnecessarily hard to follow". Some commenters stated that the language stopped them from reading the draft in full. – AK

User enamored with ChatGPT gets indefinitely blocked

A robot writing not-quite-English words on a piece of paper
We asked an AI to create this illustration of an AI writing an apology for an AI-written article.

An editor was indeffed after extensive use of AI-generated text, including this oddly worded apology for using ChatGPT to request restoration of their article. In fact, their response in the related AN/I noticeboard discussion also appeared to be the product of ChatGPT.

This may be the first instance of an indefinite block stemming specifically from the use of the technology in talkpages. A commenter at ANI called their reply posting AI-generated waffle. On the other hand, an after-closure discussion started by the author of this article included this observation from another: there's no guideline or policy banning empty blather.

In June, another editor had been indeffed for using ChatGPT in articles alone, with paid editing as the underlying concern. Some investigation of the incident found a probable paying party and turned up the possibility that the whole episode was an elaborate hoax, based on their off-wiki writings; one participant in the discussion said they found a comment off-wiki stating I pay people to waste the time of volunteers who have innumerable things they'd rather be doing.

Was the latest case a prank? We can't tell. – B

A fork in the Roads WikiProject

On September 7, the "AARoads Wiki" was launched, "a free online encyclopedia dedicated to roads", forming part of the existing aaroads.com website. According to an announcement post on the site's forum, "The team making up the core of the US Roads WikiProject on Wikipedia [WikiProject U.S. Roads] has moved over to the new wiki". An FAQ for the new wiki states that "much of the content was forked from the English Wikipedia in mid-2023," and that "After several months of extended discussions and uneven enforcement of policies towards the road subject area, many felt that starting a new project with a new community solely focused on road transportation would be a more viable option. A sampling of such discussions can be found here and here." (The latter, an RfC titled "Using maps as sources", had concluded in May and resulted in the addition of a clarification that "Source information does not need to be in text form" to Wikipedia:No_original_research#What_is_not_original_research. However, other proposals were rejected in the RfC.) In an emotional TikTok video (which has attracted 48k likes at the time of writing), one of the seceding editors explains the underlying concerns in more detail, arguing that "in the past couple of years, our little corner of the site [Wikipedia] has come under attack [... for] two reasons: sourcing and notability". An earlier FAQ by another longstanding member of the U.S. Roads WikiProject sheds further light on some longstanding tensions. – H

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AARoads

With respect to the US Roads editors, all of whom I respect, this is all enormously disappointing. First, I haven't seen y'all identify any specific policy changes that you believe are needed, except for those proposed in the RfC linked in this Signpost article. That RfC did solve what I saw as the single biggest problem facing the project—citations to maps, now enshrined at WP:ORMEDIA. Plus, proposal 3 was awfully close to passing and should have been re-proposed in a new discussion. (And outside all of that, WP:GEOROAD still exists...)

Second, the linked discussion dwells heavily on concerns with systemic bias and roads outside North America, neither of which are solved by a North American-specific fork.

Third, y'all's linked announcement post is not "simplified", as it claims, but is flatly inaccurate (e.g. "maps cannot be used" when that enormous RfC linked above concluded otherwise). So yeah, I'm disappointed at y'all's decision to embrace a slow but near-certain death on an obscure new website, and I hope that a day will come when you decide to re-join us. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 01:00, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@The ed17: With all due respect, there are so many factual errors in the above post.
  • That RfC did solve what I saw as the single biggest problem facing the project: did it? We saw question 1, "can maps be valid sources?" as a no-brainer, especially when tables, charts, and graphs were thrown in. The fact that a significant number of editors, especially well-respected ones, were opposing such a softball question was an ominous sign for the future and signified that a large portion of the opposition was more interested in a certain conclusion being reached (that would de facto result in the end of covering roads in any sort of intellectually honest manner on Wikipedia) than in looking at the question in a fair and unbiased manner. This was not to mention the numerous vitriolic personal attacks and casting of aspersions that were made there. The failure of the other proposals had already been used to attack long-standing methods of sourcing in road articles, for example at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Interstate 40 in Tennessee/archive2, such as using Google Maps. Even so, numerous editors have tried to water down the conclusion of question 1: [2]
  • And outside all of that, WP:GEOROAD still exists but not for long, see [3] and combine it with [4] and you tell me what is going to happen.
  • The fork focuses on North America because that is the largest editor base, but many efforts were made to reach out to other international editors. We still intend to expand to other countries one day, but it would be hypocritical of us to mass import a bunch of unsourced stubs without attempting to exercise due diligence and at least clean them up first.
  • but is flatly inaccurate (e.g. "maps cannot be used" when that enormous RfC linked above concluded otherwise) That quote is taken out of context.
  • obscure new website again, AARoads has been around since 2000, and given that, of the other options we could have chosen, or going completely independent, this was the option most likely to be around in 10 years. By the way, that includes English Wikipedia.
Rschen7754 01:09, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Rschen7754: I appreciate your thoughts. Before I respond in detail, let me try a proactive question: from the perspective of road editors, what would our policies ideally say? Or are y'all attempting to maintain the status quo?
My RfC thought was an opinion ("what I saw"), not an factual assertion. The proposal passed with the closer stating "it is clear that the policy rationales provided by those opposing were not particularly strong", which is ... telling. And again, proposal 3 was awfully close to passing and might still with another RfC. Heck, it might already arguably fall under Wikipedia:What SYNTH is not#SYNTH is not obvious II right this second. Staying here gives y'all the chance to shape and influence related discussions, while leaving detracts valuable perspectives. Sausage doesn't make itself.
I do appreciate your second link re: GEOROAD, but discussions are how Wikipedia functions, and despite the high volume (Scott's participation there appears to have been enormously unhelpful) there are only a small number of editors participating. I would hope/expect things to change if/when it hits the RfC phase, much like how that first link appears to be facing significant opposition.
I'm glad to hear that there are plans to expand beyond the North American continent.
I apologize and have struck the inaccuracy comment, having missed that the bullet points specifically referred to notability, but has showing up on a map ever contributed to notability?
That AARoads has been around since 2000 doesn't mean it's not obscure, and it's my opinion that this fork will end up like the others: 1) a lot of wasted/duplicated effort that's wasted on a few readers and 2) a dwindling number of editors as people inevitably drift away over time and no one replaces them. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 01:59, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Really, all we have been attempting to do is maintain the status quo. We believe in notability: I submitted the most road AFDs that I ever have this year (and even lost a few on London city streets). We believe in sourcing: in the event the decision was made to stay, I had a list of resources and was planning on leading a sourcing drive. We do not believe that proposals such as this source it now or it gets deleted in 2 weeks are conducive for editor health and retention.
Staying here gives y'all the chance to shape and influence related discussions, while leaving detracts valuable perspectives Does it? To copy what I wrote elsewhere: It was clear that this would just be the first of a long series of debates, and given the spread to other areas such as area codes, that what would be needed would essentially be a campaign to Save Wikipedia. Speaking for myself - maybe ten years ago I could have done such a thing, but not now, and even if successful, it would have come at a great personal cost (time, energy, mental health). Wikipedia is (or was) a great website, but it's just a website, we're all volunteers, and this is supposed to be a hobby. So we chose to fork at this point because we care about our editor base and did not want to lose them in a never-ending sea of discussion after discussion aimed at eliminating us from the project.
AARoads remains the center of the road community in North America, including many who are sworn off Wikipedia because of the notability and sourcing requirements.
I really hope that almost 18 years as an administrator, and even 1 as a steward have shown my commitment to the project. It was not an easy decision, however during several of these discussions quitting and doing absolutely nothing seemed (and still seems) like a more palatable option than continuing on English Wikipedia as it is. I am grateful that others felt that way and chose to reach out to AARoads, because otherwise I would be down a hobby. Rschen7754 02:21, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suggest doing more research into AARoads when you have the time. It is most certainly not an obscure website. One only has to take a look at the number of members on the AARoads forums for example to see that. — MatthewAnderson707 (talk|sandbox) 05:12, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sure there's an active community, and in no way am I intending to insult anyone—but in the grand scheme of things it is obscure. Per Similarweb, it gets about 200k hits per month. For comparison, Similarweb estimates that meta.wikimedia.org gets nearly five times that. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 05:21, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it's comparing apples and oranges, or maybe pumpkins and kumquats. On an Internet dominated by search engines, a road-focused site doesn't even need to come within a few orders of magnitude to have a significant impact. Going independent will probably cut both ways. On the one hand, there will be less opportunity for Wikipedia's readers to stumble upon a well-researched road article and fall down that rabbit hole, maybe catching the roadgeek bug before the night is through. On the other hand, it could bring more visibility to the topic area among netizens in general, just as other specialized wikis have over the years. Minh Nguyễn 💬 21:35, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, the internet is dominated by search results, and Google heavily downranks forks/upranks Wikipedia. A decade out, Wikivoyage has been unable to overcome that challenge despite having clearly superior content to Wikitravel. AARoads' wiki will fail. The only question is whether it will fail quickly or fail slowly. It will be better for the content area and reduce duplicated editor effort if it fails quickly. Unfortunately, past precedent shows that failed ideas on wikis tend to wither slowly (see Simple English Wikipedia, portals, outline articles, etc.). {{u|Sdkb}}talk 22:17, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're more optimistic about the English Wikipedia retaining road articles on notability grounds than some of the AARoads folks are. To the extent that Google will see significant duplication, it'll undermine the rhetoric in this discussion about how USRD was wrong about notability and sourcing. Honestly, I share your skepticism about Wikipedia forks in general. I've been around long enough to chuckle at failed forks of multiple Wikipedias that I've been a part of. But I also appreciated the modicum of competition for mindshare that the more serious forks provided Wikipedia. If that resulted in a stronger, more useful Wikipedia, what is there to complain about? That said, this situation feels slightly different to me because the AARoads folks are being ruthlessly realistic about their scope and ambitions, something that previous forks could have learned from. Minh Nguyễn 💬 23:00, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe it would be more accurate and fun to characterize the AARoads Wiki as a specialized fork – a spork! Minh Nguyễn 💬 00:15, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Heh. Alpha3031 (tc) 15:10, 26 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What do you consider a success? Honest question. TCN7JM 23:45, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Readers. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 06:49, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's the disconnect. Given that most of the friction here is on account of the content even being allowed to exist on the site, being able to host it on our own terms makes the fork automatically a success. (Highly recommend giving any of the discussion on the GEOLAND talk page another read if you aren't convinced that content being removed from enwiki is inevitable.)
We're really not trying to do anything too crufty and most of our research standards are going to be the same as they were when the content was still hosted on enwiki (on account of having most of the same core userbase if nothing else). The critical benefit is that we can now consistently decide what should and should not be covered and not have to arbitrarily (and yes, it is inherently arbitrary) kill some coverage because people with little to no experience in the subject area have decided that they know more than us.
The fact is that for any subject that exists, there are details on that subject that are 1) necessary to include for comprehensive coverage, but 2) of little individual importance to a general audience. The existence of those little details is what originally gave Wikipedia the reputation it has today, which I think is pretty clearly more of a positive than a negative unless you're a no-nonsense academic who incorrectly thinks this site is exclusively supposed to house work worthy of inclusion in a PhD thesis. But now the removal of this type of content has become the obsession of several people who fit this description, so we need somewhere else to put our work.
It is what it is. TCN7JM 03:34, 26 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
None of the friction here is "on account of the content even being allowed to exist on the site" the two sides here are "should have dedicated articles" and "should be in a list or article about the state highway system." There is no "purge this content from the site" side as far as I am aware. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:00, 28 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, merging some articles to lists in a seemingly arbitrary fashion necessarily removes some content. You know this, otherwise there'd be no reason your side has been so heavily pushing for it. C'mon buddy, you're smarter than this. TCN7JM 02:33, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You know this, otherwise there'd be no reason your side has been so heavily pushing for it. Or could it be that we don't think thousands of microstubs serve the reader as well as a couple of dozen lists? BilledMammal (talk) 02:40, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've never seen someone on "my side" use that reasoning, do you have diffs? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 02:48, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nah I'm not gonna play y'all's game. Y'all can have fun playing dumb and pretending you're not doing exactly what you're doing but I have actual content to contribute to another wiki that actually values creation. TCN7JM 05:23, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thats a shame, IMO its important for everyone to understand why this happened because as it stands I don't think anyone actually does... A lot of people think they do, but nobody has the full picture. I appreciate that this conversation has been frustrating for you and you're well within your rights to bow out, I wish you the best of luck with your editing wherever that may occur and I sincerely hope that you continue to edit non-roads related content on ewiki. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 15:39, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The ed17: You aren't the only one who hopes for a future reunification. But for now, there's clearly a trust deficit, and others have pointed to the mental/emotional toll that Wikipedia politics have taken on them. Steering a giant multinational conglomerate of a wiki is hard work! So maybe a split is the healthiest move. If roads editors get to spend more time churning out articles than talk page posts, that's a long-term win for readers, wherever the content ends up. I have no evidence to back this up, but I suspect that articles written by happy editors end up being higher quality. If not, at least these editors – fellow human beings – get some quality of life back. Minh Nguyễn 💬 01:46, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your perspective, Minh. I hope that despite my pessimism this does indeed end up in best-case scenario territory. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 02:01, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm very happy to see WikiRoads finally fork. It's a best-of-both-worlds solution; AARoads and Wikipedia will both be better off for it. I hope some of the other WikiProjects/editor-groups follow suit, those dedicated to creating comprehensive databases of certain topics (roads, trains, video games, TV episodes, etc.), all those areas where WP:GNG is a real obstacle would be better served by having their own websites. Levivich (talk) 14:26, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia would be lucky to have dedicated and devoted editors within topic areas, and it is an unquestionable loss when they can not be accommodated. My sense is they left not because of concerns with maintaining the pages, the "road editors" could do that; or even because of differing opinions about notability, sources for most things could be found as mentioned above. Rather, whenever there is a strong group of people working together, it is a threat to wikipedia's sense of egalitarianism. If the "road editors" are able to group together in AfD, or on page edits, the non-road-editors will find that threatening. Particularly if there are off-site communications and forums. The end result will be bad faith. From there it's a matter of time before people leave or give up. Thus we might reconsider how to handle this phenomenon of sub-group communities, when problem arise. Surely there are lessons from groups that work. -- GreenC 16:01, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It hasn’t been my perception that WikiProject U.S. Roads saw things as us-versus-them from the outset. If anything, its members saw themselves as bona fide Wikipedians and quite often served as apologists for Wikipedia among the broader roadgeek community. Outside of the English Wikipedia bubble, there are many communities where you’ll easily find skepticism and cynicism about Wikipedia based on bad first impressions. (I list myself as a member of USRD but have always been on the periphery, as a generalist. Still, I know the feeling well from over a decade of trying to bring the Wikipedia and OSM communities closer together, and just in ordinary interactions with laypeople.)

Fielding these sentiments on a regular basis gives one a certain perspective about community-building and encyclopedia-writing and encyclopedia-reading that one simply cannot get by holing up in the project namespace. For better or worse, this same perspective makes it easier to see Wikipedia as just another crowdsourced encyclopedia. To the extent that there was off-site collaboration among the USRD members, I have to imagine that it would’ve resembled an emotional support group in the runup to the decision to leave. People don’t break up after so many years out of sheer malice.

 – Minh Nguyễn 💬 16:45, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You’ll easily find skepticism and cynicism about Wikipedia based on bad first impressions within the English Wikipedia bubble as well :-) I watched the linked TikTok and I thought it was a good summary of the issues: the project of writing about every road cannot be done within the confines of enwiki policy. The solution is to do the roads project somewhere other than enwiki. I hope other groups of editors working on similar incompatible projects learn this lesson and follow suit. It's not a breakup, it's just about not trying to put a square peg (like someone looking at a map and writing what they see) in a round hole (an encyclopedia that summarizes secondary sources rather than publishing original analysis). Breakups are sometimes healthy and productive, as sometimes some partners really are better off separate than together. People who want to write articles about topics for which there is no GNG sourcing, and Wikipedia, are two such partners. Levivich (talk) 17:15, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You make such arguments across every subject area and you will no longer have a Wikipedia. --Rschen7754 18:07, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You'll have an encyclopedia instead. GNG is not an obstacle when writing encyclopedia articles about science, math, art, history, athletics, etc. It's not a problem when writing about transportation, either. It is a problem if you're trying to write an article about every road, or every train station, everyone who ever played pro sports, every fictional character, etc. It doesn't make much sense to put all of these together in one website. The website that summarizes Confucius and quantum mechanics does not also need to have an article about every road in New Jersey. The roads information is much better suited for a separate website that specializes in roads information (with lots of interactive maps!). The sports statistics information is similarly better suited for a separate website (with filterable and searchable tables!). The fictional characters database is also better for another website (with fair use images that aren't licensed CC!). It's high time we all got on the same page about being on different pages. This is a big step that should save everybody time going forward, I'm glad to see it. Levivich (talk) 18:27, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay. So now you have to find road (or sports, or whatever) editors who want to only write about what Wikipedia arbitrarily defines as notable, rather than what they actually believe is worthy of inclusion. Good luck. (And, we certainly never wanted to write about every road.) Rschen7754 18:43, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's not arbitrary: it's about summarizing secondary sources vs writing a secondary source. There are some editors who want to write a secondary source (about roads, individual athletes, Pokémon characters, etc.) and there also other editors (hundreds of thousands) who want to summarize secondary sources (about transportation, athletics, pop culture, etc.). Combining the two into one website has created much conflict, hopefully that's now decreased. Levivich (talk) 18:52, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be pedantic, the English Wikipedia is not the only Wikipedia either. There are some where secondary source summarizers don’t have to look over their shoulder quite as much. After all, GNG is an expression of an internal editorial goal but not the constitutional law of all epistemology. I’ll be very interested to see how this community coexists with the Abstract Wikipedia once it begins to take shape. Minh Nguyễn 💬 19:09, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
True. Instead of AARoads, it could have been roads.wikimedia.org. Levivich (talk) 19:46, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was referring obliquely to other language editions that have different inclusion norms, but I guess Wikispecies might as well come into the conversation. 🤔 Minh Nguyễn 💬 19:52, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was thinking of Wikidata, or Wikisource... there are Wikimedia projects with radically different inclusion criteria (and yes, some Wikipedias as well). Levivich (talk) 19:54, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Slightly unrelatedly, I'm very curious as to what an expansive CONPOL¬N Wikipedia might look like (whether English or multilingual) and I'm wondering if something like abstract might allow the two to coexist with mostly the same editor pool and easy transfer of changes across... editions, let's call it, the same way people wish for it to help with cross language stuff. Alpha3031 (tc) 15:22, 26 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I fully agree with this; I would support the creation of sports.wikipedia.org, roads.wikipedia.org, and any other wikiprojects that could function as a comprehensive database of the topic, and support us limiting the coverage in our encyclopedia to topics worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. Thinking about it, I might open a discussion with the sports communities about sports; it might be a preferable alternative to draftification. BilledMammal (talk) 07:05, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's a pretty extreme stance. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 20:34, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah absolutely, forking completionism to another site where you can actually have comprehensive directories regardless of sourcing is the right way to go about this. JoelleJay (talk) 23:59, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You two had better take it easy. If your actions push more groups into forks, you might have to start editing in the article space because there won't be anyone else left. Regardless, it's no longer my battle, so I really don't care what you do. –Fredddie 00:04, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, wouldn't want to drive all those math editors into forking and dividing their cruft somewhere nicer and more stable... JoelleJay (talk) 06:15, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That seems like a risky strategy, insofar as it sets up a series of conflicts with groups of fans, any one of which could wind up setting a completionist precedent that would endanger your aims. Wouldn't it make more sense to pull a core of notable articles onto something like a macropedia.wikimedia.org and build from there? There's already an excellent foundation for that at Wikipedia:Vital articles, and it would also sidestep the existing reputation of en.wikipedia as being crammed with miscellaneous knowledge which has received only a cursory vetting for general notability. Choess (talk) 04:15, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I find it funny how there are individuals here spending and wasting so much time putting down the project and trying to make AARoads and USRD look bad in this discussion, rather than just move after saying good riddance. Can't even let the project just leave in peace? Be the bigger person and move on. There are more important things to focus on. In some cases, this behavior I'm seeing has the outward appearance of being driven by spite and petty grudges (though I could be very wrong in that assessment, just my two cents). The other reason, if I had to take a guess, is the idea that the AARoads fork could start a domino effect that causes the current deletionist trend and rhetoric to backfire on its proponents. Because it will. And if it keeps up, there will be more forks to follow, guaranteed. AARoads Wiki is a warning sign and because of that, they see it as a threat to their goals and asperations.— MatthewAnderson707 (talk|sandbox) 01:54, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And if it keeps up, there will be more forks to follow, guaranteed. AARoads Wiki is a warning sign and because of that, they see it as a threat to their goals and asperations. I don't know if you noticed, but above a few of us were encouraging completionist forks. Completionism doesn't align with the purposes of an encyclopedia, and so it is neither suitable nor beneficial here, but that doesn't mean it isn't suitable or beneficial at specialized Wiki's. BilledMammal (talk) 02:12, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see we're in the kick someone when they are down phase? Ed [talk] [OMT] 02:30, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not at all. I was just correcting a misconception that MatthewAnderson707 had about the goals and aspirations of curationists (a term I feel is much more accurate than the the hyperbolic "deletionists") like myself. BilledMammal (talk) 02:38, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Notably, those are not mutually exclusive. Ed [talk] [OMT] 02:45, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be clear, I applaud their decision. I think it's the right move both for their community and for our community, and will result in both better coverage of North American roads and a better Wikipedia. BilledMammal (talk) 02:57, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is absolutely a loss for Wikipedia, despite what some in this discussion would like to think and claim. We just lost dozens of dedicated editors over a pedantic, frankly cultish obsession with absolute adhering to policies and refusing to account for actual reality.

This is embarrassing. I am embarrassed as an editor by this.
I am more embarrassed by the gloating over this loss. As if it's a good thing.


Hate to break this to the "curationists", and those who pray at the alter of 'No primary sources ever', but not every topic has piles upon piles of secondary sources.
Not every topic is the Second World War, where it's one of the most studied events in history, and you have your pick of the sources. Pallet loads of secondary sources.

Congratulations, you just chased off dozens of editors, who actually know where to find your precious secondary sources. And I don't see any of you "curationists" knowing what documents you're even looking for, much less where to find them.
Yet you try to call yourselves "curationists". What a joke.

MatthewAnderson707 was right in calling you "deletionists". It's an apt descriptor. And you don't like that it's true. That's why you're trying to make yourselves sound better by hiding behind this "curationists" name. Try to make it sound like your doing something worthwhile, when you're really contributing nothing of worth.

I'm sorry the US Roads folks left. The English Wikipedia project is worse off as a result of this.
BilledMammal, you are incorrect in virtually everything you've said in this discussion, but especially in that final assertion that this result in a "a better Wikipedia". It won't.--The Navigators (talk) 01:44, 9 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sadly, whenever sub-communities form and gain strength, it threatens the oligarchy, or those who pose as oligarchs. It is the Wikipedia Iron Law of Oligarchy. Anyone forming strong sub-communities within Wikipedia need to understand they may be attacked, and prepare for that eventuality. Having a place to jump ship is probably the best option, unless it's Wikipediocracy which is the worse place to end up, like a dive bar, last refuge of losers with dog whistles. -- GreenC 06:35, 9 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Global Council

Unless there are structural reforms of the By Laws / WMF so that 100% of WMF (except Jimbo) is elected by the community and only the community can change the byLaws, the Global Council is another way to get WMF back on course and keep it there. The Global Council should start out as equal authority to WMF and after it matures to be fully stable representative of the community, it should have authority over and direct WMF. Only "advisory" to WMF makes the whole Global Council idea pointless. North8000 (talk) 13:35, 16 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Smallbones, "Candidates must meet the voter eligibility criteria for WMF Board of Trustees elections to file nomination". The Drafting Committee is not anonymous. I assume that neither will the Global Council be anonymous. You should stop using your Signpost platform for spreading disinformation. – wbm1058 (talk) 03:36, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Smallbones: I don't even know where to begin.
  • Finances: May I recommend m:Wikimedia_Deutschland where you'll find information in English, including links to the financial reports. (Wikimedia Germany's finances are a lot more transparent than those of the Wikimedia Endowment ... and unlike the WMF, it has committed to publishing the current salaries of its top management, in English and German.)
  • Wikimedia Germany is an organisation with over 100,000 members, a staff headcount of close to 200 people (comparable to the size of the WMF a few years ago) and international movement responsibilities. The development of Wikidata e.g. was mainly driven by Wikimedia Germany.
  • You do not have to be German to become a member of Wikimedia Germany. And the US represents about 4% of the world's population ... Seen from that perspective, both Germany and the US are grossly overrepresented in the Wikimedia movement's organisational footprint.
Andreas JN466 07:44, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This would essentially be equivalent to making the board 100% community appointed, so perhaps we should focus on adding some community representation on the board?
Except wait, 8/16 seats on the WMF board are elected by the community, 7/16 are appointed by the rest, and 1/16 is Jimbo! [5]
I think the system as it stands works well. It's poor form to not have any independent directors (i.e. 100% community) as outside uninterested perspectives help prevent corruption or self-dealing, as well as grants diverse perspectives. Look at how many admins on the English Wikipedia have been desysopped because they played buddy-buddy with certain people. Someone appointed from outside doesn't have the connections within the community to have conflicts of interest like that. They can also bring perspectives from other non-profits or corporations on ways to make our movement better, reducing groupthink.
Also, elections don't always lead to diverse candidates. Looking at the elected positions, all but 1 are from Western Europe or North America. There are no elected board members who are from India, Pakistan, Africa, or South America. Makes sense, given that Western Europe and North America hold our strongest communities. However, we do have appointed board members from South America and India. Being perfectly representative of our community is a disadvantage here, as we also want representation from the communities that we wish to expand into. The Global South is projected to be most of the world's population growth into the future. If we want to be a sustainable movement, we need to target that. But we haven't been nearly as effective as we could have been as evidenced by the subheading WMF reconsiders Africa approach. Chess (talk) (please Reply to icon mention me on reply) 04:00, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Chess: Note that the current WMF board has 12 members, not 16. (16 is the theoretical maximum size under the current bylaws.)
I don't think the self-dealing argument holds water here, as it is the (s)elected members who appoint the appointees (so if self-dealing really were an issue, they could appoint like-minded friends ...).
You make a potentially valid point with regard to regional representation. Though historically, if you look at the chart here and the list of former members here, most appointees to date have in fact been from North America and Western Europe.
As for expertise in Asian, South American or African affairs, this could also be provided by an advisory board (the WMF used to have one).
All in all, I think the community is underrepresented in the WMF board. Andreas JN466 21:18, 18 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jayen466: The elected members would either need 100% support among themselves to execute a takeover from the current state, or manage to convince some of the already appointed board members (who don't really care that much about the Wikimedia movement) to collaborate with them.
I think that's a lot less realistic than the possibility that a 100% elected board could get >51% of the elected members to participate in a clique that can result in permanent reputational damage to the movement.
It's the same problem as student governments. Board of trustee elections are low turnout and don't have much glory. In meta:Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022, there were only 5922 votes. That's pretty low and a small group of devoted people could result in a board that isn't representative of the broader community. Also, the WMF isn't a membership organization. It holds elections, but there's no mechanism for forcing the election to be held in a certain way. [6] If a bunch of cliquey people get elected, they can change the rules of the elections to enshrine their power permanently. That would be catastrophic. Appointed board members exercise a moderating force against changes such as that.
The WMF board as it stands now has done a pretty good job all things considered. They don't steal money and they prevent WMF execs from stealing money. They've also helped prevent major scandals (might be jinxing it but I haven't heard of a big sexual harassment case yet). There are a heck of a lot of non-profits that are worse. I think community representation at 50% is fine. Bureaucratic inertia is good because stability of the organization overseeing one of the most visited websites on the Internet is more valuable than a board that would be entirely elected by less than 10,000 people. Chess (talk) (please Reply to icon mention me on reply) 01:19, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Other ChatGPT indefs

At least one other user got blocked (in August) for using ChatGPT without verifying the invented information was correct, and then not responding to queries on their talk page about it. --PresN 14:06, 16 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'll avoid gravedancing, but two other users were blocked after using ChatGPT to generate content which included fake references. MarioGom (talk) 16:34, 18 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]





       

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