The Signpost
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What to write in The Signpost

The Signpost is a monthly community magazine written and edited by users like you—every month of successful publications is the result of the effort of a group of individuals, comprising writers, reviewers, tipsters, copyeditors, technologists and publishers alike. This page lays out what it is that the efforts of all these people is directed towards; sister pages on style and resources lay out how they do it. The Signpost contributors must declare any conflict of interest in the text of any article or editorial that they write.

Regular features[edit]

These are the features that are currently in regular rotation in The Signpost.

News and notes[edit]

The "News and notes" section (shorthand N&N or NAN) focuses on news from the English Wikipedia, the activities of Foundation itself and its chapters, and more broadly the Wikimedia movement at large. "News and notes" is generally published on a monthly basis and aims to present broad coverage of going-ons within the Wikimedia movement, usually drawn together from mailing lists, blog posts, and other primary news dissemination avenues. The now customary format is to include one to two main stories, each comprising two to three paragraphs and accompanied by images or other media. These are followed by an "In brief" section of approximately five or more bullet-listed items, accompanied by images where appropriate.

As a core report (along with "In the media"), "News and notes" attempts to cover all major internal news from the month (however briefly) without omission, even if this means forgoing other reports. Since this report is under significant pressure to be ruthlessly objective, all available viewpoints are considered. In particular, opinions adhering to or deviating from the "official line" of the Foundation are not denigrated merely because they do so. Quotes are always be attributed, and are selected either to give a pithy summary of a viewpoint, or to pick out a particularly salient or controversial point from a piece of commentary. More minor news (such as chapter news) is sifted through and checked for integrity, representativeness and cross-community interest.

A list of news resources for "News and notes" to draw from is available at the Resources page.

In the media[edit]

While "News and notes" focuses on news within the Wikimedia movement, "In the media" (shorthand ITM) reports on depictions of and stories related to Wikipedia and Wikimedia in the media at large (in a wider sense—for example, relevant blog posts or podcasts are often included). There is nonetheless some overlap: a rule of thumb is that if the news was broken by an outside medium first, or if the fact that there has been media coverage can be regarded as more newsworthy for Signpost readers than the content of this coverage, (such as when facts that are well-known among Wikipedians are reported by mainstream media for a wider audience), then it belongs in "In the media". In this section, editors strive to name and if possible link the original source, to avoid excessive copy-pasting, and to add value wherever possible by providing context or relevant details from an internal perspective (e.g. if a newspaper reports about vandalism in an article, the corresponding diffs might be linked).

Much like with "News and notes", the standard format for the report is two main stories (of 2 to 3 paragraphs each) and an "In brief" section covering five or more items. A similar, monthly-if-possible publication schedule is also upheld. Multiple smaller news sources covering the same issue may be merged to form a single larger story; it is very rare for the same issue to appear in both a main story and an "In brief" for this reason (the gender gap is one example where this has occurred). When selecting items to report on priority is generally given to novel themes and temporally significant items; to media sources with major presences; and stories of interest to the community at large and not just to any specific Wikimedian groups. The fundamental purpose of "In the media" is to inform members of the community about the popular perception of the Wikimedia movement (however divergent from reality the editing population may think it). For this reason, it is regarded as acceptable to devote significant coverage space to high-profile but factually incorrect items in the media.

A list of news resources for "In the media" to draw from is available at the Resources page.

Recent research[edit]

A summary of academic studies done on Wikimedia or with Wikimedia in mind published as a joint venture between The Signpost and the Wikimedia Research Committee, both independently and in a monthly column in the Signpost. The venture's meta page maintains an archive of issues.

Featured content[edit]

The "Featured content" section seeks to report on recently featured content on the English Wikipedia. This is the lightest of the regular sections and thus also carries the least serious tone, as its goal is to allow readers to marvel at recent advancements in core content on the English Wikipedia in a visually appealing, experiential way.

Arbitration report[edit]

The "Arbitration report" covers ongoing or recently concluded arbitration cases on the English Wikipedia as well as general news related to the functions or functioning of the Arbitration Committee—the latter is especially true where these do not warrant coverage in "News and notes", which has a more project-wide focus. Written as much as possible from the perspective of an unbiased observer, this report summarizes case developments, responses, and impact (what a decision means; what insights it gives into the values the Arbitration Committee holds; how the decision might directly affect the community) for the readers. The aim is to make readers aware of and allow them to understand complex arbitration-related proceedings that they might not otherwise have any discourse with, allowing them to come to their own view regarding arbitration matter. The "Arbitration report" rarely include images but does carry infographics from time to time. The report will generally touch on all open cases and all other announcements made by the committee during the month. The exact presentation of the report is largely dependent on its author and the nature of the news in any particular month.

Historically, the "Arbitration report" has been the most controversial of The Signpost's regular reports. This is largely due to the difficulties of finding wordings that will both satisfy all parties in a case and allow the readers to make informed decisions about them. The traditional compromise on this is issue is to offer a report that may not reflect all parties' preferred presentation of event, but which is nonetheless objective and meaningful. Even achieving this lesser goal (sifting fact from fiction) is a time-intensive business, and so users mentioned in the report are now asked beforehand if they would like to submit factual corrections to a piece via the comments section of the formative article. Since a purely factual "Arbitration Report" can be prone to insensitivity, this early involvement also helps to inject a minimum of warmth back into the report. Arbitration cases are stressful and the report recognises that; for example, quotations are only ever sourced to reflect an editor's considered opinion more accurately, and never to cherry-pick divisive words said in anger.

Technology report[edit]

The third and last of the three "essential" monthly Signpost sections, the "Technology report" covers news and developments in the technical platforms used by the Wikimedia project. This includes bug fixes, new features in MediaWiki software, and changes in details regarding the operation of Wikimedia sites (including downtimes when they occur). Also within its remit are developments that do not affect Wikimedians themselves, but do affect either other MediaWiki users or Wikimedia re-users, including database dump configuration, Semantic MediaWiki, and data mining technologies, amongst other things. Although the report aims to cover such matters for a general audience, sometimes all readers that will be interested in a news item will already be familiar with certain technical concepts, allowing for such context to be skipped (this mainly relates to "In brief" items). In general, two major stories precede an extended "In brief" section that particularly focuses on recent bug fixes.

A list of news resources for the "Technology report" to draw from is again available at the Resources page.

The report also republishes items from the Meta-Wiki effort Tech News.

Discussion report[edit]

The "Discussion report" aims to provide "a summary of the most significant ongoing discussions and polls of community-wide relevance". In the past "community" was more narrowly defined as "English Wikipedia community", but this need not be the case, and more recent reports should strive to be cosmopolitan in nature. Topics under the purview of the report include requests for comment, village pump discussions, Meta discussions, proposed changes to the Manual of Style, and other such proceedings. When this section is not in regular rotation items of particular significance are absorbed into the regular reports instead, particularly the "Technology report" and "News and notes". Objectivity and impartiality are maintained at all times, although, in common with these two reports, quotations can be used to bring in particularly salient points, even when those are not (in themselves) necessarily representative of a viewpoint.

Traffic report[edit]

The "Traffic report" section reports on the most popular articles on Wikipedia during the latest publication period, serving as a guided commentary on what was hot and what was not with the readership. As with the "Featured content" section the "Traffic report", serving as a curated list, generally has a lighter tone compared to the rest of the publication. This section is written in collaboration with the Top 25 Report.

News from the WMF[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation no longer publishes a blog. Our magazine column has been renamed News from the WMF.
The Foundation has created a WordPress website which combines appeals for donations, profiles of staff members, and articles written by the staff on diverse topics, and news about various Wikimedia projects and spin-offs. If The Signpost editors feel some content is interesting enough and topically relevant enough to our readers to be republished, they will do so and may add their own comments; much of our reporting is taken from the News section of the website. It is important to note that The Signpost is nonetheless a fully independent publication, and so the choice as to what to publish and even whether or not to publish is an independent decision entirely at the discretion of the editor(s)-in-chief.


Wikipedia contains hundreds if not thousands of essays written by editors. Some essays are even referred to during various discussions regarding policies and practices. Some of these are widely accepted. Other essays take on a lighter view of topics. Essays are republished in The Signpost to draw attention to the contributions of the writers.

Irregular features[edit]

These features are currently published with less regularity but still appear at times. Interested in reviving them? Let us know.


Intended for frank discussion and sharing of opinions between Wikipedians. Similar to an RFC in many ways, though less formal and on a topic that requires more exposition. Discussion is meant to be open-ended discussion instead of a !vote support/oppose type of discussion.

From the Archives[edit]

A reprint of an earlier article in The Signpost that may remind users and bring to the attention of new users a topic that is still relevant today and/or which may support or complement a topic under one of the other rubrics. Usually selected by the editorial team but also on suggestions of any editors.


There aren't many places on Wikipedia where snide remarks, silliness, sarcasm and irony are appropriate, but in the Humour section such content is welcome. It can also present editorial commentary – framed in a light, non-confrontational manner. Adds a pleasing, more 'magazine' touch to The Signpost and all editors are invited to make suggestions on content.

In Focus[edit]

Usually a submission from a Wikipedia editor or group of editors that focuses on a current specific feature or process of Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, or concern of the editors that does not fit into Op-Ed, Special Report, or any other regular rubric.


Interviews are preceded by a succinct introduction. Whilst an amount of fact-checking is advisable, respondents are generally taken at their word. The report is accompanied by images. WikiProjects are rarely featured more than once, but when they are the reports are spaced at least a year apart, if not more.

On the Bright Side[edit]

Generally a 'feel good' story. Comes as a bit of relief among all the doom and gloom that The Signpost sadly has to report!


An op-ed, short for "opposite the editorial page", is a written prose piece, which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication's editorial board. See more at Op-ed.


An idea or perception not necessarily based on fact, sources, or knowledge. Usually expressed by one or several editors and is generally more openly subjective and opinionated. It is considered worthy of publication at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief but is not necessarily endorsed by The Signpost.


An interesting or anecdotal essay or report of human or general interest. Adds a pleasing, more 'magazine' touch to The Signpost and is often illustrated. Submissions are accepted at the discretion of the E-in-C.

Special Report[edit]

Usually a detailed report on the implications a recent major policy or technnical change that will affect the processes of Wikipedia and the way editors will work and contribute.

Tips and Tricks[edit]

Tips and Tricks is a general editing advice column written by experienced editors. Suggestions for a topic, or offers of advice, are welcome.

WikiProject report[edit]

Each "WikiProject report" selects a WikiProject (or other long-term collaboration on the English Wikipedia) and attempts to inform Signpost readers about the project's work, achievements, and problems from the perspective of an interview with its active participants. This report is coordinated at the WikiProject desk and is also published on an irregular basis. It is generally deemed acceptable to edit the words of the respondent(s) as one might edit a quotation—i.e., to fix spelling, grammar and punctuation only.

Special columns[edit]

The Signpost also publishes special columns covering topics in greater depth and length than the formats of the standard sections allow. The two most common such features (and those of most interest to most contributing writers' pieces) are Op-eds and Special reports. Submitted stories are subject to the approval of the editor-in-chief, JPxG, and may be published under other headings, such as Community view, Forum, or In focus. We also occasionally publish Book reviews.

All proposals and submissions are handled at the submissions desk. If you have an idea that doesn't fit neatly into this framework, don't hesitate to address us on our user talk pages, by email, or as a last resort, on the general Signpost talk page.

In many cases particular features or sections of features are part of a series discussion a particular topic; these articles are cataloged as series and generally make use of the {{Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Series}} template.

We also occasionally publish rarer features under the following headings:

  • Galleries are purely photographic sections containing featured and other high-quality images in a curated, topical form. This is also currently an internal feature, though based on the feedback we receive we may open it to public submissions in the future.
  • Interviews are handled at the interviews desk. This is an internal desk meant primarily for our regular writers, as interviews of the quality publishable in The Signpost are never incidental in nature. As such the interview desk does not currently have a submission mechanism—to propose an interview leave us feedback on our talk page instead.
  • From the editor(s) postings generally communicating changes behind-the-scenes in operations at The Signpost. A catalog of these communications is available here.
  • Cobwebs (or perhaps "web-cobs"?): That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die. A (hopefully) infrequent feature for lost articles, hidden drafts, and other deleted nonsense found in the nearly twenty years worth of Signpost pages.

Lapsed features[edit]


Dispatches were handled at the featured content dispatch workshop. Dispatches are topical articles on en-wiki's various featured article procedures and vetting processes. Like the reviews desk the dispatches workshop has mostly lain dormant in recent years, in this case due to The Signpost's increasing shift towards coverage of the Wikimedia movement in general as opposed to elements of our home wiki's specific structure. Such submissions are now solicited via the special desk.

Education report[edit]

The Education desk was a short-lived feature which published a few articles in 2012. Its functions were split off from those of "News and notes" but have now been reabsorbed.


Tutorials were publications, coordinated at the tutorial desk and all published in 2008, which provided how-to information on editing Wikipedia (Though semantically these publications were coordinated at the tutorial series page and not the tutorial desk per se, the page in question is essentially what we would term a "desk" today—the publication of tutorials simply precedes this organizational definition. As it is currently used "series" refers to something else).

This is now considered to be outside The Signpost's scope. Given their age, much of what these articles espouse is no longer applicable or relevant today, and though The Signpost does not mark past content as explicitly historical these publications should nonetheless be read with caution. Users seeking help should refer instead to the wiki's various Help pages.

The Tips and Tricks columns are a spiritual success to these.


WikiWorld was, as described in its first publication:

Publication ended in late 2008. Though there were calls for a spiritual continuation, The Signpost has never carried comics since. Until now!

A spiritual successor can be found in the CommonsComix column.

From the editor(s) [edit]

From time to time the editor(s) of The Signpost wish to communicate information about the publication itself to the audience; in such cases that months's edition of The Signpost also carries a special notice generally titled "From the editors".


Contributors make every reasonable efforts to make sure they "get their facts right" (the editor-in-chief bears a similar level responsibility for putting out an error-free edition) but as with any other time-budgeted publication they are not expected to be infallible. Contributors should endeavor to avoid putting out material they know to be wrong or misleading. Despite this relatively high quality bar, The Signpost would not be where it is today without the efforts of hundreds of editors who have made their own, smaller contributions, and these are always welcomed.

Major contributors should generally watchlist articles to which they have contributed in order to note changes and comments made, and respond where possible. Where an error is discovered, minor corrections are usually made to the article directly; major corrections may require an accompanying editor's note at the bottom of the page. Post-publishing updates are almost never done unless they would be extremely confusing to a reader, and even then we prefer to leave the content intact. For example, if a linked article is deleted shortly after publication, leave the sentence intact but add an editor's note after the sentence. Post-publication spelling corrections are also allowed, though post-publication copy-editing, which undermines an article's impression of quality, is not.


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