Suggestion by Nardog (2023-04-25)

In wholesome news, User:Junnn11, a prolific contributor of illustrations of anthropods, made the main page of Hacker News [1] and a Japanese blog [2]. Nardog (talk) 21:14, 25 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Summary of conference talk: Historians on Wikipedia in higher education #LILAC23

The Signpost should write about...for "In the media" (or something more): Authority of knowledge: historians on Wikipedia in higher education #LILAC23 blogpost by Sheila Webber about a talk by Delphine Doucet given at the #LILAC23 Conference (information literacy). Maybe Doucet is an editor? - kosboot (talk) 15:51, 27 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by 137a (2023-06-02)

The Signpost should write an article comparing the several user scripts that show the reliability of sources:

User:Headbomb/unreliable, User:Novem Linguae/Scripts/CiteHighlighter, and User:SuperHamster/CiteUnseen

some of the things about each script

Headbomb's script:

Novem Linguae's script

SuperHamster's script

All three scripts can apparently be used together without bugs (here is someone else's screenshot)

unreliable and citehighlighter used together

137a (talkedits) 18:02, 2 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I plan on writing something about those in a follow up Tips and Tricks columns. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 00:15, 9 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Suggestion by Vchimpanzee (2023-07-31)

The Signpost should write about editing with a WP:COI taking place in Durham County, North Carolina if it hasn't already.— Vchimpanzee • talk • contributions • 21:47, 31 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There was a lot of coverage about this story in this issue. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:32, 2 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Suggestion by Hansmuller (2023-04-15)

Would The Signpost welcome a piece by me, combining and updating User:Hansmuller/The_sum_of_all_knowledge (including international interpretations) and User:Hansmuller/Five_Pillars_plus_one (also Wikology/Wikisophy :-) in a more appropriate style? The sum of all knowledge might also be viewed as an extra Pillar, so then we would end up with a total of Seven Pillars of Wikipedia? Thank for considering this proposal, Hansmuller (talk) 08:41, 15 April 2023 (UTC), Wikipedian in Residence African Studies Centre LeidenReply[reply]

@Hansmuller: This looks a bit out of place here, see Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Newsroom/Submissions for proposing contributions written by oneself.
Without preempting a full discussion there, my first impression is that the "sum of all knowledge" piece looks like an interesting and valuable overview of various interpretations of this term. The "pillars" piece I didn't find as convincing or interesting on first glance, but that too could be further discussed on the submissions page. Regards, HaeB (talk) 05:30, 8 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by Groceryheist (2023-06-01)

The Signpost should write about...

A really interesting research article about how Wikipedia's institutions have changed over time that essentially claims that Wikipedia's processes have become less friendly to fringe views over time was just published open access in APSR, an elite political science journal.

The title is "Rule Ambiguity, Institutional Clashes, and Population Loss: How Wikipedia Became the Last Good Place on the Internet"

I suggest that someone (perhaps myself) review it for the next recent research section.

Groceryheist (talk) 03:15, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is being mentioned in-depth in the upcomng edition of In the media (due to being mentioned in Political Science Now). But could perhaps be moved to another section of the paper. Jonatan Svensson Glad (talk) 22:31, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Cool! Nice writeup. I think some additional coverage in a future recent research column could still be helpful (and can link to your In the media column). This is among the first (maybe the first) articles about Wikipedia in prestigious political science journals and so may not be on the radar of the broader audience of Wikipedia researchers that read the recent research newsletter. Groceryheist (talk) 17:54, 2 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
{{done}} Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 00:32, 10 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by Sdkb (2023-07-06)

The Signpost should write about paltry funding for Wikimania scholarships.

{{u|Sdkb}}talk 19:59, 6 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Sdkb I agree it's worth covering ... I'd earmarked a section in Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/Next issue/News and notes even before seeing your note here. Do you feel like collaborating?
I guess the total amount the WMF spent on the roughly 200 scholarships it approved is significantly smaller than the $0.95 million it recently spent on the severance packages for just two (2) top executives. Andreas JN466 18:08, 8 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for taking this up, @Jayen466! Given that I've expressed a clear view on the topic, I think I should recuse myself from covering it in the Signpost to avoid any appearance of bias. You're certainly welcome to quote from my post and the response to it, though. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 19:03, 8 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you, will do. Andreas JN466 19:19, 8 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
{{done}} Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 00:33, 10 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by 2603:7000:9600:172:869:57E:CCBC:7BD3 (2023-07-20)

The Signpost should write about...

Hi--I'm the executive editor over at the Forward and we just published this piece that I thought you all might be interested in. It's about a Wikimedia-funded project to save a half-dozen lost Jewish languages and there's been a major Wikipedia edit-a-thon associated with the project as well. Anyway, here's the link to the story:

All Best,

Adam Langer 2603:7000:9600:172:869:57E:CCBC:7BD3 (talk) 19:33, 20 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

{{Done}} Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 00:36, 10 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by Gråbergs Gråa Sång (2023-05-21)

The Signpost should write about...

Slightly amusing tail wags dog story. There is a new RM (7th, but who's counting (we are)) going on at Talk:Czech Republic. The arguments for moving include more weighty orgs like IOC now use Czechia. In the Talk:Czech_Republic#Moratorium sub-thread I pointed out that the Czech OC still used "the Czech Republic" on their about-page[3], and that someone should perhaps talk to them about that. Apparently someone did, the page was updated[4] and currently reads the Czechia. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 15:22, 21 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion by Tcr25 (2023-04-07)

The Signpost should write about the oldest hoax/false statement found thus far. As part of a peer review/expansion of Clipperton Island attempts to source the claim of a 1725 French expedition to the island found nothing predating 2003, which is when the claim was first added to Wikipedia. It seems the claim lasted on the page for 19 years, 3 months, and 15 days, propagating to a number of other sites, including print sources.

McGann, Mary; Schmieder, Robert W.; Loncke, Louis-Philippe (2019). "Shallow-water Foraminifera and Other Microscopic Biota of Clippertion Island, Tropical East Pacific" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin (626): 5. ISSN 0077-5630.

The previous longest-lasting known false statement was 15 years, 5 months; the longest-lasting known hoax article was 17 years, 5 months. —Carter (Tcr25) (talk) 22:08, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I feel vaguely sad that the item I found is no longer the record-holder. XOR'easter (talk) 15:47, 15 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This feels like a good place to share an example I found. The earliest iteration (16 April 2002) of the article Dili includes the line "Dili was settled about 1520 by the Portuguese, who made it the capital of Portuguese Timor". I am open to being embarassingly corrected on this entire matter, but from what I can tell this is not true. I don't know if it was a hoax, I more suspect it was a good faith mistake on a historical topic which remains somewhat unclear even today. The 1520s were when Portugal started operating in and around Timor, but this was trade rather than settlement, and it was a long time before the center of Portuguese control was even on that island. At some point the first settlement occurred at Lifau, which later again became the administrative centre. It was only in 1769 that Dili became the center, as a result of the Governor literally moving there with a thousand other people. So far as I can tell Dili was effectively founded at that point, although there might have been a small settlement earlier? At any rate, this claim remained in the article until I removed it on 21 July 2021 (separately removed from the infobox). To this day Britannica still says "Dili was settled about 1520 by the Portuguese, who made it an administrative centre". CMD (talk) 03:30, 2 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good catch after 19 years, 3 months, 6 days. Looking at the Portuguese version of the article (pt:Díli), it was created in September 2004 with the same 1520 claims, but much of the history section was rewritten at the end of November 2005 to line up with what you've noted although the sourcing there could be more in-depth. That edit (and a lot of further expansion of the article) was done by Manuel de Sousa who helped found Tetum-language Wikipedia. Looking at some histories of the region, it's possible a trading post was set up in the vicinity of Dili around 1520 (though I haven't found anything that confirms that), but it certainly wasn't a seat of colonial government until much, much later. (Looking at more of the Dili article history, it seems the claim was edited over time to make clear that Dili wasn't founded as the capital in 1520. In this May 2002 edit the capital claim was dated to 1596; an IP editor in April 2007 changed the date to 1796 with the edit summary "→‎History: date wrong, check founding date, I don't believe it too!" It remained that way until CMD started in on the article in June and July 2021.) —Carter (Tcr25) (talk) 12:38, 2 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I there! I’m not an active contributor nowadays, but please let me know if I can be useful in anyway. Regards, Manuel de Sousa (talk) 22:58, 8 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One dark secret about Britannica is that many of its articles were written by freelancers who sometimes, er, improvised facts, & their contributions were never carefully double-checked for accuracy. (One of many reasons not to cite EB as a reliable source.) I wouldn't be surprised if this claim about Dili was "improvised." -- llywrch (talk) 20:54, 28 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A memoir by Llywrch?

This coming October will mark 21 years I've been a contributor here at Wikipedia. I've been musing writing a memoir about how Wikipedia has changed over the years. Some good changes (e.g., as a reference it is definitely far more useful today than it was in 2002), some not good (e.g., as a result it is definitely harder to contribute to Wikipedia than 20-odd years ago, let alone start a new article -- although much remains to be covered). -- llywrch (talk) 21:26, 28 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Would love to read that! Andreas JN466 23:29, 28 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it’s a great idea and I would suggest doing it as an interview. Volunteer Marek 06:48, 29 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
An interview would lend itself to a better structure, & is more likely to cover topics of general interest, as opposed to a recounting of my own personal biases ... -- llywrch (talk) 17:44, 29 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Llywrch: whether a memoir or interview, let me know when it happens. Would love to read it. Volunteer Marek 20:52, 1 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New Yorker article on "smear campaign" financed by the ruler of the United Arab Emirates

Perhaps Smallbones is already on this, but just in case:

The New Yorker has a lengthy investigative article titled "The Dirty Secrets of a Smear Campaign", describing how "Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, paid a Swiss private intelligence firm millions of dollars to taint perceived enemies". Most of the article isn't about Wikipedia, but there are several paragraphs about how the firm ("Alp Services", founded by an investigator named Mario Brero) used it for their purposes alongside many other interesting tools (such illegitimately obtaining phone call records or tax records of their targets, and planting stories in various news outlets). I'm excerpting them below for convenience.

The first part is about an American oil trader named Hazim Nada, founder of a company called Lord Energy:

On January 5, 2018, Sylvain Besson, a journalist who had written a book purporting to tie [Hazim Nada's father] Youssef Nada to a supposed Islamist conspiracy, published an article, in the Geneva newspaper Le Temps, claiming that Lord Energy was a cover for a Muslim Brotherhood cell. “The children of the historical leaders of the organization have recycled themselves in oil and gas,” Besson wrote. A new item in Africa Intelligence hinted darkly that Lord Energy employees had “been active in the political-religious sphere.” Headlines sprang up on Web sites, such as Medium, that had little editorial oversight: “Lord Energy: The Mysterious Company Linking Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood”; “Compliance: Muslim Brotherhood Trading Company Lord Energy Linked to Crédit Suisse.” A Wikipedia entry for Lord Energy [probably fr:Lord Energy] suddenly included descriptions of alleged ties to terrorism.

This outside view from the victim's perspective is later matched to what the reporter learned from leaked/hacked internal emails of "Alp Services":

In February, 2018, [Brero] asked for more money to expand his operation against Nada, and proposed “to alert compliance databases and watchdogs, which are used by banks and multinationals, for example about Lord Energy’s real activities and links to terrorism.” His “objective,” he explained, was to block the company’s “bank accounts and business.” [...]
Alp quickly put the Emiratis’ money to work. An Alp employee named Raihane Hassaine e-mailed drafts of damning Wikipedia entries. On an invoice dated May 31, 2018, the company paid Nina May, a freelance writer in London, six hundred and twenty-five pounds for five online articles, published under pseudonyms and based on notes supplied by Alp, that attacked Lord Energy for links to terrorism and extremism. (Hassaine did not respond to requests for comment. May told me that she had worked for Alp in the past but had signed a nondisclosure agreement.)


Alp operatives bragged to the Emiratis that they had successfully thwarted Nada’s efforts to correct the disparaging Lord Energy entry on Wikipedia. “We requested the assistance of friendly moderators who countered the repeated attacks,” Brero wrote in an “urgent update” to the Emiratis in June, 2018. “The objective remains to paralyze the company.” To pressure others to shun Lord Energy, Alp added dubious allegations about the company to the Wikipedia entries for Credit Suisse and for an Algerian oil monopoly [possibly Sonatrach, referring to these edits].

And regarding another target:

Brero’s campaign sometimes involved secret retaliation. In a 2018 report, a U.N. panel of human-rights experts concluded that the U.A.E. may have committed war crimes in its military intervention in Yemen. The Emiratis commissioned Brero to investigate the panel’s members, especially its chairman, Kamel Jendoubi, a widely admired French Tunisian human-rights advocate. [...] “Today, in both Google French and Google English, the reputation of Kamel Jendoubi is excellent,” Brero noted in a November, 2018, pitch to the Emiratis. “On both first pages, there is not a single critical article.” Within six months, Brero promised, Jendoubi’s image could be “reshaped” with “negative elements.” The cost: a hundred and fifty thousand euros.

Rumors spread through Arab news outlets and European Web publications that Jendoubi was a tool of Qatar, a failed businessman, and tied to extremists. A French-language article posted on Medium suggested that he might be “an opportunist disguised as a human-rights hero.” An article in English asked, “Is UN-expert Kamel Jendoubi too close to Qatar?” Alp created or altered Wikipedia entries about Jendoubi, in various languages, by citing claims from unreliable, reactionary, or pro-government news outlets in Egypt and Tunisia.

Jendoubi told me that he’d been perplexed by the flurry of slander that followed the war-crimes report. “Wikipedia is a monster!” he told me. He had managed to clean up the French entry, but the English-language page still stymied him. He said, “You speak English—can you help?”

I likely won't have time to look more into this, but it surely seems worthwhile to examine edit histories, look at whether frwiki has been discussing these issues, etc.

Regards, HaeB (talk) 16:37, 31 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wow, talk about a long form article - this one takes 1 hour 13 minutes to read. @HaeB:. It should make a very good Signpost article. For one thing, we can just quote the New Yorker as a form of "ground truth". Sure they can make mistakes, but their reputation for fact checking is probably the best in the business. And we can just quote them. Searching the WP record of edits may be fairly easy as well since they seem to give the article and the date. I'll ask @*Jules*: right here and now if he can dig up anything in FRwiki. But I certainly can't do it for this issue, and doubt that anybody could do this properly in 3 days. I'm working on a boring article on systemically important banks and it's taking more time than I'd though. If I find more time, maybe I'll find some sexy banking stuff to add to it. I'll encourage anybody who wants a shot at this to start it, and I can certainly give some advice after this issue's deadline, April 2. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:05, 31 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Try again @Jules*: Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:08, 31 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hey. I will take a look tomorrow. — Jules* talk 18:23, 31 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just finished reading that article; found this added by single-purpose account User:Ramzan.khutaissi in July 2019 in the Credit Suisse history. It was subsequently removed in January 2021. I wasn't able to find an article (existing or deleted) on Lord Energy. I removed this from Sonatrach, also originally added by a a differnt SPA (User:Bounableilalaw) back around the same time in 2019: [5]. OhNoitsJamie Talk 02:01, 1 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't have much time, but fr:Lord Energy has been created (with negative elements) by SPI Davidefergan (talk · contribs) in June 2018. Reverts to keep the contents seem to all have been made by legit editors. I forwarded this discussion on fr-wp antispam project.
On fr:Kamel Jendoubi, negative elements have been added by SPI Rachidayedtunis (talk · contribs) in January 2019, and by SPI Mouhatou93 (talk · contribs) in August 2019. Those negative elements have been deleted in 2021 by an SPI and then by Josce (talk · contribs).
Best, — Jules* talk 11:23, 1 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seems to me it should be mentioned that Kamel Jendoubi is a BLP article, and the content added to it was clearly slanderous, poorly cited, and in ungrammatical English, but when an IP tried to remove it, one of our WP:RCP users reverted the IP, claiming "censorship". This speaks to me of the difficulties of checking thousands of edits every day NotBartEhrman (talk) 19:27, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks everyone - based on the above I may actually aim to put together an ITM piece myself, probably for the next (i.e. not today's) issue. I still haven't read the entire article and feel it should better be covered by someone who has. But better to have something that relies on excerpts than dropping this entirely. Regards, HaeB (talk) 04:31, 3 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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