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19 July 2010

News and notes
Politician defends editing own article, Google translation, Row about a small Wikipedia
In the news
Wikimania, Former Wikimedia employee looks back, Editing controversial articles
Vandalism
Vandalism edits fool media and a government, become object of bets
WikiProject report
Up close with WikiProject Animals
Features and admins
The best of the week
Arbitration report
ArbCom to appoint CU/OS positions after dumping election results
Technology report
Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News
 

2010-07-19

Politician defends editing own article, Google translation, Row about a small Wikipedia

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By Wackywace, Tarheel95, Jarry1250, Pretzels and Tilman Bayer

British MP defends content removal from his own Wikipedia biography

Following an article in the Sunday Telegraph (see last week's Signpost), British politician Tony Baldry has "strongly defended his decision to make changes to his Wikipedia biography, saying information posted on the web-based encyclopedia was inaccurate and libellous", according to the Banbury Guardian.

Tony Baldry told the tabloid newspaper that "in the run up to the General Election, I was made aware that an anonymous blogger had gone on to Wikipedia and made a number of entries relating to me which were inaccurate, false and defamatory. I asked one of my team to go on to Wikipedia and do no more than make sure the entries were factually correct. My researcher went on under the name of Tony Baldry, you can't get more transparent than that. It was completely clear that the relevant amendments were being requested by or on my behalf."

The contributions in question are listed under Special:Contributions/Tonybaldry. However, it appears that a sockpuppet investigation found he was simultaneously using another account, User:Panther219 to make edits to his page.

Google uses machine translation to increase content on smaller Wikipedias

In a presentation at the recent Wikimania conference, a representative of Google described how, for the past 16 months, "Google has been working with the Wikimedia Foundation, students, professors, Google volunteers, paid translators, and members of the Wikipedia community to increase Wikipedia content in Arabic, Indic languages, and Swahili". (See also earlier Signpost coverage of Google's "Kiswahili Wikipedia Challenge")

Stephen Shankland of cnet wrote on his blog that "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible, but not necessarily to create it outright. This makes Wikipedia a natural partner." Google plans to expand its services with Arabic, Indic languages, and Swahili. These are languages in which there is no large corpus of material on the web, particularly in Unicode. The availability of such material would help in the training of the translator. Google's "Translation Toolkit" has aided in the translation project, and has received accuracy improvements as a result.

In a statement posted on Wednesday, Google said:

To help Wikipedia become more helpful to speakers of smaller languages, we’re working with volunteers, translators and Wikipedians across India, the Middle East and Africa to translate more than 16 million words for Wikipedia into Arabic, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Swahili, Tamil and Telugu. We began these efforts in 2008, starting with translating Wikipedia articles into Hindi, a language spoken by tens of millions of Internet users. At that time the Hindi Wikipedia had only 3.4 million words across 21,000 articles––while in contrast, the English Wikipedia had 1.3 billion words across 2.5 million articles. We selected the Wikipedia articles using a couple of different sets of criteria. First, we used Google search data to determine the most popular English Wikipedia articles read in India. Using Google Trends, we found the articles that were consistently read over time––and not just temporarily popular. Finally we used Translator Toolkit to translate articles that either did not exist or were placeholder articles or “stubs” in Hindi Wikipedia. In three months, we used a combination of human and machine translation tools to translate 600,000 words from more than 100 articles in English Wikipedia, growing Hindi Wikipedia by almost 20 percent. We’ve since repeated this process for other languages, to bring our total number of words translated to 16 million.

In another Wikimania presentation, immediately following that of Google, A. Ravishankar from the Tamil Wikipedia presented a critical view of Google's activities on that project. The concerns described by Ravishankar (and noted in the New York Times) included the fact that Google did not announce its activities beforehand - "the site’s administrators suddenly noticed articles appearing out of nowhere", the selection of coverage, and "sloppiness in language and coding". A page on the Tamil Wikipedia describes further "Issues with google translation in Tamil Wikipedia" (in English). On the Bengali Wikipedia, content provided by Google was even deleted outright because it did not meet the community's standards.

Acehnese Wikipedians threaten boycott over Muhammad images

Recently, several top contributors on the Acehnese Wikipedia added a template of protest to their userpages, and for a time to the main page of their wiki (see detailed timeline). It called (in English) for the immediate deletion of "images insulting the Prophet Muhammad PBUH" (for context, see depictions of Muhammad and Signpost coverage: 2006, 2008) from four pages on the English Wikipedia and added that the wiki would be prepared for a "boycott" of Wikipedia if a fatwa were issued on the topic. A few days later, it was noted on the Foundation's mailing list and caused a great deal of debate (about 120 messages to date). While there was some sympathy for the contributors – the Arabic Wikipedia already restricts the display of images of Muhammad by local consensus – there was general disapproval of the militancy with which the message was spread. It was noted that while the contributors had the right to fork the wiki, they could not unilaterally shut it down. After two stewards and a global sysop intervened to remove the template from the main page, they were blocked by local admins and the message was reinserted. Eventually all local admins were de-sysopped. Discussion is occurring at meta.

The Acehnese language is primarily spoken in the Indonesian province of Aceh. The Acehnese Wikipedia was started in August 2009 (after a period of incubation beginning in 2008), and a presentation at the recent Wikimania conference described its community as "very small and limited. Less than ten contributors are really active ... Almost all active contributors don’t have internet access at their home."

Briefly

2010-07-19

Wikimania, Former Wikimedia employee looks back, Editing controversial articles

Part of the audience for one of the main sessions at Wikimania 2010
Noam Cohen at last year's Wikimania

Wikimania

Noam Cohen of The New York Times was present at the Wikimania conference in Gdansk, Poland last week. On his Media & Advertising blog, he wrote that "Wikipedia may have found its ultimate challenge: success and public acceptance." He continued, "Rather than look to experts to get its mojo working, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates the Wikipedias in more than 250 languages, is aiming at the underserved populations of the globe to meet its ambitious goals for growth."

Cohen reported that the Foundation's aim was to have a diverse range of contributors from across the globe:

"A new board member from Mumbai, Bishakha Datta, a documentary maker and advocate for women’s issues, was appointed, despite having little familiarity with Wikipedia, because of her experience in running a nonprofit in India. Her inclusion also signals the foundation’s vision of an encyclopedia that is truly comprehensive because its contributors are much more diverse in sex, age and region – as opposed to the heavily male, young and Western group that edits it now."

See also this week's News and notes about Wikimania presentations on Google's efforts to increase Wikipedia content for some of these underserved populations.

"Working for Wikipedia taught me about collaboration"

Sandra Ordonez at a press conference during Wikimania 2007

Former Wikimedia Communications Manager Sandra Ordonez, who was the first line of defence in the Essjay controversy, last week published a column in PBS Mediashift. She stated that on taking up the post "I was not a stranger to collaboration. In fact, that was my biggest criticism of American culture – we were too individualistic and not group focused enough. But nothing prepared me for the wiki world."

When she became the communications manager for the Wikimedia Foundation in January 2007, she "immediately began to review the public relations materials available to me, and almost immediately went into panic mode. There was no polished press kit, press list or, dare I say, communication strategy. In fact, the majority of individuals on the communications committee had little to no public relations training, and were more intellectual and techie than the average PR practitioner at that time."

Ordonez was immediately in hot water, having to deal with a public relations "crisis" relating to Essjay, who lied to The New Yorker about his credentials:

"Not surprisingly, the years of crisis communication training I received was useless in the context I found myself in. For a brief moment, I honestly thought that my career as a PR specialist had come to an end. The New Yorker, in my mind, was the bible of the media world; there was no way that our online encyclopedia was going to survive the PR damage. In the midst of my concerns, I soon became a believer in the power of collaboration. That crisis was the moment when the new media landscape unfolded before my eyes. The volunteers took charge. They created a Wikipedia entry that documented the event in gruesome detail. It was honest, direct and, amazingly, had no PR spin. In fact, for most Wikipedia members, the biggest concern was that Essjay had used his false credentials in content disputes. It was apparent to me that there was never any malice or hidden agenda. Essjay himself had revealed his real credentials on his user profile when he was hired by Wikia, a company owned by Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales. In fact, in the months that followed, I found the community became self-correcting by encouraging the use of real names and identities. It found a way to help prevent this type of issue from happening again."

Ordonez presented "some valuable lessons about collaboration and how to make it work" she had learned in "the wiki world", including that one should trust a group one works in: "the group can make up for any weaknesses you may have as an individual." On openly receiving and giving criticism, she said, "When working collaboratively, it is important to let go of your ego. Learn to not take things personally and be honest about what you think without being disrespectful."

"Wikipedia still receives a lot of flack – it's an easy target for institutions and individuals who are desperately trying to survive in a digital world. However, I feel grateful for having worked for a short time with the "free culture" trailblazers behind the project who are responsible for making the world a bit more open, democratic, smarter, and much more collaborative."

Wikipedia downplaying the New York Times' anti-semitism?

After describing Wikipedia as an "Islamist hornet’s nest" with an "Islamofascist dark side" last month (see Signpost coverage), FrontPage Magazine, a conservative website based in California, published another blog post last week that was critical of Wikipedia.

Karin McQuillan, a psychotherapist and author of several mystery novels ("Elephants' Graveyard", "Cheetah Chase", "Deadly Safari"), wrote about her experiences as a Wikipedia editor (Cimicifugia (talk · contribs)), which centered around the – since deleted – article The New York Times and the Holocaust and related topics. She explained her experience – becoming involved in edit wars, and eventually getting temporarily blocked from editing – by the hypothesis that "Wiki has an Israel problem. Wiki has a Jewish problem."

"Unless you like endless fighting with anti-Semites and Israel-haters, it is not pleasant to try to contribute to topics dealing with Israel. Major topics like Jerusalem or the Holocaust attract enough attention that destructive editors’ depredations are kept at a minimum. More specialized topics, like Hajji Amin al-Husseini, the Nazi founder of the Palestinian movement, are a mess. Propaganda purporting to be reference material, such as “Israel and the apartheid analogy” is tolerated, although it is against the rules.

If a rival editor’s complaint is judged favorably, you are banned from Wiki on the spot. It is frontier justice: no time to present your case, no review of the controversy. This system has not worked well on Jewish or Israel related topics. As Larry Sanger points out, it is a system that is easily gamed by the malicious, abetted by a nerd culture that doesn’t understand proper supervision.

I clicked around on various discussion pages on Jewish or jihadi topics, interested in finding editors who were advocating accurate information. On topic after topic, when I clicked on the Jewish editor’s name, I discovered they, too, had been banned."

— Karin McQuillan Wikipedia’s Jewish Problem, frontpagemag.com


Briefly

2010-07-19

Vandalism edits fool media and a government, become object of bets

During the past week, vandalism on Wikipedia has sparked errors in the media and an embarrassing error by the South African government. A betting company has introduced odds on which Wikipedia pages will be vandalised next.

False death rumor spreads from Wikipedia article

Lindsay Lohan: very much alive
On Wednesday July 14, CBS reported that vandals had changed the article on American actress and model Lindsay Lohan to state that she had died, a rumor which "quickly spread well beyond Wikipedia".

"The history page for the Wikipedia entry indicated that in a period of about 312 hours Wednesday morning, the date of death for Lohan was entered and deleted more than a dozen times by several different users. At least one of the users was blocked indefinitely from editing articles on the grounds that the user's account was "being used only for vandalism". The celebrity blog Ear Sucker soon published an entry reporting, "Rumor has it that Lindsay Lohan has died, at the young age of only 24 years old." The entry said no "reliable sources, such as TMZ or the L.A. Times" had reported Lohan's death, so "we're going to take it as a rumor, solely until we hear otherwise." The rumor was soon debunked by several entertainment blogs, and never appeared in any mainstream news report. But it garnered enough interest to make "Lindsay Lohan dead" the hottest search trend on Google Wednesday morning."

— No, Lindsay Lohan Is Not Dead, cbs2chicago.com

South African government calls FIFA president a penis

On Thursday, news agencies reported that "the South African government has unwittingly referred to FIFA President Sepp Blatter as a "Bellend"—a popular British slang name for a penis." According to media reports, the mistake was made after the article on Sepp Blatter was vandalised so that Blatter was referred to as "Joseph Sepp Bellend Blatter", which the government thought was his correct name, and repeated the error in a post on their website (screenshot by The Guardian) announcing that Blatter was the recipient of the "Order of The Companions of O R Tambo", one of the country's highest awards, which was presented to him at a gala dinner on July 12 by South African president Jacob Zuma, as reported by the Daily Telegraph [1]. Memeburn.com wrote that

"The South African government most likely took Blatter’s name from his Wikipedia profile, which had been the target of angry fans or pranksters who christened the Fifa president with the derogatory second name. When the error came to light, the government webpage was quickly corrected. Given the term’s English origin, in all likelihood the vandalism emanated from an English fan angry at Blatter’s initial opposition to goal-line technology. England lost to Germany during the World Cup after the referee mistakenly adjudged that the ball had crossed the goal line."

However, further analysis on the article's talk page found that the offending term had not been present in the article in the weeks before the award ceremony. It had once been inserted long before the World Cup, though - as early as July 2009 [2].

It was not the first time that vandalism related to controversial referee decisions at this year's World Cup has received media attention - last month, edits to the article about a Malian referee were covered in several U.S. newspapers (see Signpost coverage).

Bookmaker offers bets on next high-profile vandalism

Also last week, Ireland's largest bookmaker, Paddy Power, started taking bets on which page would be vandalised next. The announcement cited the Blatter case, and named as the favourite, at odds of 4–1, the article on Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, who a Paddy Power spokesman said was "public enemy number one" following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. "Millions rely on Wikipedia as their trusted source of information so any amendments will be used and viewed across the world by thousands of people," they said, "if someone wants to make a statement then this is a high profile tactic and with Tony upsetting so many Americans he is ... an obvious target.”

The other odds were:

The web page with the actual bet offer appeared to be offline at the time of writing. According to a copy in Google's cache, it contained the conditions "Must be reported in the Guardian newspaper. Must happen in 2010".

Reader comments

2010-07-19

Up close with WikiProject Animals

WikiProject news
News in brief
Submit your project's news and announcements for next week's WikiProject Report at the Signpost's WikiProject Desk.

This week, we checked out WikiProject Animals, a project that covers all animals (all species belonging to the kingdom Animalia). The project was started in September 2007; the project's current coordinator is Intelligentsium. WikiProject Animals is home to over 1,000 articles, including 12 GA-class articles. This week we interviewed project members Intelligentsium, Brambleclawx, Belguaboy, and The High Fin Sperm Whale.

A collage depicting animal diversity using featured pictures

Intelligentsium joined the project "to collaborate with fellow Wikipedians on articles pertaining to a broad and fascinating topic," pointing out that "not much collaboration has occurred" due to the limited activity of the project. Meanwhile, Brambleclawx found WikiProject Animals a few months ago, deciding to join due to "an interest in animals of all kinds, [especially] wolves, deer, birds, and cats." Additionally, Barambleclawx points out that he was "fascinated by animals, and often read a lot of books about them," mentioning that he "[has] not contributed much to the project, and [has] mostly focused on White tiger, which was listed on the to-do list as requiring cleanup." The High Fin Sperm Whale started out by "creating lizard stubs," then deciding to "help out with article requests," and eventually joined the project. "I have always loved animals, and I was already a member of WP:MAMMAL so that was really motivational," stated Belugaboy.

The scope of WikiProject Animals is extremely large, and we've heard that covering a large range of articles is difficult for projects. We asked the project how they focus on improving so many articles. Innotata sees the project's scope as "mostly articles on broad topics like animal, and articles for which no subproject like WikiProject Birds or Arthropods exists." Belugaboy prefers to cover the details: "[I work] mostly on [articles about] felines and canines and whales and all that good stuff."

Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina) (young) in South Georgia

When looking at the tree of projects here, WikiProject Animals has a lot of subprojects. We asked, "Do you regulate or guide these projects or are they independent? How does working amongst them turn out?" Intelligentsium responded, stating, "These projects are not under our control; we do not guide or regulate them in any way. The consensus of the descendent projects' respective members determines their individual article style guidelines,[see the Signpost's previous coverage of a recent related discussion] and consequently these guidelines may be quite different." Giving an example, Intelligentsium continued, "WP:BIRDS requires articles discussing species using the common name to be titled in capital case; there was recently a discussion to apply this to other projects, but if I remember correctly the discussion ended without a consensus being achieved." Belugaboy notes that "our parent project, Tree of Life, is not in control of us. It is just a big group of projects. And we're one of them."

The project has had a difficult time finding new members. "Having a lack of members means, frankly, that little gets done in the project. Collaboration is impossible without editors to collaborate with. New members can help by simply creating and improving articles within the project's scope—for those who are not prolific article writers, there are other tasks that need completion too. Taxoboxes need to be created and formatted for all articles on taxa, spelling needs to be checked, and general copy-editing needs to be done on many pages," stated Intelligentsium. Belugaboy added, "It's something every project goes through at some point. For example, our subproject, WP:MAMMAL, only has a few members, averaging one new member a month. Ours is about one new member every other week give or take a few. I just go with the flow and hope for the best, and if possible, use banners."

Belugaboy concludes the interview, saying "Come on and join our project, our daughter projects, or our parent project WikiProject Tree of Life for a great time!" Thanks go to all the participants in this interview.

Next week, we'll boldly go where few editors have gone before. Until then, scan for lifeforms in our archives. Also, feel free to "engage" with the Report's writers by recommending projects and taskforces to be interviewed or submitting your project's weekly news and announcements at the Signpost's WikiProject Desk.

Cow (Swiss Braunvieh breed), below Fuorcla Sesvenna in the Engadin, Switzerland


Reader comments

2010-07-19

The best of the week

Featured articles

Operatic excerpt from the new
featured article, Tosca|center
noicon
The Finale of Act I, sung by Pasquale Amato and the Metropolitan Opera chorus (1914 recording). As the public enter the church singing a Te Deum, Scarpia plots rape and torture.
Articles on two military vessels, SMS Blücher (upper) and the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga, were promoted to featured article status.

Wikipedia has 15 new featured articles:

  • Tosca (nominators Brianboulton and Wehwalt), the opera by Italian composer Puccini that premièred in Rome in 1900.
  • SMS Blücher (Parsecboy and Dank), in a tragedy of errors abandoned and sunk in 1915 after being hit by British gunfire. The British rescue of survivors was then aborted because of a bombing raid by a German Zeppelin that mistook the Blücher for a British battle cruiser.
  • Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga (Sturmvogel 66, Dank, and Cla68), which figured prominently in the development of Japan's "carrier striking force doctrine", a revolutionary military strategy at the time. The doctrine was of significant value to Japan at the start of the Pacific War in the early 1940s.
  • "Once More, with Feeling" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) (Moni3 and Courcelles), first broadcast in 2001 and unusual in its conception as a musical. Notably, this nomination included a 29-second video excerpt of one of the songs.
  • Lindow Man (Nev1), the name given to the preserved body of a man discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss in North West England in 1984. There is evidence that he was strangled and hit on the head, and his throat cut, some time during the 1st century AD. The article has had feedback from Jody Joy, Curator of the British and European Iron Age Collections at the British Museum, and is eligible for the GLAM/British Museum joint Featured Article Prize (see the original Signpost coverage). A reconstruction of the man's head on the basis of radiography is here.
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (SuperMarioMan), a 1960s British sci-fi TV series that has since been broadcast in more than 40 countries. The article is "probably the definitive resource about the series on the web", according to reviewer Bob Castle.
  • 22nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Historical Perspective), the shocking tale of an infantry regiment in the Union army during the American Civil War. Of its 1,100 men, roughly 300 were killed in action, 500 were discharged due to wounds or disease, and 175 were lost or discharged due to capture, resignation, or desertion.
  • Triaenops menamena, nominated by Ucucha because "bats are an underrepresented topic on Wikipedia—a pity considering their diversity and the many interesting aspects of their biology."
  • Tarrare, an 18th-century French soldier with some distinctly unsavoury habits. Nominator Iridescent says that "cat lovers may want to give this one a miss".
  • Sentence spacing (Airborne84, with previous input from Ruhrfisch). This is a surprisingly rich historical topic, and coincidentally Wikipedia's own practice is currently the subject of debate at the Manual of Style.
  • Peter Evans (swimmer) (YellowMonkey), an Australian breaststroke swimmer of the 1980s who won gold and bronze at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
    The delicate skirt-like ring near the top of Amanita bisporigera's stem belies the truth: it kills you about four days after you eat it.
  • Amanita bisporigera (Sasata), one of several deadly toxic "destroying angel" mushrooms.
  • Black Currawong (Casliber), a bird native to the Australian state of Tasmania. It steals food from other birds and its call has been likened to "part song and part human laughter".
  • RKO Pictures (DCGeist), the Hollywood film production and distribution company that pioneered a sound-on-film technology and supported the careers of such luminaries as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Mitchum, and Cary Grant.
  • Cotswold Olimpick Games, an annual public celebration of games and sports including sledgehammer throwing, fighting with cudgels, jumping and dancing, held near Chipping Campden in the English Cotswolds. Nominator Malleus Fatuorum comfortingly reassured reviewers, "I promise, it's all true".
Choice of the week. Nominator and reviewer Ucucha is a man of many talents, including fluency in Dutch, German and English. The Signpost asked him to select what he believes was the best new FA. "I was impressed by Sentence spacing. This is a minor topic, but there is a surprising amount to say about it. Britannica doesn't have an article on the subject, but it is a highly encyclopaedic topic. Sentence spacing is a topic that virtually everyone knows a little about, but only a resource like our new featured article can provide the relevant details."
A 1636 depiction of the Cotswold Games. The founder, Robert Dover, is on horseback carrying a wand.

Three featured articles were delisted:

  • Hurricane Dennis (quality of sourcing, citations and comprehensiveness)
  • Mount Rushmore (prose, sourcing, weight and comprehensiveness)
  • Krill (quality of sourcing, citations and comprehensiveness)

Featured lists

Seven lists were promoted:

Choice of the week. We asked Giants2008, a regular FLC reviewer and author of eight featured lists, for his pick of the crop: "Health- and science-related lists are fairly rare sights at FLC. This week, the process saw something come through it that touches on both subject groups: List of parasites of the marsh rice rat. It is a very high-quality list, particularly when it comes to sourcing; the exhaustive bibliography reveals a level of research that is a cut above typical FLs. The featured list process has long been open to criticism that it favors repetitive lists, as well as sports- and entertainment-related pages. This shows that specialized lists of strong encyclopedic value can prosper at FLC, and hopefully the process will soon see more work like this that breaks new ground."

Featured pictures

At Breakfast by Danish symbolist L.A. Ring
Ira Aldridge as Aaron in Shakespeare's revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus, c. 1852. Aldridge was an African American who managed to become one of the most prominent Shakespearian actors of his generation, decades before slavery ended.
Velodona togata, by Ewald Rübsamen; restoration by Citron
This has been a bumper week, with 23 promotions.

Of particular significance, there are now featured pictures of 24 of the 81 chemical elements of which we can reasonably expect to gain featured pictures. It's a good start, and should the project ever achieve all 81, it would be worth celebrating. This week alone saw nine images of elements promoted:

Four images are of historical figures:

  • Kalākaua (c. 1882), the last Hawaiian Monarch. Unknown photographer, restoration by User:Greg L and Papa Lima Whiskey.
  • Charles XIV John of Sweden (1818), a French Marshal under Napoleon who Sweden selected to be their king. Painting by Francis Nicolas Jouy, after an original by François-Joseph Kinson; photo by Gérard Blot.
  • Edward Teller (1958), "the father of the hydrogen bomb". Original by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, restoration by Greg L and Papa Lima Whiskey.
  • Ira Aldridge, restored by Adam Cuerden, who stumbled on this picture while searching for images to illustrate Shakespeare. "When I researched the image and learned Ira Aldridge's story, I was amazed: he claimed he was the inspiration for a racist comic skit about black actors mangling Shakespeare, and used that to get people to come see the 'silly black person'. They were instead treated to a performance of Othello that received rave reviews. Long before the idea of race-blind casting, he played Romeo, Richard III, and Hamlet, all to critical acclaim."

The art world is represented with images of two paintings from the end of the 19th century – At Breakfast (1898), by the Danish symbolist L. A. Ring, and The Wave (1896), by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Three promotions depict bird life: Crescent Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill, both by Noodle snacks, and Upland Sandpiper, by Johnath.

Two others depict sea life.

  • Marbled rock crab (male), by George Chernilevsky. This image was taken from above the crab. When asked about other angles one could photograph crabs from, George wrote: "I have photos of the big Warty crab (Eriphia verrucosa). I did them macro by the plan en claws and face. As a result I have been attacked by really strong claws. The camera has fallen to sand, and I have received blood-stained fingers. The crab hasn't suffered :)"
  • The octopus Velodona togata, in a gorgeous full-colour lithograph by Ewald Rübsamen (1910), restored by Citron. A reviewer explained that lithographs are created by using acid to etch the plate; ink can then gather in the resulting pits.

Two images illustrate American history: The Ivy Mike nuclear weapons test, by the United States Department of Energy (1952), and Signal Hill, California, c. 1923, by The Aerograph Co. Restoration by Jujutacular.

There was an astounding image of the aurora as seen from the International Space Station – witnessed from this vantage point only by a handful of people: Aurora australis.

Choice of the week. Adam Cuerden, a regular reviewer and nominator at the English Wikipedia's featured picture candidates, told The Signpost, "My choice is a fascinating view into the past of Signal Hill, California in about 1923." (The finished version is displayed at the bottom of this page with a horizontal scroller.) "Oil was discovered there in 1921, and around two years later, we get this image where oil derricks prod the sky everywhere you look. One might ask for a bit more resolution, but the impact of this image is unmistakable, and sometimes, with historic media, you have to take what's available. The panoramic shot is an impressive stitching and cleanup by Jujutacular (a multitalented Wikipedian) of a historic set of photographs in the original image he had to work with."

Three featured pictures were delisted:

Featured topics

There were no promotions. One featured topic, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., was delisted, because one of its articles is still not a good article.

Administrators

There were no promotions to adminship.


Featured picture Choice of the week: Signal Hill, California, c. 1923


Reader comments

2010-07-19

ArbCom to appoint CU/OS positions after dumping election results

The Arbitration Committee opened no cases this week, leaving two open.

Open cases

[Update: Shortly before this week's Signpost was published, Coren posted this proposed decision - the case is now in the proposed decision phase.]

Other

  • Early today, the Committee announced that it will continue to appoint CheckUser and Oversight candidates until the community comes to a strong consensus for a workable alternative election method. The Committee tried to justify this decision on the basis of its evaluation – that no strong consensus existed for any particular solution in the review into CheckUser and Oversight selection.
  • The Committee also announced that no further appointments will be made on the basis of the results of the May 2010 CheckUser and Oversight election; those results were deemed as unsatisfactory (see Signpost coverage) and appear to have been dumped. Instead, the Committee has made a call for CheckUser and Oversight applications from administrators only. Additionally, the Committee encouraged unsuccessful candidates from the election to reapply. The closing date for applications is July 30, and between August 13 and August 22, the community will be permitted to comment on users who are actively being considered for the role(s).

    Reader comments

2010-07-19

Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News

Roan Kattouw's presentation contained advice for developers.

From Wikimania

The first technology presentations from last weekend's Wikimania conference in Gdansk have begun to be published. They include "Why your extension will not be enabled on Wikimedia wikis in its current state and what you can do about it" (pictured), which gave advice to developers, particularly of extensions. This came in the form of instructions on security and scalability, for example, that all inputs should be escaped to prevent SQL injection. Also published were the slides from "Geodata in Wikipedia and Commons", which outlined how Wikimedia is going about geocoding its images and then utilising this data.

An example of the images being uploaded: a 1:250000 map of London and environs

Mass upload of Ordnance Survey images

Following on from last week's import of Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) images, this week the technical preparation for a mass upload of map images created by the Ordnance Survey (OS), the government body responsible for mapping in the United Kingdom. The files, provided by the OS as part of their OpenData initiative under their own free licence, will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by OrdnanceSurveyBot in both native TIFF form and JPG form for easier use and display across Wikimedia Projects.

Unlike with the BNF, however, the release was not the result of a specific partnership, but of years of campaigning by the wider open data community in the UK. The Ordnance Survey website notes that the selection of maps it agreed to release to the public, under a free licence on April 1 2010, represents some "of the most detailed mapping datasets available for Great Britain". The free licence is compatible with the Creative Commons 3.0 licence; this means that all derivative works can be licensed as CC.

In brief

Note: not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for many weeks.

  • Very rough skin usage figures have been produced. Vector leads with 220,000 plus around 270,000 legacy editors who never set a preference; Monobook has around 35,000 users. Modern is the only other skin used by more than 10,000 editors at 16,571.
  • Discussions about an improved MediaWiki testing framework have begun following talks at Wikimania.
  • MediaWiki projects set to timezones other than UTC will now have Flagged Revisions diff times properly displayed (bug #24370).
  • With the resolution of bug #24334, numbers on special pages will now be properly formatted.
  • Revision #69414 reduces long loading times (10-20 seconds) when displaying a diff between the current version and an older version (bug #24124).
  • The API has been changed in revision 69339: Make output containing private or user-specific data uncacheable for logged-in users [...] Without this change, the output of requests like ?action=query&list=recentchanges&rcprop=patrolled&smaxage=3600 would be... viewable for anyone using the same URL, even if they don't have patrol rights.

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