The Signpost
Single-page Edition
17 September 2014

In the media
Turkish Twitter outrage, medical translation, audience metrics
WikiProject report
A trip up north to Scotland
News and notes
Wikipedia's traffic statistics are off by nearly one-third
Traffic report
Tolstoy leads a varied pack
Featured content
Which is not like the others?


Turkish Twitter outrage, medical translation, audience metrics

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By Gamaliel

Wikipedia article sparks Turkish Twitter outrage

Picture of an authoritarian? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

The Hürriyet Daily News reports on a series of posts on Twitter from Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Ömer Çelik. Beginning on September 14, Çelik tweeted complaints about the inclusion of current President of Turkey and former Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Wikipedia article on authoritarianism. The offending passage reads:

Authoritarianism and democracy are not fundamentally opposed to one another, it is thus definitely possible for democracies to possess strong authoritarian elements, for both feature a form of submission to authority. For instance, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, was elected three times, but shows strong authoritarian tendencies.

In a series of tweets continuing as of the 16th, Çelik complained that Turkey was included as an example of an authoritarian regime along with countries such as North Korea and Egypt. He claimed that editors had an "eclipse of reason" and that Wikipedia's "reliability has reached below zero".

The passage has ten citations, to sources including the New York Times, The Guardian, and the Hürriyet Daily News. The many citations may be the result of the previous attempts to remove mention of Erdoğan from the article. Attempts accelerated following Çelik's tweets and the article was semiprotected indefinitely.

One of the actions taken by the Erdoğan regime that has been seen as authoritarian was a ban on Twitter, the very platform Çelik used to make his complaint. Earlier this year, evidence of alleged corruption by high-ranking Turkish government officials circulated in social media. Twitter was banned in March after Erdoğan insisted the evidence was fake and vowed in a speech to "eradicate" the website. The ban was widely condemned in Turkey and worldwide and was overturned two weeks later by the Constitutional Court of Turkey.

Health news

Health24 reports (Sept. 10) that Rubric, a translation company, is helping translate Wikipedia articles on ebola into native African languages. This is part of Wiki Project Medicine’s Translation Task Force in their ongoing effort to translate medical articles into numerous world languages.

BBC News, Forbes, and Mashable are among the media outlets reporting on the jump in page views to Wikipedia articles about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the wake of the viral ice bucket challenge. Page views for the ALS article on the English Wikipedia are up 18 fold, from about 1.6 million in the previous year to nearly 3 million in August 2014 alone. Significant increases are reported from the Chinese (×59), Spanish (×14), German (×13), Russian (×13), and French (×5) Wikipedias as well.

The public domain

The Hindu reported (Sept. 5) that two Tamil language encyclopedias would be placed under a Creative Commons licence and be available for use in articles on the Tamil Wikipedia. The two works, Kalaikalangiyam and Kuzhandaigal Kalaikalangiyam, were produced by the Tamizh Valarchi Kazhagam (Tamil Development Council) from 1947 to 1954 and 1968 to 1976, respectively, and represent the work of thousands of scholars. Each encyclopedia is ten volumes and many thousands of pages. Though the encyclopedias have been scanned as image files, Professor C.R. Selvakumar (User:C.R.Selvakumar) of the University of Waterloo is looking for volunteers to type the articles in so the full text is searchable and can be made available on WikiSource.

An image scanned by the Internet Archive

BBC News reported (Aug. 29) on a project to post 12 million public domain images on the image hosting site Flickr. The project was initiated by Kalev Leetaru, a Georgetown University academic who has studied Wikipedia (see previous Signpost coverage). The images originate from 600 million pages from library books scanned by the Internet Archive to use optical character recognition to convert the pages into searchable text files. The scanned images were automatically ignored by the software and Leetaru added code to extract these images and convert them into jpeg files. Leetaru has so far posted 2.6 million images to Flickr, dating from 1500 to 1922, the earliest year when copyright restrictions cannot apply. Leetaru hopes many of these images will be added to Wikipedia articles.

Audience metrics

Variety is now publishing weekly "Digital Audience Ratings" that are intended to measure "fan engagement" online and in social media, including Wikipedia. The most current lists for film (Sept. 11) and television (Sept. 16) currently place Big Hero 6 and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at the top of the ratings. The ratings are provided by ListenFirst Media. Lost Remote interviewed (Sept. 10) Jason Klein of ListenFirst, who said:

We leverage Wikipedia as a proxy for organic search, since Wikipedia is often in the top search results and a destination that millions of people go to directly for information daily. We have been monitoring Wikipedia page views daily for tv shows (as well as films and consumer brands) for over two years, and have found fascinating trends around search patterns related to everything from the day an episode premieres to when a show gets renewed or cancelled to announcements around upfronts. We've turned dozens of our network clients on to it, and they've become vigilant about monitoring Wikipedia data around their shows (and competitors’ shows) and making sure their pages are completely up-to-date with current info.

Conferences and edit-a-thons

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

The National Archives and Records Administration and Wikimedia DC announced they would hold an Open Government Wikihack at the National Archives on September 27 and 28.

Re/code announced (Sept. 11) that it will conduct an interview with new Wikimedia Foundation President Lila Tretikov at their Code/Mobile conference in October in Half Moon Bay, California.

Books LIVE reports (Sept. 3) on the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon focused on South African literature that will be held in conjunction with the Open Book Festival from September 17 to 21 in Cape Town.

DNAinfo Chicago announced (Sept. 2) a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on September 4 to create an article for transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy prior to her talk at the Hull House Museum that evening. The talk, called "The Ebb and Flow of Resistance", was part of that week's Jane Addams birthday celebration. Photos of the Edit-a-thon were posted on the Hull House Facebook page.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (Aug. 19) announced a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on August 23 that was held simultaneously in Mexico City, Mexico and Bogotá, Colombia. The EFF, Wikimedia México, and a number of Latin American hacker organizations collaborated on improving articles related to digital rights on the Spanish Wikipedia.

Baltimore Brew announced (Aug. 20) an Edit-a-thon held by the Baltimore Wikipedians at the Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse on August 23 to improve articles on the history of Baltimore, Maryland.

The Canberra Times and Seven News reported on the first "Wikibomb" in Australia on August 14. 144 people participated in an event online and at the Australian Academy of Science to create and improve Wikipedia articles on female Australian scientists in conjunction with National Science Week. A full list of articles can be found at Category:Wikibomb2014.

In brief

Rebecca Bardoux


A trip up north to Scotland

As Scotland is deciding its future this week, we thought it might be a good idea to get to know the editors of WikiProject Scotland and talk to them about the project. A moderately-sized WikiProject with around 90 active participants, it covers a huge area ranging around every Scottish town from Coldstream to Brae. It has a number of child projects, including ones for Edinburgh, Clans of Scotland, Medieval Scotland, Scottish Castles, Scottish Islands and Transport in Scotland. According to its assessment department, there are currently 51 pieces of Featured content and 139 Good articles under the project's umbrella. In short, a very successful set-up covering a wonderful country with some of the best scenery in Great Britain. So, it makes great sense to feature them in a WikiProject Report and get the inside story from some Scottish Wikipedians. We interviewed Ben MacDui, Drchriswilliams, Mutt Lunker and Nick.

What was your motivation for joining WikiProject Scotland? Do you, or have you ever lived in Scotland?

Any Scot will make you feel welcome

Have you contributed to any of the project's Featured or Good Articles? What is the most difficult hurdle to overcome when building an article about Scotland to Featured status?

Does Scotland receive the kind of attention that other countries in the United Kingdom get? Are there any significant gaps in the coverage of Scotland that don't plague the coverage of England or Wales?

Green and pleasant land

Do you have any knowledge of the Scots language, and if so, have you ever edited the Scots Wikipedia?

What can Wikipedians visiting or living in Scotland contribute to the project's photography? Are there any locations or objects that could be easily handled by anyone with a camera?

Has WikiProject Scotland noticed an increase in activity in the project's articles due to the recent 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow? Have you contributed to any of the articles about the Games?

The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, leading the Yes campaign for independence

As the Scottish referendum about independence is taking place this week, will WikiProject Scotland be working hard to cover its results and the possible new country, or is this left to the editors of WikiProject UK Politics?

How can a new contributor help today?

Anything else you'd like to add to the interview?

Next week, we'll see what it takes to review a Good article and see how you can help attack the backlog. Up to then, you can always look in the archive for all past Wikiproject reports.

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Wikipedia's traffic statistics understated by nearly one-third

A Wikipedia researcher has discovered that the encyclopedia's widely used article traffic statistics are missing out on approximately one-third of total views.

Computer scientist Andrew West has found that mobile readers are not counted by (an unofficial website linked from the "history" tab on every Wikipedia page) or any other service/report that tabulates and visualizes the Wikimedia Foundation's official raw data. Thanks to a historical artifact, desktop and mobile counts have been segregated since the figures were first released in 2007. "The world has changed a lot since the original code was written," the WMF's director of analytics Toby Negrin told the Signpost. "We are working hard to catch up."


Of 9.5 billion total views to English Wikipedia in August 2014, about 3 billion—31.6%—are not reported in the raw per-article statistics. Other projects are assumed to have similar omissions based on their own mobile viewership ratios.

West told the Signpost he ran into the problem when collating view statistics for the English Wikipedia's Medicine WikiProject. The figures are being used in an upcoming academic paper comparing Wikipedia to WebMD, the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, and other high-traffic medical websites. West caught the error early enough to add a disclaimer, but he's "curious and fearful as to how many other WikiProjects and researchers might have fallen into the same trap."

Unfortunately, that number is not zero. For a new example, Variety's new "Digital Audience Ratings" use Wikipedia's traffic statistics as a key cog. Jason Klein of ListenFirst, the company writing the posts, said in an interview with Lost Remote that "We have been monitoring Wikipedia page views daily for tv shows (as well as films and consumer brands) for over two years, and have found fascinating trends ..." (Editor's note: for additional information, please see this week's "In the media").

Similarly affected are the English Wikipedia's top 25 viewed articles (ten of which are used in the Signpost's weekly "Traffic report"). All of these initiatives are missing out on what West calls the mobile "bump" that popular culture and breaking-news events kindle.

The largest ramification may be reserved for users in the global south, where a higher percentage of individuals use mobile phones to surf the web. High-priced traditional computers can be out of reach for large segments of the population, who have turned instead to smartphones; this was a chief inspiration for the Wikimedia Foundation's Wikipedia Zero project. Pgallert laid out the scope of the computer issue on the Wikimedia blog last year:


Negrin told us that they are aware of the problem and are currently working to replace the current apparatus with a "modern, scalable system," which will come out in a preliminary form next quarter. The team is also working on a redefining what a "page view" is, taking modern concepts like mobile apps and web, API requests, and automated bots into account. Negrin added that "fortunately, we'll be in a position very soon to provide more accurate data to the Foundation and the Community."

The work involved in this is not negligible. As research analyst Oliver Keyes wrote to us, "The overall page view trends are of increasing importance to how we understand how people consume our site. At the moment we ... have a lot of ideas and a lot of the nuts and bolts worked out and tested, but it's fairly inchoate and needs to be organised better before we do anything with it. Once we have done that, we'll move on to implementing it and running it in parallel to the existing infrastructure to detect irregularities."

In the meantime, the unofficial status of (it is still listed as a "beta service") and the varying reliability of the WMF's data dumps leave researchers like West in the lurch. For example, periodically misses full days of stats (such as 28 August), which invariably leads to frustration with the website's coder, Henrik—but the issue lies with the WMF-released data. In the example, the traffic statistics for five hours (UTC 16:00–21:00) are missing.

It appears that statisticians, researchers, and curious Wikimedia contributors will have to wait only a little longer for a more stable and reliable solution.

Editor's note: emails to Henrik, the owner of, and Domas Mituzas, the former WMF database administrator who originally coded the raw data output, were not returned by publishing time.
Update: a new Pageview API was released by the Wikimedia Foundation in December 2015, and has been replaced by a WMF Labs tool since January–February 2016.

In brief

Rachel diCerbo, new manager of the WMF's Community Engagement (Product) team.
  • Indian chapter in crisis: A major community consultation about the future of Wikimedia work in India will be held in Bangalore on 4 and 5 October. This follows a community planning process for the event, which comes after general recognition that key parts of the movement's presence and programmatic activities in India need to be revamped. The unstable situation in India includes the state of the chapter, which held an emergency meeting on 31 August. Three members of the chapter board have resigned in recent weeks: the president, Moksh Juneja, who was the subject of Signpost coverage concerning his failure to disclose to voters before last year's board elections that two sitting members were in his employment; Pranav Curumsey; and Srikanth Ramakrishnan ("I am not pleased with the way things are working out right now"). This follows a further loss to the board due to the non-renewal of membership by Nikita Belavate at the end of June. Ramakrishnan wrote last week that "since the chapter is now in a limbo", an administrator should be appointed "to conduct the Annual General Meeting and elections as soon as possible and run the organisation in the interim."
  • Template reform: A Let's fix templates thread was opened on the Wikimedia mailing list after heated discussions concerning the Media Viewer roll-out and the difficulties of developing software products that face a sprawl of inconsistently built templates on WMF sites. The thread has been followed by the WMF's launching of a metadata cleanup drive on Meta. The goal is to "fix file description pages and tweak templates to ensure that multimedia files consistently contain machine-readable metadata" across WMF projects.
  • Community feedback on product development: Editors' attention is drawn to the page for community feedback and discussion on improving the ways in which software components are built and delivered to communities. The page has been established by the Foundation's relatively new Community Engagement (Product) team, headed by Rachel diCerbo. Editors of all WMF projects are encouraged to engage on the talkpage.
  • Affiliations Committee: Three new user groups have been approved by the WMF's AffCom: Cascadia, LGBT, and Ghana.
  • IEG: The second round of individual engagement grants is open for submissions.
  • Stub contest: The stub contest is open until 30 September; prizes will be awarded to the winners.

    Reader comments


Tolstoy leads a varied pack

There is no unifying theme we can slap on top article popularity this week. A Google Doodle for Leo Tolstoy's birthday propelled that 19th century author to the top spot, followed by the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Current events, including the suspension of American footballer Ray Rice after release of video footage of a domestic violence incident, and the release of the video game Destiny, followed close behind. And in the slightly quirky category, another alleged revelation of the identity of Jack the Ripper, a mystery which has remained unsolved since 1888, took up spots 6 and 9.

The greater WP:TOP25 is also a scatter shot of items including actress Brittany Murphy (#17) and the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying rounds (#22). The only new hard news entry in the extended list is the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 at #21, and which is sure to rise in the next report.

For the full top 25 list, see WP:TOP25. See this section for an explanation of any exclusions.

For the week of 7 to 13 September 2014, the 10 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the report of the 5,000 most viewed pages, were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 Leo Tolstoy C-class 755,226
A Google Doodle on 9 September commemorating the 186th birthday of this Russian writer of War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877) was enough to put this article in the top spot for the week.
2 September 11 attacks b-class 745,804
Last year this article was #1 for the week on the Top 25 Report, so it is not surprising it is bested only by a Google Doodle this year. Views are about 240,000 lower this year, but that could be due in part to competition from the current world conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (#5). Last year, this solemn anniversary only had to compete with twerking.
3 Ray Rice C-class 655,572
On September 8, footage was released by TMZ of this American football player sucker punching his fiancée unconscious on an elevator, leading to the issuance of an indefinite suspension the same day. The world has known about this event of domestic violence for months, and the National Football League's decision in July to only suspend Rice for two games for assault caused much public outcry. It seems letting the world see the video of the encounter, which was sent to the NFL months ago but not released, made it too hard for them to keep downplaying this event.
4 Destiny (video game) C-class 573,518
This video game was released on September 9, and by the next day publisher Activision claimed that it was the most successful new gaming franchise launch of all time, with more than $500 million USD in sales to retail stores and consumers worldwide.
5 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant C-class 553,631
Down from #3 last week. The world continues to struggle with how to assess and treat this brutal group. Less importantly the world also struggles with what to call it. Politicians rotate among "ISIL" (the abbreviation of this article title), ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), and simply the "Islamic State." In Syria, ISIS's detractors use the term "Daʿesh", which sounds like "Dash", based on the Arabic letters for the Arabic ISIL name.
6 Aaron Kosminski Start-Class 481,805 Kosminski has long been one of the persons suspected of being the infamous 1888 London killer Jack the Ripper. A claim by author Russell Edwards this week to have proven Kosminski's guilt using DNA evidence caused much internet attention. It is an interesting and remarkable claim, and thus somewhat likely to fade away if disproved, leaving people with the vague impression that it was true, like most sensationalistic claims of this type. Head on over to Jack the Ripper suspects if you want to see the gallery of all possible suspects.
7 Deaths in 2014 List 446,753
The list of deaths in the current year is always a popular article. Deaths this week included: Fanny Godin (pictured at left), the oldest living Belgian, at age 112 (September 7); American fast-food restauranteur S. Truett Cathy (September 8); Scottish guitarist and former member of the band Primal Scream, Robert Young (September 9); 1960s Japanese track athlete Yoshinori Sakai (September 10); German actor Joachim Fuchsberger (September 11); former Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid (September 12); and Serbian footballer Milan Galić (September 13).
8 Richard Kiel B-class 444,110
The most viewed death of the week. Kiel, who died on September 10, was an American actor best known for his role of the steel-toothed Jaws in the 1970s James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
9 Jack the Ripper Good Article 441,407
See #6.
10 Joan Rivers B-class 435,784
Down from #1 last week. The brassy, pioneering comedian died on September 4.

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Which is not like the others?

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from 7 through 13 September. Anything in quotation marks is taken from the respective articles and lists; see their page histories for attribution.

Featured articles

Four featured articles were promoted this week.

SMS Scharnhorst
Allegory of Vanity by Antonio de Pereda y Salgado, a new featured picture.
  • SMS Scharnhorst (nominated by Parsecboy) One of the final three armored cruisers built for the Imperial German Navy, Scharnhorst was assigned to Germany's East Asia Squadron for its entire career. When the First World War broke out, Scharnhorst and several other ships went on a rampage across the Pacific Ocean and around Cape Horn, sinking several British warships. Stung by the losses, the British sent two modern battlecruisers and several cruisers to the South Atlantic to hunt the Germans down; none of the German ships were able to escape.
  • Ontario Highway 61 (nominated by Floydian) This provincial highway runs from the Canada–US border to near Thunder Bay, on the northern shore of Lake Superior. The nominator noted that the most unusual aspect of the road is the international crossing it terminates at. By 1916, roads existed on and terminated at either side of the river, but a bridge would require authorization from both national governments. The local Rotary Clubs were unwilling to wait, so they built one anyway. To their surprise, no one protested. The bridge opened in 1917 with provincial and national politicians in attendance.
  • Franklin Pierce (nominated by Designate and Wehwalt) The fourteenth US president is "almost always denigrated", says one of the nominators, even though "in his time, he was one of the bright young stars of the Democratic Party." Born in New Hampshire, Pierce was a Northern politician at a time when the US was becoming increasingly divided over the Southern institution of slavery. His compromises between the two sides, including the new Kansas–Nebraska Act and faithfully abiding by the Fugitive Slave Act, earned him the ire of both. Worse, historians believe that his actions played a role in kindling the Civil War; unsurprisingly, Pierce frequently shows up on lists of the worst president ever.
  • Epacris impressa (nominated by Melburnian and Cas Liber) Better known as the common heath, Epacris impressa is native to southeast Australia. The pink form of it is used as the floral emblem of Victoria, an Australian state.

Featured lists

Two featured lists were promoted this week.

A one peso note from Venezuela, a new featured picture
  • List of heads of government of Russia (nominated by Tomcat7) Dating back to the 1700s, 57 people have been at the head of Russia's government. Dmitry Medvedev, prime minister under Vladimir Putin, is the current titleholder.
  • 59th Academy Awards (nominated by Birdienest81) Held in 1987, the 59th Academy Awards honored 1986's greatest television and cinematic achievements. Paul Newman, Marlee Matlin, Dianne Wiest, and Michael Caine took home the top individual awards, while Platoon was voted as the best picture.

Featured pictures

51 featured pictures were promoted this week.

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, a 1916 silent film parody of Sherlock Holmes notable for the sheer amount of jokes about cocaine and laudanum use. Click on the image to play the video.
A ColecoVision console and controller
A white-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus)

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