The Signpost
Single-page Edition
WP:POST/1
1 July 2015

News and notes
Training the Trainers; VP of Engineering leaves WMF
In the media
EU freedom of panorama; Nehru outrage; BBC apology
WikiProject report
Able to make a stand
Featured content
Viva V.E.R.D.I.
Traffic report
We're Baaaaack
Technology report
Technical updates and improvements
Blog
These Texans are on a quest to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their state’s revolution
 

2015-07-01

Training the Trainers; VP of engineering leaves WMF

The logo of the CIS-A2K program.


The Centre for Internet and Society's Access to Knowledge Program has for a number of years been the Wikimedia Foundation's primary mover and shaker on the Indian subcontinent. This week they published a promotional blog post to the Wikimedia Blog highlighting the heritage of the center's creation of a train the trainer program. The program hosts a yearly event where the organization invites experienced editors from various distant places in the country and brings them to the center's location in Bangalore for several days' of community engagement and leadership training. The idea is that by training experienced Wikipedians in editor engagement and basic project management, the center can encourage a large population of supportive editors to organize and assist "first-generation" editors both locally and online, helping to extend the reach and the impact of the movement.


Signpost coverage of this years' event containing more information on its particularities can be found here. It is worth pointing out that this editor engagement model aligns well with the engagement paradigm currently being pursued by the WMF's, Funds Dissemination Committee and some affiliated chapters, and so the CIS-A2K event seems to have become an increasingly popular template for other events of the same type elsewhere around the world. The general comments published by the FDC this year ahead of community review of the second biannual funding round reflect this fact, containing a few words from the committee regard 'TTT' programs, reproduced below:

In related news, the WMF Board of Trustees this week approved the FDC's recommendations for the second annual round of annual plan grants. Funds have now been disbursed to Wikimedia Armenia, Wikimedia Italy, Wikimedia Norway, Wikimedia France, and the Center for Internet and Society.


Vice president of engineering Damon Sicore leaves the Foundation

Suddenly outgoing vice president of engineering Damon Sicore.

The unusually widespread and high-level suspension of the accounts of Wikimedian vice president of engineering Damon Sicore in mid-June prompted discussion on the mailing list which at the time did not lead to anywhere in particular. Community advocate James Alexander explained at the time that "We adjust the rights of, or access to, staff accounts for many different reasons ... sometimes we can't disclose reasons prior to taking an action, or discuss them immediately." Community member Liam Wyatt clarified the issue by stating that the response he had received from several Foundation staffers was that "Damon is on two weeks leave", but also stated that this was an official statement given to all WMF staffers but were instructed not to state as such in print, only orally: "as a non-WMF employee who has asked WMF-employees for info, and have received the official response, I am sharing the official response here in writing because they are not allowed to: Damon is on two weeks leave." Although Alexander cited the account suspension as temporary, Wyatt correctly stated that per the block logs, WMF-wiki accounts are only ever permanently suspended when an employee leaves the Foundation; if they are rehired, the block is lifted as a part of the on-boarding.


Chief operating officer Terence Gibley, who will be given a part of Sicore's workload while a successor is found.

Whatever the issue was at the time, the two weeks have now passed; executive director Lila Tretikov posted on the mailing list that Sicore is indeed leaving the Foundation. Not quite illuminating the reason for the sudden departure. Tretikov said: "Damon's departure is a personnel issue, so we are not able to comment on it." In the interim, teams will directly report to Tretikov and/or to chief operating officer Terence Gibley—Sicore was in charge of the engineering and product department, employing the lion's share of the WMF's funds, so this is a significant executive shortfall to fill.


The Foundation is thus now accepting applications for three new executive positions. Two were planned more in advance: the first position is the VP of staff experiences (a modern term for HR); the hiring form indicates the future creation of a new department called "Staff Experience". The WMF has not had a chief HR person since chief talent and cultural officer Gayle Karen Young left the organization in March; current (then incoming) COO Gilbey has already been overseeing those responsibilities in the meantime. The WMF also put out forms for a chief technology officer (a position that is, in fact, already set up but blank at the WMF's internal staff and contractors page). This hiring is consistent with a letter from executive director Lila Tretikov to the community posted on the mailing lists in April. A new vice president of engineering will now need to be hired, but only afterwards—Tretikov indicated that filling the CTO role would be the first priority.


Brief notes

In a separate and unrelated blog post Wikipedian Don Osborn (author of "African Languages in a Digital Age") published another post to his own blog, this one discussing "Wiktionary as a tool for African language learning". The recommendations have also gained some traction in a discussion on the mailing list.


Reader comments

2015-07-01

EU freedom of panorama; Nehru outrage; BBC apology

European Parliament decision-day approaches on freedom of panorama

A week now remains until the vote, expected on 9 July, when the European Parliament will express either its approval, disapproval, or lack of opinion on the question of freedom of panorama in the European Union, and battle lines are being drawn. (See earlier Signpost article "Three weeks to save freedom of panorama in Europe", and review of initial press coverage last week).

Following approval at Wikipedia talk:Freedom of Panorama 2015, sitenotice banners have now been activated above articles, warning readers of the over 40,000 images currently on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons of modern buildings and public art that depend on the Freedom of Panorama copyright exception (drawing coverage including from BBC World Service Spanish, as well as an acerbic piece in The Register by frequent Wikipedia critic Andrew Orlowski); while a petition at Change.org supporting freedom of panorama has been steadily growing and (as of 1 July) is now approaching 200,000 signatures.

On 2 July, the French MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, who had proposed the text effectively calling for an end to commercial freedom of panorama in the EU, announced that he would no longer be supporting this proposal, and would now be calling on all MEPs to delete it. With the direct threat averted, Dimitar Dimitrov (dimi_z), Wikipedia's person on the spot in Brussels, called for the banner campaign to be stood down.

Wikipedia is "a U.S. monopoly" ... acting "to the detriment of the entire European cultural sector"
The words of MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, set against an image of the European Parliament building in Strasburg, blacked out to demonstrate the current lack of Freedom of Panorama in France, as presented on the blog of Julia Reda MEP.

Earlier in the week, Cavada, whose text, adopted by the legal affairs committee, proposed that

"the commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them",

had slammed defenders of freedom of panorama as acting "under the guise of defending free access to works on behalf of users", when their fight was "actually one conducted primarily to allow US monopolies such as Facebook or Wikimedia to escape the payment of fees to the creators".

Rotterdam Centraal station ...
... and L'Hemisfèric, Valencia: examples used to highlight consequences of a removal of freedom of panorama

Cavada's position closely reflects that of the French copyright collecting society ADAGP, the Society of Authors in the Graphic and Plastic Arts. For ADAGP, the "cultural patrimony" of its members is at stake: their rights to be in control of the commercial utilisation of their works, and to refuse to see them modified, misrepresented, or used in the advertising of products or causes of which they disapprove. ADAGP has strongly been pushing a line of "no reuse without remuneration" in the Parliament, and a key current objective of the society is to negotiate an agreement with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Picasa and others similar to the arrangements that Google has with music labels, to acknowledge and pay out for copyrights in user-taken images of buildings and sculptures uploaded to the sites. The society retains approximately 25% of the gross of copyright licenses that it administers. According to ADAGP, it believes that between 10–20% of image rights, currently generating net payments of between 3 and 6 million euros per year, relate to sculptures or buildings in France that would be affected by freedom of panorama. This would also represent a loss of income to ADAGP itself of between about 1 and 2 million euros per year. The society has been circulating a Q&A flyer on the "Panorama Exception" to MEPs, to which the Wikimedia Brussels team has prepared a rebuttal. Some of the maps used by ADAGP have also been called into question.

According to Cavada, Wikipedia's insistence on providing images "in high definition format, open for editing, with the ability for use for commercial purposes" was "a deliberate attempt to avoid paying rights to authors, heirs or collecting societies", and contended that MEP Julia Reda's original proposals "especially for the benefit of those service providers" would "do nothing more for consumers, but would formalize the pursuit of their activities with impunity to the detriment of the entire European cultural and creative sector". (26 June)

The Haus Le Corbusier on the Weissenhof Estate, Stuttgart, Germany – a country with freedom of panorama – used by Wikimédia France to illustrate its response

In a rejoinder posted on 1 July, Wikimédia France hit back that the bracketing with Facebook showed that Cavada "completely misses the collaborative movement and the commons", and added that

We understand why rightsholders like to have their works on Wikipedia. Without the possibility of commercial reuse, we are a great free advertising brochure, so long as Wikipedia changes the rules that have made ​​it the world cultural site by accepting [non-reusable] non-free content, according to the wishes of these private companies.

The stakes are clear enough. Freedom of panorama can lose some income to certain authors or assigns, which is fairly easy to calculate. But it can also generate economic activity, by removing obstacles, including for the transformation of works and "unforeseen" reuse. The impact is more difficult to assess because all the possibilities and therefore earnings are not known at the time the decision to open the valves is taken. Gains are not only economic, but also societal. The free dissemination of knowledge is not just about money. The possibility of commercial re-use and economic innovation that may result are for us a way to reach our true goal: improving the well-being of all, through better dissemination of knowledge.

For herself, Reda, writing in a blog-post (1 July), considered that the Cavada proposal should not be seen as the product of an evil lobby, but rather was symptomatic of a general approach by the MEPs on the legal committee,

[extending] the same attitude and convictions they apply to all copyright reform issues ... siding entirely with existing art, made by the few lucky enough to profit from yesterday’s business models, at the expense of the new and independent, which modern technology and connectivity enables the many to create and share.

She also condemned a tendency of much of the media that she considered had jumped on this as an opportunity to "bash the European Union":

Don't blame the EU for your MEPs: ... I want to make it very clear: This [horrible] idea was hatched by representatives elected by the people, and passed (so far) by representatives elected by the people. No shadowy bureaucrats were involved. If you want to prevent situations like this one, elect better representatives – and stay involved.

Contending views of freedom of panorama were presented by Wikimedia's Dimitrov and ADAGP, together with five other witnesses, on the morning of 2 July (agenda) at a hearing of the working group on intellectual property rights and copyright reform of the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament, with Jean-Marie Cavada in the chair. Unfortunately it would seem that the meeting was not covered by broadcast streaming or recording, although some slide-packs may be available after the event.

Meanwhile, with the deadline for amendments (1 July) having passed, it is now confirmed that the Parliament will be faced with a three-way choice in the vote itself next week:

With the apparent collapse of support for the Cavada text, Wikimedians are still encouraging editors to contact their MEPs to confirm the MEPs' support for its deletion; as well as to suggest individual support for the Schaake amendment, on the basis that (for example) freedom of panorama encourages greater cultural sharing and vibrancy across Europe (and more complete Wikipedia articles!), whereas the present patchwork of laws is unhelpful and creates confusion, whether for photographers, for websites, or for small publishers trying to operate in multiple countries. However, due to various procedural deals that have been made across the report as a whole, it is likely that group lines (in particular that of the centre-left S&D group) will be for deletion only, without addition of new text. The advice from Dimitrov is not to push this, as at this early stage of the legislative process winning goodwill is more important than trying to win a vote that will be essentially symbolic—the essential thing was to show the depth of resistance to the Cavada text, to stop that in its tracks, which with luck it appears we will have achieved. Moving forward, the priority ahead will be to try to build up relationships that may be valuable when the detailed copyright reform dossier comes into the parliament, some time in the next 12 months. J

Nehru edits cause outrage in India

Jawaharlal Nehru

June 26 edits regarding Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and a widely admired figure in India and around the world, sparked outrage in that country. The edits, which were quickly reverted, made a number of disparaging and inaccurate claims about Nehru's background and career in the articles on Nehru, his father Motilal Nehru, and his grandfather Gangadhar Nehru. The IP address responsible for those edits, 164.100.41.28, belongs to the National Informatics Centre, a government agency responsible for its information and communications technology.

The edits claimed that Nehru was born in a "red light area", was "more interested in political power and women", that his grandfather was born Muslim and later changed his name and became a Hindu, and that Nehru had been sexually blackmailed by Lady Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of the last British Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten. The first claim seems to originate from the fact that Nehru's birthplace Meergunj is now a red-light district. The blackmail claim is based on the alleged love affair between Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, attested by Mountbatten's daughters, who insisted that it was unconsummated. The claim that the Nehrus were Muslims stems from a conspiracy theory popular among certain Hindu nationalists, who accuse the Nehru–Gandhi family and their Indian National Congress of being pseudo-secular and anti-Hindu. According to this theory, Gangadhar was a Muslim who adopted a fake Hindu identity to avoid an arrest during the British Raj.

The edits were brought to widespread attention via the Twitter bot AnonGoIWPEdits, which tweets links to edits from IP addresses belonging to the Indian government. AnonGoIWPEdits was created by Pranesh Prakash, policy director of the Centre for Internet and Society. It is one of many similar Twitter bots created beginning last August to monitor Wikipedia edits from government entities and other organizations (see previous Signpost coverage). Prakash told The Times of India that "I think it is interesting to see what government people are editing anonymously...Most edits are inane. A great number merely introduce spelling errors." In this particular case, he noted "These changes were reverted in minutes, in one case in one minute."

Politicians with the Indian National Congress expressed their outrage, directing it towards their principal rival, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has close links to Hindu nationalist organizations. The Hindu reported that Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party was responsible in an effort to influence upcoming elections in Bihar. He demanded an investigation and said that "Prime Minister Modi and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad should tell us what action they are taking on the editing on Wikipedia pages by a government agency."

In a related article, Scroll.in discusses what kinds of edits Indian government employees have been making over the last year. G, U

BBC apologises for Shapps reporting

British political blogger "Guido Fawkes" writing for The Sun reports (June 28) that the BBC has apologised to UK Conservative politician Grant Shapps for giving much pre-election airtime to damaging allegations that Shapps had edited his own Wikipedia biography as well as those of other politicians, while giving comparatively little coverage to the fact that a subsequent Wikipedia arbitration case found that the allegations could not be substantiated and were in violation of Wikipedia policy (see previous Signpost coverage: 1, 2, 3, 4).

ConservativeHome comments that reporting by the BBC and some newspapers reflected a lack of familiarity with Wikipedia:

Shapps has reproduced the letter he received from the BBC on his website. The story has also been picked up by The Independent (June 29) and The Register (June 30), with the Press Gazette, a UK media trade magazine, also weighing in on June 30 with an article titled "BBC's James Harding says 'sorry' to Grant Shapps over scant coverage of Wikipedia story 'correction'". AK

In brief

Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace



Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or contact the editor.


Reader comments

2015-07-01

Able to make a stand

Our disabilities may impose limitations, but physical, economic, and political barriers impede us far more.

This week's report focuses on an aspect of life that never really affects 90% of the world's people, but for the remaining, it can have a profound effect on how their life plays out - but not always. It's disability, a wide ranging topic which encompasses everything from physical impairments to mental disorders. There are many debates that are always associated with the topic, such as sports opportunities and suitable accessibility for the impaired, and problems with discrimination, ableism and disability abuse.

As a "crowd-sourced" writing platform, Wikipedia is generally representative of society and certainly has its share of people associated with disability, whether that be a disability that they themselves have, or merely being involved with care or campaigns. For them to coordinate, we have WikiProject Disability, which has been interviewed to see how they are getting on. Here to share their wisdom are Dodger67, Penny Richards, LilyKitty and Mirokado.


What motivated you to join WikiProject Disability? Do you have a disability or know someone who does? Have you contributed to any of the project's Good or Featured Articles?

  • Dodger67: I'm one of the founders of WikiProject Disability and yes I do have a disability. When I became a regular Wikipedian in June 2007 I soon realised that there was no project with an overarching view of disability and related issues, disability-related articles were tagged by a variety of projects ranging from Law to Engineering and Medicine. The only project that specifically covered disability-related topics was the Paralympics task force of WikiProject Olympics. From various talk-page discussions it became clear that other editors also felt a need for a Disability WikiProject. On 11 June 2010 I created the project's main page. Since then I have contributed to many, and created several, of the pages within the project's purview, which ranges from biography to law, engineering, sport, medicine and politics. The project has a good working relationship with WikiProject Medicine, where we have a fairly large overlap. Our relationship with the Paralympics project is also good, we have a significant overlap of membership. Articles that are exclusively relevant to the Paralympic games are the only disability-related topics that are considered to be outside WikiProject Disability's scope. The vast majority of "our" articles are also tagged by many other projects, as I have mentioned, ranging from law to engineering.
  • Penny Richards: I'm a past president of the Disability History Association, have worked on a couple print encyclopedias about disability, and have taught disability history courses, so this project was right in my zone. I don't have a disability; my adult son does. I haven't contributed to any Good or Featured articles; I mostly start biographical entries (Dwight D. Guilfoil Jr., Mary Dobkin, Anita Lee Blair, Elizabeth Layton, Sandra Welner), or make edits in existing biographical entries.
  • Mirokado: I very much admired the work and attitude of a disabled colleague. The only reason I am not disabled myself is the excellent correction of vision defects available through glasses and contact lenses (we can hope that technological improvements will affect other areas similarly in time). A recent broken ankle gave me some unwelcome temporary experience. The first articles I looked at involved integrated dance and theatre.

Can you explain your scope: what sort of articles qualify to be tagged under this project and what areas you don't cover?

  • Dodger67: We cover all articles related to disability in the broad sense. The vast majority of "our" articles are also tagged by many other projects. Articles that are exclusively relevant to the Paralympic Games are the only disability-related topics that are considered to be outside WikiProject Disability's scope.
  • Mirokado: Apart from specific areas such as relevant law, sociology, theory and specialist organisations, disability may be involved but is normally not the main reason why a subject is notable. One of our contributions to improving Wikipedia is to ensure that disability is covered appropriately (enough but not too much) in an article.

What is your most popular topic or article, measured by reader page views? Should it be a project aim to improve your highest visibility articles?

  • Dodger67: The #1 spot on our popular pages list has belonged to the biography of Stephen Hawking for a very long time. Other top spots are occupied by articles about various medical conditions that result in disability as well as other biographies such as Frida Kahlo. In the case of Stephen Hawking it is shared by many other projects; Physics, Biography, Education, England, Mathematics, Cosmology and University of Oxford. It used to be a Featured Article but has decayed considerably since then. As disability is not the reason for Hawking's notability, but rather incidental to it, this project plays a relatively minor role in the maintenance of the article. This is true of the majority of our articles. I feel that visibility does not correlate directly with "importance", some topics that are highly significant to the field of disability are actually far less visited than others where disability is merely incidental to the subject.
  • Mirokado: Yes indeed! Many of our core articles need substantial improvement. Perhaps our "most important" articles will become more "visible" as we improve them!

Does WikiProject Disability collaborate with any other projects? If so, how do you split the workload between these projects?

  • Dodger67: As I have mentioned above we have good relations with the Medicine and Paralympics projects. Our interaction with other projects is on a case-by-case basis as disability intersects with such a broad and varied range of topics. Some WikiProjects respond well to us but unfortunately some do not "pull their weight" - I once asked WikiProject Basketball whether Wheelchair basketball was within their scope, I never got a definitive answer from them.
  • LilyKitty: It is important, I think, to collaborate with WikiProject Human Rights or Portal so as to promote awareness and empowerment on and for rights and movement of each person with disabilities against any forms of ableism.

How can a new contributor help today?

  • Dodger67: New contributors are welcome to get involved in any way they wish. We have many articles that need improvement and many yet unwritten. We recently started an ambitious initiative to create a series of Disability by country articles that briefly summarise the status of disability and disabled people within each of the countries of the entire world, so far we have eight articles, most of the list is still red, so there is a huge amount of work for our project.
  • Mirokado: Pick an article from the list on our project page where there is a mismatch between importance and quality and start researching! There are also lists for new articles, alerts and "to do" each of which can suggest a starting point.

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

  • Dodger67: We are eager to recruit new contributors, our active members list is quite short. We are also eager to get involved with organised efforts to increase activity and coverage within our subject area, such as editathons or educational projects.
  • Penny Richards: Will definitely work on getting an editathon happening in the next year. There were talks about having one in conjunction with the recent Society for Disability Studies meeting in Atlanta, but it just didn't pan out. Soon!
  • Mirokado: Improving Wikipedia's coverage of disability is basically self-defence. Many of us will be disabled at some time in our lives, and nearly all of us will know someone who is or becomes disabled.

Next week we hope to be delving into geopolitical history with WikiProject Former Countries. Please leave feedback on the talkpage of this article so we know how we can improve!

Reader comments

2015-07-01

Viva V.E.R.D.I.

In memoriam Viva-Verdi.



This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from 14 to 20 June 2015.


Featured lists

Four Featured lists were promoted this week.

  • List of accolades received by The Dirty Picture (nominated by Krimuk90) The Dirty Picture is a film based on the lives of South Indian actresses- in particular Silk Smitha, who was "noted for her erotic roles". The film charts the rise of Silk to stardom, and her decline and suicide. Since its release in 2011, it has garnered three National Film Awards including Best Actress, three Filmfare Awards, six Screen Awards, and a number of other awards. After four weeks on the circuit, Dirty Picture was declared a "Blockbuster" by Box Office India. And the title? After Silk Smitha is publicly insulted by male star Suryakanth, who calls her everyone's "dirty secret", she announces defiantly that she will continue to make her "dirty pictures".
  • Madhuri Dixit filmography (nominated by FrB.TG) Madhuri Dixit is an Indian actress who is in a number of Bollywood films. Her film career, that has made her a leading actress, started in 1984 with Abodh in which she has an arranged marriage with Shankar but her breakthrough film was, in 1988, called Tezaab.
  • National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor (nominated by FrB.TG) The National Film Awards ceremony is held annually by the Indian government's Directorate of Film Festivals. The award for best supporting actor has been given 32 times, to 29 actors for their performances. It was first awarded in 1984, to Victor Banerjee for his role as the Bengali noble Nikhilesh in Ghare Baire. That same year Banerjee also took the major role of Dr. Aziz Ahmed in David Lean's A Passage to India, on the suggestion of Satyajit Ray. The casting of an Indian actor by Lean, as opposed to a British Asian, was widely welcomed.
  • P. G. Wodehouse bibliography (nominated by SchroCat) Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was an English writer. His best known characters, which appeared in over 40 short stories and novels, are Jeeves and Wooster. Wodehouse also wrote novels about school life, as well as plays that were turned into scripts for films.

Featured pictures

Twelve Featured pictures were promoted this week.

Apollo 13 was commanded by James A. Lovell, John L. "Jack" Swigert and Fred W. Haise
"Intentional camera movement" = A phrase photographers & cinematographers use while reviewing the "daily's" with the producer....' :)
  • Apollo 13 Service Module (created by NASA; nominated by TomStar81) Apollo 13 was a turning point in American space exploration. The mission, which television had decided to overlook as "Space Flight" had become somewhat routine, turned into one of the iconic spectacles of the 1970s. This photo of the crippled command module just after separation showing the damage caused by the explosion in the O2 "scrubbers" onboard the command module, is truly one of that decade's most well remembered photos.
  • Western honey bee larvae and eggs (created by Waugsberg; nominated by Alborzagros) The western honey bee is a native of Europe, Africa and Asia. The bee, that beekeepers utilise for honey production and also pollination, produces hexagonal honeycombs in which the larvae are laid, together with a store of honey.
  • Intentional camera movement (created by Colin; nominated by Crisco 1492) A photograph by Colin showing the effect of intentional camera movement while the shutter is open. Here the camera has been moved vertically, giving an "Impressionistic" view of the bluebell woods on the Ashridge estate in the Chilterns.
  • Brompton Oratory nave (created and nominated by David Iliff) This magnificent view of the interior of Brompton Oratory by David Iliff contains a wealth of detail. Built in the 1880s, the Oratory contains a number of examples of Italian Baroque sculpture, some of which can be seen.
  • Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary (created by Raphael; nominated by Crisco 1492) Commissioned by a monastery in Palermo, Sicily, Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary was painted by Raphael in 1517. The ship carrying it to Palermo was wrecked in a storm, and all the crew and cargo lost, except for the case in which the painting was conveyed. It floated to Genoa, where the painting was recovered undamaged- its arrival there being seen as something miraculous. The monks of Palermo had to ask the Pope to intercede so they could take possession of their painting.
  • I Lombardi alla prima crociata (uncredited; restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden) Giuseppe Verdi wrote the music for I Lombardi alla prima crociata at a time when Milan was under the control of the Austrians; the libretto by Temistocle Solera was based on an epic poem which showed Italians united against a common enemy. The political and nationalistic themes of the original were diluted by reducing the story to that of a Lombard family's entanglement in a Crusade. Thus Verdi managed to avoid the attentions of the Austrian police.
  • Un ballo in maschera (created by Roberto Focosi; restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden) Un Ballo in maschera is an opera by Verdi, with a libretto based on the assassination of the Swedish king Gustav III at a masked ball. Gustav was shot in the ball, and died 13 days later from the wound. The part of Gustav was sung by a soprano. Due to the Italian censors, the plot had to be moved around, eventually being set in colonial New England, with the Earl of Warwick taking Gustav's role in the plot. These censors would plague Verdi throughout his career, forcing many changes, some simple, some excessive. We'll be seeing a lot of them over the next month.
  • World War One Iranian Toman (Farsi-overprinted five German Mark) (created by National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History; nominated by Godot13) A small area of Iran was occupied by German and Turkish forces between 1914 and 1918. German intelligence agent posing as consular official Wilhelm Wassmuss had German banknotes overprinted in Farsi script with values in Persian currency for use in this area. He appears to have had strong links with clan leaders who were being paid by the German government to engage in anti-British activities, and it may be that these overprinted notes were used to pay them.
  • c. 1896 Iranian Toman (10 toman gold coin, depicting Mozaffar ad-Din) (created by Tehran; nominated by Godot13) Mozaffar ad-Din appears on this gold 10 toman coin from Iran; he was the fifth Shah of the Qajar dynasty.
  • Cheomseongdae (created by Zsinj; nominated by Blorgy555) Cheomseongdae is a stone tower built some 1400 years ago in Gyeongju, then the capital of the Silla kingdom of Korea. Its name means "star-gazing platform", and it was probably used for astronomical or astrological observations. Constructed from granite blocks, Cheomseongdae is 9.4 metres tall.
  • Night of the Living Dead (created by George Romero; nominated by Crisco 1492) Filmed on a small budget by George Romero, Night of the Living Dead involves an attack by zombies on a group of travellers sheltering in a remote Pennsylvania farmhouse. The "zombies" aren't real dead people, unlike those in the final scenes of Apocalypse Now, where a local fixer cheated Coppola by supplying the contents of a local graveyard, rather than the medical school leftovers requested as props.
  • Viborg Katedralskole (created and nominated by Slaunger) A stunning panoramic view of the Neoclassical Viborg Katedralskole in Denmark by Slaunger. The motto Vitam Impendere Vero can be read above the main door.
Viborg Katedralskole
Night of the Living Dead (1968)


Reader comments

2015-07-01

We're Baaaaack

Recently the wise and benevolent programmers of WMF did something that the lay people of the internet probably barely noticed. They made that "http" thing that still shows up in some browsers, though everyone forgot what it meant in about 1999, well, they changed it to "https". Apparently this has something to do with security. I would assume it was for more security, but it certainly harmed the security of this report (last seen in the June 10 Signpost), as the change broke many tools including the WP:5000 reporting system on which this report is based. The brilliant West.andrew.g has now fixed that report, as well as the other cool projects on which he works, including the WP:STiki vandalism tool and WP:TOPRED report showing the most-visited red links on a weekly basis. We are now backfilling the three Top 25 reports that have been delayed by these technical difficulties, so please see Wikipedia:Top 25 Report/June 14 to 20, 2015 posted by Serendipodous for the week immediately prior to this Traffic Report. And Wikipedia:Top 25 Report/June 7 to 13, 2015 will be coming soon as well.

For the full top-25 list, see WP:TOP25. See this section for an explanation of any exclusions. For a list of the most edited articles of the week, see here.

For the week of June 21 to 27, 2015, the 10 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the report of the most viewed pages, were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 Flags of the Confederate States of America B-Class 1,997,063
It took the horrific act of the Charleston church shooting on June 17 to refocus the attention of South Carolina politicians and public at large to the fact that South Carolina was still flying the battle flag of the Confederate States of America near their state capitol. This flag causes a lot of controversy in the United States, though its general modern use as a symbol of racist oppression of blacks is undeniable. Will the flag of ISIS/ISIL be similarly used in the Middle East one hundred years hence? In any event, on June 22, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and other politicians called for the flag to be taken down, so it appears that the flag will be officially lowered soon.
2 Jurassic World C-Class 1,413,831
Down from #1 last week. In this era of duelling gargantuas, when Hollywood risks $200 million budgets on a whim and triple-digit opening weekends are a seasonal event, the financial achievements of the first Jurassic Park seem somewhat pallid. And yet, it was for a time the most successful film ever made, and more importantly, formed the prototype for the modern blockbuster; massive, frontloaded opening weekend, brushfire earnings and supercharged ancillaries. And now, after Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron made substantial dents in the US GDP, Jurassic World has arrived to show that its aging franchise is perfectly capable of holding its own in today's hostile environment. Its $208 million opening weekend was the biggest of all time, though at just $1 million above the previous record set by Marvel's The Avengers back in 2012, it wasn't exactly a killing blow. Still, it managed to also claim the highest second weekend gross of all time as well, showing that it may well be on the way to repeating the performance of its ancestor. Today, the Jurassic franchise is just one monster among many, but it has shown that it still has the right to reign.
3 2015 Copa América C-class 1,119,824
Up from #7 and 991,000 views last week. South America's annual international soccer competition got underway on 11 June. The final will be held on July 4.
4 Ruby Rose C-class 973,290
The Australian model and actress has been in the media thanks to her role in the new series of Orange is the New Black and her public challenging of traditional gender roles. She came out as a lesbian at the age of 12 and identifies as genderfluid. Her androgynous appearance has led many straight women to declare an attraction to her, which has angered some gay activists, who argue that homosexuality is not a choice.
5 World's littlest skyscraper Good Article 904,962
On June 22 and 23, folks on Reddit learned about this small building in Texas which was built in a 1919 confidence scheme. Investors fat with oil money thought they were getting in on a 480-foot building, but the plans clearly showed it was to be 480 INCHES. And so it was.
6 Batman: Arkham Knight B-Class 826,703
This action-adventure video game was released on June 23, and has received critical acclaim, though a buggy PC port led to the game being suspended from Steam, to much consumer rage.
7 Orange Is the New Black C-class 696,668
The third season of the women-in-prison TV series premièred in its entirety on Netflix on 11 June.
8 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup B-class 632,971
This site caters mainly to the English-speaking world, and despite having invented soccer (and most other major team sports come to that) the Anglosphere hasn't had much to sing about as far as that sport is concerned. Until now. I'm playing crystal ball here a bit, but this marks the first time both the English and American national teams have reached the World Cup semi-finals, something the English men's team hasn't done since 1990 and the US men's side hasn't done since 1930. Here's hoping they inspire their nations enough for them to start taking women's football seriously.
9 James Horner B-Class 601,956 This American film composer, who scored popular films including blockbusters Aliens, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Braveheart, Titanic and Avatar, died on June 23 when his airplane crashed in Los Padres National Forest in California.
10 True Detective (TV series) C-class 592,368
The second season of this American crime drama television series debuted on June 21. The whole new cast includes Colin Farrell (pictured at left).


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2015-07-01

Technical updates and improvements

The following content has been republished as-is from the Tech News weekly report.


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2015-07-01

These Texans are on a quest to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their state’s revolution

The following content has been republished from the Wikimedia Blog. The views expressed in this piece are those of the author alone; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. For more information on this partnership see our content guidelines.
The Alamo became a symbol for all Texans after most or all of its defenders were killed by the Mexican army.

Students in the United States and Mexico are often required to learn about the history of the Texas Revolution, the outcome of which foreshadowed a much larger war and the loss of a significant portion of Mexico’s territory in what is today the American Southwest. The tales of individual actions and the Battle of the Alamo—the symbolically pivotal event in the conflict—have persevered in the nearly 180 years since the conflict.

For those less familiar with this narrative, a hurriedly assembled rebel army was able to separate themselves from Mexico in large part due to the crucial Battle of San Jacinto, when they captured the Mexican president. They used this advantage to force an end to the conflict.

Wikipedia editor Karanacs grew up in Texas and is therefore well-acquainted with this tradition. "During a family vacation to see the Alamo Mission in San Antonio when I was 10, we watched the film Alamo: The Price of Freedom," she says. "For the first time, I understood the impact that war had on ordinary people. I cried for a little boy who lost his father in a battle fought 150 years before I was born." Two decades later, this interest manifested itself on Wikipedia. Like many editors of the world's largest encyclopedia, she was browsing the site's articles and found that they were of relatively poor quality—and that the traditional narrative she'd learned was not necessarily accurate.

Sam Houston was a general in the revolution and, later, the president of the fledgling republic.

The real descent down the rabbit hole, however, began when a group of volunteer editors called for collaborators to rewrite the article on Texas A&M University, Karanacs' alma mater. She joined them "even though I had no idea what they were talking about." It wasn't long before this snowball grew larger: she was soon "in love with Wikipedia—the research, the writing, the teamwork, the satisfaction of knowing that something I helped create would help assuage someone else's curiosity, and hopefully dispelling some of their misunderstandings of the topic."

Between 2006 and 2010, Karanacs wrote 23 featured articles, the highest article rating on the site and only reached after a rigorous peer review process. She branched out from Texas history at times with articles like Irish Thoroughbred, Nora Roberts' first romance novel, or Gumbo, a Louisianan soup. Still, the grand majority focused on her home state, such as the French colonization of Texas, and its revolution against Mexico, like the Grass Fight or the Battle of the Alamo. She was "most fascinated by the human elements", she says, "and the people on both sides who made decisions that cumulatively led to the place I live."

Still, the challenges proved daunting. The host of editors who enticed her to join Wikipedia in 2006 had dwindled by 2011 to just her. When combined with the amount of work required and three young children at home, Karanacs made the difficult decision to quit the site. "My Wikipedia time turned into 'chase-the-toddler' time," she said.

More than three years went by before Karanacs was tempted back to the site by an email from fellow native Texan editor Maile66—who started editing Texas-related articles in 2006. She alerted Karanacs to an enticing offer: the History Channel's then-upcoming Texas Rising wanted the article on the Texas Revolution to run on the English Wikipedia's main page on the day of the show's premiere. In return, the channel would point viewers and interested fans to the page for more information.

Karanacs' reaction was two-fold: she was intrigued by the opportunity, which offered outside interest and a long deadline, but cautious. Readers of Wikipedia may not be aware of the struggle of writing wide-scope articles; many editors are quick to espouse that articles on a war, for instance, are more difficult to write than articles on the individual battles and skirmishes that occurred during that war. Karanacs told me that her research for these battle articles would require reading three to four books on the general topic—the war, in our running example—and anywhere from five to twenty articles on the battle itself. The actual writing could take anywhere from twenty to forty hours and could be done alone.

A big picture article, on the other hand, requires a great deal more effort and people. "I have been researching the Texas Revolution off and on for seven years," Karanacs said. "There have been literally thousands of books written on that topic, and I likely spent more than eighty hours just identifying appropriate sources to consult." The actual reading of these sources took a good deal longer—and most didn't make it into the article. Karanacs believes that covering these works was important, if only to "establish scholarly consensus and ensure that I wasn't missing any of the more focused angles scholars delved into."

The last major battle of the revolution was fought near San Jacinto, seen here in an 1895 painting by Henry Arthur McArdle

And there were a lot of them. Karanacs recalls that many of the books she could acquire were written by American and Mexican scholars, as one would expect, but there was also one written by a German (albeit translated into English) and one by a Scottish researcher. Her local librarians were an invaluable resource, as they were able to point out monographs that she missed and put in dozens of inter-library loan requests, as was the relatively new Wikipedia Library, which helps connect editors to outline journal and reference databases that Wikipedia editors can cite. Karanacs called the latter a "tremendous resource"—"I am blown away by how much easier it is now to do some of the research."

Karanacs also undertook a physical journey to several of the areas where significant events occurred. "It made it all just a little more real," she told me. "Both sides fought for something they believed was important, and it was important to me to present each of their perspectives fairly and with respect."

Over a three-month span, Karanacs and Maile66 worked together to develop the Texas Revolution article itself. Their plan of attack included scrapping the entire existing article, all 5,243 words of it, and starting anew. This allowed them to not worry about where existing content had come from and instead concentrate on including facts and views from the principal sources on the topic. They had to decide how much weight each view should receive, similar to when an academic historian evaluates a topic's place in historiography. This differs from primary source research in that it evaluates historical narratives that have emerged from the event. Using the Texas Revolution as an example, historians once portrayed the Texans as white, from the US, and universally in support of the rebellion. Contributions from Tejanos (native-born Texans of Spanish or Mexican heritage) were overlooked. Time often plays a significant role in historiography, and this is no different: here, the revolution's traditional narrative, upheld by many of the television and film productions of the last fifty years, has since been been superseded with the recognition that a good percentage of Texans actually supported the Mexican government, not the rebel side, and that Tejanos featured in many significant roles.

National narratives came into play as well. Supporters of the revolution portrayed themselves as fighting for a just cause against an oppressive overlord, while Mexicans, after the Mexican–American War of 1845, thought that the region was stolen from them by the United States. After their initial assessments, Karanacs and Maile identified areas that required more research and each returned to the library.

When satisfied the article was comprehensive and balanced, Karanacs and Maile nominated Texas Revolution for featured status. Having already received comments from three editors, ten more editors commented during the review period. "It really did take a village," Karanacs told me, and estimated that she personally spent an estimated three hundred hours on the article, underlining just how difficult it can be to write these sorts of big-picture articles. Finally, Texas Revolution became a featured article on April 18—more than a month before the deadline requested by the History Channel.

Santa Anna—the commander of the Mexican forces—surrenders in this 1886 depiction by William Henry Huddle.

The History Channel's historians suggested only minor changes in the article's wording; overall, they were very pleased with the article, which has now doubled in size to over 10,000 words. It ran on Wikipedia's main page on May 25, and about 54,000 people read the article over a four-day period—and possibly thanks to the popularity of Texas Rising, more than a thousand people per day viewed it for nearly all of the first half of June.

For Karanacs' part, she told me that "I am extremely proud of this project. First, that we created one of the best short(ish) yet still comprehensive overviews of this topic that exists anywhere on the web, in my opinion. Second, that we brought an article that is on a broader topic—an entire war, rather than a single battle—to featured status. Third, that real paid historians thought we did a good job, and fourth, that we achieved this through a collaboration, rather than as individual editors." When asked why they are so important in the greater context of North American history, she replied:

Perhaps most importantly, Karanacs' interest in Wikipedia is now rekindled—and it's for the "same reasons" from her the first time around: "pride in a job well done, the joy of teamwork, and pure nerdiness." Maile has already started a new collaboration with Karanacs with the Battle of San Jacinto, although the former is taking the lead role this time. They hope to have all thirteen Texas Revolution-related articles at featured status by next year.

Karanacs and Maile wish to thank the many editors who helped them get this article featured, including—but not limited to—Mike Christie, Dank, P.S. Burton, and Iridescent.

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