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16 September 2023

News and notes
Wikimedia power sharing – just an advisory role for the volunteer community?
In the media
"Just flirting", going Dutch and Shapps for the defence?
Obituary
Nosebagbear
Serendipity
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no paywall, for thou, Wikipedia Library, art with me
Featured content
Catching up
Concept
Strange portal opened by CERN researchers brings Wikipedia articles from "other worlds"
Traffic report
Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic
 

2023-09-16

Wikimedia power sharing – just an advisory role for the volunteer community?

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By Andreas Kolbe, Bri and HaeB

Global Council draft comes under fire from European Wikimedians

Placeholder alt text
Symbol used for the Global Council in the draft Movement Charter

The Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) recently invited feedback on the latest draft chapters for the Movement Charter (which aims "to define roles and responsibilities for all the members and entities of the Wikimedia movement"):

The discussion page for the Global Council draft saw the most participation. This included some strong criticism, especially from European Wikimedians. A key point of contention was that the Global Council, as envisaged in the draft, would only have advisory powers. Former WMF board member User:Jan-Bart, for example, said:

The movement strategy process and especially the work of the Roles and Responsibilities working group did give a baseline of what we as a movement wanted to achieve (some said that the recommendations did not go far enough in distributing the "power" within the movement but let's leave that aside for a minute)

So reading the current drafts makes me wonder what happened? One of the most important aspects of the recommendations was the equity in decision making within our movement. Reducing this by (for example) reducing the global council to an advisory body is not something that I had expected to read here. [...]

Wikimedia Sweden added:

From the draft text it seems clear that there is no intention for the GC to exert any control over the funds within the WMF, especially since it is not even clear where the funds for the GC itself will come from. This is understandable if this power, for legal reasons, needs to reside with the BoT. But if this is the case the legal limitations should be clearly laid out. We should also consider if such legal limitations are the result of some pre-existing structure or mechanism which could be changed.

But if the relationship to the WMF is simply that the GC provides advice which the WMF can then choose to ignore, this runs the risk of becoming a source of potential conflict [...]

A summary of German Wikipedia community discussions by User:Denis Barthel said:

There were many comments on the draft on the Global Council. All were characterized by disappointment, outrage, or resignation. Many community members felt their assumption confirmed that the Wikimedia Foundation was unwilling to share powers. The "equity in decision-making" promised by the MCDC and the Movement Strategy, allowing a stronger representation of all groups in the Movement, was regarded by many voices as an obviously vain hope.

In particular, a kind of parliament or general assembly was missed, as well as powers beyond those already exercised by various volunteer bodies. There was a clear desire for the Global Council to be more than just an advisory body.

Mysterious "external legal feedback"

Another key point of contention was an "external legal feedback" shared by the WMF, authored by an undisclosed law firm advising the drafting committee:

The legal feedback doesn't reveal the author and it is qualified as an "external legal feedback" at Movement Charter/Content/Global Council. Could you tell us who was the commissioner and who was the author? Alice Wiegand (talk) 20:34, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

[...] Is there any reason not to say who wrote the document, who commissioned it, and what terms of reference were given? Many thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:23, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

@Lyzzy and The Land: hi, the external legal review was provided pro bono by a reputable multinational law firm, based on information provided by the MCDC. Under the terms of this engagement, the law firm’s services were limited to providing advice to the Wikimedia Foundation only, and their work product was not intended for publication. In the interests of transparency for this project, they have permitted us to share this document here without attribution. Thanks, RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 03:42, 9 August 2023 (UTC)

Thanks Ramzy. Could this be changed for future legal reviews so that the name of the firm, the terms of their commission and their full opinion are shared? Without this information I don't think the document will fulfill its purpose. Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:41, 9 August 2023 (UTC)

Wikimedia Germany suggested that alternative legal advice should be sought:

[...] There are reputable law firms in the US that bring the necessary expertise in designing inter-nonprofit legal relationships, and that have not had WMF as a client previously. WMDE suggests that it may be time to figure out together how we can commission this expertise, so that we can have a fuller and more neutral understanding of what is actually possible – to ultimately arrive at a governance structure that does justice to our movement and its diverse stakeholders and lets us move towards the strategic direction. Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 10:50, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

The use of unclear or meaningless buzzwords was another point of criticism. Overall, the feedback pages for Hubs and Roles & Responsibilities saw somewhat less participation. The Hubs draft also received some praise from community members. Even so, questions and concerns about fundraising and funds dissemination were recurring topics on both feedback pages. – AK

WMF reconsiders Africa approach

"A new approach to contributor growth in Africa" – presentation at Wikimania 2023 (slides as PDF)

The Wikimedia Foundation is piloting a new approach to contributor growth in Africa (see presentation, pictured), noting that past approaches aimed at increasing coverage of African topics – and thus the amount of time African citizens spend online reading internet coverage of African affairs – have been hit and miss.

Recent projects have included contests such as Wiki Loves Africa 2023 and the Africa Day Campaign 2023, whose winners were announced at the end of August.

Some initiatives have caused controversy, such as the $20,000 project on Deforestation in Nigeria that was discussed at the WP:ANI noticeboard last month.

The WMF's analysis of its efforts, and the opportunities and challenges involved in Africa (presented at last month's Wikimania conference), highlights the importance of intrinsic motivation:

Historically:

  • Our eagerness to see more programmatic work in SSA has resulted in funding of projects with moderate to low effectiveness, sometimes even repeatedly.
  • We have been investing in those who showed up, sometimes without intrinsic motivation. We suggest we should have instead been:
    • seeking out self-motivated contributors and investing further resources only in them.
    • Verifying organizers possess the skills to effectively deliver their programs (edit counts and time-since-first-edit are insufficient indicators)
  • We have been slow or reluctant to recognize and stop resourcing ineffective organizers.
  • If proven effective, our proposed approach would increase the pool of skilled contributors and potential leaders and organizers, thereby increasing programmatic funding opportunities.

Similar concerns about attracting mainly extrinsically motivated contributors go back to at least 2010, when Tanzania-based Wikipedian Muddyb expressed his deep frustrations about finding himself cleaning up the results of a Google-funded initiative that awarded prizes for adding content to Swahili Wikipedia. (See "In the news" from the July 26, 2010 issue of The Signpost.)

The Foundation's analysis also highlights that "Too much programmatic outreach work in the region is ineffectively carried out by volunteers who have insufficient familiarity" with the platform, the policies (e.g. on copyright and licensing) and the culture of Wikimedia projects. Accordingly, the pilot aims to test the hypothesis that audiovisual training materials on core policies along with live tutorials can achieve significantly higher retention.

The pilot is currently limited to the English Wikipedia and envisaged to run from September to December 2023. – AK, H

WMF publishes 2022–2023 Funding Report

The Wikimedia Foundation last month published its Funding Report for the last fiscal year:

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the Wikimedia Foundation awarded 638 grants to mission-aligned organizations and people around the world, totaling $17,512,472 USD. Of these funds, 381 totaling $16,032,838 are administered by the Community Resources team (other funds are summarized below). 2022-2023 marked the second fiscal year of Community Resources' Grants Strategy Relaunch, prioritizing the Movement Strategy goal of Knowledge Equity.

Below are some key graphics from the report. First, an overview of grants and grant money by fund program:

Regional breakdown of funding administered by the Community Resources team, 2015–2023:

Overview of WMF-distributed funds not managed by the Community Resources team:

For further details see Meta-Wiki. – AK

Code of conduct committee draft charter ready for review

The U4C Building Committee has announced:

The Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C) draft charter is now ready for your review.

The Enforcement Guidelines require a Building Committee form to draft a charter that outlines procedures and details for a global committee to be called the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C). Over the past few months, the U4C Building Committee worked together as a group to discuss and draft the U4C charter. The U4C Building Committee welcomes feedback about the draft charter now through 22 September 2023. After that date, the U4C Building Committee will revise the charter as needed and a community vote will open shortly afterward.

Join the conversation during the conversation hours or on Meta-wiki.

The committee's language use was mocked as "highly bureaucratic and unnecessarily hard to follow". Some commenters stated that the language stopped them from reading the draft in full. – AK

User enamored with ChatGPT gets indefinitely blocked

A robot writing not-quite-English words on a piece of paper
We asked an AI to create this illustration of an AI writing an apology for an AI-written article.

An editor was indeffed after extensive use of AI-generated text, including this oddly worded apology for using ChatGPT to request restoration of their article. In fact, their response in the related AN/I noticeboard discussion also appeared to be the product of ChatGPT.

This may be the first instance of an indefinite block stemming specifically from the use of the technology in talkpages. A commenter at ANI called their reply posting AI-generated waffle. On the other hand, an after-closure discussion started by the author of this article included this observation from another: there's no guideline or policy banning empty blather.

In June, another editor had been indeffed for using ChatGPT in articles alone, with paid editing as the underlying concern. Some investigation of the incident found a probable paying party and turned up the possibility that the whole episode was an elaborate hoax, based on their off-wiki writings; one participant in the discussion said they found a comment off-wiki stating I pay people to waste the time of volunteers who have innumerable things they'd rather be doing.

Was the latest case a prank? We can't tell. – B

A fork in the Roads WikiProject

On September 7, the "AARoads Wiki" was launched, "a free online encyclopedia dedicated to roads", forming part of the existing aaroads.com website. According to an announcement post on the site's forum, "The team making up the core of the US Roads WikiProject on Wikipedia [WikiProject U.S. Roads] has moved over to the new wiki". An FAQ for the new wiki states that "much of the content was forked from the English Wikipedia in mid-2023," and that "After several months of extended discussions and uneven enforcement of policies towards the road subject area, many felt that starting a new project with a new community solely focused on road transportation would be a more viable option. A sampling of such discussions can be found here and here." (The latter, an RfC titled "Using maps as sources", had concluded in May and resulted in the addition of a clarification that "Source information does not need to be in text form" to Wikipedia:No_original_research#What_is_not_original_research. However, other proposals were rejected in the RfC.) In an emotional TikTok video (which has attracted 48k likes at the time of writing), one of the seceding editors explains the underlying concerns in more detail, arguing that "in the past couple of years, our little corner of the site [Wikipedia] has come under attack [... for] two reasons: sourcing and notability". An earlier FAQ by another longstanding member of the U.S. Roads WikiProject sheds further light on some longstanding tensions. – H

Brief notes

A cute, furless kitten
Everything is just fine here at English Wikipedia



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2023-09-16

"Just flirting", going Dutch and Shapps for the defence?

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By Andreas Kolbe, Bri, Jonatan Svensson Glad and Smallbones

Coerced sex or just flirting, then editing Wikipedia?

Joshua D. Wright was a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, as well as a tenured professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and a well-paid antitrust consultant for Google and Amazon. According to Bloomberg (paywalled – republished at Fortune) he has been accused of coercing sex from three of his law students/research assistants, who were named in the article. Two other named women gave strong supporting statements, as did three other women who asked not to be named. The story was first broken by Law360 (registration required), and Above the Law uncovered information on related Wikipedia editing.

According to the accusations, the coerced sexual relations continued over the course of several years – while the accusers were first-year law students, while Wright supervised them as research assistants at the law school or interns at the FTC, and while the women were working professionally and felt that they needed Wright's references and contacts.

The law school's dean emailed students that "Professor Wright resigned his tenured position on August 8 rather than face a termination proceeding that we were ready to start." Wright has acknowledged that the sexual relationships occurred but claims that they were consensual. His consulting contracts may be cancelled. And he has sued two of his accusers for $108 million, claiming defamation.

Did he, or a proxy, edit Wikipedia? Above the Law has compiled some evidence, calling certain pro-Wright edits "bold". A diff pictured in the article changed the phrase "engage in sexual relations" to "engage in flirting", asserted that Wright's accusers had financial motives, and removed the phrase "while they were his [law] students". The Signpost located an edit matching the illustration in Above the Law, made in August by an unregistered, or logged-out, user. A second diff made from a similar IP address replaced the words "sexual misconduct" with "hitting on them". The evidence they point to is that the IP addresses trace to somewhere in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. (population approximately 6,385,162). The story would have been more complete if they reported that there was a small edit war, with "bold" edits made on both sides. – S, B, J

Life in Saudi Arabia

The two jailed Wikipedians, Osama Khalid (left) and Ziyad Alsufyani (right)

North East Bylines, a publication associated with the Byline Times, featured a retrospective summarising recent news stories on Saudi Arabia. This included a reminder that earlier this year, two Wikipedians were reported to be serving long jail sentences in the country.

It was noted that the two young doctors, Osama Khalid and Ziad Al-Sufyani, who were known for their contribution to Wikipedia posts in Arabic, had been sentenced to prison in Saudi Arabia and that over the last decade they had both contributed to the online encyclopaedia, which is maintained and managed by volunteers and had edited articles about human rights defender Loujain Al-Hathloul.

See earlier Signpost coverage. As far as the Signpost is aware, the Wikipedians' situation is unchanged. – AK

The Dutch fundraising banners are back

An article in Het Financieele Dagblad comments on the fundraising banners that have re-appeared on Dutch Wikipedia. It notes that the Wikimedia Foundation's overall expenses have more than doubled in the space of five years, and that this is mainly due to the fact that it now has around 700 staff, with salary costs of $88 million a year dwarfing its annual internet hosting costs of $2.7 million.

That the Wikimedia Foundation adds so many staff and spends more money year after year has led to criticism from users for years. They wonder why the expenses are rising so fast, whether there is not too much bureaucracy and whether projects are being carried out that are not needed at all. And why does Wikipedia, in banners asking for donations, act as if the website could run out of money at any moment? This criticism was voiced, for example, in a much-discussed essay by a Wikipedian with the username Guy Macon. [...]

Wikipedia expects to raise $175 million from its banners this year. The messaging has become a little less shrill, though.

The $175 million figure quoted in the article matches the revenue target given in the 2022–2023 Annual Plan. (More recently, the minutes of the WMF's June 2023 Audit Committee meeting stated that the WMF took a projected $174 million in 2022–2023, versus projected expenses of $167 million.) But it should be noted that revenue from the banner campaigns makes up less than half of the Foundation's total.

The Annual Plan's revenue projection for 2023–2024 is $177 million. Only $74.5 million of this is expected to be brought in by banner campaigns. The remainder is supposed to come from other sources: $33 million from recurring donations, $38 million from email campaigns, and $19 million from major gifts, with smaller amounts from investments, Wikimedia Enterprise and the Endowment making up the balance.

As for the softer tone of the fundraising banners, discussions of the English fundraising banners to be used at the upcoming end-of-year fundraiser are currently ongoing at Wikipedia:Fundraising/2023 banners.

The article in Het Financieele Dagblad also notes that Wikipedia informs voice assistants such as Siri, and it includes a section on paid editing that mentions a number of related stories – including the German parliament scandal broken by netzpolitik.org in 2021 and the Signpost's 2022 exposé of paid Wikipedia editing on behalf of Russian oligarchs. – AK

In brief

Grant Shapps in 2022



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 leave a tip on the suggestions page.




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2023-09-16

Nosebagbear

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By Giraffer, Seddon
Nosebagbear at an MCDC meeting in June 2022
Nosebagbear at an MCDC meeting in June 2022

Nosebagbear was a British Wikimedian and administrator. He registered in 2012, and after a few years of dormancy, began editing in 2018. Successfully acquiring adminship the next year, he began using the tools extensively, helping out where he could in areas that ranged from Articles for Creation to sockpuppet investigations. In recent years, his focus shifted to working behind the scenes to collaborate with the Wikimedia Foundation and other volunteers across the movement on governance initiatives, including the Universal Code of Conduct and Movement Charter. Through this work, he always remained grounded as a proud member of the online communities, especially English Wikipedia; bringing a persistent but pragmatic accountability to the broader Wikimedia landscape, that will make his loss all the more felt. At the time of his passing, he was serving as an elected community member on the Movement Charter Drafting Committee, helping to create new structures and policy to help lead Wikimedia into the next decade.

I want to note just how remarkable Richard was. He was in many ways a quintessential Wikipedian, in that he was passionate about our mission, held strong feelings on topics that would make many (including many other Wikipedians) shake their heads at the idea that someone could care so much about such a topic, worked hard to improve things for others both inside of Wikipedia and for the world at large, always be willing to consider alternative points of view and be ready to change his mind on something, and be so, so, so very kind. His presence on the MCDC, which he achieved through truly hard work and just bothering to show up to a lot of meetings in the 12-18 months prior to the election where others got to know just how special he was, was a big reason that I was optimistic about what it would do in reshaping Wikipedia. I'm going to miss all that but I am going to miss our talks more. His humor more. And most of all his kindness more. While I am so sad at the future that doesn't have him, I am also so grateful for the time we spent together.
— Barkeep49

Many messages of condolences have been left on his user talk page, as well as information about memorial services. Donations in his name are being solicited for the Epilepsy Society, of whom he was a supporter.



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2023-09-16

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no paywall, for thou, Wikipedia Library, art with me

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By Benedict Udeh, Sam Walton, Vipin SJ

Are you an active editor who has made more than 500 edits and has an account more than 6 months old? If so, did you know you can access The Wikipedia Library, which provides free access to research materials to make it easier to write content on Wikipedia!

The Wikipedia Library homepage August 2023
Homepage for The Wikipedia Library

Eleven years ago, Wikipedia editor Jake Orlowitz asked Highbeam – an aggregator of news articles, academic journals, and other reliable sources – if they could provide him with a free account to their website so he could do research for a Wikipedia article. They offered him 1,000 accounts and encouraged him to distribute them amongst Wikipedia’s editing community so that everyone who wanted to use their resources on Wikipedia could do so!

Since then, more than 80 organisations have partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to provide thousands of Wikipedia editors free access to paywalled sources. Over this time, the program became a fully resourced project at the Wikimedia Foundation, and it is now accessible through a distribution tool that can be accessed with your Wikipedia login and is capable of providing seamless searching and access capabilities for library users.

Wikipedia Library partners include large aggregators (such as EBSCO and ProQuest), prominent publishers (like Springer Nature and Wiley), newspaper databases (like Newspapers.com and British Newspaper Archive), and numerous niche collections across a wide range of topics.

Using The Wikipedia Library

To use The Wikipedia Library, simply head over to https://wikipedialibrary.wmflabs.org and log in via Wikipedia. Users with trivial account blocks can contact us to request an exemption. Once logged in, every collection under the "My Collections" tab can be accessed right away via the Access Collection button. Additional collections are available under the Available Collections tab, but these ones require an application before access is granted (we generally have a limited number of accesses available to distribute for each). For application-based publishers, you will receive further instructions via email after being approved.

The Wikipedia Library when logged in
The Wikipedia Library when logged in

If you don't know which collection you need, simply enter your search term into the search bar at the top of the page - this will search across most of the default set of available resources and provide direct access to search results. To help us expand the library, you can make suggestions for new content to be added.

Over the past year we have been working to move as many of these collections over to the proxy-based access method to make editor access as seamless as possible. Nearly 70% of collections are now available via proxy, with most of those being accessible without an application!

For resources accessible via proxy (which includes all of the resources that are available to all eligible users without requiring an application), there are some additional access tips and tricks that can help you get to full text from outside the Library - whether an external search engine or an on-wiki citation.

These solutions won't work on every link, but we hope they can help improve your access to paywalled resources available through The Wikipedia Library! You can find more guidance and tips on using the library in the recording for a recent conversation hour from the Deoband Community Wikimedia.

If you want to hear more about the Wikipedia Library, you can subscribe to Books & Bytes.




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2023-09-16

Catching up

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By Adam Cuerden

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted in August.

So, I missed an issue, but I've caught up, and I'm doing somewhat better. Actually managed to describe all the articles; Lists are just... a list, but, well, I'm doing what I can. And as can be seen from last issue, if I don't do this, no-one else does.

Adam Cuerden

Featured articles

Thirty-four featured articles were promoted this period.

Judges' bench at the Nuremberg trials
Nuremberg trials, nominated by buidhe
Most of the stuff in this featured content report is goofy stuff appropriate for a rhyming gimmick. This article, however, concerns the trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II, in which the full extent of their deeds was exposed.
Australiformis, nominated by Mattximus
You might call these parasitic worms unscrupulous,
But they'll only infect you if you're marsupulous.
Titanis, nominated by Augustios Paleo (a.k.a. AFH)
These birds of terror would be feared,
But thousands of years ago they disappeared
(Probably just waiting for us to get complacent. The Antarctic ice is thawing; the cryogenic tanks will soon open.)
Five pounds (British gold coin), nominated by Wehwalt
One of the largest gold coins to enter circulation,
The "quintuple sovereign" is a strange situation.
Still, I'll gladly pay you five pounds for one. Any takers?
Boukephala and Nikaia, nominated by AirshipJungleman29
In Pakistan these cities wait,
Founded by Alexander the Great.
One's named after a nearby victory, of course;
...The other one, though, is named after his horse.
Daytona USA, nominated by Red Phoenix
To play this racing game, for quarters we'll beg ya,
It's still big in arcades, and was made by Sega.
Three-quarter profile of Petty when she was about 46
Florence Petty, c. 1916
Florence Petty, nominated by SchroCat
She taught the working class to cook cheaply, so they could eat,
Suet puddings were her special treat.
Frank McGee (ice hockey), nominated by Kaiser matias
"One-Eyed" Frank McGee
Played hockey though one eye couldn't see.
His team won the Stanley cup four years in a row,
So, y'know, great job! Way to go!
Revolutionary Girl Utena, nominated by Morgan695
The follow-up to Sailor Moon, it's essential:
Complex and weird and experimental!
Five Nights at Freddy's (video game), nominated by The Night Watch
JUMP SCARE
(Is that unfair?)
(Probably is, but I don't care.)
Rodrigues night heron, nominated by FunkMonk
A Mascarene bird, all we have are its stats:
It just didn't survive the introduction of cats.
1927 World Snooker Championship, nominated by BennyOnTheLoose
Joe Davis won first
And also the next fourteen:
If you love snooker,
This article's keen!
Daisy Bacon, nominated by Mike Christie
Editor of Love Story Magazine, and the stories she'd tell:
It might have been a 'pulp', but it sure sold well.
Annie Dove Denmark, nominated by PCN02WPS
Head of Anderson College, her worth is quite plain,
But in ways that a couplet just cannot explain.
"Mother" (Meghan Trainor song), nominated by MaranoFan (a.k.a. NØ)
Click here for this article's poetry, by a guest poet.
Kyla (Filipino singer), nominated by Pseud 14
Melanie Hernandez Calumpad
Is not the sort of singer
That you would describe as 'bad'.
Lou Henry Hoover by Harris & Ewing
Lou Henry Hoover, nominated by Thebiguglyalien
Herbert Hoover, her husband, and her had a passion,
And translated De re metallica from the Latin.
First woman to graduate from geology at Stanford, it's rather shady
That if people heard about her at all, it's just as First Lady.
Air Board (Australia), nominated by Ian Rose
This is the first attempt at a guide to this, so Ian asked their opinion, sensibly,
And the Air Board got back, and said he covered it, quote, "quite comprehensively".
Micronations and the Search for Sovereignty, nominated by LunaEatsTuna
For academic discussion of founding of your own state,
Hobbs and Williams step up to the plate.
Howard Florey, nominated by Hawkeye7
Alexander Fleming gets the raves for penicillin's great discovery,
It was a group effort, though, and Florey too helped all those patients to recovery.
WSNS-TV, nominated by Sammi Brie
This Chicago television channel with a nineteen seventy creation
Grew huge, got challenged, and then became a Spanish-language station
Affine symmetric group, nominated by JayBeeEll (JBL)
Number lines and the triangular tiling of the plane
Define the symmetry group that bears this here name.
Symmetry in pure mathematics has... a somewhat complex meaning,
So, from a poem like this, not much help you'll be gleaning.
Venus in fiction, nominated by TompaDompa and Piotrus
The impenetrable clouds blocked all view of what might be below,
So if a writer got it wrong, well, no-one (then) could know.
Ministerial by-election, nominated by John M Wolfson
Until 1926, an M.P. given a job as minister
Had to undergo a situation sinister.
After they got their ministerial selection,
They were kicked out and had to survive a new by-election.
So if your party took power within Westminster's halls
You'd best hope your new leaders won by-election, or everything stalls.
The Birds (Alexander McQueen collection), nominated by Premeditated Chaos (PMC)
A collection that was built to shock
Based on the movie by Alfred Hitchcock
Portrait of Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale, before she married into the title and was known as Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale, nominated by Isaksenk
As the English Civil War embroiled
This Scottish Duchess helped the Royals
"Never Forget You" (Mariah Carey song), nominated by Heartfox
No music video, no performances live,
Yet on the Billboard Hot 100 it still did arrive.
Radoje Pajović, nominated by Peacemaker67
Montenegran history from World War II
Would be a lot less well covered were it not for this dude.
(Eh, that's a half-rhyme, but I'm actually doing poems this issue, and it's a double-length one, so screw it, good enough.)
Ludwig Ross, nominated by UndercoverClassicist
A person who you ought to seek
If you like archaeology, and like it Greek.
John Oliver, nominated by MyCatIsAChonk
A comedian who tells the news
Teaching the why of his liberal views.
2022 Tour Championship, nominated by Lee Vilenski
Very few things rhyme with snooker,
But of Vilenski's work, I'm not a rebuker.
Asimov's Science Fiction, nominated by Mike Christie
Science fiction magazines are in decline
This one was really important, though, in its time.
"Gento" (song), nominated by Abacusada
Di ka basta-basta makakita ng gento.
Jessie Murray, nominated by SchroCat
To discuss her psychoanalysis others would avoid
For her failure to follow the false doctrines of Freud....

Featured pictures

Twenty-seven featured pictures were promoted this period, including the ones at the top and bottom of this article.

Featured topics

Two featured topics were promoted this period:
Nominated by Pseud 14:

Nominated by MaranoFan (a.k.a. NØ)

Featured lists

Nineteen featured lists were promoted this period.

William S. Hart
William S. Hart filmography, nominated by Jimknutt
List of storks, nominated by AryKun
List of Best Selling Soul Singles number ones of 1972, nominated by ChrisTheDude
Kyla discography, nominated by Pseud 14
Pit Stop Challenge, nominated by EnthusiastWorld37
List of World Heritage Sites in Yemen, nominated by Tone
List of World Heritage Sites in Panama, nominated by Tone
List of Colorado ballot measures, nominated by ThadeusOfNazereth
List of lorisoids, nominated by PresN
List of Hot Soul Singles number ones of 1973, nominated by ChrisTheDude
List of awards and nominations received by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, nominated by MyCatIsAChonk
Julia Michaels discography, nominated by MaranoFan
World Video Game Hall of Fame, nominated by PresN
Municipalities of Sinaloa, nominated by Mattximus
List of National Football League annual passing touchdowns leaders, nominated by Hey man im josh and ULPS
Eiji Tsuburaya filmography, nominated by Eiga-Kevin2
Daya discography, nominated by MaranoFan
95th Academy Awards, nominated by RunningTiger123 and Birdienest81
List of Mckenna Grace performances, nominated by Pamzeis



Reader comments

2023-09-16

Strange portal opened by CERN researchers brings Wikipedia articles from "other worlds"

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By JPxG
Note: I trust you, dear reader, to be able to determine whether or not this is fact or fiction. If you cannot, please see the note at the end.

Social media, broadcast news and academia alike have been buzzing lately with the latest discovery: a group of researchers from CERN, running experiments on the new Super-Large Encabulator Array, discovered a strange phenomenon last Wednesday, colloquilally dubbed the Moony-Bazingers effect. While the SLEA group has yet to publish a paper formally documenting their findings, those who are interested in the technical aspects will be pleased to find that, as of press time, 15 preprints are currently available on arXiv concerning the subject.

While a detailed description of the Moony-Bazingers effect is nearly impossible to give in the space we have here, a broadly summary was given by project lead Adam Shirtless at a press conference yesterday:


Perhaps it is appropriate in a poetic sense, since CERN httpd was the first hypertext server, and www.cern.ch was the first WWW site back in '92; it's also appropriate in a practical sense, since CERN is the only organization in the world currently posessing an encabulator array of this size. Whatever the circumstances that lay behind this discovery, it is ground-breaking and unique.

Currently, experiments are underway to determine the properties and nature of the Moony-Bazingers effect; chief among them is the actual status of the data being received. If taken at face value, the data — which consists of HTTP packets that resolve into a variety of files, including Web sites — seem to originate from wildly different worlds than our own. For example, one configuration of the LEA (dubbed the "High Castle setup") yields a number of websites which claim to be located in the "Pacific States of America". Unfortunately, an even more mysterious phenomenon known as the "NFCC field" prevents these worlds from being explored, even with the most cutting-edge technology that has been tried. While varying turboencabulation frequency has allowed connections to a dizzying array of different "Bazingerzones", as they've been termed, all information that has been gathered from the connection so far has purported to be from Earth — or at least a planet with identical gravity, mass, density, elemental composition, set of constellations and solar system.

Plumbing the heights

"So," explained Dr. Shirtless at the press conference, "the shit of it all is, I mean, assuming any of this is real and we're not just on drugs or whatever, we figure the overwhelming majority of worlds never develop life, or they do so in a way that doesn't result in self-augmenting intelligence, or they do get complex societies but they never get around to building a bunch of random semiconductor technology, or they do build semiconductors but then something fucked up happens and they never get around to superconductors, or something. I mean, we had superconductors for a long-ass time and we didn't even think to do this until just now, so like, whatever. Big if true."

Through a generous grant by the Speedwagon Foundation, The Signpost was able to attend this press conference, and was included in the limited roster of organizations permitted to query what some are calling the "Scooses-Bazingernet". Other members of the Provisional Query Group included the WWW Consortium, the International Association of Applied Linguistics, the Unicode Consortium, the Internet Archive, the United Nations, the Associated Press, the National Enquirer, and selected research faculty from the Charlevoix County College of Theology and Forestry Technology (the latter by specific request of certain kingdoms on the other side of the connection).

Establishing connections to outzones has proven difficult — while all of them seem to possess technology capable of transmitting digital information, the transmission control protocol/Internet protocol often requires some modification to work properly.

So, too, are there linguistic differences. While a large enough corpus of text can usually be decoded by humans and machine learning algorithms well enough to give basic understanding, getting there is a challenge unto itself:


That's not mojibake — it's a joke about trees farting, which is a double entendre meant to indicate a "page not found" error message. It comes from Provisional Bazingerzone PB-82FB7E0A, appropriately termed the "Arrow Dudes". Hubert Glockenspiel, who's spent the last 15 years as the Unicode Consortium's Extraterrestrial Script and Character Integration Coordinator, has been taking an active role in the multinational attempts to decode and interpret these new languages:

"Sure, most of them tend to have written Wikipedia articles about their language, but we're finding a lot of stuff that doesn't even seem to really register as language," he said in an interview. "Some of them speak normal stuff like Volapük or High Akkadian, but some of them speak languages where a person's name is a SHA-256 hash of their genome. Or nouns are Fourier transforms of objects' emission spectra. Or, worse, they speak Lojban. So it's not something that's insurmountable, in most cases, but it's a process that is going to take us a while."

Wikipedias for fungi

One peculiar feature of the Scooses-Bazingernet, quickly discovered during initial tests, is that an overwhelming majority of the civilizations and species reachable through CERN's connection possess some equivalent of Wikipedia.

"Honestly, it makes no sense," explained Dr. Anita Pennywhistle, head of the newly-formed xenosociology team. "It's the product of a very specific technological moment and cultural zeitgeist, so you'd think it would only show up in a couple of specific scenarios. But it's basically everywhere. You've got a Wikipedia online from the Holy Strangite Concordat, the Universal Hoxhian People's Union, the Eternal Commonwealth of Byzantium, and so on. There's even a Wikipedia — somehow, bewilderingly, pronounced roughly the same way — in a world where intelligent life evolved from Fungi and not Animalia."

Due to this unique constant, shared across virtually all Bazingerzones, it is possible to conduct a detailed, comprehensive analysis of their history, culture, biology, and philosophy. While the content of the articles themselves have been put under a strict informational quarantine by the United Nations Security Council, The Signpost was able to wikilawyer our way into an approval to disclose the contents of various informational pages.

So far, our search has been slow, since we have to translate languages before we can read them. Towards that end, we've been working with Professor Glockenspiel's team to enhance their understanding of Wikipedia politics — strangely similar across a variety of civilizations and life forms — which, in turn, aids in their ability to decode the language. While our publications are still subject to approval by the UN Security Council, we expect to have them ready in time for next issue. Particularly, we look forward to bringing you the full translated text of WP:ANTLERSIZE — stay tuned!

Through their publication, we hope to inform you, our readers, of the fascinating aspects of what may well be the greatest discovery in the history of human civilization: policies, guidelines, and essays written by our own brothers, sisters, nongendered spawnmates, clonal peri-entites, conscious agglomerative systems, and autonomous persistent Boltzmann clusters class IV through XVII.

The latter.



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2023-09-16

Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic

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By Igordebraga, Rajan51, Ollieisanerd, Ltbdl, Marinette2356
This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga, Rajan51, Ollieisanerd, Ltbdl and Marinette2356.

Searchin' for my long lost shaker of salt (August 27 to September 2)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Jimmy Buffett 1,649,856 If we didn't have the exclusion policy against articles with 95+% mobile views, the top article of the week would be 2023 Asia Cup, which exceeded 2 million page visits reflecting India's love for cricket. But even if the traffic might be legit, we need to be consistent, and thus the top spot is the recently deceased singer responsible for among other songs "Margaritaville", which he turned into a chain of restaurants, and the life-story song quoted at #6 about Eddie Balchowsky, a Spanish Civil War veteran he once met.
2 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup 1,107,517 In yet another tournament that's hard for the western hemisphere to follow, basketball's national teams have gathered in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia – though with not everyone at full strength, as for every Luka Doncic present there is a Nikola Jokic who either skipped or wasn't cleared by the NBA. The biggest upset thus far has been Olympic silver medalists France falling in the group stage.
3 Bob Barker 1,087,041 The American game show host who won 19 Emmys for presenting The Price Is Right on CBS for 35 years died on August 26, aged 99. He also hosted Truth or Consequences from 1956 to 1975.
4 Gadar 2 1,014,364 This Bollywood historical action film starring Sunny Deol continues to bring in audiences, and along with being the second biggest Indian movie of the year – behind Pathaan – it has become the ninth highest-grossing Indian film ever. It has a shot at going up another place, but the release of Jawan next week could change things.
5 Vivek Ramaswamy 976,099 An American entrepreneur of Indian descent who is trying to be the Republican candidate on next year's presidential ballot.
6 Deaths in 2023 966,254 Some of it's magic,
Some of it's tragic,
But I had a good life all the way...
7 Gadsden flag 954,575 The sudden interest in this historical American flag comes from a video of a middle school student being removed from class with a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack. Officials later allowed him to come back with the patch, following backlash on Twitter (or X? I don't even know what to call it at this point) directed at the decision.
8 Oppenheimer (film) 913,919 Christopher Nolan's biopic based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer continues its explosive performance at the box office. It became the second highest-grossing R-rated film behind only a clown and then crossed $800 million at the worldwide box office. Hopefully it crosses the $1 billion mark too, but that's not a lock, yet.
9 Jailer (2023 Tamil film) 819,196 While it may have fallen behind #4 at the box office, this Kollywood thriller starring Rajinikanth is still the third highest-grossing Indian film of the year, and it will hope to keep the spot in the weeks to come.
10 Bray Wyatt 745,221 The WWF fighter also known as "The Fiend" sadly joined the list of premature professional wrestling deaths by having a heart attack at just 36.

Somebody once told me the world was gonna roll me (September 3 to 9)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Jawan (film) 3,905,752 Shah Rukh Khan's Bollywood comeback continues, with another action-packed film that opened to positive reviews. It is Khan's second film of the year, after Pathaan, which topped this list for three weeks and is the highest-grossing Indian film of 2023 so far. If the opening day box office numbers are anything to go by, this film looks like it will be just as big, if not bigger.
2 Steve Harwell 2,077,217 The lead singer of Smash Mouth had retired in 2021 due to health issues, and just one day after it was announced he was in hospice care for final-stage liver failure (consequence of years struggling with alcoholism) he died at 56. Even with bad late career moments like being pelted with bread or when Harwell appeared to give a Nazi salute, let's just mourn the death of an All-Star, who got his game on and went to play, and a rock star, who got the show on and got paid. (Only shooting stars break the mould!)
3 Jimmy Buffett 1,713,508 Another dead singer, who had a strong "island escapism" element in both his music and business endeavors (including the Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant, named after one of his songs).
4 Danny Masterson 1,584,143 An actor and Scientologist best known for starring in That '70s Show and The Ranch, who after being convicted in May 2023 of the rape of two women, has now been sentenced to an indefinite period of 30 years to life in prison. Former co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis apologized for sending letters in Masterson's defense, saying they never meant to undermine the victims.
5 Burning Man 1,311,197 An annual "week-long large-scale desert campout". On 1 September, heavy rain fell on Nevada and the 2023 edition of the festival was promptly flooded. Thousands were trapped inside the tents and at least one death is connected to the festival.
6 Ben Shelton (tennis) 1,161,151 8 months after a surprising quarterfinal run at the Australian Open, this young American reached the semifinals of the US Open, where the legendary Novak Djokovic easily dispatched him and even taunted Shelton by delivering back his "phone hung up" celebration.
7 Coco Gauff 1,157,390 Is it sexist that a male tennis player managed to get more views failing to reach the final than a female one that actually won the title? Maybe, but let's just note that this 19 year old finally fulfilled the Williams-sized expectations raised on her by winning the women's singles, Gauff's first Grand Slam victory while becoming the first American to win at Flushing Meadows since Sloane Stephens in 2017 (and the first to do so as a teenager since, wouldn't you know, Serena Williams in 1999).
8 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup 1,100,891 The mobile views for cricket are still too high to enter this list, but basketball hasn't got this problem. In a reminder that the US team needs to bring in their best if they want another gold medal in Paris 2024, they lost to Lithuania in the second round and ultimately got eliminated by Germany (who only has 4 NBA players, including the one in the picture, Dennis Schröder, as opposed to all 12 in the Americans' case) in the semifinal, setting up a decision of the Germans against Bogdan Bogdanović's Serbia.
9 Deion Sanders 973,437 The only man to play both NFL's Super Bowl and MLB's World Series has had a strong start to his second college football coaching stint, with his Colorado Buffaloes winning the first two games of the season.
10 Deaths in 2023 971,888 For #2:
It ain't no joke when a mama's handkerchief is soaked
With her tears because her baby's life has been revoked...

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