The Signpost
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4 December 2023

News and notes
Beeblebrox ejected from Arbitration Committee following posts on Wikipediocracy
In the media
Turmoil on Hebrew Wikipedia, grave dancing, Olga's impact and inspiring Bhutanese nuns
Disinformation report
"Wikipedia and the assault on history"
In focus
Tens of thousands of freely available sources flagged
Comix
Bold comics for a new age
Essay
I am going to die
Featured content
Real gangsters move in silence
Traffic report
And it's hard to watch some cricket, in the cold November Rain
Humour
Mandy Rice-Davies Applies
 

File:SD Judge being weighed on scales of justice.png
JPxG
PD
2023-12-04

Beeblebrox ejected from Arbitration Committee following posts on Wikipediocracy

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By Sdkb, Bri, Andreas Kolbe, Red-tailed hawk, and JPxG

Arbitrator Beeblebrox suspended for disclosing private information off-wiki

Drawing of a judge being weighed on a scale
The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee has suspended one of its members
Stable Diffusion, prompt: JPxG

The Arbitration Committee, in an unprecedented move, voted on November 27 to suspend one of its members for conduct violations.

The Arbitration Committee has determined that Beeblebrox (talk · contribs) has repeatedly failed to "[p]reserve in appropriate confidence the contents of private correspondence sent to the Committee and the Committee's internal discussions and deliberations" by making disclosures on off-wiki forums. These failures followed a previous formal warning issued to Beeblebrox in September 2021 by the Arbitration Committee concerning his conduct in off-wiki forums. Therefore, in accordance with Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy § Conduct of arbitrators, Beeblebrox is suspended from Arbitration Committee membership for a period of six months from this date. During this period, Beeblebrox's CheckUser and Oversight permissions and his access to applicable mailing lists (including the functionaries' mailing list) are revoked. Following this period, Beeblebrox may request reinstatement of his permissions or mailing list access by applying to the Arbitration Committee. Beeblebrox may also regain access via election to the committee.

Support: Barkeep49, Cabayi, CaptainEek, Enterprisey, GeneralNotability, Guerillero, Izno, L235, Primefac, SilkTork, Wugapodes

Oppose:

Abstain: Moneytrees


— Special:Permalink/1188076725#Suspension_of_Beeblebrox

The resolution was nearly unanimous, with 11 arbitrators supporting and none opposing. Moneytrees, the sole abstainer, wrote, "I hold Beeblebrox in very high regard" and "thought that made me too biased to actually vote on the matter". He said to the Signpost that "some people have asked me offsite about what way I would have voted if I didn't abstain. I would like to say more but given my abstention and the private nature of the evidence (I should not confirm or deny etc), I don't think it's my place to do so at this time; maybe once the dust has settled I can give more substantive commentary".

The choice of a six-month suspension is notable, as only one month remained in Beeblebrox's term, and he had said he did not plan to run for re-election. Arbitrator Barkeep49 wrote that the committee opted for suspension rather than removal in order to provide a timeline for potential restoration of his CheckUser and Oversight permissions and mailing list access, which were removed as part of the suspension, as well as to help set a precedent for future committees.

The name of the forum where Beeblebrox made the disclosures was not disclosed in the official announcement, but it was later clarified as Wikipediocracy, a site on which Beeblebrox has been publicly and openly known to be active for some time. The site has become well-known over the years for its sometimes-trenchant criticisms of Wikipedia, as well as for more controversial activities (like doxing) that have drawn great ire from the editoriat. Arbitrator Wugapodes said, in a comment on November 29:

In discussion of the suspension, Beeblebrox commented: "Obviously, I think the committee made the wrong decision here. I'll cop to letting a small detail about something out on an external website. And when other committee members raised concerns about it, I asked for the post to be removed, and it was. And then I was told there was a 'totality of evidence' of my wrongdoing that I needed to respond to, which I feel I did, just yesterday. I guess my replies didn't cut it." When contacted by the Signpost, Beebs declined to comment further.

Most other editors in the discussion were supportive of the decision. A notable exception came from former arbitrator Worm That Turned, who wrote, "it looks like you have been taken advantage of by a troll and Beeblebrox has come out the victim." Administrator Tamzin was sharply critical of ArbCom's 2021 decision not to make the warning to Beeblebrox public, casting it as part of a pattern of "overuse of private warnings and restrictions."

As of press time, a long discussion at the talk page for the Arbitration Committee noticeboard sat at around 150,000 characters. Meanwhile, a thread on Wikipediocracy sits at 206 replies. Some over there have speculated that the forbidden posts may have included this one, something to do with formerly-GLOCKed user Gitz6666 (see previous Signpost coverage) — but it's hard to say what is fact and what is fancy.

On November 28, Beeblebrox changed his username to "Just Step Sideways" (a lyrical reference).

Editors could not recall a prior instance in which an arbitrator was removed for cause. In 2018, arbitrator Alex Shih resigned, which the committee later revealed came after he was confronted with accusations he abused the Checkuser tool and committed other confidentiality violations. In 2009, arbitrator Sam Blacketer resigned after it was revealed to ArbCom that he had used an undisclosed alternate account before joining the committee; and in 2011 Iridescent was removed for inactivity. – Sdkb, J

November's monthly average number of active admins lower than the single record low we reported in October

A black and white photograph of a foundering naval vessel
The Admin Ship is still having problems.

Update to Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2023-10-23/News and notes#Record low number of active administrators which described a "new record low" hit on 18 Oct of 448 active administrators.

Since that report we have created several new records:

The number has been wobbling, but the average for the month of November was between 446 and 447. – B

Brief notes

The Wikimedia User Group Nigeria organised an online event to mark Nigeria's independence from British rule, as described in the User Group's annual report for 2022/2023.



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File:Signpost_19-23_editwarring_3.jpg
Bri
PD
2023-12-04

Turmoil on Hebrew Wikipedia, grave dancing, Olga's impact and inspiring Bhutanese nuns

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By Smallbones, Oltrepier, Bri and Red-tailed hawk

Edit wars over real-life war in Gaza

Two people arguing and pointing fingers at each other
A conflict over a claimed intelligence failure spills over to Hebrew Wikipedia
Image prompting: Bri

Israeli journalist Omer Benjakob reports in Haaretz (paywalled in both Hebrew and English) that Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his "hate cabinet" are trying to avoid responsibility, playing a "blame game", leaving military leaders to take the hit for the Israeli Intelligence failure that allowed the surprise attack led by Hamas on 7 October.

Hebrew Wikipedia has had its own battles and edit wars in this conflict. Benjakob cites the prolonged dispute between user Ya’akov and other Wikipedians on the Hebrew-language article about Yoram Cohen, who served as the Director of national internal security service Shin Bet from 2011 to 2016.

Ya’akov is one of the editors accused of "pushing conservative political views," by "promoting the view of Netanyahu and his entourage", that Israeli security chiefs are the only ones to blame for the IDF’s failure to prevent the 7 October attack. Hebrew Wikipedia editor David Shai, who created the article about Hamas's attack within an hour of its start, says "there’s enough blame and turpitude to go around."

On a side note, Benjakob has already written about Wikipedia for Haaretz and other media before, and his articles and essays have been frequently covered in the Signpost throughout the years.
S and O

The Wikis of Jacob

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Jacob Frank, the subject of The Books of Jacob.

It’s no surprise that The Books of Jacob, first published in 2014 by Olga Tokarczuk, has helped make the story of Polish Jewish religious leader Jacob Frank popular, while also helping the Polish writer and activist win both a Nike Award (in 2015) and a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 2018). However, the book might also have played an important role in expanding Wikipedia, as revealed in an interview (in Italian) with online newspaper Il Post.

In the interview, which had been arranged via e-mail by Ludovica Lugli, Tokarczuk cited the article about Frank on Polish Wikipedia as an example of how much the tales of the self-proclaimed messiah had been ignored in Poland before the book’s release, remembering how the page used to be just "an article limited to a single phrase" (a slightly incorrect statement, actually). According to the writer, none of the three religious groups involved – Orthodox Jews, Catholic Christians and the direct descendants of Frank’s disciples – had any interest in keeping the leader’s memory alive, to the point she discovered his story by pure chance, back in 2007, and it took her years to connect all the dots: "I didn’t expect to do such an enormous job", she stated.

Tokarczuk is also a familiar face within the Polish Wiki-community itself, having already collaborated with Wikimedia Polska in 2020 for an edit-a-thon focused on the articles of Nobel Prize-winning writers and artists on pl.wiki; even in this context, her statements against anti-semitism and homophobia can’t go unnoticed, considering the threats she has received by members of the Polish far-right in recent years, as well as the hugely controversial case involving World War II and the history of Jews in Poland, which the Signpost has broken down in previous issues. We also covered Tokarczuk's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which you can see here. – O

Changing "is" to "was" followed by grave dancing?

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Henry Kissinger (right) died on November 29

Vice, Daily Dot, and the Administrators' noticeboard cover the first edit marking Henry Kissinger's death on Wednesday, November 29. The edit was made by Asticky, twelve minutes after Kissinger Associates announced the death via a press release. Soon Asticky's user page was filled with congratulations and a few barnstars. Administrators on their noticeboard questioned the taste of some of those posts, and in general discouraged "grave dancing".

Two days later, when CNBC announced the death of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at 9:57 am Eastern Time, four edits were made by anonymous IP editors in the subsequent five minutes. The first IP editor made two edits in that minute. The second IP editor appears to have been a congressional staffer who made their second edit after another two minutes. The Signpost predicts that the mainstream press will soon report this edit race as well. – S

In brief

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Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, one of several art toilets you can learn about on Commons (including America by Maurizio Cattelan and Friedensreich Hundertwasser's public toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand)



Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit our next issue in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.



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File:Author imagining a wikipedia book.jpg
Bri
PD
2023-12-04

"Wikipedia and the assault on history"

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By Smallbones

The moving finger writes; and, having writ...

Placeholder alt text
The Hoffman Wobble ... yesssss
Image prompting: Bri

The cover of this month's Harper's Magazine shows a computer screen with a Wikipedia page (complete with the trademarked puzzle globe) with the headline "Wikipedia and the assault on history" and the byline "By Ben Lerner [edit]". But that article is fictitious, our encyclopedia does not have an article with that name, not yet anyway. But first a warning: to address the serious questions raised by the Harper's article (more properly titled The Hofmann Wobble – Wikipedia and the problem of historical memory), which is a combination of fact and fiction in the form known as autofiction, I try my hand for the first time at literary criticism.

Ben Lerner's 8,700-word short story centers on a description by the author-protagonist-narrator of their editing of Wikipedia. Lerner, or his protagonist-narrator, describes in detail how he established a network of hundreds of sockpuppets and meatpuppets, and not one, but two, administrators under his thumb. His employers were a non-profit institute of linguistics in Berkeley, California, and a young West Coast tech billionaire who wants to save sea turtles. The institute and the love of sea turtles may well be fictional, but Berkeley and the billionaire may be relevant facts.

Lerner is a bright star in the U.S. literary world. Pay close attention to the details of his life. You will see them again. He was born in Topeka, Kansas, where his parents were psychologists at the Menninger Institute. His mother, Harriet Lerner, is a well known feminist psychologist. He graduated from Topeka High School where he led the debate team. At Brown University, he graduated with a BA in political science, then a masters of fine art in creative writing, becoming a poet in the process.

He was awarded a Fulbright fellowship (2004) to research and write about Spanish Civil War poetry in Madrid. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2013, and in 2015 a prestigious MacArthur fellowship, which is sometimes called a "genius grant". He is a Distinguished Professor at CUNY's Brooklyn College, and has been called "the most distinguished autofictionist in America".

He's written three award winning books of poetry, and is the first poetry editor in Harper's 173-year history. His novels include Leaving the Atocha Station (2011), 10:04 (2014), and The Topeka School (2019).

His novels are written as autofiction, which combines the two formats of factual autobiography and fiction. Of course, these two have been combined for as long as they have existed, but as Lerner practices the form, autofiction has a very specific meaning. The structure of the story appears to be the main known facts of his life over a given period. The details are likely fictional, as he reimagines what happened during that time, reliving what could have happened, or what should have happened.

For example, his first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, follows a young Kansas poet named Adam Gordon in Madrid 2004, on a grant to write about Spanish poetry. These facts are consistent with what we know about Lerner's life. Adam, his narrator, drinks, smokes weed, chases women and explains this life in ways that could be fact or fiction. Then a terrorist bomb explodes in Atocha Station — a historical fact — and Adam reacts to it in ways that might be entirely fictitious.

His third novel, The Topeka School, was one of three finalists for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Adam Gordon is one of three narrators in this autofiction prequel to his other two novels. Adam again lives the same life as Lerner. He is a student at Topeka High School leading the debate team, his parents are psychologists at a prestigious foundation, his mother is a famous feminist. The structural elements of the novel are given by Lerner's life, only the details may be fiction.

The Hofmann Wobble

Lerner's new short story about Wikipedia is not very short. It is not divided into sections, but I'll analyze it in three: introduction, body, and request and replies.

Introduction

The narrator is unnamed, only occasionally called "New Media Fellow" or "NMF". He is traveling from the U.S. East Coast to Berkeley, California, in 2006, a trip that likely echoes a trip Lerner must have taken in 2005 or 2006 to Berkeley, where he lived for about a year while teaching at the California College of the Arts. NMF was a new media fellow at an unnamed linguistic institute in Berkeley for about a year. Oddly, this period of Lerner's life is seldom mentioned in short biographies, but it was mentioned in the first version of the article Ben Lerner in early 2006 and it stuck there for 18 months, until Lerner accepted a position at the University of Pittsburgh.

On NMF's drive through Utah he runs over a swarm of Mormon crickets. Did Lerner run over a similar swarm on his way to Berkeley? I suspect not. The swarm is useful to Lerner as a metaphor throughout the story, perhaps referring to Wikipedia's editors and readers. By the third sentence of the story NMF is telling the reader that the facts as given are not necessarily true. NMF tells us "I remember, wrongly, that I was listening to a book on tape, a work by a prominent linguist ..." and then continues describing the tape he wasn't listening to as if he had. This telling us that he is not telling us the truth is a tic that is repeated throughout the story. Clearly, The Hofmann Wobble is Lerner's usual autofiction mix of truth and fiction. The main events are true, the details may not be.

After arriving in Berkeley, the NMF starts at the institute without really knowing what a new media fellow does, but that's OK — neither do the people at the institute. He meets a new girlfriend — a high school teacher — and she introduces him to Wikipedia, and how her students use and abuse it. As she lies in his bed, he spends the rest of the night in his underwear typing, and learns most of what he needs to edit Wikipedia (clearly fiction).

Body of the story

NMF practices his new skills on articles about the institute and its director, Dr. Hofmann, as well as her favorite bugbear, "tax relief". He creates a PowerPoint and presents it to the director and new colleagues, concluding:

What we need, what I'm going to establish, is an ever-expanding phalanx of Wikipedia editors to create, reframe, and defend these pages, which are treated by more and more of the human population as both encyclopedia and news source.

Throughout this section, NMF displays a very good knowledge of how Wikipedia works. He characterizes its writing style as "suspiciously coherent if not particularly well-written", but "so easy to edit that a failing student in summer school could do it." He knows about redirects, disambiguation pages, and the steps needed to win an argument on talk pages. He knows the importance of building an account's reputation:

So I started building up an identity and edit history for MormonCricket, who I decided would have little in common with me (this is a fake version of the fake identities I actually made in the real version of the project I'm fictionalizing).

NMF then builds his phalanx of sockpuppets, creating distinct identities for each, and editing from distinct locations around Berkeley so that they do not all have the same identifying IP addresses. (This sockpuppeting technique is somewhat old-fashioned, but still in use even though it is now almost certain to end in the sockpuppets being caught). That method doesn't scale very well, so he recruits friends who don't live in Berkeley as meatpuppets, instructing them on how to edit and !vote in RfCs and even RfAs (to select two administrators). Lerner even goes so far in his fiction as to create opposing editors complete with user names that veteran editors might think they recognize. For example I thought I recognized User:ProudMarine, but there is no editor with that exact name. NMF also refers to specific controversial articles, writing that they contributed to the controversy.

NMF is eventually hired away from the institute by "one true billionaire — a 97 percent fictional man." About this time NMF's perception of facts, of truth itself, begins to shift back and forth, a "cognitive fragmentation". He creates a name for this phenomenon, "the Hofmann wobble". He outlines the strategy he'd use to write a Wikipedia article on the concept and make it stick.

Under the billionaire's generous patronage, NMF's editing empire and influence grows, but he notices that he is not alone in his practice of these dark arts. In fact, the field is becoming overcrowded — and he loses his enthusiasm. The billionaire's interest also fades, and NMF moves on to get a job in the real world.

This is the key section to understand how much Lerner knows about Wikipedia. User:MormonCricket was no newbie. Lerner knows Wikipedia in detail. While the names have been changed, much of the detail rings true. I only wonder how much editing time it took him to gather this knowledge.

A request and two replies

On the final page, Lerner changes the narrator, writing under his initials "bl" (presumably as Lerner himself). He starts with what appears to be a confession.

bl: I've written a short story—or a kind of fictional essay (it's based on a real project of mine but all the facts have been altered)—about a young man's efforts to manipulate Wikipedia for the good (so he thinks) through the construction of multiple online identities.

Perhaps he's just trying to fool us again, but if this statement is not sincere, then nothing in the story is true.

He quickly summarizes his story and requests ChatGPT to give it meaning "because you represent the end of Wikipedia, I want to give you the last word."

ChatGPT's reply is Lerner's final fiction. The silk purse of Lerner's flashy prose cannot be transformed into the sow's ear of ChatGPT prose. Artificial Intelligence's major weakness is its complete ignorance of meaning, so it cannot be expected to give meaning to Lerner's story. So I interpret the reply from "ChatGPT" as a dumbed down version of Lerner's own proposed meaning.

The young man realized that, like the swarming crickets, the vastness of information was beyond any individual's control….

He had fought passionately for his cause, attempting to counter right-wing frameworks and promote suppressed truths. But in his quest, he had lost sight of the fundamental nature of information—the essence of knowledge itself. It was not about dominating or manipulating, but about empowering and illuminating.

My reply to Lerner is that this conclusion looks self-serving, casting himself as an idealistic searcher for the truth about truth. Running a phalanx of sockpuppets damages Wikipedia and our empowering of editors to help illuminate the truth for our readers.

Lerner's use of the literary form of autofiction makes it easy to see that the general outline of his story is true, even though the details may not be. Veteran editors who may have been directly hurt by his sockpuppets are inevitably planning their response, either off-Wiki or on-Wiki.

If, indeed, Lerner did run a sockfarm, there's not much that we can do about it now, other than accept that large sockfarms have been around a long time on Wikipedia, and vow that we'll stop others in the future. If we were to dedicate a large task force to investigate Lerner's possible sockfarm, we might be able to determine whether it really existed or how much damage it did. But what then? There would be no point in blocking socks that are by now over a decade old. Any damage to the text of our articles should have long since been corrected.

Instead, we should thank Lerner for (almost) being honest with us. For demonstrating once again that large sockfarms exist, and are dangerous, and that we have to do something about it. He might help us now by coming forward and telling the unadulterated truth about what he has done. We could ask him to write an article for The Signpost addressed directly to Wikipedians. Or perhaps ask him to make the keynote address at the next Wikimania.

But let's not let it happen again.




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File:Lock-green.svg
Trappist the monk
PD
30
2023-12-04

Tens of thousands of freely available sources flagged

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By Headbomb

Over the weekend of 25 November, citation templates received some updates. One change, in particular, goes a long way in flagging freely-available resources. Here's a short history of what was needed for the most recent changes to fully pay off.

Step 1: access locks get rolled out

In October 2016, so-called "access locks" were deployed in CS1 and CS2 templates (see Signpost coverage). After a few RfCs on visual appearance, things settled in the current scheme:

– to indicate a full version of a source that is freely accessible, with no conditions
– to indicate a full version of a source that is freely accessible, with some conditions (e.g. free registration is required, only the first 5 reads are free, etc.)
– to indicate a full version of a source that is not freely accessible (e.g. a paid subscription is required).

Step 2: bots get involved

Access locks for always-free resources, like papers hosted on arXiv or papers with PMCIDs, were automatically rolled out. But the main identifier for scientific articles is the sometimes-free DOI, which requires the presence of |doi-access=free to signal whether or not a particular DOI link is free to read.

For those unfamiliar with DOIs, they are roughly the equivalent of what ISBNs are for books, and usually point to individual academic papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Their structure is 10.xxxxx/foobar, with the 10.xxxxx part being the DOI prefix, identifying who has registered the DOI in question. DOI registrants can be access platforms like JSTOR (10.2307), individual journals like Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic (10.1305), or publishers like the IEEE (10.1109).

While the initial roll-out of DOI access locks was done manually and semi-automatically with WP:AWB, OA Bot greatly assisted in flagging free-to-read resources on select articles. However, OA Bot tends to be user-activated on specific articles, rather than systematically crawling every article on Wikipedia.

One way to find swathes of free DOIs is to identify DOI prefixes belonging to known open-access publishers. For example, 10.3389 belongs to the (in)famous Frontiers Media, while 10.3390 belongs to the equally controversial MDPI. It's then a simple matter to have Citation bot flag them. It worked pretty well for the big publishers, so an effort was made to identify more open-access DOI prefixes, and the bot was updated accordingly.

Step 3: search and flag

Targeted Citation bot runs were done from database dumps — rather efficiently to begin with. But while database scans are good at finding articles containing specific DOI prefixes, they are bad at finding articles containing unflagged DOIs with these prefixes. Meaning that if, hypothetically, 92% of all articles with MDPI DOIs were flagged, you'd be wasting your processing power on 92% of articles with MDPI prefixes in them. As of writing, that's 12,151 articles — meaning well over 11,000 articles would be processed for nothing to catch the other ~1000. And the next time, if you have 98% flagged ... you'll have an even more inefficient run.

Luckily, with the recent update to the CS1 and CS2 citation templates, we have a solution: Category:CS1 maint: unflagged free DOI. This is a category that specifically tracks if a citation has a) a known free DOI prefix and b) a DOI that has been flagged as free. As of writing, a bit over 16,000 Wikipedia articles have been identified and processed. Here's an example edit: flagging 2 DOIs with prefix 10.3847, belonging to the American Astronomical Society. Here's another: flagging 4 DOIs with prefixes 10.1186, associated with BioMed Central journals, and 10.1073, associated with Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The hope is to have the category mostly cleared by the end of December, when it will contain only new additions. Those should be easily handled by daily bot runs.

Where to next?

About 2 to 3% of the 16,000 or so articles seem to have a free DOI that is unflagged in Wikidata, which are (mostly) the ones remaining in the category. Sadly, {{cite q}} makes it impossible to deal with it here, as well as the many other issues Citation bot is able to correct. Hopefully Wikidata people can look at the updates to the CS1 and CS2 templates and go through whatever is going on on their side of things and update things accordingly.

It should be a relatively straightforward task for someone that understands how Wikidata works. That someone isn't me. But it could be you!



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File:Forbuden Frugt smager bedst.jpg
Punch
PD
310
2023-12-04

Bold comics for a new age

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By JPxG
Placeholder alt text

"No, don't be an idiot. We're not actually going to assume good faith."





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"Hold on, I zoned out for a minute. Which one of you was the Icewhiz sock again?"





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"Okay, you didn't hear this from me, but they are talking mad shit about you on the Wikiproject Mesmerism discord."





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"No, that's not just a normal outhouse — that's a WP:BADHOUSE. They say the last guy who went in there and posted about what happened out here... he never came out! And if you go in there and look in the mirror holding a red candle... and you say his name three times... he'll step out of it and indef you!"





Note: the previous Comix appeared in the 1 January 2023 issue's CommonsComix column.



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File:Memento Mori 'To This Favour' by William Michael Harnett, c. 1879.JPG
William Michael Harnett
PD
70
400
2023-12-04

I am going to die

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By WhatamIdoing
19th century painting showing a human skull on top of books
Memento mori: Remember that we will die.

Here is an uncomfortable fact: I am going to die. I hope it won't happen any time soon, but it will happen, and it will happen to you, too.

On that day, will there still be editors here?

Replacing me

I firmly believe that I am not irreplaceable. However, I also don't think that I'll be easy to replace. Looking at the numbers, here's what we need to replace me:

Trends over time

When we're gone, will there be anyone to take our place?

The number of active editors has been pretty flat for about a decade. It might occasionally feel like everyone's quitting, particularly if a wiki-friend disappears, but we're holding on. However, anything that affects retention – whether that's a change we control, like how we treat each other, or a change outside of our control, such as an economic recession – could destabilize our balance.

We get about four million new accounts each year. That means that, in a given year, we can replace about 40 of the editors listed in Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of edits#1–1000.

Everyone on that list is going to die some day. There are 1,000 editors on that list, and we are getting enough new accounts to replace about 40 per year. That's only 4% per year. We can only maintain our current situation if the average editor on that list stays active for 25 years. If we lose promising new editors, we may not have any editors left.

Replacing you

How many newbies do we need to replace you? Check your edit count at Special:CentralAuth, and find yourself in this list:

What to do about this

We need to see clearly into the not-so-distant future.

The first is: Please do not bite the newcomers. Remember not just that you will die someday, but also that you were once new, inexperienced, clumsy, prone to breaking things, unaware of any of the rules, and generally making mistakes and screwing up articles. Go look at that list again: That's how many clueless newbies the previous generation of editors had to tolerate to get an editor like you. If we want editors like us to be here when we die, we need to extend the same grace to the current newbies. We won't get another generation of editors by making them feel unwelcome, especially since our environment is more complex than it used to be, and the alternative outlets (e.g., social media and video sites) are much more available and attractive than they used to be. We have to compete for potential editors' time and interest.

The second is: Remember that when you are "defending the wiki" in the short term, you could be killing it in the long term. We need new editors more than we need the endorphin rush of insta-reverting an uncited but probably accurate contribution. We need new editors more than we need to make things convenient for us. We need new editors to feel like they can be successful more than we need to get rid of subjects with borderline notability. Yes, you are permitted to blank uncited content, and sometimes articles really do need to be deleted. We do get a lot of attempted spam and self-promotion. But if we don't want Wikipedia to die off when we die, we are sometimes going to have to WP:FIXTHEPROBLEM ourselves, instead of pointing fingers at the less-experienced folks who didn't get it right the first time. We are often going to have to encourage and support the newcomers. We need to thank every good contribution from a new editor. The options shouldn't be reversion or radio silence; the options should include frequent thanks and praise and encouragement and enthusiastically building on their work.

The third is: Create actual content. One of the problems with evaluating replacement rates according to edit count is that it's possible to rack up a lot of edits by doing nothing of real significance. A well-written article is a solid contribution to the world; changing the order that refs appear in a list is not so important. If you dislike unsourced articles, go source them. If you dislike outdated articles, go update them. But the main thing is: figure out which articles are missing or in significant need of expansion, and go create some actual content. Good content will outlive you.



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File:Jää on kulmunud pallideks (Looduse veidrused). 05.jpg
Aleksandr Abrosimov
CC 4 BY-SA
2023-12-04

Real gangsters move in silence

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By Adam Cuerden, Oltrepier, and JPxG

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted in the second half of October (from the 18th).

If you're wondering about why the second half of October starts on the 18th, it's because I really, really didn't want to forget to include the featured topic mentioned last issue. Featured topics are rare, the formatting search-and-replace doesn't cover them, and I was a bit panicked I'd forget to include it, so I changed the point the month was divided to fit it in immediately, while I was paying attention.

Adam Cuerden

Featured articles

Eighteen featured articles were promoted this period.

Liz Truss, announcing her intention to resign.
Liz Truss by Tim O'Doherty
Liz Truss
Went bust
As prime minister after fifty days.
So short!
Public court
Sometimes that way plays.AC
Darkness on the Edge of Town by zmbro
Angered by backlash and court cases,
The Boss decided to go back record;
Against the odds, the album has gone places,
And it's now a beloved piece of work.O
MLS Cup 2019 by SounderBruce
Seattle Sounders won it at their home ground,
And several records they destroyed.
Kelvin, Victor and Raúl, the groove they all found,
And for the second time in history, they got the city overjoyed.O
The Spider (magazine) by Mike Christie
A magazine from the 30s about heroes made of pulp
Was cancelled when paper shortages made the .gov gulpJ
Mountain pigeon by AryKun
Gymnophaps, gymnophaps, described by Salvadori
Like to flap, like to crap, in Indonesian pigeontories.J
"Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" by BennyOnTheLoose
A whopping 11-minute waltz, the closer on Blonde on Blonde,
Recorded in four long takes.
Likely an ode to his wife, Dylan was of it fond.
Ah, when it comes to love, so high are the stakes!O
Raffles Place MRT station by ZKang123
A station of colonial design, nestled underground,
where Singaporeans travel, and trains can be foundJ
Incapillo by Jo-Jo Eumerus
A caldera! A caldera! A Pleistocene caldera!
The lake might still be hydrothermally active, so better stay awarea!J
Appalachian Spring by MyCatIsAChonk
A ballad of Copland and Graham and Coolidge,
and still essential in the comp'ny's repertoirage.J
Sir William Gordon-Cumming, 4th Baronet by SchroCat
There once was a man, Gordon-(Redacted),
Fourth Baronet and quite skilled at (Redacted),
Once a soldier, it's true,
And was quite well-to-do,
But most of his fame came from (Redacted).J
550 Madison Avenue by Epicgenius
It's a Sony! It's a Sony!
Once was a Bell shop; atrium's homey.J
C. O. Brocato by BeanieFan11
Scout, coach and football player;
This is one of those postmodern poems that doesn't rhyme. J
Duffield Memorial by Usernameunique
Rest in peace; Art Nouveau;
But the medallion had to go.J
1913–14 Gillingham F.C. season by ChrisTheDude
Wikipedia's greatest Gillingham fan,
He's keeping going strong;
Not so much did his beloved men,
But hey, that season didn't go too wrong...O
"The One" (Tamar Braxton song) by Aoba47
Tamar got a summer hit with it,
And in the critics' eyes, she won;
It sampled Mtume and Biggie,
But in that case, it was not the only one...O
"Photograph of Mary" by Heartfox
An R&B song,
four twenty six long,
and with better lyrics
than this poem.J
Fleetwood Park Racetrack by RoySmith
Trotting track in New York
Failed to stack up the pork. J
Sagan standard by HAL333
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof";
In other words, the astronomer says you just might be a goof.J

Featured pictures

Ten featured pictures were promoted this period, including those at the top and bottom of this article.

Featured lists

Nine featured lists were promoted this period.

A cathedral.
The Aachen Cathedral, Germany's first ever World Heritage Site.
List of World Heritage Sites in Germany by Tone
Alternates of the 12th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam by TheUzbek
Angeline Quinto discography by Pseud 14
List of cranes by AryKun
List of international goals scored by Davor Šuker by Idiosincrático
List of international goals scored by Emmanuel Adebayor by Idiosincrático
List of Baltimore Ravens seasons by ULPS
List of Hot Soul Singles number ones of 1978 by ChrisTheDude
Outline of lichens by MeegsC



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File:Virat kohli.jpg
Government of India
GODL
300
2023-12-04

And it's hard to watch some cricket, in the cold November Rain

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By Igordebraga, Ollieisanerd, Ktin, GeorgeBailey, Rajan51, TheJoebro64, CAWylie
This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga, Ollieisanerd, Ktin, GeorgeBailey, TheJoebro64, CAWylie and Rajan51.

Yesterday, there was so many things I was never told (November 12 to 18)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 2023 Cricket World Cup 3,710,562 After six weeks, the World Cup entered the knockout stage last week, with India and Australia beating New Zealand and South Africa in the semi-finals by comfortable margins. All eyes then turned to the final to be held at the world's largest cricket stadium. In the Sunday after the period covered by this Report, Australia has won their sixth World Cup (more on that in next week's edition).
2 Cricket World Cup 3,653,598
3 Tiger 3 2,489,468 While this woeful choice of image clearly shows that we (the editors of this wonderful crowdsourcing project) can not be trusted to know anything that happens outside of the core anglosphere, the movie in and of itself has been creating quite a stir at the box office. Starring Bhai in and as the titular character in this action thriller series, the movie is yet another banger that seems to be coming from the Hindi movie industry (did someone say, Bollywood?)
4 The Marvels 1,220,998 The world's biggest film franchise had its 33rd film open to mixed reception from both the critics and audiences last week. It may have been a sequel to a billion dollar film, but it featured three other characters, two of whom were only introduced on Disney+ shows, one of which was one of Marvel's least watched shows, and the third was the lead in one of its worst shows. This, combined with the declining quality (and public interest) of the MCU resulted in the franchise's lowest opening weekend at the domestic box office. Things don't seem to be improving, with the second weekend projected to have the MCU's biggest drop.
5 Suella Braverman 1,070,416 The former British Home Secretary was dismissed from the government on November 13. Apparently the trigger for her sacking were her comments in a Times article saying, "police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters", and called pro-Palestinian protesters "mobs" after their supposed plan to disrupt the annual Remembrance Day services.
6 Deaths in 2023 913,191 Find out who you are
Before you regret
'Cause life is so short
There's no time to waste it ...
7 David Beckham 892,350 The famed footballer went to India as part of his humanitarian work for UNICEF, and while there Beckham watched the hosts win the semi-final of #1, and met with cricketers including #8, before attending a post-game party hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. PS: Or, was it a pre-game party? It does not matter. If Khan calls you home for a party, you just show up. Here, he did not even have to bend it like Beckham.
8 Virat Kohli 884,049 The Indian cricketer scored his 50th century in One Day Internationals in the semi-final against New Zealand in #1, breaking the record for most centuries in the format, which was previously held by his icon Sachin Tendulkar.
9 David Cameron 863,413 This week the former British Prime Minister made a surprise comeback to politics after he was appointed Foreign Secretary in the same cabinet reshuffle in which #5 got fired. Cameron hasn't been an MP since 2016, so current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed him to the House of Lords instead.
10 The Killer (2023 film) 860,359 David Fincher, one of the greatest directors of his generation if not ever, released his new movie, a graphic novel adaptation where Michael Fassbender plays a hitman fond of The Smiths.

You'll feel better tomorrow, come the morning light now, baby (November 19 to 25)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Cricket World Cup 3,919,491 Like in 1950, a country hosted the world championship for its favorite sport, went to the decisive game in the biggest stadium in the world as massive favorites and still lost. Indian cricket fans are certainly trying to overcome their defeat to Australia by checking on the next big tournament, to be hosted in the United States and the West Indies in June.
2 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2,031,267
3 2023 Cricket World Cup 1,880,101
4 Victor Chang 1,619,664 Google homaged with a Doodle a Chinese-Australian doctor who was a heart surgery pioneer in what would've been his 87th birthday.
5 Jimmy Carter 1,402,796 The former US President who might become the first centenarian F-POTUS if he lives until next October, lost his First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a marriage that lasted nearly 80 years.
6 Napoleon 1,259,949 The war hero turned emperor who expanded France's domains during the 18th century, and many crazy people believe themselves to be a reincarnation of. Ridley Scott just released a movie telling about M. Bonaparte's exploits (#10).
7 Javier Milei 1,227,917 Argentina didn't learn from the last four years where neighbor Brazil was ruled by an unhinged right wing politician and elected this guy, who might be even worse, between his extremist economic views and overall peculiarities – as an even deeper dive summed up (turn on the English subtitles), Milei is "an economist and former tantric sex teacher, former cover band lead singer who advocates for organ trading, denies global warming, apparently wears a wig, supports Bitcoin, preaches free love, and his main political advisor is his deceased dog, with whom he consults through an interspecies medium."
8 Sam Altman 1,135,940 The CEO of OpenAI was dismissed for unclear reasons (speculation included Q*, a breakthrough that would make artificial intelligence even stronger), only to return to his post a few days later.
9 Dolly Parton 1,105,283 The country music legend sang during the halftime concert of the NFL on Thanksgiving Day game, dressed as a cheerleader to show off how she's in great shape for 77. Parton also released her 49th (!) studio album Rockstar, delving into rock n' roll with both covers and original tracks, helped by a star-studded guest list (just for starters, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Miley Cyrus, and Lizzo).
10 Napoleon (2023 film) 1,079,091 Joaquin Phoenix plays #6 in a movie that might not be the most accurate representation of his life, particularly to fit into less than 2 hours and 40 minutes (in any case, director Ridley Scott said he has a 4 hour cut), but has great acting and impressive production values to win over viewers. The film arm of the biggest company in the world already gave $200 million for Martin Scorsese to make Killers of the of the Flower Moon, so they also spent a lot in this one and probably don't mind a low box office performance if it's acclaimed (even if Napoleon hasn't won critics as much as Scorsese's film) and brings in viewers to Apple TV+.

Look in the doubt we've wallowed, look at the leaders we've followed (November 26 to December 2)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Henry Kissinger 3,545,119 November 29 marked the death of one of the most polarizing figures in modern American politics and the last surviving member of Nixon's cabinet. Kissinger served as secretary of state under the Nixon and Ford administrations; supporters consider him one of the most effective secretaries of state in American history, while detractors consider him a war criminal for overlooking human rights violations in the name of maintaining international stability. Reactions were, predictably, divided, with a plentiful mix of eulogies and crab raves.
2 Animal (2023 film) 2,580,620 What's the big deal? I'm an animal! The manosphere wave seems to have hit India, with this film's titular character self-describing himself as an "alpha male" and spouting inflammatory nonsense that would make Tate proud. It has not impressed critics (The Guardian calls the lead "one of the vilest protagonists in cinema history"), but has had the biggest box office opening for an Indian film this year.
3 Shane MacGowan 1,214,906 The Celtic punk rocker, best known as the frontman for The Pogues, died this week, just as the holiday season began and people in the UK recalled his perennial hit "Fairytale of New York".
4 Napoleon 974,717 Slate published a story (that includes mentions to our Report!) about how French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is the latest case of Wikipedia readers checking on articles about historical figures chronicled in current movies (see below).
5 Deaths in 2023 942,511 To quote the above, "Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily."
6 Napoleon 867,876 Ridley Scott directed this historical epic about #4 starring Joaquin Phoenix, and unlike the first time they worked together it has not seen the same critical and commercial success, including how this time people haven't given the same leniency regarding playing fast and loose with history. In any case, another project on the same guy is on the works, as Steven Spielberg decided to make a miniseries out of the unproduced Napoleon script by the late great Stanley Kubrick (which even inspired a book), the second time Spielberg revived a Kubrick project after A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
7 Jimmy Carter 798,608 The 39th American president is 99 years old and currently in hospice care for melanoma, but made a public appearance at the funeral for his First Lady Rosalynn Carter, accompanied by their four children. Also there to pay respects to Rosalynn were the five living First Ladies: Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump and Jill Biden.
8 George Santos 741,743 The alleged criminal and former Emperor, Pope, and President finally gets expelled from the US House of Representatives.
9 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 735,626 The final two qualifying cricket tournaments (Asia and Africa) were held this month. Twenty teams are now set to face off in June 2024 in the United States (where people think of the insect when hearing 'cricket') and the West Indies.
10 Terry Venables 695,191 "El Tel" died this week at age 80. A football player and manager, Venables' style of play in the 1960s was considered modern and innovative, a contrast to the rigid tactical style that once dominated English football.

Exclusions

Most edited articles

For the October 27 – November 27 period, per this database report.

Title Revisions Notes
Legalism (Chinese philosophy) 2931 四灯仍在修补此页面.
2023 Israel–Hamas war 2801 The conflict in the Holy War fell below the top 10 most viewed, but the war developments still needed frequent updates. There was a temporary truce for both sides to exchange hostages, but who knows if they will not go up in arms again as it ends.
Deaths in 2023 2170 More people leave this Earthly realm. A particularly sad addition was a Brazilian Taylor Swift fan during her concert because an awful heat wave was even worse inside the stadium.
Bigg Boss (Tamil season 7) 1318 Like their cinema, every one of India's languages has their own Big Brother. This one is hosted by Kollywood star Kamal Haasan.
Matthew Perry 1122 Friends fans were shocked with the sudden announcement that the portrayer of Chandler Bing had died at 54 (one year after Perry chronicled in a memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, how his life was sadly marred by addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs).
United States at the 2023 Pan American Games 1094 Even if many of the 631 American athletes sent to Santiago were B-listers, the country's athletic dominance in the continental games was predictable. Only in the first Pan Am and the ones held in once sports potency Cuba the USA were held down to second place, so again they topped the medal count with 286, 124 of them golden.
Bigg Boss (Hindi season 17) 1046 Another current edition of an Indian Big Brother, hosted by Bollywood star Salman Khan.
2023 Cricket World Cup statistics 945 Cricket has hundreds of millions of fans, so off they go to crunch the numbers for the world tournament (and given every edition of the cricket world cup warrants such an article on statistics while the ones for FIFA World Cup were deleted, seems like a sport where the numbers are very crucial).
Brazil at the 2023 Pan American Games 940 After the North American potency in the continental games came the South American one, and mostly their top athletes (if only to qualify for Paris 2024). Brazil passed 200 medals for the first time, 66 of them golden.
List of Cricket World Cup records 835 Again, updates on the current edition of cricket's big tournament also lead to the overall history needing them.
Frozen (2013 film) 802 An attempt to make Frozen a Featured Article like its sequel instead raised enough issues to start a Good Article reassessment, and in spite of the efforts of Wingwatchers to clean up, the page wound up delisted.
Modern Jewish historiography 788 Andrevan did such an extensive job on this article that the page even landed on Did You Know?
Jackson Hinkle 727 A heavily contentious political commentator, particularly his role in spreading misinformation in the 2023 Israel–Hamas war. An attempt at deleting the page didn't work.
Fulwood, Lancashire 713 One user is cleaning the page on this suburb of Preston.
Five Nights at Freddy's (film) 679 The jump scare-heavy video game series about killer animatronics was adapted into a movie that reviewers did not approve but made fans flock to theaters, earning nearly $300 million worldwide costing only $20 million.



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File:Mandy Rice-Davies Applies.jpg
Joop van Bilsen
PD
2023-12-04

Mandy Rice-Davies Applies

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By JPxG
But at the end of the day, there's one thing we know for certain:


She would, wouldn't she?



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