The Signpost
Single-page Edition
WP:POST/1
4 July 2024

News and notes
WMF board elections and fundraising updates
Special report
Wikimedia Movement Charter ratification vote underway, new Council may surpass power of Board
In focus
How the Russian Wikipedia keeps it clean despite having just a couple dozen administrators
Discussion report
Wikipedians are hung up on the meaning of Madonna
In the media
War and information in war and politics
Sister projects
On editing Wikisource
Obituary
Hanif Al Husaini, Salazarov, Hyacinth, and PirjanovNurlan
Opinion
Etika: a Pop Culture Champion
Gallery
Spokane Willy's photos
Op-Ed
Why you should not vote in the 2024 WMF BoT elections
Crossword
On a day of independence, beat crosswords into crossploughshares
Humour
A joke
Cobwebs
Counting to a billion — manuscripts don't burn
Recent research
Is Wikipedia Politically Biased? Perhaps
Traffic report
Talking about you and me, and the games people play
 

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2024-07-04

WMF board elections and fundraising updates

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By Andreas Kolbe, Bri and HaeB

Wikimedia Foundation board elections now in pre-onboarding and campaign period

Black and white Wikimedia Foundation logo

The 2024 Wikimedia Foundation board elections, designed to replace four "Community- and Affiliate-selected Trustees" whose terms will end this year, have now entered the pre-onboarding and campaign period (June 25, 2024 – August 26, 2024). The list of candidates judged eligible according to the candidate criteria is as follows:

Three candidates were judged ineligible:

A newly introduced candidates shortlisting process (which would be based on input from affiliate organizations) was not yet used this year, as the number of eligible candidates did not exceed 15.

The eligible candidates have completed their answers to the following community questions on Meta-Wiki:

  1. UCoC: The creation and implementation of a Universal Code of Conduct has been a Board priority since 2020. The original timeline for the implementation of the UCoC was wildly unrealistic, the UCoC was implemented by the Board without community ratification, and the first Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee was recently elected without a sufficient number of members to form a quorum. What lessons should the Board take from the UCoC process, especially about how the Board interacts with volunteers?
  2. Movement Charter: There has been some trend towards devolving or sharing the governance of the Wikimedia movement, including having a separate board for the Wikimedia Endowment and the proposed Global Council in the Movement Charter. What do you see as the positives and negatives of these trends, and what is your overall assessment of the work so far?
  3. AI and CC-by-SA: In the 2024-25 draft Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan, there is a statement that Wikimedia content is becoming less visible as part of the Internet's essential infrastructure, because an increasingly closed and artificial intelligence-mediated internet doesn't attribute the source of the facts, or even link back to the Wikimedia projects. What responsibility does the Board and the Wikimedia Foundation have in enforcing the CC-by-SA licensing of the content from all projects by AI or other digital media information formats that do not respect the copyright law?
  4. Negative trends: Wikimedia Foundation's Annual Plan recognizes multiple trends negative to the Wikimedia movement: decreasing visibility, audiences moving to a novel competition such as artificial intelligence solutions and Internet influencers, increasing information warfare and erosion of trust, necessary technical investments while the revenue growth was flattening. At the same time, the movement's products and processes change very, very slowly. Which bold steps would you recommend to the Wikimedia Foundation?
  5. Systemic bias: What are your thoughts about systemic bias on Wikimedia projects, both in their content and their demographics, and including identity-based, language-based, economic/resource-based, ideological/worldview-based, and other forms of system bias? What measures or initiatives do you think the Board can appropriately take to address systemic bias?

Follow the links to see the candidates' answers. Voting will begin on September 3, 2024. For a complete timeline of the election, see Meta-Wiki. – AK, H

New community collaboration page for this year's English fundraising banners

The Wikimedia Foundation's Julia Brungs has informed The Signpost that a new community collaboration page has been set up for the 2024 English fundraising banner campaign:

Dear all,

We would like to share with you the community collaboration page around the English fundraising banner campaign 2024. This page is for volunteers to learn about fundraising and share ideas for how we can improve the 2024 English fundraising campaign together. On this page you'll have messaging examples and spaces for collaboration, where you can share your ideas for how we can improve the next campaign together.

The fundraising banner pre-tests phase on English Wikipedia starts in mid-July with a few technical tests, using messaging that was created with the community during the last campaign. We will regularly update the collaboration page with new messaging ideas and updates on testing and campaign plans as we prepare for the main campaign that will launch at the end of November.

Generally, during the pre-tests and the campaign, you can contact us:

Best wishes, Julia JBrungs (WMF)

A community collaboration process has been used since 2022 to address community concerns over banner wordings used in the more distant past. For the history, see previous Signpost coverage –

– as well as the related article by Stephen Harrison in Slate. – AK

Wiki Education forms inaugural Humanities and Social Justice Advisory Committee

The Wiki Education Foundation, which runs the Wiki Education Program designed to promote the integration of Wikipedia into coursework by educators in Canada and the United States, announced its inaugural Humanities and Social Justice Advisory Committee earlier this year. The seven-member committee will support the Wikipedia Student Program's Knowledge Equity initiative in partnership with the Mellon Foundation. Its members are:

Shira Klein's membership was announced on June 14, 2024 in a Chapman University press release. Klein will be known to regular readers of The Signpost as the co-author of an academic paper on Wikipedia's coverage of the Holocaust in Poland that led to a 2023 Wikipedia arbitration case (see previous Signpost coverage: 1, 2).

For further details on the committee and its members see the Wiki Education press release:

AK

Administrator cadre continues to contract overall, despite recent gains

Three new admins join the ranks, but numbers are still falling.

Repeating the refrain reported here in recent issues, despite three gains in June (see below), the number of active administrators hasn't been above 440 since May 18, and hit new record lows: 433 on June 13, 432 on June 22, and finally 431 on June 27 right before our publication deadline. – B

Brief notes

An event flyer shown in the Annual Report of the Igbo Wikimedians User Group

Final note

Before most Signposters depart for the beach, barbecue, and/or fireworks, we would like to wish all those who celebrate a holiday or have some other special day in July happy (holi)day. And to everybody else, have an even better day!



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2024-07-04

Wikimedia Movement Charter ratification vote underway, new Council may surpass power of Board

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By Smallbones and HaeB
A lively discussion on Meta-Wiki

Should the 10 June 2024 version of the Movement Charter be the governing document of the Wikimedia Movement?

The voting period started June 25 and goes to July 9, 2024 at 23:59 UTC. As reported in the previous issue of The Signpost, the Movement Charter would guide many governance decisions in the Wikimedia Movement by establishing a Global Council of Wikimedia community volunteer representatives. The result of this vote could permanently make this document a fundamental basis of Wikipedia governance, and difficult to amend.

There is widespread agreement that many functions of the WMF should be decentralized, according to Nataliia Tymkiv and Lorenzo Losa, two WMF board members who are liaisons with the Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC), including

decision-making on Fund dissemination, decision-making on Affiliate recognition and strategy, and advice on Product & Technology. We (the WMF) shall also soon be sharing considerable trust and safety work with the upcoming Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee.

The drafting process for this charter started in 2021 and was part of the same overall process that drafted the Universal Code of Conduct and its enforcement arm, the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C).

A final version was submitted for the ratification vote on June 10. To pass, the charter must receive 55% of the votes of individual Wikipedians, 55% of affiliates votes, and approval of the WMF board. Since the two liaisons have recommended that the board reject the proposed charter, it might be expected that it will not be ratified, but that can’t be certain until all the votes are announced.

What’s in the proposed charter?

The proposed charter includes a section on the movement's purposes and values, and some material on the mechanisms that will govern the Global Council’s operations. It will start with 25 elected or selected members, but may later grow to 100 members. It will have a steering committee, called the Global Council Board (GCB), that is selected by the Global Council (GC) from its members. The GCB would start with five members, but may grow to twenty as the GC grows. Given the powers of the GC, it is clear that the GCB will be one of the most important institutions in the overall movement, rivaling or even surpassing the WMF Board of Trustees in influence.

Much of the material that would normally be included in such an important document – such as the length of a GC member’s term – has been divided off from the proposed charter into 14 supplementary documents. These documents are not subject to ratification in the current vote. The GC could presumably change the policies in these documents after the GC is formed.

The Central and Eastern European Hub has given its view of the important points of the proposed charter. Some of these are included below and may include personal comments from the original authors. The Signpost has edited these for length.

  • An "Independent Dispute Resolution function" will be put in place to resolve conflicts among movement bodies, theoretically including the WMF.
  • Governance structures of the WMF stay the same.
  • The WMF is supposed to align its strategic direction with the Global Council.
  • The WMF will still distribute resources, but at the direction of the Global Council.
  • There’s no mention of how long the terms of GC members are.
  • GC is responsible for global strategy development and to “shape the future … of the Wikimedia movement”.
  • Unclear if Global Council members are to be paid.
  • There’s a commitment that certain demographics not dominate the Global Council, so there will most likely be quotas for certain regions, but there are no guarantees.
  • The Global Council defines itself, i.e. its own processes, structures, membership(!) and accountability.
  • GCB election processes are similar to how the WMF board of Trustees is elected, with the same problems of being dominated by members from Europe and North America.
  • The relationship between the WMF Board of Trustees and the GCB is still not mentioned, but the GCB is assigned the decision-making role.
  • "Resource distribution" – GCB manages the "funds of the Wikimedia Movement", including the budget of the Wikimedia Foundation. All fund distributions to affiliates will be determined by the GCB.

The case for ratification

The Supervisory Board of Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) posted their decision to support the proposed charter.

They believe that the current state of concentrating all power in 12 WMF board members is not equitable and that "the vast majority of (WMF board) seats has always been in the hands of people from North America and Europe and attempts to change that have failed." So that ratification of the proposed charter "is a good first step" and that "it is good enough for now, safe enough to try."

The case against ratification

The WMF Board of Trustees liaisons have recommended on the Wikimedia-l mailing list and on Meta-Wiki that the board not ratify the charter, which would force another round of feedback starting with written comments that can be included in the ratification vote.

The liaisons believe that the costs and risks of the charter's current approach outweigh the value it adds to the movement and ask for concrete recommendations. Reflecting on the current state of the proposed charter, they don't understand how the purposes outlined in the draft charter actually align with the mechanisms included in it.

Others make major criticisms of the proposed charter, some of which overlap with the liaisons':

Joe Mabel, who had not yet decided on his vote, gives several reasons not to ratify. He notes that the length of members' terms have not been specified, nor are there any term limits, or even rules on extending members' terms once they've been elected. There are also no clear provisions for removing someone from the Global Council or the GCB. And "while there is lip service to diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is nothing concrete."

He also believes that the three-part ratification process does not set a high enough bar, even though three groups (individual Wikipedians, affiliates, and the WMF Board) must all ratify the proposed charter.

Darwin and Danilo.mac at the Portuguese Wikipedia say that the charter would let affiliates have a strong advantage for gaining control of the Global Council. Later Darwin told The Signpost, "In general, this Charter seems to treat onwiki communities as the underdog of the Wikimedia Movement, when in fact they are the core of the whole thing, where it all starts and where almost all Wikimedia funding comes from."

Sm8900 gives an overall negative view. "I think the Movement Charter is not a good idea. The voting process gives it the illusion of a formal new legal structure and government system. IMHO, it has the drawbacks of both a core formal government process, and an informal grassroots process, and none of the benefits of either one."

Sj (WMF Trustee from 2009 to 2015) warns that the current "draft has lots of rough edges, and yet is designed to make amendment almost impossible." He also criticizes that "It delegates a lot of power to affiliates with few checks and balances, without addressing either the potential double-counting of affiliate members in governance, or the challenge of the Affiliates as a bloc being made up primarily of small, informal user groups which were not intended to be units of governance." Sj has also drafted an alternative "Minimalist charter" that is "focusing on coordination and making specific collective decisions".

What to do now?

With such a lengthy process behind us and an ongoing lively discussion during a possible turning point in the Wikipedia movement’s governance, Wikipedians may be confused about how to vote.

It all comes down to three possibilities when you are voting. Your choices are "Yes" (to support ratification), "No" (if you don’t), or "--" (to which you can supply your own interpretation). No matter which one you choose, you can write a comment on your digital ballot which will be published after the results are known, with your name or user ID removed. These comments may be the most important result of the vote, so that the process can move forward.

Pharos, a member of the MCDC, speaking only for himself, told The Signpost that –

Each of the three voting stakeholder groups (Wikimedia Foundation, affiliates, and communities) has their own valuable perspective on advancing our shared vision of free knowledge, and naturally believes theirs is the wisest course and pace of change, and it has been the drafters' rocky path to reconcile all these.

Here is a referendum not just on this specific text, but on whether we are willing to evolve our institutions in response to a rapidly changing and challenging world – in addition to saying "yes" or "no", we urge you to take advantage of the write-in comment to express what you like and dislike, and if you support the principle but not the final product, tell us to "try again", as this unique opportunity for change will fade away without your continued voice.



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File:Discord stream of ruwiki's vandalism detection system (cropped).png
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How the Russian Wikipedia keeps it clean despite having just a couple dozen administrators

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By MBH

The Russian Wikipedia (ruwiki) historically has fewer administrators per active user or per article than many other large Wikipedias; the number of active users is ten times smaller than the English Wikipedia, and 2 times smaller than the German or French. Currently there are 63 administrators on ruwiki (not counting adminbots), and many of them are not very active; at the same time, ruwiki is in the top three most-visited Wikipedias (after English, and sometimes after Japanese or Spanish[1]). Voters in ruwiki's RfAs tend to be very critical of candidates — which makes it impossible for many experienced, active and well-known users to be elected.

In recent years, the Russo–Ukrainian war and political repression in Russia have made it more dangerous to be a member of the wiki community, and even more so to be an admin there; in the last two years (since summer 2022) only two have been elected. Since the start of the war, more than ten administrators (about 15% of the corps) either lost their status through inactivity, abandoned it due to fears for their own safety, or joined one of the pro-Kremlin forks; one was killed in action in the Ukrainian army, and one was designated a "foreign agent" by the Russian government.

In the face of this long-standing severe shortage, the ruwiki community has developed a few mechanisms to spread some of the burden of project maintenance: automation with bots (including some that use machine learning), and unbundling.

Unbundling

Several semi-admin user groups have been created, to grant individual rights to users without requiring a formal request for adminship. Right now, ruwiki has several dozen users who can perform closures at deletion discussions, delete pages, edit protected pages, edit in the MediaWiki namespace, change site-wide scripts and styles, block vandals and protect pages — but they aren't admins. They do this by using admin permissions from their usergroups, and by using userscripts connected to an adminbot.

In 2009, ruwiki gained a new user group — "summarizers" — who were given the authority to sum up the results of AfDs. Initially, their powers were very limited, and they didn't even have the technical permission to delete; there was a bot to handle deletion-by-request. Since 2010, they've had the permission to actually delete pages, and since 2012 their powers in AfD have been nearly equal to those of administrators. The number of such users is slightly less than the number of admins, and 60% of AfD decisions have been made by these users. Initially, many users supported a strict hierarchy of users and usergroups, and accordingly objected to the creation of these unbundled usergroups. But over the course of ruwiki's history, the decision to create such groups has been vindicated.

Another group, added in 2016, are "engineers". These are technical specialists, who need to edit protected pages — a stronger analogue of the template-editor flag on enwiki — since technically-competent users usually can't pass ruwiki's RfA due to a lack of social skills. Since the establishment of this usergroup, almost all edits on protected templates, MediaWiki pages, sitewide scripts, and sitewide stylesheets have been made by engineers and not admins. When the WMF moved interface administrator (intadmin) permissions to a separate usergroup, it was mostly engineers and not admins who became interface administrators. In fact, this WMF decision caused a huge conflict between the engineers and the old-school administrators – the latter argued that non-admins shouldn't be given higher rights than administrators, while the former proposed that (unlike engineers, who had already proven their competence) administrators be required to pass a JavaScript/CSS proficiency exam to become intadmins. Nowadays, almost all edits to sitewide scripts, styles and system messages are made by one user, who isn't an admin, but is an engineer and intadmin.

Bots

Cosplayer of Reimu Hakurei
Reimu, with spell cards, prepared to do battle.

In 2017, the first machine learning-powered vandalism patrolling bot was introduced on ruwiki: Reimu Hakurei. Unlike enwiki's ClueBot NG, this bot didn't use its own detection system, but used ORES — a model trained and operated by the WMF, used for highlighting suspicious edits in watchlists and recent changes. Like ClueBot, Reimu reverted edits and sent messages to the users who made them, explaining its actions and where to appeal a revert. Edits with ambiguous ORES scores were left alone, but listed at a special page for further analysis, which showed up in the watchlists of experienced users. Reimu also made automatic reports about users who made several suspicious edits to the ruwiki's analogue of WP:AIV. This bot rolled back tons of vandalism, including ideologically driven edits, and whitewashing on the articles of Russian political officials; for this it received mentions in the media.[2][3]

Screenshot
With this adminbot script, a user can be blocked for vandalism, spam, inappropriate or promotional username. If the script is used by admin, he could block user, hide his contribs and delete pages, created by him, with a single click. Non-admin can also cancel a block imposed by him.

Since the second half of the 2010s, ruwiki's checkuser developed two adminbots, which perform many tasks, from blocking open proxies and IP/users whose edits were repeatedly rolled back, to protecting articles from (automatically detected) edit wars and vandal raids. In 2023, he created a userscript and bot allowing trusted non-admins to block IP addresses and new users for clearly-disruptive edits and to apply protection to actively-vandalized articles. Currently, this script and bot are used by about ten trusted users.

In 2022, after the start of the war, another user created a bot for detection of specifically anti-Ukrainian vandalism: this one streamed suspicious edits to a special channel on ruwiki's Discord server. In 2024, Reimu's author improved it by adding detection based on scores from the newer language-agnostic and multilingual revert risk models on the LiftWing platform, AbuseFilter-generated edit tags and text patterns (so it absorbed the anti-Ukrainian bot) and a feature to post suspicious edits to the ruwiki's Discord server. After that, he decided to shut down the automatic-rollback feature, because he wasn't satisfied with the false-positive rate. From the fall of 2017 to the spring of 2024, Reimu made 120,000 rollbacks. The checkuser mentioned above created his own automatic-rollback bot, which uses both ORES and a self-written detection system; the bot owner hopes that the new bot will have fewer false positives.

Automation

Screenshot of a Discord message.
Vandal edit in Discord stream: the word "deputies" has been replaced with "faggots", spelled with a mixture of Cyrillic and Latin letters to avoid AbuseFilter rules. The red button does a rollback, the blue one allows to select more detailed or custom revert reason, and the green one just deletes the post from the stream. A post contains links to the article's history, the edit's diff, and the editor's contributions.
TKTK
Suspicious edits stream in watchlist, with a rollback button

Meanwhile, authors of Reimu and anti-anti-Ukrainian bot have implemented a mechanism to revert problematic edits directly from the Discord server, by clicking the buttons under the post in the Discord channel. An edit can be rolled back with a standard reason, or with one of 12 more-detailed reasons (for example, “No reliable sources” or “Replacing the transcription without page move or move request”), or a manually entered reason. The bot deletes processed edits (rolled back or approved) from the channel, so the channel contains only edits that have not yet been processed. More than 1500 edits have been rolled back using this tool since its establishment 2 months ago. The same edits are posted to a page onwiki, with an excerpt of their text in the edit summary — that's often enough to recognize vandalism on its own), and edit can be rolled back by pressing a link just in the comment without opening a diff (the link leads to a Toolforge-hosted tool that does rollback).

This bot also works on the Ukrainian Wikipedia, posting suspicious edits on-wiki and to Discord (for certain reasons — to ruwiki's Discord too, not ukwiki's — but there are several experienced ukwiki users in ruwiki's Discord). This makes more than 100 rollbacks per month on ukwiki.

This story shows how, thanks to bot owners and semi-admin usergroups, a very small group of people numbering only several dozen active users can effectively maintain ruwiki's two million articles, ensuring the functioning and reliability of one of the top three most-visited Wikipedias.

  1. ^ See statistics at pageviews.wmcloud.org.
  2. ^ "Did the Ministry of Internal Affairs try to remove data about Kolokoltsev's "offence" from Wikipedia?" (in Russian). REGNUM News Agency. 2018-12-10.
  3. ^ "The Great Wikipedia Edit War". iStories. 2024-04-15.



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Wikipedians are hung up on the meaning of Madonna

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By Svampesky

It's unsurprising for Madonna to be at the centre of a religious controversy. For the past seventeen years, there has been an unresolved debate regarding the Wikipedia page titled Madonna. The Wikipedia community remains divided on whether this page should focus on the singer, topics related to Mary, mother of Jesus, or serve as a disambiguation page for both.

What's in a name?

A painting.
Madonna del Granduca, Raphael, 1505

The term 'Madonna' originates from the Old Italian phrase ma donna, meaning 'my lady'. In the 16th century, it was used as a respectful form of address for Italian women and subsequently became a title for Mary, mother of Jesus, in Roman Catholic tradition by the 17th century. In art, a Madonna is a depiction of Mary, sometimes with her child, Jesus. Over time, the word 'Madonna' acquired various connotations related to women. By the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the name became strongly associated with the singer Madonna Ciccone, who chose to perform under her first name alone. Consequently, it evolved into a moniker used to describe a singer, usually female, whose artistry or success is comparable to that of Madonna.

When a term is potentially ambiguous, the Wikipedia community aims to designate a primary topic to what the reader is most likely looking for. In cases where no clear primary topic exists, the page usually lists all relevant pages as a disambiguation page. A topic is considered primary if it is the most commonly sought after when readers enter the term. The primary long-term significance sometimes holds greater notability and educational merit, as in the case of common nouns.

Disputes over primary topics are typically resolved through move discussions to gather a consensus among editors. The discussions take into account factors such as traffic statistics and references from reliable sources. Merely being historically significant or the origin of a term does not automatically confer primary status, nor does relevance to a specific audience group ensure primary status if the general reader is likely to perceive it differently.

The many requested moves of Madonna

TKTK
Madonna performing in front of a Madonna, on the Rebel Heart Tour in 2015.

In the early days of Wikipedia, the page Madonna was created on 8 February 2002, by Chato as a biography of the singer. On 31 July 2002, a hatnote was inserted after an IP editor added, 'Madonna is a term used to refer to the Virgin Mary.' As the page grew, it became a somewhat disambiguation page, which was divided into two sections: the top discussing the term referring to Mary, and the bottom remaining a biography of the singer. On 29 October 2002, Nate Silva created the page Madonna (singer), transferred over the relevant text, and reconstructed Madonna into a disambiguation page, later adding a link to Madonna (art).

On 1 April 2008, a proposal was made to move the page Madonna (entertainer) → Madonna, arguing that the singer was more frequently searched than Mary, thereby warranting a direct link. Supporters cited that the singer received significantly more page views and links than Mary, suggesting a primary usage. However, opponents stressed that page views alone should not determine primary usage, emphasizing the importance of consensus and the historical and cultural significance of the name Madonna as it relates to Mary. All editors opposed the move, and the pages remained.

In 2010 and 2012, Madonna (entertainer) → Madonna was again discussed, with arguments that the singer is more commonly associated with the name and that disambiguation pages should follow a consistent naming convention. However, opponents argued that the primary and proper meaning of 'Madonna' is Mary and that both subjects receive significant traffic. They suggested keeping Madonna as a disambiguation page or moving it to 'Madonna (disambiguation)' instead. The consensus leaned towards opposing the move, citing the ambiguity of the name and the necessity of disambiguation due to the multiple notable uses of Madonna.

In early 2013, editors debated whether Madonna should primarily refer to art depicting Mary. Kauffner and others supported moving Madonna (art) → Madonna, citing its long-term significance and educational value, following guidelines favouring enduring notability. Opponents argued that 'Madonna' is overwhelmingly used for the singer, as evidenced by high page views and links, and redirecting to the art form would confuse readers. It highlighted the clash between historical significance and current usage in determining Wikipedia's primary topics, ultimately maintaining the disambiguation to accommodate both interpretations.

With each request, the case for the singer being the primary topic gained strength. In 2013, 2014, and 2016, the move was debated again, with the same arguments from previous discussions being raised. By 2020, a consensus established that the singer should be the primary topic and the page about her was moved to Madonna. The discussion was closed by Daniel Case, who reviewed it with prior discussions. He observed that previous outcomes had either opposed the change or failed to reach a consensus. He acknowledged the controversy surrounding his decision among the opposers, emphasizing that consensus can shift over time.

TKTK
Madonna of the Cherries, by Quinten Metsys

The discussion observed that the typical reader is more likely to seek information about the singer when searching for 'Madonna', as evidenced by view statistics. A frequent counterargument to the opposition was that Wikipedia's purpose is not to act as a cultural gatekeeper, but to reflect current knowledge and interests. It was acknowledged that the decision is not final and can be reconsidered in the future should the singer's cultural relevance decline. Additionally, comments raised the question of whether some opponents' interest in Catholic arts and religion indicated a cherry-picking of policy to support a bias.

In 2022 and 2024, move requests determined that the singer should continue to be considered the primary topic for the term Madonna. It was shown that readers search for the singer at a much higher rate than for any other topics, including religious figures. Supporters of the move argued that Madonna as a religious figure and artistic motif has centuries of historical significance. Opposers highlighted that the singer has had a multi-decade career with substantial commercial success and influence. Some suggested that her relevance might be declining, while others noted that the religious significance might also be declining due to the reduced prevalence of Christianity in the English-speaking world.

Ultimately, the discussions concluded that while long-term significance is important, the high current usage of 'Madonna' to refer to the singer was the main deciding factor. The consensus was that the singer remains the primary topic, as the argument that most readers are looking for information about her was deemed stronger. Predictions about the future significance of either topic were considered speculative and not heavily weighted. Therefore, the singer being the primary topic of 'Madonna' was retained both times.



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War and information in war and politics

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By Smallbones, HaeB, Bluerasberry, Oltrepier, and JPxG
During some months it seems like all the media love Wikipedia. Some months, it seems like everybody is a critic. This month tended toward the latter, though you can still find some positive views, some interesting news, and even an odd bit or two.

Noticeboard discussion concludes with Anti-Defamation League considered unreliable on Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Logo of the Anti-Defamation League
Logo of the Anti-Defamation League

On June 18, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that Wikipedia editors had reached consensus over recognizing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a "generally unreliable" media source for information regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. While Wikipedia editors routinely discuss the reliability of sources every time concerns are raised at the Noticeboard, the multi-part RfC about the ADL attracted way more editor comments than such discussions usually get.

As summarized in the JTA article (which was also published by Haaretz):

Editors supporting the ban focused on the ADL's conduct following Oct. 7, Israel's subsequent war with Hamas and the wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses. Many editors said the organization had undermined its credibility by altering how it categorizes antisemitic incidents. Its new methodology included many pro-Palestinian protests in its annual audit of antisemitism, which reported a large spike over the previous year.

However, according to the subsequent closure statement on another part of the RfC, the ADL still "can roughly be taken as reliable on the topic of antisemitism when Israel and Zionism are not concerned". (Also, the statement clarifies that RfC did not seek to overturn the previous "consensus that the ADL is generally reliable as a source" entirely; it remains in place for topics "excluding the Israel/Palestine conflict and antisemitism".)

Both the JTA and — in a separate article — CNN quoted James Loeffler (a professor for Modern Jewish History at Johns Hopkins University) on the matter. He stated e.g. that "this is going to be a difficult blow to the credibility [of] the ADL in its role on this issue. The staff there will continue to do rigorous work, but this will provide an opportunity for self-reflection." Similarly, an opinion article by Rob Eshman in The Forward was titled "Wikipedia called the ADL ‘unreliable.’ It’s a wake-up call the civil rights organization badly needs."

On June 20, the ADL reacted to the decision by asking its social media followers to "urge Wikipedia's board [sic] to take action on this unfair and dangerous situation". At the time of writing, 8400 supporters had signed this call (out of a goal of 10,000).

Jonathan Greenblatt by Gage Skidmore
Greenblatt in 2017

The following day, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt was invited on MSNBC news talk show Morning Joe to share his views on the subject. While professing that "Wikipedia [...] is an organization that we deeply respect", Greenblatt stated that Wikipedia's processes lacked full access and transparency – even deeming them as "a bit of a black box" – in comparison to the ADL's supposedly more transparent approach, which he described as "absolutely rigorous" and "done very above the board". He also appeared to tie his criticism to existing concerns that Wikipedia may be silencing the voices of other marginalized groups, arguing – to the immediate agreement of fellow panelist Eugene Robinson, an African American journalist who is an associate editor of the Washington Post:

I think we should listen to Black people when they tell us about what racism is. I think we should listen to LGBTQ groups themselves about [what] homophobia or transphobia is. And I think we need to listen to Jewish groups to explain what antisemitism is.

According to the JTA, a "series of controversial statements" by Greenblatt, together with media reports about an ensuing staff revolt at the ADL, had played a role in the Wikipedia RfC's outcome, alongside debates about "a controversial definition of antisemitism that the ADL embraces".

On 25 June, as reported by the Jewish News Syndicate, The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, among other media, 43 leading Jewish organizations co-signed an open letter to the WMF's Board of Trustees in protest to the discussion's verdict, calling on the board to overturn the decision. In response to a JTA inquiry, the Vice-President of Community Resilience & Sustainability, Maggie Dennis, said that the letter represented "a misunderstanding of the situation and how Wikipedia works", noting how neither the BoT, nor the WMF had direct control on the content uploaded and edited by Wikipedia volunteers; the Foundation's representatives also stated that they were still considering how to reply to the letter, hoping to "learn more about [the organizations'] needs", while "[raising] more understanding" about the platform's rules. A day later, the Foundation released a fuller "statement on volunteer processes on reliable sources" on its website. Apart from general explanations of these processes, it also decried inaccurate media coverage that had "incorrectly implied that the ADL is no longer considered a reliable source on Wikipedia", stressing that it "remains a generally reliable source on Wikipedia, outside of the topic of the Israel/Palestine conflict."

This recent review of the ADL's reliability as a source follows a March 2021 discussion about the extent to which the organization was complying with Wikipedia's rules for conflict of interest, as it encouraged its staff to edit Wikipedia articles. At the time, The Forward reported that the ADL suspended their staff editing project as a result of the challenges with compliance.

The actual closing statement, written by a triparty of The Wordsmith, theleekycauldron and Tamzin (and which can be viewed in full at this link), says:

It is not disputed here that the ADL is an activist source and a biased source. "Biased" in this context is not an insult: Wikipedia policy understands that all sources have some degree of bias, and even significant bias is not necessarily disqualifying. What matters is the degree to which a source can be relied upon for statements of fact. Statements of opinion are another matter, which complicates this RfC: Many statements that the ADL makes are inherently opinion, and are thus subject to different rules as to when and how they should be cited.

In the first part of this RfC, there is a clear consensus that the ADL is generally unreliable regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [See previous partial close.] The second part extends this consensus to the intersection of antisemitism and the conflict, such as labeling pro-Palestinian activists as antisemitic. While the second part in theory encompassed all ADL coverage of antisemitism, much of the discussion focused, explicitly or implicitly, on that intersection. There was insufficient argumentation against the ADL's reliability regarding antisemitism in other contexts; much of the opposition in that regard focused on subjective disagreements as to how far the taint of the Israel-related general unreliability should spread. The ADL can roughly be taken as reliable on the topic of antisemitism when Israel and Zionism are not concerned. We remind editors that source reliability is always a case-by-case matter. RSN's purpose is to answer the general case. The reliability of a given statement by a source, for a given statement in a Wikipedia article, must always be decided by that article's editors.

The third part of the discussion, about the ADL's hate symbol database, was largely unrelated to the first two. Editors' concerns were mostly not about Israel–Palestine issues, but about poor editorial oversight of the database. We are aware that the ADL has taken note of this discussion, which affords a rare opportunity to directly address a source that editors have identified quality-control issues with: If the ADL invests more effort in editorial review of its hate symbol database entries, including bylines and other means of establishing expertise, that would address most of the concerns expressed by the community. Until then, however, the rough consensus here is that the database is reliable for the existence of a symbol and for straightforward facts about it, but not reliable for more complex details, such as symbols' history. In-text attribution to the ADL may be advisable when it is cited in such cases.

The normal approach for reliability applies to statements of fact. Citing the ADL hate symbol database as an opinion is not a question of reliability, but rather one of due weight. Editors should look at usage by other sources in the context of both the database as a whole and the individual statement. In this regard, there is no consensus against representing the ADL's opinions, and perhaps a weak consensus in favor; as always, case-by-case judgment is critical. We note also that, when editors cite secondary sources that in turn reference the database, it is the secondary sources' reliability that is relevant, not the database's. Statements of opinion should be attributed in-text.


BR, H, O

WMF's cloak-and-dagger "Disinformation Response Taskforce" to be involved with election-related news somehow

The Brussels Times recently explained "how Wikipedia fights against fake news", basing their article on statements by Rebecca MacKinnon, who currently heads the Wikimedia Foundation's Global Advocacy team, having previously worked in journalism and digital rights. Besides summarizing various longstanding features (such as page protection, watchlists, or the ArbCom) that help Wikipedia's volunteers "vigilantly defend against information that does not meet the site's policies for what constitutes reliably sourced, encyclopaedic information," the article highlights a more recent innovation:

Ahead of major elections in 2024, a new Disinformation Response Taskforce (DRT) has formed to partner with trusted Wikimedia volunteers and Wikimedia affiliates to identify potential information attacks on Wikipedia.
And it seems to be working. Wikimedia has not uncovered any specific disinformation campaigns, either private or foreign state-driven campaigns in the run-up to the elections.
"As far as we are aware, Wikipedia's content moderation processes and systems are working well and as normal. We have not been alerted to any unusual activity on EU elections-related pages," MacKinnon said.

Perhaps due to the apparently highly-sensitive nature of its work, no documentation of this taskforce could be found on-wiki on the English Wikipedia at the time of writing. Elsewhere on the Internet, the only information about the DRT shared by the Foundation seems to be a couple of short paragraphs in an October 2023 Diff post, where the DRT was (somewhat confusingly) first described as a single entity being run by the WMF's Trust and Safety Disinformation team. Right afterwards, the same team is reported as "preparing for several Disinformation Response Taskforces (DRTs), designed to support Wikimedia communities to maintain knowledge integrity during high-risk events."

Further information was revealed in emails sent last month by a WMF "Disinformation Specialist", and forwarded to a public mailing list by a Dutch Wikipedian. These listed the purposes of such taskforces, described them as "a project that we are doing related to the upcoming EU parliamentary elections, taking place from the 6th [to the] 9th of June, 2024", and appeared to invite the Dutch Wikipedia's ArbCom members to an "initial meeting to discuss disinformation challenges with folks from across various European-language communities" on May 21.

The EU's recently implemented Digital Services Act (DSA) imposes various obligations on "Very Large Online Platforms" (VLOPs) such as Wikipedia. In late March, the EU Commission finalized its "Guidelines for providers of Very Large Online Platforms ... on the mitigation of systemic risks for electoral processes pursuant to the Digital Services Act", with specific mention of the European Parliament elections in June. As explained some weeks ago by MacKinnon's colleague, Dimitar Dimitrov from Wikimedia Europe (long known to Wikimedians as "our man in Brussels"), the Commission's document applies to Wikipedia too. He said that "to be honest, it feels simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming. A ton of well-meant recommendations (as guidelines are non-binding), but it also says that VLOPs are free to come up with other measures to mitigate risks." As summarized by Dimitrov, the Commission's exhortations come in several categories, e.g. "specific recommendations for during the election period (put in place an internal incident response mechanism)". —H

Photos from a friendly journalist

Peone Prairie, the first photo ever uploaded by Will Maupin

Writing for Spokane-based newspaper Inlander, freelance journalist and photographer Will Maupin recently stated his personal mission "to visually document our region for Wikipedia". Maupin has edited Wikipedia since 2005 as SpokaneWilly, and regularly takes photos of sites on the National Register of Historic Places and other local sites from the Inland Northwest region. You can check out more of his photos in this issue's Gallery, or at this link on Wikimedia Commons.

S, O

Dickless weirdos or proletarians of thought?

Sam Kriss, in a fairly-good (but paywalled) column largely focused on other issues, takes a brief aside to note:

In her essay on Goodreads, Oyler offers a brief account of the history behind rating books out of five stars, all of which is—you guessed it—available on the Wikipedia page for ‘Star (classification),’ which comes up when you Google ‘history behind rating books out of five stars.’ First, Oyler discusses Regency Englishwoman Mariana Starke’s exclamation-point-filled guidebook to the Continent (and a quote from The Charterhouse of Parma mocking it, conveniently referenced on Ms. Starke’s Wikipedia page). Then, she makes a brief foray into the Michelin star (apparently less ‘whimsical’ than exclamation points). And finally, she visits the Best American Short Stories series and its editor Edward O’Brien’s asterisks indicating ‘permanence.’ Oyler includes extensive quotes from totally forgotten American satirist Oliver Herford’s nearly unreadable review trashing O’Brien’s selections for the 1921 BASS (a review conveniently referenced on the ‘Star (classification)’ Wikipedia page).

But the grubby secret of intellectual production is that everyone does this. When I wrote about baetyls this spring, I discovered that a bunch of writers—including Shaykh Afifi al-Akiti, Fellow in Islamic Studies at Oxford—had repeated an absolutely false claim about the Kaaba in Mecca that appears to have popped into existence from nowhere on its Wikipedia page. But I do it too. This piece is basically just a bunch of ludicrous takes and off-the-cuff impressions, but writing it still involved reflexively clicking around the Wikipedia pages for ‘Inca Empire,’ ‘Blastocyst,’ ‘Vladimir Lenin,’ ‘Physalis,’ and ‘Anamnesis (philosophy).’ Every trendy young writer is really just stamping their brand on the labour of the solemn, dedicated, anonymous dickless weirdos who actually write the articles on Wikipedia. The proletarians of thought. You don’t know their names, and you’d probably flinch if you saw them in real life, but you’ve decided to let these people replace a significant chunk of your brain. (Actually, the trendy young writers do all contribute to exactly one Wikipedia article: their own.) In a sense, everyone knows everything; we’re all plugged in to the same external memory. In another sense, nobody except the wikimonks has any knowledge of anything at all. At least when all our information came from books, everyone had a slightly different library of things they’d forgotten; now, we’ve all forgotten the same great universal sludge of facts.

This post was fact-checked by real Wikipedian patriots — "Mostly True". It's rare for a month to go by without at least a couple stories where some politician or pundit is made to eat crow after cribbing a speech or a quip from a Wikipedia article... and that's just the ones where it's politically dramatic to write about it. Nonpartisan instances of this are too numerous to count (CNN once asked some "internet culture analyst" what a simp was, and the guy copypastaed them the lead I wrote at Simp — there was once a fire in the California Delta and the anchor stood in front of a camera to read verbatim the lead I wrote at Bradford Island — we all have stories like this).

While "proletarians of thought" and "wikimonks" are quite dignified appellations, surely he could have found a nicer way to refer to the female contingent of the editoriat (clearly his epithet does not refer to its entirety, as a quick visit to the Commons category "human penis" can confirm). One suspects that a little more time with us could well have helped Sam avoid having to make up the philosopher Apethitikes in an earlier post,[1] but we appreciate what moments we've been able to spend together nonetheless, and I can personally say I have the utmost faith that we can overcome the issue of flinching in awe upon cognizance of the average Wikipedian's (or at least my) impressive fashion sense, bench press, hairline, et cetera. —JPxG

In brief

In fiction, "fungus" may be a doomsday article, but in Wikipedia it is a vital article and a featured article.

This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the End of Plastic (2029) article, about the Tremella purgare fungus, released into the Gulf of Mexico after the TransAm War Oil Spill, and the knock-on impact of the attempted bioremediation.
This page has been listed as a level-3 vital article in Earth. If you can improve it, please do.

The talk page progressively takes a dark turn, going from a request to disambiguate a "deadly fungi" link over frantic attempts to keep the article updated with the UN's rapidly rising death numbers, to mentions of Internet access becoming spotty and editors retreating into their family bunkers.
See also previous Signpost coverage of other dystopian science fiction stories in Wikipedia style.

Oddities

America's national bird? Cheyenne, a female bald eagle, as photographed by Carol M. Highsmith
Wiki Wiki Shuttle to be joined by self-driving electric sibling, "Miki"



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




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On editing Wikisource

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By Cremastra, WeatherWriter and Duckmather
The magnificently hirsute poet, William Cullen Bryant.

For reasons now unclear, I decided to make my first edit to Wikisource in early July, 2023. Clearly, I didn't find it appealing at the time, as I made two smallish edits and returned to Wikipedia. However, this January I skulked back with a project in mind: add more poems by the romantic-era American poet William Cullen Bryant. I uploaded a scanned version of one of his books from the Internet Archive (therby creating an "Index" page" at Wikisource), and proofread the pages of a random poem. Poetical works of William Cullen Bryant proved a difficult first project: it was a collection of poems, which inevitably needed complex formatting, but it also had images which had to be extracted (in my case, poorly so) from the scan. After proofreading the pages of my poem, I boldly created a mainspace page to house the poem, with the text being transcluded from the proofread pages to the mainspace to form one cohesive, digitized whole. After eventually figuring out "section transclusion", I happily added the poem to the list of New Texts, not realizing that I had mis-transcluded the poem and an entire page was missing! Although the technical help pages were confusing at times, I found experienced Wikisource users very helpful and patient. When asked for comment, WeatherWriter (talk · contribs) agreed that getting started was difficult:

Getting started on Wikisource was so much different than getting started on any other Wikimedia project. Actually, I struggled to even really learn how to get started. Unlike Wikipedia, there was no “learn to edit” style of buttons to click. They just have a “Help” button, which then takes you to a very short beginners guide. In terms of getting started, it probably has one of the worst layouts for new editors of any project. After that, I discovered you actually need gadgets on, especially for new editors. Every pages has a “header” for basic information. However, only going into your preferences and turning on specific gadgets allow it to be automatically generated. So my first ever page was actually a weird copy/paste from an existing page, rather than a guided creation.

[...]

To conclude, Wikisource is a major perk for weather-related articles on Wikipedia and I would love for every editor on weather-related articles to use it, but honestly, the guide to newcomers needs a major revamp (maybe similar to have Wikimedia Commons’ newcomer process works) before I would personally send a new editor there.

However, it should be noted that WeatherWriter was including free content from webpages, while I was using scanned books, so we were entirely different editing spheres.
I continued proofreading pages of Poetical works of William Cullen Bryant through January, while dabbling in a few other projects, and participating a little in February's "Proofread of the Month".
I found my current project in mid-February: another (shorter) collection of poems by the Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon. But contributing to Wikisource is very time-consuming. Here's what Duckmather (talk · contribs) has to say about that:

Each wiki is a huge time commitment. When I joined Wikidata last year, I got concerned about whether I could still keep up editing on Wikipedia; but now that I'm active on three wikis (Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikisource), my activity here on Wikipedia has dwindled a lot. [...]

Wikisource in particular takes lots and lots of time. Even a single page can easily take 15 minutes to even an hour to proofread or validate (depending on how much text there is in it; and at least when I do it the way I usually do, which is retyping out the entire text from scratch and then diffing against either the OCR'd text or the previous version). Short 5-10 page pamphlets can take days or weeks, and entire books are unthinkable. Further, editing Wikisource requires a monomaniacal focus, unrivalled by either Wikipedia or Wikidata (except, perhaps, hardcore sourced content work here, which I admittedly do very rarely).

I don't proofread the way Duckmather does, (I'm lazy and I just read the OCR'd text and compare it to the scan as I go), but it still takes a lot of time, especially when the text is small. However, sometimes the automatic transcription is so scrambled as to be useless, so I use Duckmather's more rigourous approach—which in the case of this 1910 newspaper, will take a very long time.

I also started "Florula Mortolensis", a list and description of plants found at La Mortola around 1905. It contains some handy information that I suspect can by used to expand a few of our own articles, besides interesting formatting.

This leads me to the use of Wikisource. Here's what WeatherWriter had to say:

Besides getting started, the process is fairly simple and it actually easier than creating English Wikipedia articles. As an editor who contributes almost entirely into weather-related articles, it is a huge perk to be able to have Wikisource articles. For any U.S.-weather event, the primary source is always the United States government, specifically the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since everything U.S. government publishes is in the public domain, it can also be added to Wikisource. So now, weather-related articles can have links for readers to a Wikisource-version of the primary U.S. government sources for tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, floods, etc...

Duckmather says, on a slightly different topic:

Wikisource is also (like Wikidata, and the rest of the smaller Wikimedia wikis) hugely under-marketed. The impact of Wikipedia on daily life and pop culture can't be understated; however, the impact of Wikidata and Wikisource, however, is pretty much zero. I've heard of proposals to rename the "Wikimedia Foundation" to the "Wikipedia Foundation", and even though I don't agree with it, I can very much understand why they'd do so.

Wikisource is a library of free texts, including encyclopedias, plays, poems, laws, and novels. There's a considerable amount of work to do, and vandalism is rare. I've enjoyed contributing to Wikisource, as much or maybe more than I enjoy editing Wikipedia—and I plan to continue contributing for the foreseeable future.

Contribute to Wikisource



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Hanif Al Husaini, Salazarov, Hyacinth, and PirjanovNurlan

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By QuicoleJR, Oltrepier, Nataev, and Graham87

We are deeply saddened to inform you about the death of four Wikipedia contributors, Hanif Al Husaini, Salazarov, Hyacinth, and PirjanovNurlan.

Hanif Al Husaini

Hanif Al Husaini first joined Wikipedia in January 2014, making his first edits in June 2015. Throughout the years he was part of the community, he made over 15,000 edits about a variety of subjects, including the STEM fields, biology and his native country of Indonesia.

A frequent contributor over at Wikivoyage, as well as OpenStreetMap, Hanif was also heavily involved in ITN and the Vital Articles project, and was considered as a good copyeditor. He was awarded the Precious award in February 2021 and the Editor of the Week award in January 2023. Sadly, he passed away on May 27, 2024.

Salazarov

A picture of late user Salazarov from April 2024.
A picture of Salazarov from April 2024, a few months before his passing.

Muhammadali Ikramov, known on Wikipedia as Salazarov, first joined Wikipedia in May 2022. He was mainly active on the Uzbek Wikipedia, where he made over 22,000 contributions and served as an administrator since June 2023. He also contributed to the English Wikipedia, where he focused on the WikiProjects Uzbekistan and Women in Red, as well as other Wikimedia portals, such as Wikidata, Wikiquote, Commons and Meta.

Ikramov died by drowning on June 19, 2024. As reported by fellow Uzbek user Nataev, Wikimedians of the Uzbek Language User Group released a public statement celebrating his life and contributions to WMF, which were also highlighted by several national media.

Hyacinth

A circular diagram with diagonal lines through it
An illustration of the 833 cents scale, one of hundreds of diagrams made by Hyacinth.

Mikhail Lewis, known on Wikipedia as Hyacinth, was born in Great Falls, Montana on September 20, 1981, and raised in Helena. A veteran of Wikipedia, he first joined the platform in 2003, subsequently becoming an admin the following year. He made almost 177,000 contributions, mostly on music-related pages: among other achievements, he notably created the List of music students by teacher system.

Mikhail was first diagnosed with epilepsy as a young adult, and struggled with the condition ever since, although he stated that he had stopped experiencing tonic–clonic seizures in 2016. He passed away on December 9, 2023, aged 42, due to the complications of a seizure. The Helena Independent Record published an obituary about him on December 30, 2023, but the news was first reported on-wiki by user Graham87 on June 30 of this year.

PirjanovNurlan

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Logo of the Karakalpak Wiktionary, uploaded by PirjanovNurlan

Nurlan Pirjanov joined Wikipedia in August 2022, contributing extensively to reviving the Karakalpak Wikipedia, which until then had remained in the old spelling. He worked mainly on localization of the project (turning the entries on the site pages into the Karakalpak language) and soon became an administrator on the Karakalpak Wikipedia for a year.

He was active at translatewiki.net, at which he contributed to the interface of the the Karakalpak Wikipedia with more than 1700 translations, and that was also Nurlan, who sent a request for the opening of the full version of Karakalpak Wiktionary, which was officially launched in May 2024, to the language committee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He taught how to edit articles as well as creating new ones on the Karakalpak Wikipedia to the students of the Faculty of Journalism at Karakalpak State University, where he was very kind with newer editors.

Pirjanov passed away on June 26, 2024, at the age of 27.



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== Etika: a Pop Culture Champion ==


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Etika: a Pop Culture Champion

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By PantheonRadiance
Amofah in May 2019.

Desmond Amofah, better known as Etika, is the first YouTuber to ever have his Wikipedia article reach the coveted status of Featured.[a] This undertaking was over a year in the making, meant to coincide with the five-year anniversary of his tragic passing. As a Nintendo gamer, Etika garnered a massive cult following due to his reaction videos to Nintendo Direct presentations along with his general videos centered around gaming and pop culture. His personality exuded a bright energy matched by very few online, let alone in real life — and it was this enthusiasm that attracted so many to him like a positive magnet near such a negative world. But over the last ten months of his life, he showed sides of himself that no one expected to see from him, as a consequence of his inner conflict with his mental health. Despite his fans and the Internet's best efforts, his story came to a tragic end in June 2019, when he was found deceased after taking his own life. Many who follow the YouTube community know his story all too well. Yet, for some Wikipedia readers — especially those unfamiliar with YouTube and Internet culture as a whole — there may be confusion over his appeal, and why someone like him is remembered so fondly to this day.

I hope I can help explain Etika in a way his own article can't, and also address this divide between traditional and Internet culture.

Celebrity worship is fascinating. It seems like ever since the 20th century, with the rise of mass media and the birth of the modern cult of personality, society crafts these massive pedestals for the celebrities we revere, and attaches a piece of themselves to those that stand in glory. But when a figure falls, it's as if the earth itself freezes, with not a single fire to thaw out the world from its dazed grief. All we have in the frost is a frozen snapshot of that now empty pedestal as we're left wondering where we go from here. As time gradually defrosts the world back to normal, we find comfort in our memories of the figure as we learn to accept that they will never be with us again. We see this cycle play out infinitely — from John Lennon to Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson to Prince, Mother Teresa to Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela to Maya Angelou — all prominent cultural figures that the world mourned for what seemed like ages. And yet, most people who mourned at the deaths of those icons have (presumably) only heard of Etika in passing, if at all. Granted, this may be because Etika was fairly niche. Although he rapidly grew in popularity before his first breakdown,[b] Etika only reached 800,000 subscribers at his peak (larger than most stadiums, but smaller than the ten largest cities in the US). But it also illustrates a rift between Internet and traditional fame in how a figure is remembered in death.

As big as Internet culture has grown within the past few decades, it still feels like online personalities have yet to reach that pedestal of fame as traditional celebrities. There have been plenty of attempts to bridge the gaps in the past. But more often than not, those bridges burn, either through the actions of one side, or certain words from the other. And even then, the general perception is that YouTube culture, and arguably Internet culture as a whole, is incomparable to the more dominant cultural mediums — movies, TV shows, music, literature, and especially high art. All forms of media that have been around for centuries, if not millennia. That's long enough to be ingrained into the public consciousness, something Internet culture's roughly 30 years just doesn't match. Time always makes a difference when it comes to culture; like a fine wine, it's time that refines it to quality. For how much spectacular, boundary-pushing content we've gotten over the years, Internet culture simply hasn't reached that same length of evolution. People still feel that it's second rate.

It's as if pop culture is a colosseum where people try their hardest to win reverence. The traditional celebs, artists and icons fight as gladiators in the middle of the stadium, while YouTubers and the general public serve as spectators or at best commentators. Passive participants in close proximity to greatness who most could only hope to reach the same esteem.

However, Etika was the exception.

He was the rare example of both — a commentator and a gladiator. Just as much as he reacted to pop culture, he carved his own marks on it all by himself. He could spend one moment discussing those melees all alone, then suddenly stand right in the center of the brawling arena, ultimately absorbing all the attention from every spectator at once. It was this cycle of action and reaction he mastered perfectly, through sheer charisma, passion and heart.

His infamous Super Smash Bros. 4 video, where he reacted to Pokémon character Mewtwo being included in the game, demonstrates his mastery at this power. It may be inconceivable how anyone could display such happiness at seeing a digital avatar inside a virtual world. But like an athlete dunking a ball inside a hoop, or a familiar face on camera saying words someone else wrote, seeing a character that resonated with many since their childhood evokes a euphoria beyond what our minds can understand. Etika captures this essence through his leaping out of the chair and yelling profanities that would get any child grounded from using the Internet. He never stopped exercising his talents. Even when the Switch captured every gamer's gaze in its 2016 unveiling, Etika managed to overshadow its popularity just a few weeks later, through his infamous "JoyCon Boyz" livestream. It's rare for celebrities to coin a phrase that penetrates the zeitgeist, let alone YouTubers. However, Etika all but managed to do so with the help of alcohol and a 3D-printed knockoff. Moments like these propelled him to the forefront of the Nintendo community, at a time when the company had transitioned from its struggling period with the Wii U to the Switch's success. His reactions soon diverged from gaming to anything he got his hands on — YouTube drama, the deep web, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure episodes, and whatever new meme dropped. And his audience grew from Nintendo fans to the general Internet realm.

It would be a disservice to merely label him as that hi-top rocking dude who screamed at his computer over pixelated characters. If you gazed beyond the surface, you'd find a man who could grow a garden from concrete with his seeds of wisdom. For example, take his advice about relationships, where he explains the idea of attraction and repulsion, and how the secret of maintaining a relationship is through keeping this balance. Building healthy relationships is a struggle for many in this age of loneliness — and celebrities (especially YouTubers) don't fare any better with their occupations. Yet Etika teaches this concept as if he knew it his whole life.

He could also be vulnerable. In a livestream where he talks about his fears, he reveals that it's those inexplicable moments that terrify him, like coming home to see your bedroom door ajar when you remember closing it. Uncertainties can unsettle us at times, but Etika seemed both frightened and attuned to them. Even in the early stages of his final chapter, he alluded to these ideas of things in the universe beyond our understanding. He wasn't the type to accept that there are coincidences in life. Rather, he looked for a purpose in everything, no matter how small. Like the Travis Scott song, Etika embodied the art of stargazing: a dreamer who wanted more from the world than he received, an idealist whose dreams were too big to be confined to such a small world. In some ways, this turmoil fueled his struggles with mental health, which was what made his situation all the more saddening. He may have fought well in the arena, but he sadly couldn't win the battle inside him.

Etika was the first celebrity I genuinely cried for when he died. Before this, I was admittedly never too immersed in celebrities. Sure, like everyone, I have my favorites — Kurt Cobain, Kendrick Lamar, and so on. But I could never get invested in their lives the same way I could for e-celebs. For the most part, every time a celebrity's passing made headlines, I was quick to keep my composure and offer my condolences when I got the chance.

However, my relationship with the Internet is a different story. I have loved YouTube since my childhood; the site's DIY approach made each video feel like peering through billions of windows to see pure human creativity. It was there that I discovered Etika in 2014, shortly before his viral Mewtwo reaction, and from there I followed his story until the final chapter. The day his death was announced coincided with the ten-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. For my young self, who still struggled with understanding death at that time, MJ marked the moment I realized that no one — not even celebrities — was immune to it. The morning of June 25, when I saw the tweet announcing it, it broke me. For the first time, I felt the same way that others felt when someone like Jackson had died in 2009. Cobain in 1994. Lennon in 1980.

Like the earth froze.

Even five years after his end, it's still hard for me to accept that he will no longer roam that colosseum, let alone stand on that pedestal anymore. It feels odd to harbor this much feeling towards a person who I'd only seen through a 20-inch monitor, as if he were family. Maybe because just like anyone else, I attached a piece of myself to him.

As a fan of his, the thing that saddens me the most about Etika's story is the idea that people may recognize him more for the last ten months of his life than the over ten years of his work as a YouTuber… or his 29 years as a human being. Those distant from the web may still not find his appeal interesting enough to talk about. When he does appear in discourse, there are some that use his name as an example of mental illness like he was just a statistic, or worse, a weapon to incite drama. Those moments have become lesser now that the dust has settled, replaced with the good memories of him while it lasted. However, I hope that in the next five years people will continue to remember those ten years of great moments just as much as his final months. More than that, I hope that someday, society as a whole will truly take Internet culture as seriously as traditional culture.

Regardless of whether you follow traditional culture or Internet culture, at the end of the day we're all people. People that get hyped, people that scream, that love, that fear, that fight, that struggle... that feel. As people, I feel we'd all do well to follow what Etika always said in his videos:

"Take care of yourself. Have yourself a damn good one!"[3]

Notes

  1. ^ While Shaylee Mansfield technically reached the status first, her notability stems more for her acting career than as a traditional YouTuber.
  2. ^ On Social Blade, he gained roughly 1,000 subscribers per day by October 2018, shortly before his first incident.[2]

References

  1. ^ I searched for apethitikes and απεθιτικης, on Google, as well as my TWL access to JSTOR, Cambridge University Press, newspapers.com, De Gruyter, the Loeb Classical Library and ProQuest, and found nothing but his Substack — my disappointment immeasurable.
  2. ^ "Etika Social Blade".
  3. ^ "Etika catchphrase IGN".



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File:Doyle's_Ice_Cream_Parlor.png
Will Maupin
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2024-07-04

Spokane Willy's photos

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By Smallbones

Will Maupin, User:SpokaneWilly, is a freelance journalist who writes for the Spokane, Washington-based newspaper Inlander.

He's edited Wikipedia since 2005, and also contributes many photos to Commons. He regularly takes photos of sites on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and other local sites in the Inland Northwest region. In a recent article he declared his plan "to visually document our region for Wikipedia" this summer.

Spokane is located between mountain ranges and only gets 16.5 inches of rain each year. But it does not have a water problem, as documented by Maupin's photos. The Spokane River runs right though the city.

So he takes lots of photos of bridges.

He also likes to document many of the city's gathering places.

Churches, houses, and local institutions are among his favorite subjects.

As he wrote in his column:



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Keith Bacongco
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2024-07-04

Why you should not vote in the 2024 WMF BoT elections

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By Philip Kopetzky
The Signpost strives to publish a variety of opinion pieces, essays and letters representing a diversity of perspectives; the following article contains the opinions of its author, Philip Kopetzky. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Signpost, its editors or staff, or those of other Wikipedia editors, or of the Wikimedia Foundation.

This serves as an opinion piece and reflection on the current (2024) state of the elections to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (BoT). It is not meant as a guide as to how to vote or not to vote, but to maybe offer up some views on why the current system does not help us in our 2030 Strategy goals to become a more just and equitable global community/movement.

Obviously this opinion piece is written from a privileged European, white male perspective, and should be interpreted as such. It mainly addresses other people like me - why that is the case will hopefully become apparent below.

Why you should not vote in the 2024 WMF BoT elections

The elections to the Board of Trustees is currently the only global process with a meaningful impact on Wikimedians everywhere, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, unless the Movement Charter is approved in a version that breaks with the current way of conducting these kind of processes.

How has it gone so far?

Almost every year we go through the process of a community election to elect members of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, who are responsible for overseeing and guiding the work of the Wikimedia Foundation with its currently more than 650 employees. This process has not changed greatly in the last 15 years, adding the Single transferable vote system a few years ago. 42 % of voters in the 2022 election came from English or German Wikipedia alone, giving those two projects a very big influence on the results (especially relevant given how homogeneous German Wikipedia as a group is). This influence then has a direct impact on who gets elected: since the founding of the Wikimedia Foundation, not a single person has been community elected and only one person affiliate elected from the Global South. By any given measurement system and the ambitious goals for 2030 that the Wikimedia Foundation has endorsed, this is simply not good enough.

Why is this a problem?

The privilege attached to taking part in these elections is evident based on participation and the candidates listed. This year the list of only 15 candidates was further reduced by three candidates from the Global South that were found to be ineligible, skewing the candidate pool even further towards those groups that are already sufficiently represented on the Board of Trustees. While the chances of regions and groups currently represented on the Board of Trustees is still intact, it would be naive to expect a different outcome when the process and the type of elections candidate stay the same.

On the basic level, the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees stands in stark contrast with the declarations of the 2030 strategy. While the strategy talks about ensuring "equity in decision-making", this does not apply to the highest and most impactful level (at least as long as the Wikimedia Foundation controls most of the movement funds). That several very good candidates from the Global South have tried unsuccessfully over the years to become members of the Board of Trustees reinforces the perception that there is a glass ceiling kept in place by the election format and the electorate, sowing doubt that this is even an election when the voting power is so skewed towards a powerful minority of voters. Regional conferences are still only able to welcome BoT members from Europe or North America, and the perception will endure that Wikimedia is a movement run from far away, with communities outside of Europe or North America having little influence on the decision-making of organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation (the irony being of course that not even European or North American communities have much influence on the Wikimedia Foundation either).

This situation makes it difficult to advocate or convince people to become interested in international discussions and processes when these barriers exist. The time investment needed to understand the complex and murky structures of Wikimedia is not worth it when that knowledge leads to discussions with other affiliates and communities, but not much action, since the resources and decision-making are locked away at the Wikimedia Foundation. As an example, setting up a new structure like the meta:Wikimedia CEE Hub took a group of 15 people 3 years and financial support from an affiliate and the WMF, and still nearly didn't start because of internal systems at the Wikimedia Foundation that discourage taking any kind of risk. When even this kind of well-resourced project runs into these kind of barriers, it stands to reason that similar projects from regions with fewer volunteers and even less time resources available will struggle even more in the current Wikimedia system.

Of course, the 2030 strategy was supposed to change the power structures and make the BoT election less relevant, because decision-making would be devolved in order to become more accountable towards those affected by these decisions. That we're still in this position in 2024, close to 2030 than to the start of this strategy process, says a lot about how comfortable many feel with the current situation, unaware or choosing to ignore the struggles of others to participate in a meaningful way.

How does not voting help in this situation?

Abstaining from voting (or an election boycott) is a form of political protest in elections when those elections are notoriously biased against candidates of a certain group. While participation in Wikimedia elections is extremely low already and boycotting will not make a noticeable difference, there is also little sense in participating in an election where the outcome is defined by voters who mostly vote for people that look like them.

There is, of course, the option of breaking the mold and voting for everyone who is not from Europe or North America (or ranking everyone from those continents last). It probably comes down to personal choice if protesting a biased election by not voting or trying to fight the bias by casting your vote for everyone else. The latter is something that not everyone will feel comfortable doing, be it a lack of knowledge of candidate's backgrounds or doubts about their suitability for the job (even though some European/North American people might appear more competent, cultural differences in how to boast/not boast about your minor or major accomplishments can lead to wildly different candidate applications and perceptions of the candidates). Both options are equally well suited to make a statement about the shortcomings of the current electoral system. Both options will (with a very high certainty) not change the outcome of the election.

In my view this also means that starting a campaign to support candidates from the Global South would, in the best case, paper over the cracks and let the Board of Trustees point to this election being successful in bringing a more diverse range of voices to the table, while not acknowledging the efforts it took to make this happen. In the worst case, it will create a backlash against such a campaign, leading others to doubling down on only voting for people like them, claiming the campaign to be an illegitimate outside influence.

I personally haven't made my mind up either, but will probably choose to cast a vote for the candidates from underrepresented regions and communities. This time we should make sure that the Wikimedia Foundation can't pretend like it is business as usual. This process needs to change if Wikimedia wants to stay relevant and have a diversity of views on the highest decision-making body that enables us to address the challenges of the future. Voting the same people on to the Board of Trustees again and again will not get us there, that much is for certain.



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File:Scrabble game in progress.jpg
thebarrowboy
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2024-07-04

On a day of independence, beat crosswords into crosploughshares

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By Cremastra and JPxG

This crossword features quite a few initialisms and shortcuts. Click and type in each box to input a letter, but, as always, don't click enter.

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Clues

Across

1   (initialism) Top-right Main Page feature   ITN 
3   (initialism) Country code for tiny island, or technology that rots the brain  TV 
5   RFA closer; or an elected ruler minus the δῆμος; or a noble ruler minus the ἄρῐστος  CRAT 
7   For aoomers, a letter whose emoji version being put into words makes them funny; for zoomers, the most active 4ch board back in the day; for moomers the funniest (and most low-effort) thing StrawberryClock ever dared post to the Newgrounds portal; for boomers, the type of movie where Dracula fought juvenile delinquents from outer space   B 
8   (initialism) Some pronounce it "Annie"; some pronounce it "hell"   ANI 
9   (initialism) Wikipediocracy forefathers, or T.O.'s position for 49ers   WR 
11  (initialism) Sanders' position for Lions, or button to make edits go away   RB 
13  (initialism) Policy on article names, or swirly character in email addresses  AT 
15  (initialism) Bottom-right Main Page feature   OTD 
17  Doctor of quantum consciousness crystal therapy; or noise made by sockpuppets   QUACK 
20  Guidance for new editors eager to write a page   YFA 
21  "These clues are all for twenty-somethings!" Okay, fine — the text editor that kibo and rms swore against  VI 
22  (initialism) Thing that Michael Jackson wanted to know if 5-across was   OK 
23  (initialism) With respect to racial groups, an ArbCom-sanctioned topic since '11  IQ 

Down

2   (initialism) Top-left Main Page feature   TFA 
3   (initialism) Where you go to request a move from PMs if software obstructs   TR 
4   (initialism) Country code for tiny theocracy; series of lists of most-important articles   VA 
5   (initialism) Essay cited when, say, blocking an editor who cannot competently explain their edits. Also sometimes used in heated editor conduct discussions   CIR 
6   (initialism) Gamified introduction to Wikipedia for newbies   TWA 
10  (initialism) Russian source deprecated for its tendency to publish inane crap; former(?) name of button on Twitter for when you saw inane crap and wanted your followers to as well  RT 
12  (initialism) Mormon university, and locus of recent wikidrama   BYU 
14  An extremely efficient recent-changes patroller who is occasionally accused of election interference   BOT 
16  (initialism) Bottom-left Main Page feature   DYK 
17  WikiProject founded in 2012 interested in maintaining and improving GAs and FAs   QAI 
18  (initialism) Either a document listing your publications, or Wiki lingo for when you claim credit for somebody else's  CV 
19  Once-popular messaging app, or a QWERTY "lol" with a left-leaning bias (of 1)   KIK 



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File:A priest, a rabbi, a minister and a duck walk into a bar.jpg
Ann-Sophie Qvarnström
CC BY-SA 4.0
50
50
600
2024-07-04

A joke

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By Levivich and Randy Kryn
Signpost staff found this joke in two parts, amongst the discussion pages for the 2024 Requests for adminship (RfA) reform (see related Signpost coverage here). The image was added for this article.
Three characters with their backs to the reader, looking at a bartender, and a duck to their left

An admin, an IP, and a sockpuppet walk into a bar.

The bartender says, "what're you having?"

The admin says, "I'll have a glass of your finest champagne."

The IP says, "Give me your cheapest draft beer."

The sockpuppet says, "Just water for me; I can't afford a third drink."



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File:Edmund J Sullivan Illustrations to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam First Version Quatrain-051 (cropped).jpg
Edmund J. Sullivan
PD
300
2024-07-04

Counting to a billion — manuscripts don't burn

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By Bri, Graham87, HaeB, Iridescent, Smallbones, and WereSpielChequers
We covered Wikipedia's billionth edit at News and notes in 2021 and somehow this contribution from other editors got lost in the shuffle. Here for your enjoyment is what was developed back then.
The original lead-in and story follow.

TKTK
Is it possible for a Wikipedia article to predate Wikipedia itself? Read on and find out. A clue is in this image.
The Signpost's editors calculate that English Wikipedia's billionth edit will occur on January 15 [2021], plus or minus five days. But what does this mean exactly?

A robust discussion happened in the newsroom that we wanted to share with our readers. It turns out that the history of the Wikimedia software, lost and partially restored databases from the early days, the Nupedia fork, and other Wiki-arcana – plus the international date line! – intrude when one wants to determine exactly which edit was the billionth.

Iridescent

The pedant in me is obliged to spoil the party by pointing out that Wikipedia's billionth edit has almost certainly already been and gone unnoticed and unremarked. Special:Diff/1000000000 is just going to be "the billionth edit made on the current software", since when we switched from UseModWiki to MediaWiki the counts were reset (Special:Diff/1 is completely unremarkable). Because the UseModWiki logs have been lost, we have no idea how many edits were made using it.

Smallbones

Thanks for the info. we'll have to say something like "the billionth edit since January 25, 2002". One question, the URL that results from clicking Special:Diff/1 is https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?diff=1&oldid=294750 . Does the "294750" mean anything? Could about 300,000 edits have been made in the very first year?

WereSpielChequers

I thought that a lot of the early edits were recovered from an archive and reloaded. But presumably some deleted stuff was lost.

Iridescent

I doubt there are any exact answers since we know some of the early edits have been completely lost; one also needs to account that although we take 15 January 2001 as a "start date" that's just the day of the Wikipedia/Nupedia fork became separate entities. The articles on Nupedia were just ported across to Wikipedia (compare the last edit to "The Donegal Fiddle Tradition" on Nupedia with the first version of [[Donegal fiddle tradition]] on Wikipedia) but the Nupedia edit histories weren't preserved in the transfer. IIRC Graham87 has done some work to try to reconstruct the early days, but I would think too much history has been lost to ever be able to be more specific than "lots of edits". (Bear in mind also that prior to the Wikidata migration, things like changes to the interwiki language links also show up in the history as "edits", as do edits made to pages in other languages that were then transwikied for translation—for instance you (Smallbones) have officially made quite a few edits to German Wikipedia all of which go towards de-wiki's edit count, even though it doesn't appear you've ever touched that project in reality.)

WereSpielChequers

I know that there are edits on the German, Greek and perhaps other Wikipedias that are transwikied copies of edits from EN Wikipedia. Most of my edits on DE were made here and subsequently copied over when someone translated an article into German and copied all its history. But that only effects our billion edits calculation if people have imported article histories to here when they have translated articles into English, and as far as I'm aware we haven't done that (arguably for attribution we should).

Mercator style map of the world broken into time zones, with Chamorro Time Zone highlighted
Due to the International Date Line, Guam (timezone highlighted) is often a calendar day ahead of the rest of the United States.
Bri

I think all the wiki-spelunking (or is it archaeology?) above is a useful addition to a piece we write about the so-called billionth edit. Pedantic or not, newsworthy and will prove interesting to many.

Furthering the pedantry, History of Wikipedia says "The first portable MediaWiki software went live on 25 January" 2002. but Special:Diff/1 is 14:25 26 January 2002 UTC (which was also 26 January in the U.S. [except Guam where it was 27 January, take that pedants]). I wonder why?

Graham87

I think we're only out by a few hundred thousand edits, at the very most, perhaps closer to 150,000 or 200,000. We have relatively exact figures for the number of edits from 15 January to 17 August 2001 and from 20 November to 20 December, which total 88,837 edits. The 17 August 2001 database dump, which contains every edit from Wikipedia's founding until that date, contains 57,982 edits per a line count of one of the log files, rc.log (each edit is stored on its own line). The Nostalgia Wikipedia contains a snapshot of all edits up to 20 December 2001, and as far as I understand it contains a complete archive of edits between 20 November and 20 December of that year, because edits from that time weren't automatically removed. It contains 95330 edits, but that includes edits made by the conversion script in 2005 among other things. I did a quick and dirty database query to list all timestamps in the database, earliest first, and from there I found out that the Nostalgia Wikipedia contains 88,040 edits from 2001, 30,855 of which were made in the llast month of the database and therefore form a complete archive. (We can't do this on the current Wikipedia database since, as explained at Wikipedia:Usemod article histories, the final edit made to each page wasn't imported when the UseModWiki edits were added in 2002).

Another thing that would whack out the count a bit is that edits deleted before Wikipedia was upgraded to MediaWiki 1.5 lost their revision ID numbers and got new ones when they were undeleted. According to an old Bugzilla thread, there were 511,728 of those. Some of those got undeleted/re-imported, most notably at Wikipedia:Historical archive/Sandbox, which has over 20,000 revisions. There are also quite a few other revisions that have also been imported from the Nostalgia Wikipedia (I'd say 50,000 or so).

Smallbones

I agree with Bri on this. The story that is emerging here will be worth much more to many of our readers than just the date of the "billionth". That billionth-date article would after all just be a number and a date, a round number marking point with maybe a bit of nostalgia, but not much more. The emerging story however has got a lot more – an origin story, some mystery, there's even some controversy regarding the last Nupedia edit – see Talk:Donegal fiddle tradition. That article became a featured article – with very few edits after Larry Sanger wrote it on Nupedia – and it's still a good article. But it seems that Sanger was complaining that it was a copyright violation. So who wants to write it up? for December 20ish if we really want to emphasize the history, or late January if we just want to accompany the billionth-date article. Either way it would be an important part of our 20th birthday celebration.

HaeB

See also Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2010-04-19/News and notes#Briefly: On Friday, 16 April 2010 the Wikimedia projects passed a total of 1 billion edits, as measured by the edit counter.

Graham87

Re the discrepancy pointed out by Bri between the edit with ID 1 and the date given for the software upgrade, I don't exactly know the answer, but it says it was upgraded on the 25th of January at Wikipedia:Magnus Manske Day, the mailing list thread linked from there, and this mailing list thread. I seem to recall that there were some weird issues in the early days with time zones, but I thought they were about some timestamps being in Pacific Standard Time instead of UTC, which wouldn't make sense at all here. Also see more info about early timestamp bugs at User:Conversion script.

Smallbones

OK, the one billionth (since whenever) is for the English-language Wikipedia Wikipedia:Time Between Edits. The 4.5 billion from edit counter is for all WMF projects. This is getting complicated, but that should add to the mystery. It is over my head, though...

Afterword

by Smallbones

Three years ago, as the then-editor-in-chief, I declined the above article (which was essentially copied from an internal Signpost talk page). I really liked the original submission, and am glad @Bri: has dug it up again. It addressed topics I had long wondered about. It mainly just got lost in the run-up to a very important issue of The Signpost that marked the 20th anniversary of Wikipedia. But I did have one problem: it was a long swirling article that I thought ultimately went nowhere. What was the meaning of the article? What conclusions might the reader draw from it?

After three years, I think I've figured out the meaning. It's about the record of all edits on Wikipedia, and Mikhail Bulgakov's dictum "Manuscripts don't burn". Even the records of a Signpost talk page about a declined submission don't disappear or get burned. Even when the submission is about disappearing edits!

An engraved illustration of a woman lying over a book
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it
- Quatrain 51 of Edward FitzGerald's translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

So what did Bugalkov mean by "manuscripts don't burn"? He lived in Moscow, and was Stalin's favorite writer during the 1930s — a difficult place and time for anybody who expressed original thoughts. It was especially difficult for Bugalkov, as other writers attempted to censor him or cut him down to size. He meant that writing is engraved in the mind of the writer, and perhaps in the minds of anybody who has read it or helped edit it, even when they'd prefer to forget it. If you've ever had a draft submission disappear, you'll find that it's remarkably true: the neurons and synapses have a nearly permanent record that comes to life once you start rewriting it.

I first learned of the idea that creative works won't disappear from a quatrain of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which was inspired by the story of the Belshazzar's feast in the Book of Daniel. Bugalkov just added the aide-memoire "manuscripts don't burn."

The opposite of a non-flammable manuscript is a memory hole, as George Orwell first described in in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell's memory holes were appurtenances, bored in to the wall of the Ministry of Truth, which sucked up any questionable piece of paper and sent it to a furnace. Wikipedia does have sort of memory hole, that sucked up maybe 100,000 edits from 2001 or 2002. That's out of the current total of about 1,226,000,000 (or roughly 0.01%). Almost all the rest are non-flammable manuscripts that can be looked up on Wikipedia. That's what the above submission means. And that's worth remembering.




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File:Finally, a public-domain "Finally," template.jpg
Goodyear
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2024-07-04

Is Wikipedia Politically Biased? Perhaps

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By Tilman Bayer


A monthly overview of recent academic research about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, also published as the Wikimedia Research Newsletter.


Report by conservative think-tank presents ample quantitative evidence for "mild to moderate" "left-leaning bias" on Wikipedia

A paper titled "Is Wikipedia Politically Biased?"[1] answers that question with a qualified yes:

[...] this report measures the sentiment and emotion with which political terms are used in [English] Wikipedia articles, finding that Wikipedia entries are more likely to attach negative sentiment to terms associated with a right-leaning political orientation than to left-leaning terms. Moreover, terms that suggest a right-wing political stance are more frequently connected with emotions of anger and disgust than those that suggest a left-wing stance. Conversely, terms associated with left-leaning ideology are more frequently linked with the emotion of joy than are right-leaning terms.
Our findings suggest that Wikipedia is not entirely living up to its neutral point of view policy, which aims to ensure that content is presented in an unbiased and balanced manner.

The author (David Rozado, an associate professor at Otago Polytechnic) has published ample peer-reviewed research on related matters before, some of which was featured e.g. in The Guardian and The New York Times. In contrast, the present report is not peer-reviewed and was not posted in an academic venue, unlike most research we cover here usually. Rather, it was published (and possibly commissioned) by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative US think tank, which presumably found its results not too objectionable. (Also, some – broken – URLs in the PDF suggest that Manhattan Institute staff members were involved in the writing of the paper.) Still, the report indicates an effort to adhere to various standards of academic research publications, including some fairly detailed descriptions of the methods and data used. It is worth taking it more seriously than, for example, another recent report that alleged a different form of political bias on Wikipedia, which had likewise been commissioned by an advocacy organization and authored by an academic researcher, but was met with severe criticism by the Wikimedia Foundation (who called it out for "unsubstantiated claims of bias") and volunteer editors (see prior Signpost coverage).

That isn't to say that there can't be some questions about the validity of Rozado's results, and in particular about how to interpret them. But let's first go through the paper's methods and data sources in more detail.

Determining the sentiment and emotion in Wikipedia's coverage

The report's main results regarding Wikipedia are obtained as follows:

"We first gather a set of target terms (N=1,628) with political connotations (e.g., names of recent U.S. presidents, U.S. congressmembers, U.S. Supreme Court justices, or prime ministers of Western countries) from external sources. We then identify all mentions in English-language Wikipedia articles of those terms.

We then extract the paragraphs in which those terms occur to provide the context in which the target terms are used and feed a random sample of those text snippets to an LLM (OpenAI’s gpt-3.5-turbo), which annotates the sentiment/emotion with which the target term is used in the snippet. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of political bias in Wikipedia content using modern LLMs for annotation of sentiment/emotion."

The sentiment classification rates the mention of a terms as negative, neutral or positive. (For the purpose of forming averages this is converted into a quantitative scale from -1 to +1.) See the end of this review for some concrete examples from the paper's published dataset.

The emotion classification uses "Ekman’s six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise) plus neutral."

The annotation method used appears to be an effort to avoid the shortcomings of popular existing sentiment analysis techniques, which often only rate the overall emotional stance of a given text overall without determining whether it actually applies to a specific entity mentioned in it (or in some cases even fail to handle negations, e.g. by classifying "I am not happy" as a positive emotion). Rozado justifies the "decision to use automated annotation" (which presumably rendered considerable cost savings, also by resorting to OpenAI's older GPT 3.5 model rather than the more powerful but more expensive GPT-4 API released in March 2023) citing "recent evidence showing how top-of-the-rank LLMs outperform crowd workers for text-annotation tasks such as stance detection." This is indeed becoming a more widely used choice for text classification. But Rozado appears to have skipped the usual step of evaluating the accuracy of this automated method (and possibly improving the prompts it used) against a gold standard sample from (human) expert raters.

Selecting topics to examine for bias

As for the selection of terms whose Wikipedia coverage to annotate with this classifier, Rozado does a lot of due diligence to avoid cherry-picking: "To reduce the degrees of freedom of our analysis, we mostly use external sources of terms [including Wikipedia itself, e.g. its list of members of the 11th US Congress] to conceptualize a political category into left- and right-leaning terms, as well as to choose the set of terms to include in each category." This addresses an important source of researcher bias.

Overall, the study arrives at 12 different groups of such terms:

What is "left-leaning" and "right-leaning"?

As discussed, Rozado's methods for generating these lists of people and organizations seem reasonably transparent and objective. It gets a bit murkier when it comes to splitting them into "left-leaning" and "right-leaning", where the chosen methods remain unclear and/or questionable in some cases. Of course there is a natural choice available for US Congress members, where the confines of the US two-party system mean that the left-right spectrum can be easily mapped easily to Democrats vs. Republicans (disregarding a small number of independents or libertarians).

In other cases, Rozado was able to use external data about political leanings, e.g. "a list of politically aligned U.S.-based journalists" from Politico. There may be questions about construct validity here (e.g. it classifies Glenn Greenwald or Andrew Sullivan as "journalists with the left"), but at least this data is transparent and determined by a source not invested in the present paper's findings.

But for example the list of UK MPs used contains politicians from 14 different parties (plus independents). Even if one were to confine the left vs. right labels to the two largest groups in the UK House of Commons (Tories vs. Labour and Co-operative Party, which appears to have been the author's choice judging from Figure 5), the presence of a substantial number of parliamentarians from other parties to the left or right of those would make the validity of this binary score more questionable than in the US case. Rozado appears to acknowledge a related potential issue in a side remark when trying to offer an explanation for one of the paper's negative results (no bias) in this case: "The disparity of sentiment associations in Wikipedia articles between U.S. Congressmembers and U.K. MPs based on their political affiliation may be due in part to the higher level of polarization in the U.S. compared to the U.K."

Tony Abbott.
Most negative sentiment among Western leaders: Former Australian PM Tony Abbott
Scott Morrison.
Most positive sentiment among Western leaders: Former Australian PM Scott Morrison

This kind of question become even more complicated for the "Leaders of Western Countries" list (where Tony Abbott scored the most negative average sentiment, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Scott Morrison appear to be in a tie for the most positive average sentiment). Most of these countries do not have a two-party system either. Sure, their leaders usually (like in the UK case) hail from one of the two largest parties, one of which is more to the left and the another more to the right. But it certainly seems to matter for the purpose of Rozado's research question whether that major party is more moderate (center-left or center-right, with other parties between it and the far left or far right) or more radical (i.e. extending all the way to the far-left or far-right spectrum of elected politicians).

What's more, the analysis for this last group compares political orientations across multiple countries. Which brings us to a problem that Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales had already pointed to back in 2006 in response a conservative US blogger who had argued that there was "a liberal bias in many hot-button topic entries" on English Wikipedia:

"The Wikipedia community is very diverse, from liberal to conservative to libertarian and beyond. If averages mattered, and due to the nature of the wiki software (no voting) they almost certainly don't, I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population. ... The idea that neutrality can only be achieved if we have some exact demographic matchup to [the] United States of America is preposterous."

We already discussed this issue in our earlier reviews of a notable series of papers by Greenstein and Zhu (see e.g.: "Language analysis finds Wikipedia's political bias moving from left to right", 2012), which had relied on a US-centric method of defining left-leaning and right-leaning (namely, a corpus derived from the US Congressional Record). Those studies form a large part of what Rozado cites as "[a] substantial body of literature [that]—albeit with some exceptions—has highlighted a perceived bias in Wikipedia content in favor of left-leaning perspectives." (The cited exception is a paper[2] that had found "a small to medium size coverage bias against [members of parliament] from the center-left parties in Germany and in France", and identified patterns of "partisan contributions" as a plausible cause.)

Similarly, 8 out of the 10 groups of people and organizations analyzed in Rozado's study are from the US (the two exceptions being the aforementioned lists of UK MPs and leaders of Western countries).

In other words, one potential reason for the disparities found by Rozado might simply be that he is measuring an international encyclopedia with a (largely) national yardstick of fairness. This shouldn't let us dismiss his findings too easily. But it is a bit disappointing that this possibility is nowhere addressed in the paper, even though Rozado diligently discusses some other potential limitations of the results. E.g. he notes that "some research has suggested that conservatives themselves are more prone to negative emotions and more sensitive to threats than liberals", but points out that the general validity of those research results remains doubtful.

Another limitation is that a simple binary left vs. right classification might be hiding factors that can shed further light on bias findings. Even in the US with its two-party system, political scientists and analysts have long moved to less simplistic measures of political orientations. A widely used one is the NOMINATE method which assigns members of the US Congress continuous scores based on their detailed voting record, one of which corresponds to the left-right spectrum as traditionally understood. One finding based on that measure that seems relevant in context of the present study is the (widely discussed but itself controversial) asymmetric polarization thesis, which argues that "Polarization among U.S. legislators is asymmetric, as it has primarily been driven by a substantial rightward shift among congressional Republicans since the 1970s, alongside a much smaller leftward shift among congressional Democrats" (as summarized in the linked Wikipedia article). If, for example, higher polarization was associated with negative sentiments, this could be a potential explanation for Rozado's results. Again, this has to remain speculative, but it seems another notable omission in the paper's discussion of limitations.

What does "bias" mean here?

A fundamental problem of this study, which, to be fair, it shares with much fairness and bias research (in particular on Wikipedia's gender gap, where many studies similarly focus on binary comparisons that are likely to successfully appeal to an intuitive sense of fairness) consists of justifying its answers to the following two basic questions:

  1. What would be a perfectly fair baseline, a result that makes us confident to call Wikipedia unbiased?
  2. If there are deviations from that baseline (often labeled disparities, gaps or biases), what are the reasons for that – can we confidently assume they were caused by Wikipedia itself (e.g. demographic imbalances in Wikipedia's editorship), or are they more plausibly attributed to external factors?

Regarding 1 (defining a baseline of unbiasedness), Rozado simply assumes that this should imply statistically indistinguishable levels of average sentiment between left and right-leaning terms. However, as cautioned by one leading scholar on quantitative measures of bias, "the 'one true fairness definition' is a wild goose chase" – there are often multiple different definitions available that can all be justified on ethical grounds, and are often contradictory. Above, we already alluded to two potentially diverging notions of political unbiasedness for Wikipedia (using an international instead of US metric for left vs right leaning, and taking into account polarization levels for politicians).

But yet another question, highly relevant for Wikipedians interested in addressing the potential problems reported in this paper, is how much its definition lines up with Wikipedia's own definition of neutrality. Rozado clearly thinks that it does:

Wikipedia’s neutral point of view (NPOV) policy aims for articles in Wikipedia to be written in an impartial and unbiased tone. Our results suggest that Wikipedia’s NPOV policy is not achieving its stated goal of political-viewpoint neutrality in Wikipedia articles.

WP:NPOV indeed calls for avoiding subjective language and expressing judgments and opinions in Wikipedia's own voice, and Rozado's findings about the presence of non-neutral sentiments and emotions in Wikipedia articles are of some concern in that regard. However, that is not the core definition of NPOV. Rather, it refers to "representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic." What if the coverage of the terms examined by Rozado (politicians, etc.) in those reliable sources, in their aggregate, were also biased in the sense of Rozado's definition? US progressives might be inclined to invoke the snarky dictum "reality has a liberal bias" by comedian Stephen Colbert. Of course, conservatives might object that Wikipedia's definition of reliable sources (having "a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy") is itself biased, or applied in a biased way by Wikipedians. For some of these conservatives (at least those that are not also conservative feminists) it may be instructive to compare examinations of Wikipedia's gender gaps, which frequently focus on specific groups of notable people like in Rozado's study. And like him, they often implicitly assume a baseline of unbiasedness that implies perfect symmetry in Wikipedia's coverage – i.e. the absence of gaps or disparities. Wikipedians often object that this is in tension with the aforementioned requirement to reflect coverage in reliable sources. For example, Wikipedia's list of Fields medalists (the "Nobel prize of Mathematics") is 97% male – not because of Wikipedia editors' biases against women, but because of a severe gender imbalance in the field of mathematics that is only changing slowly, i.e. factors outside Wikipedia's influence.

All this brings us to question 2. above (causality). While Rozado uses carefully couched language in this regard ("suggests" etc, e.g. "These trends constitute suggestive evidence of political bias embedded in Wikipedia articles"), such qualifications are unsurprisingly absent in much of the media coverage of this study (see also this issue's In the media). For example, the conservative magazine The American Spectator titled its article about the paper "Now We've Got Proof that Wikipedia is Biased."

Commendably, the paper is accompanied by a published dataset, consisting of the analyzed Wikipedia text snippets together with the mentioned term and the sentiment or emotion identified by the automated annotation. For illustration, below are the sentiment ratings for mentions of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy (the last term in the dataset, as a non-cherry-picked example), with the term bolded:

Dataset excerpt: Wikipedia paragraphs with sentiment for "Yankee Institute for Public Policy"
positive "Carol Platt Liebau is president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.Liebau named new president of Yankee Institute She is also an attorney, political analyst, and conservative commentator. Her book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!) was published in 2007."
neutral "Affiliates

Regular members are described as ""full-service think tanks"" operating independently within their respective states.

Alabama: Alabama Policy Institute
Alaska: Alaska Policy Forum
[...]
Connecticut: Yankee Institute for Public Policy
[...]
Wisconsin: MacIver Institute for Public Policy, Badger Institute, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Institute for Reforming Government
Wyoming: Wyoming Liberty Group"
positive "The Yankee Institute for Public Policy is a free market, limited government American think tank based in Hartford, Connecticut, that researches Connecticut public policy questions. Organized as a 501(c)(3), the group's stated mission is to ""develop and advocate for free market, limited government public policy solutions in Connecticut."" Yankee was founded in 1984 by Bernard Zimmern, a French entrepreneur who was living in Norwalk, Connecticut, and Professor Gerald Gunderson of Trinity College. The organization is a member of the State Policy Network."
neutral "He is formerly Chairman of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. On November 3, 2015, he was elected First Selectman in his hometown of Stonington, Connecticut, which he once represented in Congress. He defeated the incumbent, George Crouse. Simmons did not seek reelection in 2019."
negative "In Connecticut the union is closely identified with liberal Democratic politicians such as Governor Dannel Malloy and has clashed frequently with fiscally conservative Republicans such as former Governor John G. Rowland as well as the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank."
positive "In 2021, after leaving elective office, she was named a Board Director of several organizations. One is the Center for Workforce Inclusion, a national nonprofit in Washington, DC, that works to provide meaningful employment opportunities for older individuals. Another is the William F. Buckley Program at Yale, which aims to promote intellectual diversity, expand political discourse on campus, and expose students to often-unvoiced views at Yale University. She also serves on the Board of the Helicon Foundation, which explores chamber music in its historical context by presenting and producing period performances, including an annual subscription series of four Symposiums in New York featuring both performance and discussion of chamber music. She is also a Board Director of the American Hospital of Paris Foundation, which provides funding support for the operations of the American Hospital of Paris and functions as the link between the Hospital and the United States, funding many collaborative and exchange programs with New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is also a Fellow of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a research and citizen education organization that focuses on free markets and limited government, as well as issues of transparency and good governance."
positive "He was later elected chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, a position he held from 2007 to 2008. When he was elected he was 34 years old, making him the youngest state party chairman in the history of the United States at the time. His term as chairman included the 2008 New Hampshire primary, the first primary in the 2008 United States presidential election. He later served as the executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy for five years, beginning in 2009. He is the author of a book about the New Hampshire primary, entitled Granite Steps, and the founder of the immigration reform advocacy group Americans By Choice."

Briefly


Other recent publications

Other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue include the items listed below. Contributions, whether reviewing or summarizing newly published research, are always welcome.

How English Wikipedia mediates East Asian historical disputes with Habermasian communicative rationality

From the abstract: [3]

"We compare the portrayals of Balhae, an ancient kingdom with contested contexts between [South Korea and China]. By comparing Chinese, Korean, and English Wikipedia entries on Balhae, we identify differences in narrative construction and framing. Employing Habermas’s typology of human action, we scrutinize related talk pages on English Wikipedia to examine the strategic actions multinational contributors employ to shape historical representation. This exploration reveals the dual role of online platforms in both amplifying and mediating historical disputes. While Wikipedia’s policies promote rational discourse, our findings indicate that contributors often vacillate between strategic and communicative actions. Nonetheless, the resulting article approximates Habermasian ideals of communicative rationality."

From the paper:

"The English Wikipedia presents Balhae as a multi-ethnic kingdom, refraining from emphasizing the dominance of a single tribe. In comparison to the two aforementioned excerpts [from Chinese and Korean Wikipedia], the lead section of the English Wikipedia concentrates more on factual aspects of history, thus excluding descriptions that might entail divergent interpretations. In other words, this account of Balhae has thus far proven acceptable to a majority of Wikipedians from diverse backgrounds. [...] Compared to other language versions, the English Wikipedia forthrightly acknowledges the potential disputes regarding Balhae's origin, ethnic makeup, and territorial boundaries, paving the way for an open and transparent exploration of these contested historical subjects. The separate 'Balhae controversies' entry is dedicated to unpacking the contentious issues. In essence, the English article adopts a more encyclopedic tone, aligning closely with Wikipedia's mission of providing information without imposing a certain perspective."

(See also excerpts)

Facebook/Meta's "No Language Left Behind" translation model used on Wikipedia

From the abstract of this publication by a large group of researchers (most of them affiliated with Meta AI):[4]

"Focusing on improving the translation qualities of a relatively small group of high-resource languages comes at the expense of directing research attention to low-resource languages, exacerbating digital inequities in the long run. To break this pattern, here we introduce No Language Left Behind—a single massively multilingual model that leverages transfer learning across languages. [...] Compared with the previous state-of-the-art models, our model achieves an average of 44% improvement in translation quality as measured by BLEU. By demonstrating how to scale NMT [neural machine translation] to 200 languages and making all contributions in this effort freely available for non-commercial use, our work lays important groundwork for the development of a universal translation system."

"Four months after the launch of NLLB-200 [in 2022], Wikimedia reported that our model was the third most used machine translation engine used by Wikipedia editors (accounting for 3.8% of all published translations) (https://web.archive.org/web/20221107181300/https://nbviewer.org/github/wikimedia-research/machine-translation-service-analysis-2022/blob/main/mt_service_comparison_Sept2022_update.ipynb). Compared with other machine translation services and across all languages, articles translated with NLLB-200 has the lowest percentage of deletion (0.13%) and highest percentage of translation modification kept under 10%."

"Which Nigerian-Pidgin does Generative AI speak?" – only the BBC's, not Wikipedia's

From the abstract:[5]

"Naija is the Nigerian-Pidgin spoken by approx. 120M speakers in Nigeria [...]. Although it has mainly been a spoken language until recently, there are currently two written genres (BBC and Wikipedia) in Naija. Through statistical analyses and Machine Translation experiments, we prove that these two genres do not represent each other (i.e., there are linguistic differences in word order and vocabulary) and Generative AI operates only based on Naija written in the BBC genre. In other words, Naija written in Wikipedia genre is not represented in Generative AI."

The paper's findings are consistent with an analysis by the Wikimedia Foundation's research department that compared the number of Wikipedia articles to the number of speakers for the top 20 most-spoken languages, where Naija stood out as one of the most underrepresented.

"[A] surprising tension between Wikipedia's principle of safeguarding against self-promotion and the scholarly norm of 'due credit'"

From the abstract:[6]

Although Wikipedia offers guidelines for determining when a scientist qualifies for their own article, it currently lacks guidance regarding whether a scientist should be acknowledged in articles related to the innovation processes to which they have contributed. To explore how Wikipedia addresses this issue of scientific "micro-notability", we introduce a digital method called Name Edit Analysis, enabling us to quantitatively and qualitatively trace mentions of scientists within Wikipedia's articles. We study two CRISPR-related Wikipedia articles and find dynamic negotiations of micro-notability as well as a surprising tension between Wikipedia’s principle of safeguarding against self-promotion and the scholarly norm of “due credit.” To reconcile this tension, we propose that Wikipedians and scientists collaborate to establish specific micro-notability guidelines that acknowledge scientific contributions while preventing excessive self-promotion.

See also coverage of a different paper that likewise analyzed Wikipedia's coverage of CRISPR: "Wikipedia as a tool for contemporary history of science: A case study on CRISPR"

"How article category in Wikipedia determines the heterogeneity of its editors"

From the abstract:[7]

" [...] the quality of Wikipedia articles rises with the number of editors per article as well as a greater diversity among them. Here, we address a not yet documented potential threat to those preconditions: self-selection of Wikipedia editors to articles. Specifically, we expected articles with a clear-cut link to a specific country (e.g., about its highest mountain, "national" article category) to attract a larger proportion of editors of that nationality when compared to articles without any specific link to that country (e.g., "gravity", "universal" article category), whereas articles with a link to several countries (e.g., "United Nations", "international" article category) should fall in between. Across several language versions, hundreds of different articles, and hundreds of thousands of editors, we find the expected effect [...]"

"What do they make us see:" The "cultural bias" of GLAMs is worse on Wikidata

From the abstract:[8]

"Large cultural heritage datasets from museum collections tend to be biased and demonstrate omissions that result from a series of decisions at various stages of the collection construction. The purpose of this study is to apply a set of ethical criteria to compare the level of bias of six online databases produced by two major art museums, identifying the most biased and the least biased databases. [...] For most variables the online system database is more balanced and ethical than the API dataset and Wikidata item collection of the two museums."

References

  1. ^ Rozado, David (June 2024). "Is Wikipedia Politically Biased?". Manhattan Institute. Dataset: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10775984
  2. ^ Kerkhof, Anna; Münster, Johannes (2019-10-02). "Detecting coverage bias in user-generated content". Journal of Media Economics. 32 (3–4): 99–130. doi:10.1080/08997764.2021.1903168. ISSN 0899-7764.
  3. ^ Jee, Jonghyun; Kim, Byungjun; Jun, Bong Gwan (2024). "The role of English Wikipedia in mediating East Asian historical disputes: the case of Balhae". Asian Journal of Communication: 1–20. doi:10.1080/01292986.2024.2342822. ISSN 0129-2986. Closed access icon (access for Wikipedia Library users)
  4. ^ Costa-jussà, Marta R.; Cross, James; Çelebi, Onur; Elbayad, Maha; Heafield, Kenneth; Heffernan, Kevin; Kalbassi, Elahe; Lam, Janice; Licht, Daniel; Maillard, Jean; Sun, Anna; Wang, Skyler; Wenzek, Guillaume; Youngblood, Al; Akula, Bapi; Barrault, Loic; Gonzalez, Gabriel Mejia; Hansanti, Prangthip; Hoffman, John; Jarrett, Semarley; Sadagopan, Kaushik Ram; Rowe, Dirk; Spruit, Shannon; Tran, Chau; Andrews, Pierre; Ayan, Necip Fazil; Bhosale, Shruti; Edunov, Sergey; Fan, Angela; Gao, Cynthia; Goswami, Vedanuj; Guzmán, Francisco; Koehn, Philipp; Mourachko, Alexandre; Ropers, Christophe; Saleem, Safiyyah; Schwenk, Holger; Wang, Jeff; NLLB Team (June 2024). "Scaling neural machine translation to 200 languages". Nature. 630 (8018): 841–846. Bibcode:2024Natur.630..841N. doi:10.1038/s41586-024-07335-x. ISSN 1476-4687. PMC 11208141. PMID 38839963.
  5. ^ Adelani, David Ifeoluwa; Doğruöz, A. Seza; Shode, Iyanuoluwa; Aremu, Anuoluwapo (2024-04-30). "Which Nigerian-Pidgin does Generative AI speak?: Issues about Representativeness and Bias for Multilingual and Low Resource Languages". arXiv:2404.19442 [cs.CL].
  6. ^ Simons, Arno; Kircheis, Wolfgang; Schmidt, Marion; Potthast, Martin; Stein, Benno (2024-02-28). "Who are the "Heroes of CRISPR"? Public science communication on Wikipedia and the challenge of micro-notability". Public Understanding of Science. doi:10.1177/09636625241229923. ISSN 0963-6625. PMID 38419208. blog post
  7. ^ Oeberst, Aileen; Ridderbecks, Till (2024-01-07). "How article category in Wikipedia determines the heterogeneity of its editors". Scientific Reports. 14 (1): 740. Bibcode:2024NatSR..14..740O. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-50448-y. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 10772120. PMID 38185716.
  8. ^ Zhitomirsky-Geffet, Maayan; Kizhner, Inna; Minster, Sara (2022-01-01). "What do they make us see: a comparative study of cultural bias in online databases of two large museums". Journal of Documentation. 79 (2): 320–340. doi:10.1108/JD-02-2022-0047. ISSN 0022-0418. Closed access icon / freely accessible version




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By Igordebraga, Vestrian24Bio, Rajan51, CAWylie, Bucket of sulfuric acid, SSSB.
This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga, Vestrian24Bio, Rajan51, CAWylie, Bucket of sulfuric acid, and SSSB.

All we want is life beyond Thunderdome (May 26 to June 1)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Bill Walton 1,300,701 William Theodore Walton III was one of the best basketballers ever, with two titles at both college and professional level, in the latter with the only one by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977 – as Finals MVP, no less – and the 1986 one by the Boston Celtics – where after years struggling with knee and foot injuries Walton was a supporting player, but one good enough to be chosen as Sixth Man of the Year. He then followed it with two decades as a color commentator, and has now died at 71.
2 Donald Trump 1,046,220 The former US president was been found guilty of 34 felonies; which raises the question over whether is he is eligible as a presential candidate, but SPOILER ALERT: He is.
3 Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 1,023,090 After Mad Max: Fury Road (#10) floored audiences in 2015, it was clear more post-apocalyptic stories would come out from the Wasteland that used to be the Outback, and it started with the origin story for Imperator Furiosa. In spite of great reviews, the box office has been sluggish, starting with a photo finish over The Garfield Movie during a holiday weekend (#7) only to be surpassed by the fat cat in week 2. Sure there were many things to hold its earnings back (an R-rating, more and more people eschewing theaters to wait for streaming, focusing on a side character without the same actress, insecure males who hate female protagonists), but everyone who liked it hopes it can at least make its budget back, and that the fifth actual Mad Max soon enters production.
4 Deaths in 2024 992,389 Zephyr in the sky at night, I wonder
Do my tears of mourning sink beneath the Sun?
5 2024 Indian general election 815,293 India kept consistently coming to the article regarding the renewal of the Lok Sabha across the month and a half of voting. The counting of over 900 million votes will be completed on June 4.
6 Grayson Murray 652,962 Grayson Murray was an American golfer on the PGA Tour while struggling with alcoholism, anxiety, and depression. In 2014, while near the lead of the Southern Amateur tournament, he withdrew and was later diagnosed with social anxiety. On May 24, 2024, he withdrew from the Charles Schwab Challenge, citing illness. The next day, he committed suicide at his home at age 30.
7 Memorial Day 599,320 One of the 11 federal holidays in the United States (I think we are working on one per month) was observed on May 27 (the last Monday of May). On this particular holiday, we honor the military service members who have died, as opposed to Veterans Day in November which honors all veterans. Graves are adorned, the dead are mourned, and various meats are scorched outdoors.
8 Civil War (film) 560,145 This April release, about journalists trying to reach the US president for an interview about a civil war being waged between his authoritarian government and several regional factions, hit video on demand on May 24 (ahead of its June 7 release in mainland China).
9 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 545,191 The first major ICC event tournament to feature matches played in the United States, started with their first World Cup match victory across all formats.
10 Mad Max: Fury Road 492,767 Before #3, George Miller revived the Mad Max series after a 30 year hiatus, replacing Mel Gibson with Tom Hardy and delivering a high-octane, very quotable ("Witness me!", "What a day! What a lovely day!", etc.) action movie that got showered with praise, made $380 million in the worldwide box office, and was the biggest winner of the 88th Academy Awards with 6 Oscars even if it didn't take Best Picture or Director.

We come together and we vote, because we're all in the same boat (June 2 to 8)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 2024 Indian general election 2,958,008 The election to decide the 18th Lok Sabha spanned across two months and concluded last week, in which the ruling party BJ who has been in power since 2014 along with their alliance (#5) and its members (#2) manged to get a third consecutive win (after #10 and #3) defeating #6 and its members; expanding Narendra Modi's rule for another 5 years giving him consecutive 15 years till 2029.
2 List of National Democratic Alliance members 2,344,161
3 2019 Indian general election 1,879,830
4 Claudia Sheinbaum 1,726,998 On June 2, following the 2024 Mexican general election, Sheinbaum became the first woman and the first Jew to be elected president of Mexico, winning by a landslide. Once the tribunal declares the election valid, she will assume the position in September.
5 National Democratic Alliance 1,238,153 India has over 2000 political parties, so the big two alliances in #1 had 40 each. While the N.D.A. led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi got the majority of the Lok Sabha with 293 of 543 seats, it was much lower than the 350–400 seats that most exit polls and political analysts predicted, and the Prime Minister's own goal of 400 seats. This was probably caused by the union of opposition parties (I.N.D.I.A.) that had a strong showing with 234 seats.
6 Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance 1,210,172
7 Normandy landings 1,087,473 June 6 was the 80th anniversary of "D-Day", a turning point of World War II, depicted in the movies Saving Private Ryan (which was Today's Featured Article on the day) and The Longest Day, where the Allied armies landed in Normandy, fighting German armies at Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. From there they started taking back France, eventually getting to Germany and joining the Soviets that were advancing from the Eastern Front.
8 Deaths in 2024 977,317 No there ain't no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good...
9 Pawan Kalyan 834,526 This actor-turned-politician, whose party is part of #5, won a seat in the 2024 Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly election.
10 2014 Indian general election 822,460 After Modi's third consecutive win in #1 with his party's alliance (#5) and its members (#2) against #6 and its members; people are also interested in knowing about his first win in 2014.

Play the game, everybody play the game (June 9 to 15)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 UEFA Euro 2024 1,216,340 June 14 saw the opening game, in which hosts Germany demolished Scotland. Three more games followed on June 15, with the opening four games seeing 16 goals between them the most for any UEFA Euro, or FIFA World Cup tournament since 1976. No upsets yet, but there are still 47 games to go.
2 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 1,075,604 History's first ever ICC world cup held in the US has almost finished its fixtures in the states, but both hosts have secured their places in the Super 8 while it has been a heartbreak for some teams as even though they had been pre-seeded they have lost their place to other teams now.
3 Deaths in 2024 979,394 And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it's over...
4 Chirag Paswan 944,411 Paswan is a college dropout, actor in a box-office bomb, and, since 2014, a politician who followed his father's footsteps into becoming a member of the Lok Sabha. On June 10, he was nominated as India's minister of food processing industries.
5 Michael Mosley (broadcaster) 930,071 On June 9, the body of this BBC journalist and ketogenic dieter was found, following his two-mile walk back to where he and his wife were staying while on holiday on the Greek island of Symi. An autopsy is underway, but it is believed he died of natural causes.
6 Pawan Kalyan 892,962 Another actor turned politician assumed the office of deputy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on June 12.
7 Jerry West 889,610 Even if the 2024 NBA Finals are rolling, basketball appears through a recently deceased player, a legend who is downright depicted in the NBA logo. Jerome Alan West played 14 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning it all in 1972 after seven defeats in the finals, one of whom had him be the only Finals MVP on the losing side. West would get more titles on the managerial side – a post-playing career so good he was twice chosen as Executive of the Year and got a second Hall of Fame enshrinement as a builder – as the general manager of the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s and a board member of the 2010s Golden State Warriors. West was an executive board member and consultant for the Lakers' cross-town rival Los Angeles Clippers when he died at the age of 86.
8 ChatGPT 795,619 Apple's WWDC 2024, had the most important news about AI: It was announced that ChatGPT will be integrated into iOS 18, even though it's still opposed by some.
9 Hit Man (2023 film) 746,866 Glen Powell has been on the rise ever since Top Gun: Maverick, and now has two successful romantic comedies by following with Anyone but You with this movie that Powell co-wrote with director Richard Linklater (pictured). The story, based on true facts, concerns a police collaborator who pretends to be a professional hitman so the police can arrest those who hire his services, only to fall for a woman (Adria Arjona) who wants to get rid of her husband. Netflix purchased the film's distribution rights after it appeared in some 2023 festivals, and added Hit Man to its catalogue after a brief theatrical run.
10 Inside Out 2 717,850 9 years after Pixar had a big hit telling the story of the emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger) running a teenage girl's head, we're back to the mind of Riley Anderson, who two years after a relocation-based breakdown sees the literal arrival of Anxiety, Ennui, Envy and Embarrassment. Inside Out 2 had good reviews and should be making enough money to compensate all the flops Disney had last year.

Some far away, some search for gold, some dragon to slay (June 16 to 22)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Donald Sutherland 2,630,673 A Canadian actor who worked a lot for six decades, scoring hits ranging from The Dirty Dozen to The Hunger Games, while also winning an Emmy for Citizen X and an Academy Honorary Award, Donald Sutherland died at the age of 88 following a long illness.
2 UEFA Euro 2024 2,365,856 Germany is receiving 24 European national football teams, and during the week covered by this report the second round of the group stage was finished, with its games including Croatia beaten by the lowly Albanian squad.
3 Juneteenth 1,888,828 The American holiday, celebrating the end of slavery (General Order No. 3 pictured), makes its annual appearance on this list
4 Willie Mays 1,101,609 A five-tool player of baseball, the "Say Hey Kid" spent 23 seasons in the MLB, mostly with the New York / San Francisco Giants. He set many batting records and re-broke those that were topped (some were his own). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility, and died at age 93 on June 19.
5 House of the Dragon 1,040,776 After an award winning positively acclaimed first season, this prequel to Game of Thrones in the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise had its second season released last week.
6 Inside Out 2 1,000,470 Pixar returned to Inside Out, the story of the emotions running a teenage girl's head, to show said girl going through puberty and thus having anxiety and a few other emotions take over her mind during a hockey camp. Showcasing the company's propension for creative ideas, pretty visuals and making the audience want to cry, Inside Out 2 had great reviews and has already passed $500 million worldwide.
7 Deaths in 2024 993,693 "I was obsessed with not knowing what happened after you were dead. And I sat or kneeled for a whole day with my head against the wall, trying to figure it out. But I couldn't, and I just said, 'Okay.' And then it was nothingness." – #1
8 Bryson DeChambeau 951,174 On June 16, "The Scientist" won his second US Open golf tournament, finishing 6-under-par, one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy.
9 UEFA European Championship 805,418 #2 is the latest edition of this nations tournament. 10 countries have won, including two already dissolved (the Soviet Union in the very first, 1960, and Czechoslovakia in 1976) and two for Germany back when it was split in two.
10 Page 3 792,095 Reddit remembered the old tradition of English tabloids to include a topless girl on page 3. Pictured is one of the most famous of those, Keeley Hazell, who not only worked on Ted Lasso but is probably the reason why one of the show's main characters is a "Page 3 stunner" also named Keeley.

Exclusions

Most edited articles

For the May 24 – June 24 period, per this database report.

Title Revisions Notes
Legalism (Chinese philosophy) 2503 Another month, another thousand edits by FourLights to this article.
Deaths in 2024 1780 One of the two certainties in life, so an article that's always receiving new names and getting loads of views.
2024 United Kingdom general election 1149 The election campaign is heating up. Labour continue to hold a strong lead, but one opinion poll from the last week showed Reform UK taking second from the ruling Conservatives. This would be a major shock to the UK political scene. However, this was one poll, the rest of the polls show the Conservatives holding onto second, but by less than 10 percentage points. Sound like a lot? (Depending on what poll you look at) the Conservatives lead dropped by more than 10 percentage points in the three weeks before the 2017 UK general election. It's politics – anything can happen.
2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup statistics 1085 Numbers are seemingly a very important part of cricket.
2024 Indian general election 1040 The biggest election ever, leading to the Lok Sabha going mostly to N.D.A. and I.N.D.I.A. ("A monumentally weak name for a coalition! The first I in 'I.N.D.I.A.' stands for 'Indian'? It'd be like if the H in HBO stood for HBO!").
2024 NCAA Division I baseball tournament 971 College baseball held its playoffs, with the 2024 Men's College World Series in Omaha culminating in the first title for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 953 Imperator Furiosa got a movie telling her origin story, featuring both her child self (portrayed by Alyla Browne) kidnapped from The Green Place of Many Mothers, and her young adult self (Anya Taylor-Joy) who becomes the baddest bitch in The Wasteland. Furiosa doesn't stray away from the aesthetics and frantic action that made Mad Max: Fury Road so beloved, and has been warmly received by critics and audiences alike, albeit not bringing enough people to theaters given the box office earnings barely surpassed the $168 million budget. In any case, fans can only pray director George Miller lives long enough to make a proper fifth movie with Mad Max himself.
2024 French Open – Men's singles 949 Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish leader of the ATP rankings, won his third Grand Slam. And he should soon return to Stade Roland Garros given it will host the tennis tournament of the 2024 Summer Olympics.
2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 928 This year's tournament ain't quite the same with many low-scoring matches thanks to the new pitches of U.S. grounds, especially the one in NY.
UEFA Euro 2024 squads 880 The 624 footballers that represented their countries in the German fields.
Michael Mosley (broadcaster) 821 On June 5, while on holiday on the Greek island of Symi, this BBC journalist and ketogenic dieter began a two-mile walk alone back to where he and his wife were staying. He never made it there. His body was found four days later, as it appeared he took a wrong path. It is believed he died of natural causes.
Bigg Boss (Malayalam TV series) season 6 815 One of the Big Brothers of India, won by Jinto Bodycraft, a celebrity personal trainer and former Mister Kerala.
2024 South African general election 787 As the Indian election came to an end, another member of BRICS held their own election on May 29. The ANC of president Cyril Ramaphosa retained the majority of the votes, but the newly created MK of Jacob Zuma had a strong debut, finishing in third place.
List of foreign Primeira Liga players 753 Ligaventura95 is listing all the foreign footballers in the Portuguese league. Although the leading country, former colony Brazil (the ones that won a championship alone are 157!) currently has a redlink for a non-existing separate list in its section.
2024 Nuseirat rescue operation 682 While the Israel–Hamas war doesn't end, to the chagrin of everyone not named Benjamin Netanyahu, four hostages taken by Hamas during the attacks that started the war back in October were rescued from the Nuseirat refugee camp.



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