Proposals for closing projects/Deletion of Bulgarian Wikinews

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This is a proposal for closing and/or deleting a wiki hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is subject to the current closing projects policy.


The proposal is currently open for discussion by the community.

  • Explanation by the closing Langcom member: The initial discussion is closed. The proposal will stay open (but suspended) until we have had some time to see if a revival of the project is able to succeed. For LangCom: StevenJ81 (talk) 17:29, 22 October 2018 (UTC)

A question was raised on bgwiki's VP regarding the future of the Bulgarian Wikinews. The unanimous consensus seems that the project must be deleted if possible, or at the very least hard-closed (i.e. locked).

Here are the reasons to delete the project, as I see them:

  1. The project is, for all intents and purposes, completely abandoned. That nobody nowadays is there to write news however is the lesser evil.
  2. The only serious activity ever came from people spreading false and sensationalist ‘news’, de facto part of the Russian-sponsored campaign of disinformation and other locally-sponsored smear campaigns.
  3. As usual, these stories were buried in a stream of genuine news. Thus, the real problem is the lack of resources to control the news quality—and today we should know all too well how much work this is.
  4. The Bulgarian WMF community is practically the one in Wikipedia. The very same people support Wiktionary, Quote, Source, and Books. Keeping the quality even in Wikipedia alone is already quite a daunting task.
  5. Looking more broadly, Bulgaria is already facing serious problems with the freedom (and, by extension, the quality) of its media. Another source of bad journalism—whether intentional or not—is hardly needed.
  6. Considering how sensitive is the Bulgarian society over such problems today, a possible revelation of Wikinews as a source of fake news and smear campaigns would damage significantly all WMF projects' reputation.
  7. Last but not least, my personal opinion is that Wikinews is a broken concept by design. Good journalism requires professionalism, lots of resources, much better means of self-regulation than the ‘wisdom of the masses’, responsibility, accountability and so much more. It may work here and there, depending on the specific landscape, organization, people, etc., but in the general case there's little reason to believe that it would be better than the now infamous ‘news’ on Facebook.

Why a deletion is asked instead of closure? Even the existing ‘good’ content is already of very low quality. Not only the news stories themselves are lacking, but also in many places the interface is in Russian, apparently because templates have been copied from the Russian Wikinews and nobody bothered to translate them. And then of course we have all those false news, buried here and there. So, if that content is to stay online—and not continue causing serious embarrassment—someone will need to make the considerable effort to sift through the news, rewrite the genuine ones, fix those translations—and likely a bunch of other problems that will inevitably pop up. Honestly, I don't see anyone having that much time on their hands—and for an end result of questionable value.

In the light of all written above, I hope that this proposal will be accepted. It really isn't simply about what the Bulgarian community wishes. It's much more about acknowledging the realities of the world we live in today. Knowledge is a powerful tool—and that's why we are here—but as with any powerful tool, there are dangers as well. If we can't do good somewhere, let's at least make sure we do no evil either.
— Luchesar • T/C 12:14, 18 September 2018 (UTC)

Initial discussion (September–October 2018)[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
For the time being, I'm going to close the discussion. I'm leaving the proposal open (but suspended), and giving User:Григор Гачев 2–3 months to try to revive the project. I appreciate that there is skepticism that it will work at all, and that some people question whether Grigor will bring in objective contributors. Nevertheless, LangCom would prefer to see all options exhausted before choosing to close a project. Let's assume that on about 20 January 2019 we can assess whether there has been progress on this. StevenJ81 (talk) 17:29, 22 October 2018 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

@Iliev: It seems that currently langcom generally suggests soft-closure of inactive Wikinewses rather than technical closure. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 13:47, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
@Iliev and Liuxinyu970226: Under ordinary circumstances, we prefer soft-closure. A full closure may be appropriate here, though:
  • Iliev, please try to provide some specific examples of recent edits representing false or biased news.
Concerning deletion, though, it takes a lot to make us willing to delete a whole wiki. If we asked you to mark individual pages for deletion—not correction, simply deletion—could you do that? StevenJ81 (talk) 14:24, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
StevenJ81, thank you! I do actually understand the reluctance to delete projects: lots of potential technical issues and the decision cannot be simply undone if one day there's a change of mind. So I guess that, all things considered, locking the project may indeed be the best approach here.
Could I mark individual pages for deletion? To be honest, it would be much easier to mark the pages that need not be deleted. In the end, I guess I would be fine even with just locking the project, without deleting anything there—but let me better explain my point by presenting the case I had followed closely for years. It was actually an attempt to ‘merge’ Wikinews in Wikipedia, most likely because of the latter's stronger popularity.
It was a project named ‘Recent events’, which had been created initially on Wikinews a year earlier, in 2009-2010. There were numerous pushes to put the project, still sporting the Wikinews logo, on the main Wikipedia page. The visitor statistics, at the time compiled on stats.grok.se, were frequently mentioned in these discussions. 'Why isn't this on Wikinews, where it belongs?', 'Well, it needs to reach as many people as possible." For some time we considered it a mere nuisance: low-quality stories, sometimes sensationalist—but, hey, we've got so much else to do.
This is important: a news doesn't need to be blatantly fake in order to do damage. With this project, most stories were rather an example of 'bad journalism': not too reliable or unbiased sources, not too fair representation of the different points of view, not too accurately presented facts. Each such case could easily be blamed on editor inexperience or carelessness and looked relatively harmless. It was only the complete picture, once you saw the trend, that got really troubling. This means that pointing out the problematic stories on Wikinews requires someone to grasp that complete picture by reading through everything published there. And that's why I'd rather mark the few clearly 'not bad' ones (and I'd still need to double-check).
That project got deleted in the end, but at least one person behind it returned to edit in Wikinews, where I'm seeing they went as far as publishing some open call to the Bulgarian institutions—not connected to Wikipedia, thankfully, but nevertheless indicative of how Wikinews is perceived as a vehicle to publicize certain information or initiatives totally unchecked, even if not 'reaching that many people' (Wikinews is the only BG project, where I've not seen a single trustworthy editor in years).
So here are some really blatant examples from the project—they coincided with the general increase of such 'news' after the events in Ukraine in 2014. Had it not been for them, the other, less clearly manipulative stories in the project would have simply slipped under the radar, because even in Wikipedia the few volunteers can hardly find time to do the required extensive investigations (and the project was feverishly active at times).
This and the next one prompted a sources blacklist to be introduced. Since I investigated it personally, here are a few details. The linked ‘story’ was presented as an article from Der Tagesspiegel. However, we managed to find the original and there were an astonishing number of inconsistencies. The Bulgarian title said Merkel is forced to beg Erdogan to contain the migrants. But if Europe needs to kneel before someone for help, this is rather Moscow than Ankara, while the original was In the migrant crisis there are no good moves for the West. Merkel is again in Ankara, but probably the right person to talk to is Putin. An opinion. The article was presented as an editorial, which it wasn't. Most shocking was the conclusion—the text in Bulgarian [Europe] must kneel before Moscow and beg for help couldn't be found anywhere in the German original.
NB: I'm afraid some of the links don't work, as the project was—intentionally or not—rather technically complex, and the huge news stream timeouts on the attempts to restore it.
To conclude, to me it's a cost-benefit-risk analysis. The Bulgarian Wikinews has never produced anything of clear value and not shown even the slightest potential to do so. Even Wikipedia is struggling to find volunteers. There are serious problems with the media in Bulgaria. The whole region is known as a target for hybrid attacks. Finally, but most importantly, practically everyone who's not an editor can't tell the difference between Wikipedia, Wikimedia, and Wikinews.
If Wikinews is revealed as a source of bad information, it would be ‘Wikipedia’ in the ears of the majority. We'll damage one of the few enduring trusted, impartial, reliable sources of information in Bulgarian—and it shouldn't be necessary to explain how hard is such trust earned—for the zero benefit of keeping a project that for its more than 13 years of existence has only ever discredited itself and proved completely hopeless. Sorry for repeating myself, but I thought this was important to reiterate.
— Luchesar • T/C 14:00, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  • I've left a message on the talk page of all the top 20 (in)active editors, with at least 10 contributions to the main namespace. It seems just fair. --Nemo 17:46, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Just to note that the discussion in the Bulgarian community, held on bgwiki's VP, is going to proceed at least until 24th of October.
    — Luchesar • T/C 09:55, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
  • The argument that we already have too few real media in Bulgaria, and one more fake media is not needed, appears to me distorted. Having too few real media is precisely the reason why we need projects like the Bulgarian Wikinews. Deleting it is destroying one of the few last opportunities to have a real media. What we need instead is advertising it, so that a community is gradually created around it. The name of Wikinews will gather decent contributors much more easily than a completely new project.
The problem with having too few contributors to the Bulgarian Wikipedia, very few of them new, is well-known - as well as the main reason for it: the high skin thickness a new editor needs to remain there beyond the first-day warmth. I personally have recruited for the project at least a dozen of people, all of them chosen for being able to contribute with a quality, all of them driven away by some older editors in at most a couple of months, swearing to never try it again and spreading the word. (Some of them refused later to join the Bulgarian Wikinews, out of fear by association.) One of the reasons I abandoned Wikipedia years ago was this hazing of most newer editors.
Thanks to Nemo for informing the BG Wikinews contributors that the project is proposed to be closed / deleted. None of the editors who proposed that tried to notify any BG Wikinews editors in any way, despite that an editor who didn't proposed the deletion explicitly suggested that. (All of them know my talk page in Wikipedia; most also have my personal e-mail and/or phone.) The persistent trying of some Wikipedians to take the important decisions behind the backs of those who would be affected by them is another reason I stopped contributing to Wikipedia, and do not plan to return before I see this tendency gone for good. (To my shame, I have participated in some of that - but I learned my lesson.)
-- Григор Гачев (talk) 12:04, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
I understand what you're saying and I do empathize with how you may be feeling, even though my memories of the times we worked together—and those were good times—have managed to start fading. By the standards of Wikipedia I'm afraid I already begin feeling somewhat old and weary—and at that time I was still wet behind the ears. :-) It's amazing how fast the time flies, indeed.
And yet I think you're not fair. You say that the Bulgarian Wikinews is ‘one of the few last opportunities to have a real media’; that we just need to advertise it—and ‘decent contributors’ will gather. I won't directly argue with this—I feel there's at least some truth to it—but why has it not happened for those 13 years? Why, instead, had it been left to decay to such a miserable state?
People have been driven away. It does happen—I have had my own moments of doubt. It's sad, but it's also inevitable, I guess, with such a diverse and unorganized community. In the end, as people, we accept the need to make sacrifices for the things—and people, for that matter—that we care about. I wouldn't blame anyone who felt they couldn't strike that balance any longer. But it's also unfair to criticise those who stay—and continue making sacrifices—for being the ones who get to take decisions.
In any case, I appreciate your thoughts. My memories may fade, but I still remember—and with a bit of nostalgy—the times you were one of those wiki-gurus I venerated as a rookie. So we may disagree, but I'm glad to know how you see the things. And by the way, if you change your mind and decide to undertake resurrecting the project, I think I'll be quite reasonably content.
— Luchesar • T/C 16:04, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
Advertising Wikinews editorship didn't succeeded mostly because very few people did it (AFAIK one). If eg. the BG Wikipedia community had tried to help, the result might have been different. Now it will be harder than 5 years ago - I second the worry about the Russian information warfare, and the people disappointed by the Wikimedia Foundation projects because of their experience with trying to be editors are more now, the word about their unpleasant experience has spread much farther. And, given the situation within the BG Wikipedia project, I very much doubt that such an effort will be made.
The driving of people away is a bit of off-topic here, but indirectly contributed a lot to the lack of success of BG Wikinews, so I will give it a line. In the BG Wikipedia, it is far stronger than the "inevitable with such a diverse and unorganized community". Unless this problem is recognized in full, and measures are taken to address it that will be felt as drastic and excessive by most editors who contribute to the hazing, it will persist. Last time I checked, the number of highly active editors there was a few dozens. A tolerance and support at the level in the English Wikipedia would easily bring that number to several hundreds within the course of 2 to 5 years. However, achieving that in practice will take efforts that I consider impossible within the current community there. (The problem, I believe, lies not in a particular editor or set of editors, but rather in the community informal structure. That is precisely what makes it so persistent and hard to tackle. People can change, but the informal rules tend to persist.)
Unhappily, the problem of trying to take decisions behind the backs of the affected ones is part of the same social construct, and appears as present as when I stopped contributing. This voting is a prime example. As I said, all editors who proposed the deletion know that I happen to be the administrator of BG Wikinews. Even if it is defunct, it is only normal to get in touch with the editors before putting forth a closing proposal - noting that on the common talk page of a mostly inactive project is not expected to reach many. As a minimum, all of the editors behind the proposal know my Wikipedia talk page, and most have my e-mail and/or my phone. Also, any of you could do what Nemo did, it is not that hard. Why you didn't, to the point that he felt necessary to do it, even if too late?
As for resurrecting the project, I don't think I will be able to do it alone, and the current situation in the community does not give me any hope that I alone will be able to muster collaborators within a reasonable timeframe. A proposal to make a community campaign for finding BG Wikinews collaborators could be quite successful right now, as many decent and professional Bulgarian journalists have no free outlet now - but the editors behind the closing proposal chose the exactly opposite approach. Why, if I may ask?... In addition, the voting is already underway and most votes from the BG Wikipedians are for closing, so the project is not really salvageable anyway, even if one or two of them change their opinions. Even if the real motives behind the proposal are benign, the lack of a real attempt to contact the project editors while they could influence the discussion or the voting, and/or to propose better alternatives, has ensured the outcome.
Well, one BG Wikimedia project less, and one badly needed opportunity for a real BG media less. Hope the editors behind the closing proposal are proud with the result. :-(
-- Григор Гачев (talk) 17:36, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
BTW, you mention that "if you change your mind and decide to undertake resurrecting the project, I think I'll be quite reasonably content". Would you take the challenge to stop the closing proposal and to help organize instead a community campaign to attract decent journalists to writing in BG Wikinews? If it is not successful in, say, 3 months, I will also support a closing proposal. If it is successful, I will take the duty to cleanup and re-organize the project as needed, and to administrate it. Standing behind your words? :-) -- Григор Гачев (talk) 17:51, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
Grigor, are you in a position to demand that this proposal be withdrawn right away, especially with the unanimous consensus agreeing that the project cannot be opened any longer? Why not ask StevenJ81, whom I'm pinging right now, to extend the discussion right away? --George Ho (talk) 04:17, 15 October 2018 (UTC)
It saddens me to see that you perceived my words as a challenge; they were well-meaning and sincere. And it should already be clear why I wouldn't accept your challenge. Besides, it isn't exactly fair, too. You claim to be ‘the administrator of BG Wikinews’: I don't think this means entitlement to personal notifications; I'd rather expect this to be the person who actively takes care of the project—or at least monitors the village pump.
— Luchesar • T/C 07:45, 15 October 2018 (UTC)
Process note:
1. I'm in no hurry to close this, as long as real discussion is continuing. I will try to give at least five days notice before closing if I think things have really stopped.
2. I would state that LangCom's preliminary point of view is that invalid and biased material needs to be deleted, and that there is a possibility of a hard closure here because of ongoing problems with invalid and biased content. However, it is very unlikely that the entire database would be (effectively) deleted.
3. @Григор Гачев: I'm willing to put this on hold if you want to work at resurrecting the project. I would put a hold for two months, and if I see progress, I could extend that up to a third month. But this project does have serious problems, and LangCom will not leave this proposal open indefinitely. StevenJ81 (talk) 21:16, 15 October 2018 (UTC)
George Ho, could you please point where I demand withdrawing the proposal? I challenge its supporters with what looks to me a better proposal. There is quite a difference between these two things. I am a bit surprised that someone can mistake the one for the other. Could you please explain how I have left you with such a wrong impression?
StevenJ81, I am trying to discover the real motives behind the proposal for closing the project, in order to understand what actually happens and what I can and should do. Is the project suggested for closing only because it is inactive, or the real motive is different.
I offered instead an initiative about the project: to attract journalists who will make the project active and of a good quality. When most decent journalists in your country have no outlet for real journalism, this is very easy for Wikipedia editors - it suffices to spread some word among friends, it will reach the journalists very quickly. I also promised to put in all needed work to clean-up the project. I believe that it would be strange to kill it when reviving is easy. In addition, I promised that if project does not become viable in three months, I will agree to closing it.
I believe that such an initiative should get the support of everyone who is concerned actually about project viability and quality. However, what I see is that the supporters of the project closure are against it. This makes me think that, even if I would do what is needed to revive the project, I would meet an opposition from more than a few people. I cannot even imagine what the reasons for it might be, but it looks to me that their existence is proven by this opposition beyond a reasonable doubt. I openly ask what are the motives against reviving the project, but do not hope that I will get a believable answer.
In such a situation, I am not sure if I will be able to overcome the project detractors, even if you grant 2 or 3 months of existence to it, as I don't know what to expect. You might help me in this, by joining my question why the initiative to attract experienced journalists and revive the project is being rejected by the supporters of the closure. A direct answer to this might help the evaluation what exactly is the problem that they see. Then, you will be able to decide if an attempt to do this has any chances, and to grant and extension, or there is no chance, and the project can only be closed.
Thank you in advance for any help on this! -- Григор Гачев (talk) 18:11, 16 October 2018 (UTC)
Here's what you said: "Would you take the challenge to stop the closing proposal". If it's not a demand, then it's a "challenge", right? If so, then I apologize. --George Ho (talk) 20:40, 16 October 2018 (UTC)
Moreover, here's an advice once the project becomes either hard-closed or deleted. Grigor, if you want to revive the project, you can create "Bulgarian Wikinews 2" via Incubator and then, if there are enough editors, propose a re-creation via Requests for new languages. Why is it that hard? --George Ho (talk) 22:11, 16 October 2018 (UTC)
I guess I need to make a few things clear.
  • "Votes" at project creation and project closure pages are advisory. The Language Committee decides whether projects are created or closed. It does not matter, for example, that most people writing on this page favor a closure, at minimum. If LangCom chooses not to close the project, it won't close.
  • At this point in history, LangCom has a strong bias against (hard) closing of projects. It closed projects at an earlier point in history when more were saturated with spam. These days, for the most part, automatic systems, in conjunction with the SWMT, tend to prevent that from happening.
  • Additionally, LangCom has a bias against closing projects that might then be resurrected and recreated. Closing and opening wikis is a lot of work; on the whole, LangCom prefers not to waste time and energy on such work. (Wikinews projects, unfortunately, are more problematic than the others when it comes to letting them sit idle. But on most of these, we've preferred a "soft close". Whether that would work here I don't know.)
Accordingly, if @Григор Гачев wants to take a real crack at fixing this project, we're inclined to give him some time to do that.
That having been said, Grigor, I would encourage you to go back and look at Luchesar's reasoning, which is here.
  • Even if I give you 100% benefit of the doubt with respect to items 1, 3 and 4—and I do—items 2, 5 and 6 don't go away so easily. Item 2 is likely to heat up as you gear up with 1, 3 and 4. Are you prepared to address that?
  • Item #7 is not directly about this project, but it's a serious issue, and one that makes it harder, for example, to protect a project from problems like item 2. Anyone can come here and edit, and until they "cross over the line", they are entitled to a point of view, just like you are.
Successfully resurrecting Bulgarian Wikinews is not something impossible, I don't think. But it will be hard, and will take a lot of ongoing effort. If you're willing to put in that effort, we're willing to give you the time to do so. But I think the near-unanimous point of view of contributors here speaks, if nothing else, to just how big a challenge you will be facing. StevenJ81 (talk) 22:44, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

(flush left, but continuing the topic)

George Ho, closing and then re-opening a project is that hard because, as StevenJ81 said, it is: a) a significant amount of work for the admins, and b) an incubator project will attract far less contributors than an official one. In such a situation, working to revive an existing project is the way to try and save it, and working to close and re-open it is the way to try and bury it.

StevenJ81, here is how I see the things:

  • If only I try to attract quality contributors, some will come in 2-3 months, but reaching over a dozen - I see this as a minimum for a healthy project - might take up to an year. If all concerned for that project - for example, all who voted for closing it because it is abandoned etc - try and help attracting good contributors just by spreading the word, in 3 months we will have well over a dozen. The latter will be a successful restart of the project. The former will require extra patience from you - I don't know if you will be willing to give it.
In addition, no newcomer - in fact, no editor at all - contributes perfect things. Wikis achieve quality through collaboration, which in turn requires numbers. If the people I can attract will be met too soon with a barrage of demands for perfectness, they may be driven away instead of being left to learn the ropes at a realistic rate. I want to understand the real motives of the supporters of the closure proposal in order to know what to expect at this, and thus what to tell you about the chances of the project revival.
  • Item 1 from the Reasons is only relevant if the choices are to leave the project as it is or to close it. When there is a choice to revive the project through attracting new editors, it is of far smaller importance.
  • Item 2 is a real concern for me, as the sensationalist propaganda and the smear campaigns are very active these days, and are often backed by big resources. I am ready to invest my efforts, and I know other people who would be happy to help too. I do not hope to achieve always perfect response, but the project will likely become able to maintain acceptable level of defense against the fake news relatively quickly.
  • Item 3 is in fact a part of Item 2, and thus has the same perspective.
  • Item 4 is one of the reasons why we need other projects who can attract different editors. A project like BG Wikinews, which is going to appeal to editors different from these in Wikipedia, appears to be well-suited as an attempt for a solution to this problem. Thus, this is actually a reason to keep the project.
  • Item 5 is the central reason why I want to preserve BG Wikinews. We have plenty of bad media and very few real media, and BG Wikinews is in the unique position to be able to join the real media, having the resources of WMF behind it - platform independent of those who own almost all BG media, stewarding experience, fame etc. Creating an alternative good media out of nothing will require amount of resources that, frankly, isn't available here to people who are interested in creating a real media. Whether BG Wikinews will be a source of bad or good journalism depends on us. I believe that we are able to foster the good and drive out the bad journalism there. Even if I turn out wrong, we would have at least tried, which in such a situation is very important - I believe that this makes it worth the effort.
  • Item 6 depends entirely on the notion that BG Wikinews will become a source of bad journalism. If it shows good journalism, which I believe that we can achieve, we will have the opposite effect - increasing the reputation of all WMF projects here, including the BG Wikipedia.
  • Item 7 is a personal opinion, and thus I can offer only my personal opinion against it.
Creating an encyclopaedia apparently requires way more professionalism and elitism than writing news. Yet, Wikipedia thrived exactly through allowing the non-professionals to contribute. It is the original project (Nupedia), who was intended to be written by the best professionals, that failed... Item 2, while a very serious concern by itself, doesn't have a very strong influence to the "professionalism" aspect, simply because the professionalism is not an absolute demand in the wiki projects. They achieve quality through collaboration instead of creator eliteness.

-- Григор Гачев (talk) 14:32, 17 October 2018 (UTC)

"working to close and re-open it is the way to try and bury it," said Grigor. You don't think it applies to Dutch Wikinews, does it? It was hard-closed in 2010 but then revived seven years later, i.e. in 2017, because of increasing activity over the years. FWIW, the closure occurred before the closing projects policy existed. George Ho (talk) 00:03, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Two notes:
  1. What you can write in Wikipedia is controlled by the requirement for verifiability. News, however, by definition is ‘original research’. You need to trust it (or not), because you can't verify it—at least not in the sense you can in Wikipedia. In fact, verifiability on Wikipedia itself relies on this very level of trust in the sources. Trust, however, means responsibility and, by extension, professionalism, so saying that ‘[c]reating an encyclopaedia apparently requires way more professionalism and elitism than writing news’ seems to me like a gross underestimation of the importance of that responsibility. You effectively say that writing news requires way less professionalism than writing encyclopaedia articles, and I find this rather worrying.
  2. If the project is indeed so vitally important, why has all that planning not already been put into action? The notions of ‘barrage of demands for perfectness’ that could've hindered it don't seem too substantiated—otherwise the project wouldn't have been filled with rubbish. And surely removing that rubbish shouldn't have been expected to draw such demands—but it hasn't been done either. I'm trying hard to assume good faith, but many things really don't make sense.
    — Luchesar • T/C 08:18, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
People who are not edited in Wikinews have no right to vote for Wikinews. --Stanqo (talk) 15:45, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
George Ho, closing an then re-opening a project in principle is not necessarily a way to bury it. However, closing and then re-opening the BG Wikinews in the current situation is a way to bury it. That is why I refer in the quoted words to it, and not to eg. any project in principle. And the closing projects policy has nothing to do with that.
Luchesar, it is true that encyclopaedias have slightly different requirements than news. However, most of the requirements are by essence the same.
For one thing, most of the news in the modern outlets aren't original research, but are compiled by materials from other sources - news outlets, published documents, official or unofficial statements of people who are significant in the news context, etc. Disclosing these sources plays the same role as in encyclopaedias, with the same consequences about the level of trust, and has to be considered in exactly the same sense. Even if BG Wikinews becomes limited to sourced news only, it can still be a very useful media, esp. in the current Bulgarian situation.
The original research news also have at least one source - the editor who published it. This source gains or loses trust exactly like any other source does. It is true that the first few original research news by an editor will need an increased scrutiny by both the administrators and the readers, but the same is valid about an encyclopaedic article with new source(s). So far, a news article and an encyclopaedia article have the same requirements and require the same level of professionalism. It is just that encyclopaedias are by design only secondary and tertiary information sources, while news can be primary too.
There is however an important difference - the actuality of an article. With news, the actuality duration is usually in the number of few hours to few days, rarely more than a week. With encyclopaedias, the actuality duration is usually years or even decades, rarely less (almost only in recent events). News initially attract more attention than new encyclopaedic articles, but die to the far longer actuality a bad encyclopaedic article will usually have eventually more negative effect than a bad news article. In both cases, a degree of non-perfectness is unavoidable, but in news the harm from an equally big non-perfectness is usually smaller. This is not to say that we should not strive for quality there - just an explanation why writing encyclopaedias usually require higher level of professionalism than writing news.
There was no attempt to restart the BG Wikinews project for a long time because none of the BG Wikimedia community gave a thought about it. In short, it is mostly my fault. After a long lack of incoming news and a community there, I had simply forgotten about Wikinews, missing the buildup of bad and fake news, and the gradual changes in the real world journalism in Bulgaria. I am ready to take my responsibility for this. As a start, I offer to relinquish the administratorship of the project after it is successfully revived.
As for the demands for perfectness, I have seen them in a place other than Wikinews. My personal evaluation is that they achieve a short-term improvement of the content quality, but in long term result in driving away a big number of editors who would otherwise gradually learn to maintain acceptable quality. This decreases the number of the editors, resulting in turn in a loss of quality - far bigger in longer term than the short-term improvement. (As I said in a previous comment, wikis rely for achieving quality not on the perfectness of an editor, but on the number of editors.) Eventually, the result is that the project community consists mostly of elite editors, who however are very few and find taxing and stretching the effort to protect the project from vandalism, incompetence and other reasons for low quality.
There is however something that I very similarly try to assume good faith about, but something doesn't make sense to me. Some Wikipedians noticed the failing quality of the BG Wikinews, and that incensed them - rightly so, I feel the same way after seeing where the project has gone. However, I fail to understand how is that their almost unanimous reaction was to close the project instead of to attract editors and revive it - especially given that in the current situation the latter will be far easier than it would be, say, 5 years ago. It appears to me even stranger that, when pointed to the obviousness and the realistic achievability of the idea to revive the project, and the desire of someone to work for it, nobody among them changes their position. Frankly and directly, I cannot understand this decision, and hence I do not know what to think about it and what to expect, should I try to go ahead and attract editors. That is why I want to know the motives of those who insist on closing the project and not doing anything to help it instead, no matter how little, before I start to work on it again. Call me stupid, but to me the motives for such an attitude aren't self-explanatory.
Stanqo, I can understand the concern of some Wikipedians. Most of them are very experienced editors with a lot of contributions. Also, this vote is not binding. My strictly personal opinion is that they should better be able to vote in this case, even if some of them don't have contributions to the project.
-- Григор Гачев (talk) 21:04, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Seems that in December 2018, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will launch a Bulgarian service. When it is launched, I will request a license agreement to use content from Bulgarian RFE/RL service on Bulgarian Wikinews and verify the content of the wiki (see my alternative proposal below). More information here: [1] --Agusbou2015 (talk) 14:59, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
Григор Гачев,
  1. Now you say ‘the requirements are by essence the same’ for Wikipedia and Wikinews. 24 hours earlier you were claiming that Wikipedia required ‘way more professionalism and elitism’. What made you change your mind so quickly?
  2. It is true that there is a concept of ‘sources’ in the news as well. But verifiability is a strict requirement on Wikipedia, while with the news many times you might not even want to disclose your sources („X spoke to us on condition of anonymity“) and other times the sources might not be verifiable from readers' standpoint (e.g. you were given access as an accredited journalist). So no, it's not the same as with Wikipedia at all.
  3. You downplay the effect of bad news because of their supposedly shorter ‘actuality duration’. I guess you mean that news from 2014, for example, is not that relevant today. Sure, it may not be that relevant to our present lives, but for a Wikipedia article that covers events from 2014 it is that very news from 2014—good or bad, true or fake—that you'll rely on, more often than not. Some events may later be revisited or even revised by the media, but that's by no means guaranteed.
  4. What you are now proposing hasn't been attempted, you say, because ‘none of the BG Wikimedia community gave a thought about it’. Let me surprise you, Grigor. Actually, that was discussed many times, especially at the peak of the fake news campaign on Wikipedia. It was also discussed in the Wikimedians of Bulgaria user group, including on the national Wikiconference in late 2016.
    But my question was about you. You claim it's very doable—if only it weren't for this proposal—so why had you not ever tried it earlier?
  5. By the way, I'm not trying to blame you for being inactive here; I'm rather wondering if what has so far been stopping you—if not from attracting those journalists, then at least from clearing the garbage—isn't actually still present.
  6. Speaking of which, I just realized that most of the ‘news’ from speshno.info—that anonymous site—have been uploaded by Ботчо. If I'm not mistaken, this happens to be your bot...
  7. Finally, interesting how Stanqo shows up at this exact time. Your exchange with him was sweet. I guess you don't know that he was the main driving force (though hardly the mastermind) behind the fake news on Wikipedia.
Overall, I'm afraid that I'm seeing evasiveness, vague explanations, logical fallacies, shifting positions, inappropriate melodramaticism, all combined with some, let's say, thought-provoking coincidences. There are actually more things that bother me, but I don't want to turn my comments into walls of text as well. For now, if anything, you've only managed to strengthen my scepticism and raise even further questions.
— Luchesar • T/C 18:52, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

Votes[edit]

Seeing that people begin supporting one solution or another, I'll take the liberty to describe the three main such solutions. Please do correct me if I'm wrong.
  1. deletion, meaning that the project will effectively cease to exist on the internet (technically, its content will still be available in the form of XML backups);
  2.  hard-closure: the project stays on the internet, but cannot be edited anymore, except by certain groups of users with global rights, like stewards, staff, etc.;
  3. soft-closure: the project stays on the internet and can be edited, but its main page is replaced with a notice, explaining that the project is inactive.
    In the case with deletion, there's also the question whether the project goes to Incubator or is completely discarded.
    — Luchesar • T/C 15:15, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  4. (added) leave open (or oppose) is still an option on the table. StevenJ81 (talk) 22:57, 16 October 2018 (UTC)
Oppose deletion. Better solution is moving it to Incubator. --Agusbou2015 (talk) 15:47, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
Support deletion. This wiki deserves to be deleted. --Agusbou2015 (talk) 15:51, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
Support soft closure of the wiki, without deleting or moving it to Incubator. --Agusbou2015 (talk) 15:55, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
Agusbou2015, could you please elaborate on your reasons to support soft-closure? I see that you've voted on a few such discussions. Are you familiar with bgnews specifically, or is it that you have general reservations about hard-closures?
— Luchesar • T/C 14:44, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  1. Full closure. --Rumensz (talk) 16:19, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
  2. Full closure.--Uroboros (talk) 22:15, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
  3. Full closure. In my opinion this project is broken by design simply because it is news site can never be Neutral Neutral hence the very existence of Wikinews is against one of the fundamental principles. That Wikinews requires well coordinated team of professionals and we don't have any team to take care of Bulgarian Wikinews is secondary yet very strong argument for closure. (14:34, 19 September 2018 (UTC)) The above comment was mine. I didn't notice I wasn't logged in meta. I'd be happy if the IP address is deleted if possible. --Сале (talk) 14:36, 19 September 2018 (UTC)
    Re-formatted list into numbers. George Ho (talk) 19:43, 19 September 2018 (UTC)
    IP address hidden. StevenJ81 (talk) 13:15, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  4. Support hard closure, the currently bgwikinews is a lot of mess. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 11:21, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
    Can you Please clarify that you're supporting full closure or soft closure? --117.14.250.18 02:44, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
  5. Support Deletion (if possible), else Closure. It's not supported since a lot of time, and the community do not have enough resources to keep it in good condition. There are a lot of non-NPOV news and ones from unreliable sources, created for advertising purposes. If it's closed, upon a community decision we can delete the non-NPOV news and the ones from unreliable sources. --StanProg (talk) 11:25, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
    Indeed, hard-closing the project and then beginning to slowly remove the problematic content sounds like a very reasonable alternative if deletion wouldn't be an option.
    — Luchesar • T/C 14:44, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
    On second thought, as I realized that a locked wiki can only be edited by users with global rights, it's likely not going to be a particularly smooth process. The stewards are usually overloaded with work and I suspect they might not be too happy if they had to decide whether a particular news story is coming from a reliable source, whether it is NPOV enough, etc.—especially considering that none are likely to know Bulgarian and/or be familiar with the local specifics concerning the media landscape (e.g. the concentration of power and the smear campaigns). So, I don't know; probably deleting right away everything that's not absolutely clearly okay is the more realistic approach.
    — Luchesar • T/C 15:25, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  6. Support Deletion (if possible), else Hard-closure.--Алиса Селезньова (talk) 16:50, 20 September 2018 (UTC)
  7. Support closure with a big red banner on every page that says something along the lines of "YMMV". Alexis Jazz (talk) 03:47, 25 September 2018 (UTC)
    In addition to that, enabling something so Bing/Google/etc won't index the project anymore would also be fine with me. Alexis Jazz (talk) 03:38, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
  8. Support Deletion or Hard-closure. The risks of bias when one (or even a few) editor/s are taking care of the news were discussed back in 2016 when Портал:Текущи събития was deleted.--Ket (talk) 07:06, 26 September 2018 (UTC)
  9. Support Deletion and hard closure. BG Wikinews has always been a dead horse, and the right thing to do is finally dismount–and bury–it. Spiritia 19:44, 1 October 2018 (UTC)
  10. Based on the information above, deletion is appropriate: we don't usually delete the database itself, so it's not irreversible, either. Based on stats:wikinews/EN/Sitemap.htm, it's the 4th least visited Wikinews, so the deletion or closure is not going to affect many; moreover, the wiki was last active (with 3 or more active editors) on December 2009. On the other hand, a spot check with Special:Random showed a lot of articles from before 2010, mostly by Seraphita~bgwikinews, which seem to be uncontroversial, often based on French-language sources or archived in cc-by-sa from speshno.info, where they seem to have since disappeared. So I also support closure with mass deletion/blanking of all articles created after a certain cut-off date, for instance September 2010 (the last month when at least 2 users were active and not just occasionally), or whatever other date the Bulgarian speakers find appropriate. This would achieve the purpose while allowing the other sister projects and the whole Bulgarian community to learn from the discussions and history of the project, in the spirit of Keep history. --Nemo 17:38, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
    At least some of the contributions of Seraphita~bgwikinews may be copyvios. Some may be further flawed—even rubbish—as the editor was known for their erratic behaviour. These concerns were raised by well-respected colleagues in the community who were active at the time, so I trust their judgement. As for speshno.info, this is exactly one of those completely anonymous sites with bad reputation: it's unclear who's behind it, where they source their stories from, are there any editorial policies, etc.
    — Luchesar • T/C 09:50, 14 October 2018 (UTC)
  11. Oppose. See my alternative proposal below. --Agusbou2015 (talk) 15:41, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

Alternative proposal[edit]

On December 2018, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) will launch (actually, reopen) a Bulgarian service.[1] I request a license agreement to reuse RFE/RL Bulgarian service content to Bulgarian Wikinews. I propose temporary soft closure of the wiki until impending launch of the service. --Agusbou2015 (talk) 15:27, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

If we go that route (even in part), I wouldn't soft close for just a month. In any case, if any of the ideas discussed here to keep the project going happen, someone will have to go in and start cleaning up infrastructure (like templates in Russian). And I'd suggest that anyone interested in trying to keep the project open actually start doing that now. StevenJ81 (talk) 15:59, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
Indeed. Given the concern of the proposers is about "bad content" existing in the wiki, an alternative proposal should start with concrete local work towards deletions (either by speedy deletion or other means). Otherwise one is just denying the need for action (which is a legitimate opinion, mind you; just not an alternative solution for the same goal). --Nemo 16:43, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, Agusbou2015; the proposal would become invalid. According to "Use Our Content", "The sale of RFE/RL content, however, is strictly prohibited." In other words, they would not agree to any license that allows commercial use without sufficient restrictions, like CC-BY, which many Wikinews sites use. George Ho (talk) 17:10, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
Furthermore, even when the proposal is not considered "invalid", copying its content and licensing it under CC-BY require permission from RFE/RL. Otherwise, doing so without sufficient permission is copyright infringement. --George Ho (talk) 17:22, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
Agusbou2015, George Ho is right about their policy. However, I would still try and ask if they will make an exception for Wikinews and will allow re-licensing under CC-BY all or some of their news. If they are asked with the right arguments, they might find some motivation to do it. The hope is slim, but it is worth trying. If I can be of use for that, I'd be glad to.
StevenJ81, does that count as a confirmation that the project will have 2-3 months of time to try surviving? Otherwise, it would be a waste of work to cleanup the project in a week or two, only to have it closed a day after the cleanup is finished. -- Григор Гачев (talk) 17:33, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

References

  1. "RFE/RL Expands To Bulgaria, Romania". RFE/RL. Retrieved 2018-10-19. 

The above discussion is preserved as an archive. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Subsequent comments[edit]

For the time being, further comments are welcome at this point on the page. Let's not start new !votes yet, please. StevenJ81 (talk) 17:29, 22 October 2018 (UTC)
  • It is only fair to give the proposed plan to revive the project a chance. I may be sceptical about it, but what matters in the end is that the problem with Wikinews is solved—one way or another. What constitutes ‘success’ in such endeavours may be a matter of interpretations, but IMHO one thing is indisputable: it should be a dynamic, persisting condition, not an isolated snapshot. In other words, even if after three months we see reasonable activity in the project, and even if that activity doesn't seem malevolent, the only way to guarantee the project well-being in the long term is by constant attention and care. And even though I've already stated that many of us are overloaded with wikiwork, I guess I'll bite the bullet, applying for adminship on the project.
    — Luchesar • T/C 12:03, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
No need until RfA at bgwikinews is complete. As long as it's run seven days, stewards will act promptly. StevenJ81 (talk) 14:35, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
Indeed, that's how I've always proceeded with the requests on the other projects. But nevertheless thanks, George Ho, I really appreciate your active stance on the fate of this project. :)
— Luchesar • T/C 15:44, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
(Nearly) Three days passed after the voting ended with unanimous consensus favoring your request. George Ho (talk) 07:59, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
George Ho, yes, thank you! I'm afraid I've got some critical things to finish in my job these days. They already got delayed by some recent changes to MediaWiki that broke the editing toolbars on bgwiki, and these needed urgent fixing. And perhaps more importantly, I also anticipate somewhat difficult negotiations with the stewards concerning the indef rights—I'm really not willing to accept only temporary ones—so I want to be able to properly concentrate on the likely long discussion.
— Luchesar • T/C 08:26, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
In short, I plan to take care of this on the weekend.
— Luchesar • T/C 08:27, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
@Iliev and George Ho: The stewards are not going to give you permanent rights. Don't waste your time. What you may be able to convince them to do—and my endorsement with the stewards would probably help—is to give you a full year term as an admin right away (instead of starting you off at 3 months or 6 months). StevenJ81 (talk) 16:07, 9 November 2018 (UTC)