Talk:Bassel Khartabil/Banner

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I think it's a bit too long. Shorter banners are more likely to have an impact. Also, mentioning Amnesty International may be counter-productive in some areas of the world, like the US and Israel. Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 15:59, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Added alternative 5 to address both concerns. Ijon (talk) 16:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
5 is a good alternative. Either works fine for me. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 16:33, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Well done, all. I support #5 as a CN banner. -Pete F (talk) 18:03, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I like either 5 or 6. Would be great if there was an action we could link to as well. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 20:21, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps link to http://freebassel.org as well? --Varnent (talk)(COI) 20:28, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I've marked this page up for translation so this may be used on projects in other languages. Joe Sutherland (WMF) (talk) 16:36, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

suggest action[edit]

None of the current alternatives will result in mass action AFAICT. The Amnesty news story unfortunately doesn't link to or include the suggestions in http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa22015.pdf -- could we have a page replicating those suggestions and make the banner have a strong call to take them? Mike Linksvayer (talk) 17:46, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Mass action is a worthy goal, but I'm not sure that's what has been under discussion (yet). I believe the current goal is more like "raise awareness."
Mike Linksvayer, can you copy those suggestions onto this wiki page so we can consider incorporating them more directly? (Sorry, I'm on mobile and between meetings, so PDF is tough.) -Pete F (talk) 18:06, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I'd encourage consideration of mass action as goal. Raising awareness will make lots of people sad and only very indirectly lead to action which could help free Bassel. If the SOPA protest had only made people scared but not given them an action, it wouldn't have had nearly as huge an impact. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 18:28, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Peteforsyth copied suggestions to #amnesty_call_to_action below. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 18:58, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Action, maybe we do not know what. By indicating that people like us are the victims, we achieve the one thing that is so relevant.. They are people like us! Thanks, GerardM (talk) 18:40, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
The Wikimedia-related initiative apparently closest to his life's work is New Palmyra, perhaps we should mention it in some way.--Pharos (talk) 18:47, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
The more info we want to include, the stronger the case is for creating a more thorough wiki page in addition to a concise banner.
Mike Linksvayer, while I agree that a strong and well-thought-out call to action would be better, let's not forget two closely related points:
  1. Identifying the right "action" and message takes a good deal of work, and
  2. Gaining consensus for a call to action is much more complex than gaining a consensus for disseminating information.
An important thing to remember about SOPA is that it took a concerted push from the WMF institutionally, and Jimmy Wales and his personal sway, to achieve the (at least alleged, but oft-contested) consensus necessary to take such a drastic action. I do not believe comparable resources are lined up in this instance. I also don't know what the necessary timeframe is (which I guess is part of the problem -- none of us does), but I'd hate to get caught up in a wordsmithing and consensus-building process that takes weeks, only to learn that it was in some way too late to make an impact at all.
TL;DR: If we want to be more ambitious (persuading communities to approve specific calls to action), I think we at least need somebody who will commit to driving the process. Who might that be? Is there a volunteer? -Pete F (talk) 21:09, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

archive of #4[edit]

Whoever improved on my #4 with #5 did a good job; to keep things moving forward, I've removed #4 from the main page and am archiving it here. -Pete F (talk) 18:02, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Amnesty International reports that our fellow Wikipedian <tvar|bassellink>Bassel Khartabil</> [<tvar|amnestylinknl>http://www.amnesty.nl/nieuwsportaal/pers/syria-fears-life-free-expression-advocate</> may have been sentenced to death] by the Syrian government. His work in advancing freedom of expression and access to information is believed to be the cause for his imprisonment. Wikimedia community members seek news about his fate, and call for his immediate release. #FreeBassel
"cause of his imprisonment", no?--Pharos (talk) 18:25, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Audience: Wikimedians or general public?[edit]

Is the primary audience for this message supposed to be the Wikimedia community or the general public? If the latter, we might want to be careful about jargon like "Wikipedian", which is not immediately obvious to everyone.--Pharos (talk) 18:23, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

The audience is the world. It is the first time that one of our own may die for the values that we cherish. As it is such an outrage, it needs to be on Central Notice. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 18:38, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Though the circumstances were quite different and speculating on causation is challenging, I'd be cautious about neglecting the legacy of Aaron Swartz. Apart from that detail, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, Gerard. And Pharos, you make a good point. Would "Wikipedia writer" do? Edit on the main page? -Pete F (talk) 21:12, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

amnesty call to action[edit]

Copied from http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa22015.pdf with "possibly sentenced to death" added. If we were to include call to action in message, more tweaking probably warranted, especially of suggested tweets. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 18:55, 24 November 2015 (UTC)


Please write immediately in English, Arabic or your own language:

  • Expressing concern that Bassel Khartabil has been detained incommunicado at an unknown location since 3 October, possibly sentenced to death, and urging the Syrian authorities to grant him immediate access to his family, a lawyer of his choice, and any medical attention he may require;
  • Calling on them to release Bassel Khartabil if he has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on them to ensure that Bassel Khartabil is protected from torture and other ill-treatment.

Send appeals to:

Permanent Representative to the UN
Bashar Ja’afari, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
820 Second Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: +1 212 983 4439
E-mail: exesec.syria@gmail.com
Salutation: Your Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying)

(If fax does not go through, please include your message to the president in an email to the Ambassador, asking for it to be forwarded)

Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Defence
General Fahd Jassem al-Freij
Fax: +963 11 223 7842 (keep trying)
+963 11 666 2460 (keep trying)
Salutation: Your Excellency

(If fax does not go through, please include your message to the Minister of Defence in an email to the Ambassador, asking for it to be forwarded)

Also send copies to:

H.E. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212 983 4439
Phone: 212 661 1313
Email: exesec.syria@gmail.com

You may also wish to send the following tweets:

#disappeared since 3 October @Presidency_Sy where is Bassel khartabil? #syria #freebassel
@Presidency_Sy whereabouts of Bassel Khartabil must be made known #syria #freebassel

Linking to external websites[edit]

We need to make sure that we link to a call of action or further information about Bassel in a responsible manner. The traffic that a CentralNotice banner might direct to a website is quite capable of bringing down whole servers, as I myself have experienced when creating campaigns in the past. I think the best way to avoid this problem is to create a page hosted on a Wikimedia server — such as a page on this wiki — and link to that. Coincidentally, this is exactly what was done during the SOPA/PIPA protest, and it worked quite well. odder (talk) 23:15, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Landing page[edit]

I wrote Free Bassel, but need to get some sleep now. Further refinements and suggestions welcome; just feel free to edit.

Would be great if someone volunteered to design the banners. odder (talk) 01:29, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Thank you odder, great job. I made one small tweak to which petition the link points there. There is one on the main website for the campaign, and it doesn't use Change.org (which - I have a very hard recommending our folks use given their bad track record and increasingly bad reputation with activists). --Varnent (talk)(COI) 02:35, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
An excellent page -- thank you odder! I made a few tweaks, but I think it is ready to go. One question -- I do not know his username. Might it be worthwhile to list it and link it on the page? In addition to more immediately impactful activities, I can imagine people wanting to leave notes, barnstars etc. for him to view upon his safe return. -Pete F (talk) 02:52, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I have also been wondering about Bassel's Wikipedia username. Does anybody know? --Jojit (talk) 10:02, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I have posted at least one concept design - and encourage others to do so as well. I can help code the actual banner if needed. I encourage folks to not assume the text will be graphic based as that makes translating and other options very difficult to manage. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 03:36, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, @Greg, this is great progress. I really like both designs. In terms of the strength of the message, I think #2 is just this little bit more powerful because of the button; "Act now" linking to that section of the page is a very direct and specific call for action. Please do feel free to code the banner – we can always tweak all the details later. Personally I'm going to request translation of that page into Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese as a matter of priority (based on their usage by the UN and their popularity in the world.) Thanks all for your work on this, odder (talk) 05:02, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree -- both look excellent, slightly prefer #2. -Pete F (talk) 05:19, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Odder and Varnent: Is there any chance we can link to the WMF blog post about Bassel as well? It has more context than the Amnesty post, it's an in-house source (so we don't have to warn people that we're sending them to a webpage owned by a different party), and I personally think we should point to a source that emphasizes his status as a Wikipedian. I can expand the post's paragraph on the death sentence if needed. Best, Ed Erhart (WMF) (talk) 06:54, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
We can, and I agree on all counts, although I was thinking of writing a new blog post altogether when I get home in the evening. Please feel free to write a draft if you want though! (As I'm on mobile now.) odder (talk) 07:08, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
That sounds good to me. I have started initial work on coding. I have more to do around the button, but it's a start: Special:CentralNoticeBanners/Edit/freebassel_2015 (preview) - I will play around with it more in the morning. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 08:16, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Odder: I'm certainly open to an entirely new post. Let's talk off-wiki about it—the initial blog post is very carefully worded, and we'd have to do the same with a new post. @Varnent: Thank you very much! Ed Erhart (WMF) (talk) 19:23, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Odder and Ed Erhart (WMF): I would hope that a post authored by a community member might be somewhat less restricted in what wording is acceptable, than a post under the byline of the WMF Director of Communications -- no? -Pete F (talk) 21:52, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: You've misunderstood me—it was carefully worded because we'd like to make sure we don't cause any more harm to Bassel. Ed Erhart (WMF) (talk) 19:43, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
@Ed Erhart (WMF): Ah, understood (now). Thanks. -Pete F (talk) 19:49, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: No worries! Happy Thanksgiving. Ed Erhart (WMF) (talk) 21:12, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

No banner[edit]

Is having no banner at all an option? --Jakob (talk) aka Jakec 13:15, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

I believe it should be an option indeed, and I will start a straw poll seeking the community's opinion on this matter (banners vs. no banners) later today. Stay tuned! odder (talk) 15:50, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Jakob, @Pete, @Richard: I have now started Free Bassel/Straw poll — your help in improving the language and bringing the format of the straw poll to a higher standard is highly appreciated. If we can manage to do this tonight, I'll make sure that an invitation is sent to all Wikipedia village pumps asking people for their involvement and their opinions. odder (talk) 19:22, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for making the poll. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:03, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Odder: Thanks for making the poll. For ease of counting, shouldn't the votes be numbered instead of bulleted, though? --Jakob (talk) aka Jakec 22:18, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
@Jakob: Yes, they should -- I'll change the few that have been cast so far. Thanks for getting involved with this! odder (talk) 22:19, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Death sentence wording[edit]

@Varnent: I'd like to suggest that in Alternative 7 (and in the two banner concepts based on it), that the phrase "may face death penalty" be replaced with "may face a death sentence", which would seem to flow more naturally.--Pharos (talk) 15:38, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

This is now done, by the way. odder (talk) 19:18, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean, I suggested a small grammatical change, and that hasn't happened (not that it necessarily should happen, both phrasings might be appropriate).--Pharos (talk) 19:34, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Sorry - that was my bad. :) It's back to your suggestion again. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 19:41, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
To clarify, I think "may face the death penalty" and "may face a death sentence" are both fine - the only one I objected to was the apparent typo "may face death penalty".--Pharos (talk) 19:46, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Attribution[edit]

Since the photo used is under CC BY, attribution is to be placed somewhere in the banner. (perhaps in tiny 50%-transparent font at the bottom of the image itself so that it does not draws too much attention, but it must be somewhere) --Base (talk) 19:49, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, @Base, we've thought about that, too! For the moment, the credit is visible in the "alt" tag (when scrolling over Bassel's picture), but if that's not very legal then ultimately, I think, we'll be trying to reach out to Joi Ito to release it into the public domain, if at all possible. odder (talk) 20:03, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Attribution-at-the-link is generally considered fine by the TOU. I think the easiest/best solution is to put the same photo on the "free bassel" page, and clearly attribute it there. We should also reach out to the photographer and make sure that's OK with them -- I'm pretty confident it will be, but that would be a nice step. -Pete F (talk) 21:49, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Back to our roots?[edit]

I'm writing here, because I think this page is a better way to reach the "core team" behind this effort than the general discussion.

As it stands now, with roughly 58 supports and 45 opposes, I believe this effort is failing. Different people will assess this differently, of course.

I believe a different banner, which focuses on disseminating information rather than advocating action, would garner more support. I have read through all of the "oppose" votes; I believe some of those voting oppose would support something that is more rooted in providing information.

Could we create an alternative banner, that makes this choice clear to voters, and gives people the opportunity to support one approach but oppose the other? -Pete F (talk) 19:15, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Info dissemination is only slightly less political than calling for action; neutrality or no politics seems to be the theme of those opposed. Maybe the banner and/or the free bassel page should explicitly disclaim any position on the Syrian government or any other participant in conflicts in the region; this call (or info) is only about justice for one Wikipedian. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 22:28, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
But I agree the effort isn't going super well and it'd be interesting to have options which would put a finer point on support and objections. I also like the thought process described here, which I guess would restart the discussion about whether and how to express or call for support for Bassel? Mike Linksvayer (talk) 23:18, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
For those of us who haven't got Facebook, would you mind summarising that discussion? Thanks! odder (talk) 16:02, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't notice that is a non-public post. There was a suggestion to evaluate proposals like this one based on 5 criteria: "1. Time - Have we had time and enough perspective to determine support for this person or cause? 2. Notability/severity - Is this of high enough concern or urgency that the community take up this cause? 3. Relevance/connection - Is the person a Wikimedian or closely related to our community? 4. Peer evaluation - Have our peers in the free culture or online knowledge space given prominence to this person or case? 5. Verifiability" and a positive evaluation of the Bassel banner proposal; comments mostly about refining the proposed criteria. The last comment is a request to post here, so hopefully the person suggesting will do so. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 05:59, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

A vote where?[edit]

Is that where yet another discussion wages ?? GerardM (talk) 06:59, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

The current banner layouts looks like death notices[edit]

Apart from the text-content, I don't think it's a good idea, to make this banner look like a death notice (the bw-photo, the thick black bars). Given that our intention is to save him from being executed, we should choose a layout that does not anticipate his death. I therefore recommend to modify the look of the banner to something that communicates a bit more hope. // Martin Kraft (talk) 09:37, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

A/B testing banners[edit]

Can we get some A/B testing of a series of different banners before running one? Who needs to be coordinated with to do this? SJ talk  21:38, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Sj, are you talking about staff support from WMF? If resources like that are available to community initiatives, it would be news to me -- but perhaps you know something I don't. I'm very interested in the answer, if indeed there are options to get A/B testing support. -Pete F (talk) 22:39, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
I meant access to an API to test banners at very low % and get back data about them. I need to catch up on how banners are implemented now. SJ talk  1 December 2015 (UTC)
I worked on the code for the initial proposed banner, and can work on a second if there's an idea I can work from. The Fundraising team has offered their technical support as needed (and as available given this is their busy season). I suspect if testing some banners with logged in users before banners are used for anonymous users were a part of a proposal that got community consensus, we could probably do that. Or at the very least a smaller poll on which design to go with. I think the issue is that tracking clicks, given our privacy issues, is not an exact science and requires some planning. However, I think the more pressing issue is a proposal that can get community consensus, or setting up testing will be a moot point anyway. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 07:09, 2 December 2015 (UTC)