User:StevenJ81/sandbox/Soft closure of Wikinews projects

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Inactivity has a different impact on Wikinews projects than on other projects. On the whole, inactivity is still not a reason (by itself) to close even a Wikinews project. However, the result in a Wikinews project can be that the front page of the inactive project shows only old and obsolete news, which may be an embarrassment to that wiki's community and to Wikimedia as a whole. Accordingly, inactive Wikinews projects can apply for a "soft close" instead.

What is a soft close?[edit]

A soft close is principally just a replacement of the main page of the project with a new main page that announces the soft close. An example can be found here; an earlier English language draft of the page can be found here. This way the main page with obsolete news is no longer the automatic landing spot for someone first arriving on the wiki. A wiki that is "soft-closed" is still technically open, and can still be edited, subject to other points mentioned below.

How do I propose a soft close?[edit]

There are two different paths for this.

Local mechanism. A soft close does not actually require the intervention of the Language Committee. A Wikinews community can choose to soft-close itself. To do so, it should take all steps it would take for any other important policy initiative, notify any neighboring communities (like the same-language Wikipedia community and/or local Wikimedia chapter) of the proposal, and leave the community discussion open sufficiently long (probably at least a month) to ensure that all voices are heard. It is not LangCom's job to specify to such a community what would constitute a sufficient majority to approve the soft-close, but our opinion is that it would need to be a pretty clear and convincing majority. LangCom would ideally prefer soft closes to be handled by this local mechanism whenever the community is still large enough to make this approach feasible.

LangCom mechanism. A soft closure can also be proposed on Meta in the same way as any other project closure proposal. The appropriate communities, including the Wikinews community itself, must be notified, and the proposal will remain open sufficiently long to ensure that all voices are heard.

  • This mechanism is also invoked if a Wikinews project is proposed for "regular" closure, but the only issue is inactivity. In this case, LangCom will convert the request to a proposal for soft closure.
  • This mechanism mainly exists because of the possibility that no meaningful community remains to soft-close itself. If there are community members, and if they object to the soft closure, LangCom will give it time to revive itself before agreeing to a soft closure.

The proposal is approved. What happens next?[edit]

Again, there are two possibilities.

Standard procedure[edit]

This procedure is mandatory if the "LangCom mechanism" was used, and is optional if the "local mechanism" was used.

  1. The current Main Page of the project is moved to a different location, and a new main page replaces it.
  2. The new main page includes:
    • A link to the substantive soft-closure discussion(s) (on Meta and/or the local wiki)
    • A link to the new main page, along with a note that the wiki is still open for editors interested in reviving it.
    • A link to the talk page of someone who can address questions
    • (optional) A link to pages on other projects (like Wikipedia) where current events articles can be written
    • (optional-but-recommended) The existing template showing links to sister projects.

When a soft closure uses this procedure, the community can reverse the soft closure and resume normal operations whenever it wants. There is no need to contact LangCom. Simply move the functional main page back to its original location, and you are fully back in business. Our experience suggests that we share the following cautions:

  • Don't do this until you are sure that you now have a strong enough community to stay open for a while. Continual close-open-close is a bad idea.
  • Do check the mechanics of your functional main page first. It's possible that changes to the MediaWiki platform during the closure will have broken it.

Procedure governed by local policy[edit]

If the "local mechanism" was used, the local community can set its own parameters for how the soft close is executed, and for how it may (or may not) be reversed.

  • The main page will be moved and replaced in a similar fashion. [to be continued]