Wikinews/Future Talk

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The Wikinews Future Talk will be an open, unmoderated IRC session taking place on #wikinews to discuss the future of the Wikinews project within the community. It will focus specifically on recent changes in the English edition, but members of all Wikinews editions are invited. The chat will take place on, the possible time is discussed below. Issues that will be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Should the DynamicPageList extension be used?
  • Should the inputbox extension be used?
  • How should decisions about issues like this be made in the future?
  • How local can Wikinews stories be?
  • How can we make Wikinews more accessible for newcomers?
  • What innovative ideas can we use to expand the project?
  • Add yours.

See Wikinews/IRC for details on how to connect.

See Wikinews/Future talk 2 and Wikinews/Future talk 3 for details of later talks.

Time and date

Feel free to add times for you that are convenient to you. Based on the table below, the talk is presently scheduled for Sunday, July 10, 21:00 UTC on #wikinews ( Use the web chat if you don't know how to use IRC. See [1] for time conversion.

                         Sunday, July 10             Monday, July 11
                         21:00 UTC                   21:00 UTC
Eloquence                YES                         YES
IlyaHaykinson            YES                         NO
Angela                   YES                         YES
CGorman                  YES                         NO
cspurrier                YES                         YES
Dcabrilo                 YES                         YES
The bellman              YES                         YES
NGerda                   YES                         YES
Stevertigo               YEP                         YEP
Davodd                   NO                          NO
McCart42                 YES                         YES
Tryggr                   YES                         YES
TUFKAAP                  MAYBE                       YES

Incidentally, comments about the subjects to be raised at the IRC discussion, and others, are already on this article's talk page.

Amgine's comments

The concept of a Wikinews Future talk is an excellent one. I would suggest before it take place that all Wikinews admins be given top level channel moderator status before the event. It should be made utterly clear, however, that IRC discussions do not develop policy, and discussions in IRC do make other members of the community (readers, more casual contributors) feel they are outside the community.

Past changes are not a good focus for "future talk", but here is my take on some of the subjects suggested for the chat session.

Should the DynamicPageList extension be used?

Of course. But where is it most appropriate? where can it help and not hinder?

One of the best uses is to automate the main page; a task it was originally developed for. One potential side-effect of relying exclusively on DynamicPageList is how it can make many currently useful tools, such as dead-end pages and orphan pages, ineffective if articles are not also linked with standard links anywhere. - Amgine 6 July 2005 07:16 (UTC)

Should the inputbox extension be used?

The question, just as the above, is on its face silly. Of course it can/should be used. The question is how, not if.

A tool to go from main page to article editing in one step is marvelous. To go from the main page to a template which tells you what must be included in your article, includes nested template calls and (probably at some point) magic words as well is likely to scare some potential contributors away. And there is little which can be done now to ensure that such will not be added or required at some point in the future.

Likewise the use of a custom mediawiki message template is a nearly sure source of instruction creep, now or in the future. It also circumvents a security measure currently in place, using a template instead of the MediaWiki:Newarticletext. That is, this particular feature doesn't actually add any useability than is currently available without also adding a potential vandalism risk.

When and how this should be used is up to the edition, and it could be very useful. I would caution against using templates at all from the main page as they will limit the creativity of article creation, but to offer a range of template options from the workspace/create an article linked page for editors who wish to have the option of filling in an article outline. - Amgine 6 July 2005 07:16 (UTC)

How should decisions about issues like this be made in the future?

As always - discuss it with the community before implementing. Check if an agreement is already in place. Never change the main page unilaterally. Period.

The most valuable members of the community, as a group, are the readers. They are the largest group, and from them all the others are drawn - the contributors, the editors, the wikignomes and wikifaeries. Some of them have been reading WN since its inception. Some are also active in governance, others not, but they should all have the option of being involved in making decision on the site. And they, as well as everyone else, are disenfranchised when changes are made without discussion before hand. There were bad feelings which still linger from the main page changes implemented in January, even though the changes were all discussed previously, because the community was not asked before the changes were implemented. - Amgine 6 July 2005 07:16 (UTC)

How local can Wikinews stories be?

My personal opinion is an article should be able to be submitted at the neighborhood level - one step below the smallest portal we would accept (the city/town level). - Amgine 6 July 2005 07:16 (UTC)

How can we make Wikinews more accessible for newcomers?

Do not restrict their ability to create visible change on the main page. The number one draw for Wikis is the instant gratification of being able to immediately see your changes reflected in the web site.

Do not add requirements for submissions. It would be nice if every article were formatted very nicely, included date templates, had appropriate sources and categorization, etc. But save those kinds of restrictions for a future point when we we need to prioritize what gets published.

Think of every article as important and potentially valuable, either now or in 20 years when someone needs to research the topic in an open and free news archive. The man bites dog in Virginia article of today may be a hassle for you to deal with, but it may be the start of a contributor's career with Wikinews, the perfect example for a high school journalism instructor, or a small town person's unexpect moment of international fame. What is submitted to Wikinews may never be Pullitzer-Prize quality writing, but it can be very important to someone. - Amgine 6 July 2005 07:16 (UTC)

Davodd's concerns & ideas - can't make the chat

Unfortunately - it looks like the chat will be this Sunday at a time I cannot attend due to prior commitments. I do hope someone archives and posts the log so those of us unable to attend can read what was said.

Following are issues I think are vital to WN that I hope someone brings up:

Is Wikinews a breaking news source or a news reference or news feature source?

This, I think is the main identity problem we have. If we are to mimic policies and standards of other Wikimedia projects, in my opinion it will be impossible to be a true news source because established wikimedia procedures of peer-type review will effectively kill the "newness" factor essential in time-sensitive stories.
But if Wikinews is to be a collection of archival Wikipedia-style collaborations on current events, then that is different (and probably precludes the need for a WN project at all).

Is simple categorization by language the best way to set up xx.Wikinews projects?

My concern here is that unlike other Wikimedia projects, Wikinews doesn't benefit from a common language that outweighs nationality or ethnicity in the usefulness or relevancy of the product. Walking around my adopted hometown of San Jose, I see newsstands with the same city news reported in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Maybe instead of trying to cram all English-speaking peoples of India, the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. into one site, we should consider dividing WN by geographical regions - or national regions.
It seems to me that francophones in northern Quebec care more about what is going on in English-speaking Vancouver, BC than in the French-speaking Ivory Coast. And folks in the Ivory Coast may care more about what is going on in Arabic-speaking Libya. Why are we using the artificial division of language to force these cultures together? It seems to be counter to a localism-type goal and to be an unnatural or uncomfortable one-size-fits-all mandate for the audience. Maybe that language model only works beautifully for archival material - such as encyclopedias or other wikimedia-type reference projects.
Maybe our categories, instead of looking like:

Could be:


Here, the rationality is the focus of the main portal. We can still keep the en.Wikinews site - and have it populated with DPLs - but links to stories would guide the user from that portal to the regional site.
This model would also work well for regional WNs - like Scandinavia, Central America, etc. It would foster regional and localism and would be an adaptation of the Wiki model to the way people think about news - rather than forcing people to think about news in ways dictated by past wikimedia practices.

Developing a sense of openness and ease of use

  1. We should try to develop a zero tolerance for impolite behavior, especially from admins.
  2. We should try to eliminate instruction creep whenever possible. Currently some "very active" WN contributors spend hours and hours writing and expanding and rewriting rules - not creating news content.
  3. We need to develop a system of blocking vandals and alleged vandals that better records the "why" and holds admins responsible for accurately documenting the reasons for blocking users. In addition, we need to stop assuming disruptive test posts are vandalism instead of a mere test by someone unfamiliar with how wiki works and that wiki changes are global - not local to a machine.
  4. We need to stress admins owe a duty to building community over enforcing their personal agenda.
  5. We need to encourage the development of new contributors and collaboration. It seems downright silly that a WN editor will read a newly submitted, but lacking story, slap a "not news" or NPOV tag on it and spend 30 minutes or more on the article talk page refining a diatribe on why she/he thinks the article is lacking. It would make more sense - and be better for the reader - to spend that time actually rehabilitating the article or chatting on the contributor's talk page to collaborate on a better-written article.
-- Davodd | Talk 7 July 2005 08:40 (UTC)
Uhm, ouch, I certainly recognize some of my own previous behaviours above.
I would suggest Wikinews should be both a breaking news source and a news reference; that is, Wikinews can report original news or aggregation stories on current events, and also serves as a archival reference for news coverage of events.
Is language categorization the best way to organize Wikinews? I don't know. Regional news coverage seems more logical, but the benefits of community communication in a common language may outweigh the logic since any Wikinews edition may develop regional coverage of articles. Perhaps there should only be a single Wikinews site, with portals arranged by region and language? This would facilitate subprojects such as WORTNET which attempts to translate Wikinews articles from various languages, and Interlanguage coooperation in the Audio Wikinews Briefs.
Admins and all contributors should be held to the Wikinews:Etiquette. I know I am guilty of multiple infractions, and I feel others are likewise guilty of both impolite and inappropriate behaviour. One of the hardest elements is to admit when one is in the wrong publically.
Regarding article tags: I think an author should be allowed to complete work on an article's first draft before any tags may be applied by others. Tags should be applied after disputes are raised on the talk page. Tags should not be removed unless there is consensus to do so, or if there is no response from the tagger for 6 hours after the concerns raised are responded to, or by the original tagger (in cases of error or misreading, for example).
As for blocking of vandals... at times speed is necessary. However, the last block applied is the message sent to the user, so after the initial block and clean up an admin could go back and properly document the justification for the block. Back in January blocks were applied with links to the document history which showed the vandalism, for example. - Amgine 7 July 2005 21:51 (UTC)
Yeah - I'm guilty in the past of many of those things, too. It is amazing what a little distance from a project (my Wikivacation) can do for perspective. It's very easy to get caught up in this turmoil. ;-) Davodd | Talk 8 July 2005 06:03 (UTC)

McCart42's questions

I will bring these up during the discussion, but if there's not time to discuss them fully, or this isn't the appropriate place to mention them, I'll put them up at the water cooler somewhere.

Criteria for notability

Drawing on Amgine's question, "How local can Wikinews stories be?", I wonder what the criteria for notability are. If we already have a guideline on this, I apologize, just point it out. But what makes a story notable? I believe that Wikinews is a bit more liberal than Wikipedia in this sense, at present. - McCart42 22:40, 9 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Also, what about editorials? Are they notable? - McCart42 04:12, 10 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

So, basically, what qualifies as "news"? That's a tougher question. I'm from a micro town, and they still have local town columns which list things like who hosted dinner parties and when the kids and grandkids come to visit. For that particular community what counts as locally notable is quite low, and I wouldn't put a regional category larger than the town on most of their stories.
But if the local store were robbed at gunpoint, that might be notable enough to be listed also in a larger category, perhaps the county or state level. If the shopkeepers were gunned down by crazy on a multi-state crime spree - it bucks up a notch further, national, plus the more local categories. If the crazies were part of an invasion force from a foreign soveriegn state, or a widespread insurrection within the country, it's definitely world-level category.
Editorials, imo, should not be linked inside the main namespace. They aren't news. But they can *become* news or cause it. For example, the U.S. blogger whose editorials released news about the Gomery inquiry in the Canadian Parliament - when Canadian news were not allowed to cover the story - became news. If a user's editorial on en.Wikinews became such a cause celebré articles about that editorial could be notable; but the editorial itself would still not be listed in the main namespace, only as a source/reference. - Amgine 05:27, 10 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Standard date format guideline

Additionally, I would recommend we have some sort of a standard date format guideline. I am fine with using colloquial formats, such as "month day, year", or "day month year", in the course of an article, but I believe that in templates, infobox titles, headlines, or article titles, it might be more appropriate to use the ISO 8601 standard. See the London bombing infobox for background. - McCart42 22:40, 9 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Article naming

This is more of a technical issue than a policy one, but I was wondering if there is any thought to changing the way articles are linked in case we find ourselves rehashing similar headlines. A good example is with sports stories. It's not inconceivable that Team A might win a match over Team B by the same score on some different date. Right now, I guess we'd just look up our thesaurus and find a synonym for "defeat" - which admittedly isn't that difficult. But it seems as though maybe articles should be linked to by a combination of their date and their title. That would eliminate any reasonable possibility of having two articles with the same name. Maybe I'm being naive about this and it isn't a big deal though. - McCart42 03:55, 10 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

"Articles in category" listing

This is also a technical issue. I'm not crazy about the way articles are listed in categories, by their title's first letter (see wikinews:Category:2005-07-07 London bombings). Shouldn't they be listed by date? I suppose this would be difficult though. Perhaps the category listing could be redesigned to use DPLs. Just a thought. - McCart42 03:55, 10 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Actually, this one is easy to implement, but it would require some careful work. When an article is listed in a category, you can use an "alternate text" to sort by. For example: [[Category:Politics and conflicts|2005-07-09]] would list the article's title under the date, rather than actual title alphabetical. - Amgine 04:04, 10 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Original Reporting

It would be nice to develop Original Reporting guidelines, make use of ./Notes pages instead of Talk: pages, etc.


In addition to the disussion about recent changes in the English edition, there could be a debate about general issues, e.g finding a proper license for wikinews. --SonicR