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A Wikimedia project has forked

 

 

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dgerard at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 3:21 PM

Post #26 of 79 (1278 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On 12 September 2011 23:17, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton [at] gmail> wrote:
> On Sep 12, 2011 11:10 PM, "Thomas Morton" <morton.thomas [at] googlemail>
> wrote:

>> It's a tiny bit disappointing that the tone here is "oh well, we tried and
>> failed".
>> When really it should be "cool - now we have a competitor, what do we need
>> to give WN to help them stay in the market"

> In what way are we competing? Our vision is a world where people have free
> access to all knowledge. It doesn't say we need to be the ones to provide
> that knowledge.
> We've failed. Maybe someone else will do better. If they do, our goal will
> still be achieved.


Wikinews is still recoverable. But what it's been doing so far clearly
failed. What can they do that would work? Open it up further?


- d.

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wiki at konsoletek

Sep 12, 2011, 3:22 PM

Post #27 of 79 (1274 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

I can't speak for the entire Wikinews community, but a lot of it was the
lack of technical assistance. There was one major item which Wikinews
_really_ need to be even remotely useful and it was very difficult to get
any help at all. Eventually the community wrote the extension themselves
but couldnt get the dev's to review it appropriately. This was drawn out
over several years, and (at least from my view) the Foundation really
started to turn around and give much better support starting about 1 year
ago.

There is also a host of other backend and support style related issues...
but they are ones that the Foundation really wasn't well equipped to handle
in the first place. Simply put, the Wikinews concept needs a much more
specific set of assistance than the general "Here's a wiki, have fun".

-Jon

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 14:14, Kim Bruning <kim [at] bruning> wrote:

> On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 05:59:34PM -0400, Chris Lee wrote:
> > I didn't mean what is a fork, or how to fork etc...
> >
> > I meant more along the lines of the difference in scope, guidelines. Why
> did
> > they break off?
>
> For starters, they weren't happy with the server maintenance by WMF. They
> couldn't get essential components deployed for 2 years or so.
>
> I'm not sure what the entire set of circumstances was. Someone should
> probably
> do a debrief and postmortem.
>
> sincerely,
> Kim Bruning
>
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--
Jon
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z at mzmcbride

Sep 12, 2011, 3:24 PM

Post #28 of 79 (1278 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

David Gerard wrote:
> On 12 September 2011 22:57, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>> From Wikimedia's perspective, I think this is "one down, several hundred to
>> go." Wikimedia has made it clear that its singular focus is the English
>> Wikipedia. All other Wikipedias are peripheral; all other project types are
>> abandoned. Perhaps with the exception of Wikimedia Commons, which is able to
>> pull in grant money, so it continues to receive some level of technical
>> support.
>
> Considering Wikinews was started and pushed heavily by Erik Moller
> (early on he was personally bailing people up at wikimeets to get them
> to contribute to it), I suggest your analysis is on
> crack^W^W^Whypothesises too much cause for what is *entirely*
> explicable by a small community going insular and going for perceived
> quality over outreach. This is particularly given that Wikinews
> explicitly put in the heavyweight review infrastructure in order to get
> in good with Google News. And that review structure is just the sort
> of thing one would expect to leave contributors dissatisfied and
> feeling utterly un-wiki about bothering.
>
> I don't know what would be an answer. The new site wants to keep a
> *lot* less reviewed. But then there's other failure modes for citizen
> journalism, e.g. Before It's News, which has been pretty much overrun
> by conspiracy theorists.

I fail to see how it's relevant how Wikinews started or who was the driving
force behind it. It's 2011, not 2004. What matters now is the current
reality, not the project's origins. The current reality is that nearly any
project besides the English Wikipedia has almost no technical support. It's
a catch-22, I realize: you don't want to invest finite resources into
projects that aren't performing well, but projects won't perform well
without resources.

Wikimedia has made its decision and the community has largely sat quiet on
the issue. Wikimedia has made it clear in promotional materials, donation
drives, and nearly anywhere else that its focus is the English Wikipedia. Of
all the criticisms you can make about the Wikimedia Foundation, I wouldn't
say that "it's not being upfront about its intentions or motivations on this
issue" is a valid one.

Where I see a problem is that it continues to put forward an idea that other
projects are receiving some kind of support (they're all "sister projects,"
see). It's completely disingenuous to those working on these projects to
pretend as though they're receiving any kind of support or will in the
immediate future. As time passes, frustrations will doubtlessly only grow on
other projects. I imagine we'll see repeats of this phenomenon (abandonment
--> forking) going forward. Other factors may contribute, of course.

Personally, I think a quick death is preferable to a slow one. Many of these
side-projects that have been abandoned ought to be outright shut down, in my
opinion. A re-focusing internally and externally would do a world of good,
but obviously political realities make some of this impossible. Nobody wants
to be the one to say that it's time to give up on Wikiquote or Wikinews or
even Wiktionary (if it can't get proper software support), but it may be
inevitable regardless.

MZMcBride



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z at mzmcbride

Sep 12, 2011, 3:35 PM

Post #29 of 79 (1269 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

David Gerard wrote:
> Wikinews is still recoverable. But what it's been doing so far clearly
> failed. What can they do that would work? Open it up further?

Sage Ross once discussed with me the idea of having Wikinews be foremost a
source of news about the Internet. It could report on news and goings-on on
various Web sites. The idea made the idea of Wikinews almost seem redeemable
to me, though I'm not sure how much it falls within Wikimedia's scope.
Perhaps he'll chime in here to elaborate, as I'm surely not doing the
concept justice.

If Wikinews had started as a site with news about the Internet and
particularly online communities, I think it would've grown into a proper
project over time. Instead, it primarily regurgitates news stories from
elsewhere and outputs them under a free license, which there doesn't seem to
be much of a market for. Some of the Wikinews interviews have been
impressive, but beyond those, there isn't much to speak of after seven years
online.

MZMcBride



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phoebe.wiki at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 3:41 PM

Post #30 of 79 (1264 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM, Tempodivalse <r2d2.strauss [at] verizon> wrote:
> Greetings everyone,
>
> I thought the Wikimedia community should know that a large portion of WIkinews' contributor base has forked into its own project (http://theopenglobe.org) after becoming deeply dissatisfied with Wikinews. The new wiki has finished its creation stage and is about ready to publish news articles.
>
> At least nine users have pledged to support this fork, and several others (including non-WN Wikimedians) are interested - more than there are active remaining Wikinews contributors.
>
> -Tempodivalse

Hi Tempodivalse,

Thanks for the notice! I also wish OpenGlobe luck.

I went looking for discussion about this on Wikinews, and couldn't
find anything recent about this on the wikinews mailing list, the
English-language Wikinews (I didn't check the other languages) or on
Meta. I'm sure I just missed something. Can you point us to any
discussion links?

Thanks!
Phoebe

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meta.sj at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 3:45 PM

Post #31 of 79 (1273 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 4:50 PM, Tempodivalse <r2d2.strauss [at] verizon> wrote:

> I thought the Wikimedia community should know that a large portion of WIkinews' contributor base has forked into its own project (http://theopenglobe.org) after becoming deeply dissatisfied with Wikinews. The new wiki has finished its creation stage and is about ready to publish news articles.

Hello Tempo,

Good luck. What are the differences between the vision for OpenGlobe
and the current practice of English Wikinews?


Now: what do we need to do to make Wikinews better and more useful?
What are the costs and technical or other work involved? MZM, you are
confused in this thread - Wikimedia doesn't exist to serve EN:WP, or
to serve its most popular *current* project, it exists to support the
global dissemination of all sorts of knowledge, and collaboration to
create that knowledge.

That doesn't necessarily mean we need to host projects covering all
sorts of knowledge -- we could support merging of our existing
projects into other great projects online -- and we should review
regularly how we can support cousin projects like WikiHow and
Wikitravel. But it certainly means we need to find better ways to
improve the availability of freely-licensed collaborative news online,
and doing something about it.[1]

SJ

[1] News is an interesting case, because -- as is not true for
quotations, dictionary entries, or primary sources -- we *do*
contribute dramatically to coverage of current events via Wikipedia.
We just haven't yet successfully bridged that popular and effective
channel of work and interest with Wikinews or other news-focused
projects. The only other project in a similar situation is
Wikispecies, where any data on species at least conceptually is
welcome in a Wikipedia article on the topic.

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galaver at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 3:46 PM

Post #32 of 79 (1276 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

I speak from the perspective of an administrator in the Spanish edition. The
fact that today Wikinews is not sufficiently relevantly, does not mean that
in the future will be equal. The project has unique values ​​and
possibilities in the future may be successful.

It is true that even within the same community of Wikipedia editors we are
treated as peripheral, but the success of projects depends not only on
the internal
work that is in them, but promotion we ourselves do it. And it does not
depend on whether Wikimedia treat us well or not.

I hope that this fork is the result of the search for a project with clear
objectives and specific goals, not the fight between a group of editors and
other. If this is the case, however much success.

2011/9/12 MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride>

> David Gerard wrote:
> > Wikinews is still recoverable. But what it's been doing so far clearly
> > failed. What can they do that would work? Open it up further?
>
> Sage Ross once discussed with me the idea of having Wikinews be foremost a
> source of news about the Internet. It could report on news and goings-on on
> various Web sites. The idea made the idea of Wikinews almost seem
> redeemable
> to me, though I'm not sure how much it falls within Wikimedia's scope.
> Perhaps he'll chime in here to elaborate, as I'm surely not doing the
> concept justice.
>
> If Wikinews had started as a site with news about the Internet and
> particularly online communities, I think it would've grown into a proper
> project over time. Instead, it primarily regurgitates news stories from
> elsewhere and outputs them under a free license, which there doesn't seem
> to
> be much of a market for. Some of the Wikinews interviews have been
> impressive, but beyond those, there isn't much to speak of after seven
> years
> online.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
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>



--
*Atentamente:

Iván Martínez
Coordinador General
Wikimedia México
mx.wikimedia.org

Imagina un mundo en donde cada persona del planeta pueda tener acceso libre
a la suma total del conocimiento humano.
Eso es lo que estamos haciendo <http://es.wikipedia.org>. *
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z at mzmcbride

Sep 12, 2011, 4:04 PM

Post #33 of 79 (1274 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

Samuel Klein wrote:
> MZM, you are confused in this thread - Wikimedia doesn't exist to serve
> EN:WP, or to serve its most popular *current* project, it exists to support
> the global dissemination of all sorts of knowledge, and collaboration to
> create that knowledge.

You're on the Board still, right? So you probably have more readily
available access to these stats than I do: out of Wikimedia's share of
resources over the past five years, what percentage has gone to Wikipedia
and what percentage has gone to Wikinews? What about Wikiversity? Wikiquote?
Wikispecies? Wiktionary?

Wikimedia indisputably now exists to serve the English Wikipedia. Wikimedia
is quick to call Sue "Wikipedia Executive Director," isn't it? Or plaster
"Wikipedia founder" on every fundraiser-related publication? Out of the last
X extensions enabled on Wikimedia wikis, how many were written primarily for
the English Wikipedia (MoodBar, WikiLove, ArticleFeedback, etc.)? If you
can't provide percentages to the question above, do you know of any
resources that have gone to a site other than Wikimedia Commons or a
Wikipedia in the past five years? What resources have been devoted to
Wikinews in particular?

Thanks for volunteering to clarify some of my confusion. :-)

MZMcBride



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stephen.bain at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 4:14 PM

Post #34 of 79 (1277 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 8:24 AM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>
> Wikimedia has made its decision and the community has largely sat quiet on
> the issue. Wikimedia has made it clear in promotional materials, donation
> drives, and nearly anywhere else that its focus is the English Wikipedia.

Wikinews never had the kind of substantial organic growth that many of
the other projects had. According to Eric Zachte's stats, active
contributors (five or more edits in a month) peaked in July 2005, nine
months after the project was started, and before the Foundation really
had any significant clout in determining the direction of the
projects. And that peak was at just 110 users. New contributors
(making at least 10 career edits) per month has averaged in the single
digits for years.

Certainly there are valid points to be made about the level of support
over the last few years, but which is the chicken and which is the egg
here?

(With the caveat that I'm not now, and never have been, a Wikinews contributor:)

Wikinews offers some outstanding original reporting and interviews,
but that's an extraordinarily scarce resource. The rest is pieces
synthesising news from elsewhere, and in that regard Wikipedia has
needed no assistance in drawing attention and contributions away from
Wikinews. What good is yesterday's synthesis today?

--
Stephen Bain
stephen.bain [at] gmail

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nawrich at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 4:15 PM

Post #35 of 79 (1266 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 7:04 PM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:

>
>
>
> Wikimedia indisputably now exists to serve the English Wikipedia. Wikimedia
> is quick to call Sue "Wikipedia Executive Director," isn't it? Or plaster
> "Wikipedia founder" on every fundraiser-related publication?
> Thanks for volunteering to clarify some of my confusion. :-)
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
"Wikipedia founder" is, well, true and meaningful.

In any case... While I'm sure that Wikinews has lacked for attention from
the WMF, it seems a reach to blame its current state on that factor alone.
It has an ecosystem problem, structural problems that are inherent in its
wiki nature, and as Kim mentioned... a potentially serious and long-term
personality problem. As I understand it, English Wikinews has for its entire
history (or nearly so) been virtually dominated by a single individual with
a reputation for volatility. This has often been cited as a drawback of
contributing there. Given the small community, it's not hard to imagine how
severe personality conflicts could lead to dramatic consequences over time.
The problem with Wikinews is the sum of all these factors, not the direct
and clear result of any lack of investment from the WMF.

Nathan
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erik at wikimedia

Sep 12, 2011, 4:26 PM

Post #36 of 79 (1272 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
> The current reality is that nearly any
> project besides the English Wikipedia has almost no technical support.

That's a misunderstanding of what's happening.

I would characterize WMF's prioritization as an "A rising tide lifts
all boats" policy. Improvements are generally conceived to be widely
usable, both in Wikimedia projects and even outside the Wikimedia
environment, and to have the largest possible impact. Even if a first
deployment is Wikipedia, they will generally benefit other projects as
well.

But let's take other completed extensions as examples.

1) WikiLove has been enabled on Swedish, Malayalam, Hungarian, Hebrew,
Arabic, and Hindi Wikipedia, as well as Commons, all on request of the
respective project communities.

2) ArticleFeedback has been enabled on Hungarian Wikipedia, Portuguese
Wikibooks, and Hindi Wikipedia. (Wikinews, BTW, still runs the
predecessor ReaderFeedback extension.)

3) Narayam (an extension to support Indic languages) has been enabled
on Malayam Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wiktionary, Wikisource and Wikipedia,
Tamil Wikibooks and Wikisource, and Sanskrit Wikipedia, Wikibooks,
Wikisource, and Wiktionary.

MoodBar will be made more widely available as it matures. And so on
and so forth.

It's true that English Wikipedia often (not always) serves as a
staging ground for new features, but that's an entirely different
matter and doesn't negate the intent of achieving maximum
cross-project/cross-site impact with the work we do.

It's also not true that Commons development has anything to do with
grant money. WMF received a one-time grant for Commons-related
development, but all recent development has been funded from WMF's
operating budget, and it's part of our standard roadmap -- for the
simple reason that investing in Commons serves all our projects and
increases our impact world-wide. And that's, of course, why we sought
the grant in the first place, not the other way around.

It is true that projects like Wikinews and Wiktionary, to fully
succeed (if success is possible), almost certainly require more
specialized product development and devotion in addition to the
general development work that benefits all projects.

It's my own view that specialized development is best-served by
ensuring that we give the global community great spaces to innovate
and create new things. We've put quite a bit of development effort
recently into improving MediaWiki's support for gadgets, and we're
also working on the Wikimedia Labs project to this end (
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Labs ). WMF's role for
specialized improvements should ideally be to review and deploy code
that's ready to serve a well-identified purpose and that doesn't have
harmful side-effects. Where we haven't don't do so in a timely and
reasonable fashion, we must strive to do better.

--
Erik Mller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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midom.lists at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 4:28 PM

Post #37 of 79 (1261 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

> For starters, they weren't happy with the server maintenance by WMF. They
> couldn't get essential components deployed for 2 years or so.

for every wikinews pageview there're 1600 english wikipedia pageviews.
oh, and 60% of wikinews pageviews come from bots (wikipedias are at around 10% bot traffic methinks)

the only project less popular than wikinews is wikiversity and that says something.

it is much more rewarding to work on projects that impact lots of people ;-)

Domas
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p858snake at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 4:45 PM

Post #38 of 79 (1262 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 9:26 AM, Erik Moeller <erik [at] wikimedia> wrote:
>
> But let's take other completed extensions as examples.
>
> 1) WikiLove has been enabled on Swedish, Malayalam, Hungarian, Hebrew,
> Arabic, and Hindi Wikipedia, as well as Commons, all on request of the
> respective project communities.
Ahem, The first of those were Hindi, and that was basically only after
a B# fight in the bug report that there shouldn't be any restriction
to installing it on the non en.wikipedia project

> 2) ArticleFeedback has been enabled on Hungarian Wikipedia, Portuguese
> Wikibooks, and Hindi Wikipedia. (Wikinews, BTW, still runs the
> predecessor ReaderFeedback extension.)
Hindi again had the reluctance of no one wanting it to enable it in
the first place as well...

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erik at wikimedia

Sep 12, 2011, 4:50 PM

Post #39 of 79 (1270 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 4:45 PM, K. Peachey <p858snake [at] gmail> wrote:
> Ahem, The first of those were Hindi, and that was basically only after
> a B# fight in the bug report that there shouldn't be any restriction
> to installing it on the non en.wikipedia project

With any feature there are normal considerations about when it's ready
to be pushed out more widely. Having a feature that's under very
active development, with known issues, widely deployed beyond its
original staging ground can cause significant and avoidable burden.
That's what those discussions are about (which were mirrored by
internal conversations about readiness). There's no internal WMF
faction that argues for "only serving English Wikipedia", and there
never has been.

--
Erik Mller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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z at mzmcbride

Sep 12, 2011, 5:26 PM

Post #40 of 79 (1265 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

Erik Moeller wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>> The current reality is that nearly any
>> project besides the English Wikipedia has almost no technical support.
>
> That's a misunderstanding of what's happening.
>
> I would characterize WMF's prioritization as an "A rising tide lifts
> all boats" policy. Improvements are generally conceived to be widely
> usable, both in Wikimedia projects and even outside the Wikimedia
> environment, and to have the largest possible impact. Even if a first
> deployment is Wikipedia, they will generally benefit other projects as
> well.

Huh. I always thought it was "a rising tide sinks all ships." ;-)

> 1) WikiLove has been enabled on Swedish, Malayalam, Hungarian, Hebrew,
> Arabic, and Hindi Wikipedia, as well as Commons, all on request of the
> respective project communities.

I was pretty clear about other projects (read: Wikipedias) being peripheral.
Your argument seems to largely be "but at some point, this development work
might help other sites." My point is that without specific focus, these
other sites languish and slowly die. A software package that was built for
an encyclopedia can't work for a dictionary. It doesn't work for a
dictionary. It also can't and doesn't work for a number of other concepts.

> 2) ArticleFeedback has been enabled on Hungarian Wikipedia, Portuguese
> Wikibooks, and Hindi Wikipedia. (Wikinews, BTW, still runs the
> predecessor ReaderFeedback extension.)

The parenthetical demonstrates Wikinews' abandonment, right?

> It's also not true that Commons development has anything to do with
> grant money. WMF received a one-time grant for Commons-related
> development, but all recent development has been funded from WMF's
> operating budget, and it's part of our standard roadmap -- for the
> simple reason that investing in Commons serves all our projects and
> increases our impact world-wide. And that's, of course, why we sought
> the grant in the first place, not the other way around.

It seemed to me that the grant funded a hastily put together extension that
was in such poor shape by the time the clock struck midnight that it had to
be further developed by Wikimedia to be even somewhat salvageable.

> It is true that projects like Wikinews and Wiktionary, to fully
> succeed (if success is possible), almost certainly require more
> specialized product development and devotion in addition to the
> general development work that benefits all projects.

Is it fair to contributors of those projects to be put on indefinite hold?
Everyone agrees that focused, specialized development and devotion is
needed, but I don't believe it's anywhere on the horizon. Is Wikimedia
purgatory the best that these projects can hope for?

MZMcBride



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stephen.bain at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 5:36 PM

Post #41 of 79 (1265 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 9:26 AM, Erik Moeller <erik [at] wikimedia> wrote:
>
> I would characterize WMF's prioritization as an "A rising tide lifts
> all boats" policy. Improvements are generally conceived to be widely
> usable, both in Wikimedia projects and even outside the Wikimedia
> environment, and to have the largest possible impact. Even if a first
> deployment is Wikipedia, they will generally benefit other projects as
> well.

I believe the correct name for that is the trickle-down effect :)

--
Stephen Bain
stephen.bain [at] gmail

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geniice at gmail

Sep 12, 2011, 6:15 PM

Post #42 of 79 (1263 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On 12 September 2011 23:45, Samuel Klein <meta.sj [at] gmail> wrote:
> Now: what do we need to do to make Wikinews better and more useful?
> What are the costs and technical or other work involved?

Very little. Mostly wikinews is misstargeted. Yet another website
rewriting AP reports is never going to draw crowds. Wikinews needed
original research and never really had very much of it. It is also
operating in an extremely crowded market where as wikipedia had the
field pretty much to itself when it started.

> MZM, you are
> confused in this thread - Wikimedia doesn't exist to serve EN:WP, or
> to serve its most popular *current* project, it exists to support the
> global dissemination of all sorts of knowledge, and collaboration to
> create that knowledge.

The reality is however that it's always en.pedia that is on the
receiving end of whatever the foundation wants to do at any given
time.




--
geni

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erik at wikimedia

Sep 12, 2011, 6:55 PM

Post #43 of 79 (1265 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 5:26 PM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
> My point is that without specific focus, these
> other sites languish and slowly die. A software package that was built for
> an encyclopedia can't work for a dictionary. It doesn't work for a
> dictionary. It also can't and doesn't work for a number of other concepts.

Of course, up to this point we all agree. That said, far from a myopic
focus on English Wikipedia, strategies to support specialized needs
and exploration of new ideas have long been very much a high priority
for WMF. It's an issue that's very clearly articulated in the
"Encourage Innovation" section of the strategic plan:

[begin quote]
Support the infrastructure of networked innovation and research.
- Develop clear documentation and APIs so that developers can create
applications that work easily with our platforms.
- Ensure access to computing resources and data for interested
researchers and developers, including downloadable copies of all
public data.
- Continually improve social and technical systems for volunteer
development of core software, extensions, gadgets and other technical
improvements.

Promote the adoption of great ideas.
- Develop clear processes for code review, acceptance and deployment
so that volunteer development does not linger in limbo.
- Organize meetings and events bringing together developers and
researchers who are focused on Wikimedia-related projects with
experienced Wikimedia volunteers and staff.
- Showcase and recognize the greatest innovations of the Wikimedia
movement, and create community spaces dedicated to the exploration of
new ideas.
[end quote]

http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Movement_Strategic_Plan_Summary/Encourage_Innovation

That strategy is very much reflected in our actions and our budgeting,
as is evident from consulting recent activity reports.

One can legitimately criticize that this helps achieve incremental
improvements across the board, but leaves a gap of "large, focused
investment to meet specialized needs" (e.g. build new software to
support a wiki-based dictionary). But it doesn't necessarily have to
do so.

IMO, the question that's worth asking is: What's the constraint that's
keeping more people from launching successful initiatives under the
Wikimedia umbrella? There are clearly both technical and social
constraints. One technical constraint is the fact that taking an
initiative from scratch to a successful launch requires considerable
WMF support along the way. How can we reduce the need for WMF
organizational support?

The Wikimedia Labs project (
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Labs ) is designed to push
that boundary. In the "Test Dev Labs" environment, the goal is to make
it possible to test and develop software under conditions that are
very close to the WMF production environment. This means that,
provided you're willing to invest sufficient resources, you should be
able to get a project much closer to "WMF readiness" than you are
today with far less WMF help. Indeed, it is designed to not become an
on-ramp for new volunteers not just in development, but also site
operations.

That's of course a risky project and it may not live up to our
expectations. But it's IMO a smarter bet to make than just picking
(with an unavoidable element of arbitrariness) one of the many
specialized areas in which we currently aren't succeeding and throwing
$ and developers at it. Because it could enable us to approach far
more organizations and individuals to invest time and money in complex
free knowledge problems without having to pass through the WMF
bottleneck.

There are literally thousands of mission-driven organizations that
would love to find ways to help solve problems in the free knowledge
spaces we're occupying. Yet, even Wikimedia's own chapter
organizations are still only a relatively small part of the ecosystem
of technical innovation (which is no discredit to the many things they
have done, including some great technical work).

Having organizations take on challenges either because they are
inherently suited to do so, or simply because they have the
organizational bandwidth, seems like a fairly rational path to
increase our ability to get things done. If that's the world we want
to live in, it also seems entirely rational to me that WMF should
focus on general high impact improvements while continually investing
a considerable amount of its capacity in helping more people to build
great things.

In addition to technical support systems, forks can be a very good and
healthy part of that development (to break out of social constraints),
as can be the development of new organizations. A Wikinews
Foundation, or a Wiki Journalism Foundation, or some other such
construct may make a lot of sense in the long run, specifically when
it comes to the problem of citizen journalism.

--
Erik Mller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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sgardner at wikimedia

Sep 12, 2011, 7:36 PM

Post #44 of 79 (1280 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

On 12 September 2011 18:15, geni <geniice [at] gmail> wrote:
> On 12 September 2011 23:45, Samuel Klein <meta.sj [at] gmail> wrote:
>> Now: what do we need to do to make Wikinews better and more useful?
>> What are the costs and technical or other work involved?
>
> Very little. Mostly wikinews is misstargeted. Yet another website
> rewriting AP reports is never going to draw crowds. Wikinews needed
> original research and never really had very much of it. It is also
> operating in an extremely crowded market where as wikipedia had the
> field pretty much to itself when it started.


On the English Wikinews [1] at least, it's seemed to me that part of
the issue is that different editors are working on different genres of
news. Some do celebrity coverage, others do investigative work or
collaborative coverage of breaking events, etc. Those are quite
different value propositions that appeal to different types of
readers, and I would think that Wikinews has simply never produced
enough critical mass of any one genre, sufficient to create and
maintain a large readership that wants that genre.

Jimmy said once that part of the reason Wikipedia works so well is
because everybody knows what an encyclopedia article is supposed to
look like. I think that's true, and I think Wikinews has suffered in
comparison, because there are many different types of news, not just
one.

Thanks,
Sue


[1] the only one I personally can read

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phnash at blueyonder

Sep 12, 2011, 8:04 PM

Post #45 of 79 (1279 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

Sue Gardner wrote:
> On 12 September 2011 18:15, geni <geniice [at] gmail> wrote:
>> On 12 September 2011 23:45, Samuel Klein <meta.sj [at] gmail> wrote:
>>> Now: what do we need to do to make Wikinews better and more useful?
>>> What are the costs and technical or other work involved?
>>
>> Very little. Mostly wikinews is misstargeted. Yet another website
>> rewriting AP reports is never going to draw crowds. Wikinews needed
>> original research and never really had very much of it. It is also
>> operating in an extremely crowded market where as wikipedia had the
>> field pretty much to itself when it started.
>
> Jimmy said once that part of the reason Wikipedia works so well is
> because everybody knows what an encyclopedia article is supposed to
> look like.

Practical experience on a day-to-day basis would suggest that this is unduly
optimistic. We are failing to attract new editors who can be, or wish to be,
educated into "what an encyclopedia article is supposed to look like", and
are discarding those experienced editors who do. Even those who remain but
are becoming increasingly disillusioned with all the nonsense that goes on
will eventually leave, or create a fork of Wikipedia, and to be honest, if I
had the money right now, I'd do it myself, and cast ArbCom in its present
form into the bottomless pit.

I used to care about Wikipedia, as did others, but it's becoming
increasingly difficult to do so.


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przykuta at o2

Sep 12, 2011, 11:18 PM

Post #46 of 79 (1264 views)
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Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

> Sounds interesting. It is certainly true that wikinews was never as
> successful as we had hoped. Perhaps this new project will manage more. Good
> luck!

It's better IMHO without "What do you think of this page?" and page for comments.

Powered by Semantic MediaWiki, hmm.

cc-by-30 - yeah! Next free media :))

Przykuta

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morton.thomas at googlemail

Sep 13, 2011, 12:06 AM

Post #47 of 79 (1267 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

>
> 1) WikiLove has been enabled on Swedish, Malayalam, Hungarian, Hebrew,
> Arabic, and Hindi Wikipedia, as well as Commons, all on request of the
> respective project communities.
>
>
Uh oh - criticism time...

WikiLove was developed supposedly to address one of the major problems of
English Wikipedia (a problem which also affects other Wiki's to a larger or
lesser extent). It is an example of a solution being developed by those
without a full understanding of the problem (which is no criticism of the
devs involved; there is no reason they should understand the issues in
depth). It was ten deployed with minimal discussion, once again
demonstrating the lack of links between the developers and the community
(because just about anyone could have pointed out it would have been
controversial).

WMF failed it's role in several critical ways there.

And it a wider one too; because it seems to me there are more critical
technical issues in smaller projects that are not being fixed or addressed
or supported. And instead things like WikiLove appear.... feels like a bad
application of resources.

Just my view; but I think that the idea that sister projects do not get the
developer support they need is a fair assessment.

Tom
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nemowiki at gmail

Sep 13, 2011, 3:30 AM

Post #48 of 79 (1261 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

Erik Moeller, 13/09/2011 03:55:
> That's of course a risky project and it may not live up to our
> expectations. But it's IMO a smarter bet to make than just picking
> (with an unavoidable element of arbitrariness) one of the many
> specialized areas in which we currently aren't succeeding and throwing
> $ and developers at it.

But that's exactly what the WMF is doing. The Usability Initiative, the
WikiLove extension, ArticleFeedback, MoodBar, StructuredProfile and so
on (you didn't mention LiquidThreads, but that's another one if it's not
freezed) all are risky projects with which the WMF is intervening on
areas and problems of the software which have always been overlooked:
all of them have [had] their (big) issues but the WMF has decided to
take the risk.[1]
So your point is just the usual one: Wikipedia is currently a success,
it's probably the only thing we're able to do, so let's put all
resources and risks there,[2] we can fail but considering the past we
are also likely to succeed.
The idea that others should take the risk of working on non-Wikipedia
projects is the logical consequence and ecnouraging innovation is a good
thing, but it doesn't change the fact that the premise is highly dubious.

Nemo

[1] And I agree, although I disagree on some details and I'm not
convinced at all that all of them can actually be useful for other
languages.
[2] And mostly on the English edition for the same reasoning.

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nemowiki at gmail

Sep 13, 2011, 3:37 AM

Post #49 of 79 (1270 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

M. Williamson, 13/09/2011 00:13:
> English Wikiquote, which I've always considered to be one of our most
> pointless and least useful projects, has a total of 5 users who make more
> than 100 edits a month. This is a project in English, our highest-traffic
> language, that has been open since 2003. That's ridiculous.

You're honest in reminding your own prejudices against the project, but
that's a very bad example for your own thesis.
First, Wikiquote (in several languages) serves his purpose quite well
and successfully; a dictionary of quotations can be considered a niche
product compared to a vocabulary or an encyclopedia and this explains
the not so high numbers but this doesn't mean it's less worthwhile of
other more ambitious projects that don't work at all.
Second, the English edition has a particularly high number of anonymous
edits and edits performed by less active editors: the ability to get
contributions by readers seems a success to me, not a fault.
Third, you should not consider only absolute but also relative numbers.
I remember a presentation of Erik Moeller at Wikimania 2010 where he
showed views and activity stats of our projects to prove how some of
them are failing; he even forgot to mention Wikiquote, but his own
numbers showed that it was the project with the highest "return on
investment", i.e. the views/activity (work) ratio.

In short, your own argumentation is an example of the problem itself,
that is considering non-Wikipedia projects with Wikipedia-only criteria,
creating the premises of the failure.

Nemo

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nemowiki at gmail

Sep 13, 2011, 3:49 AM

Post #50 of 79 (1269 views)
Permalink
Re: A Wikimedia project has forked [In reply to]

MZMcBride, 13/09/2011 00:24:
> Wikimedia has made its decision and the community has largely sat quiet on
> the issue.

Rectius: the Wikimedia Foundation (as you say below). Other Wikimedia
people, groups and organizations don't think so and are even accused not
to have the "legitimacy" (!) to invest resources (especially money) on
projects other than Wikipedia. That's the message: working on
non-Wikipedia projects is not only risky and probably useless (in terms
of revenue) and anyway something we don't want to do ourself, but even
immoral.
I don't know, it might be right: nobody has the monopoly of the truth;
but for this very reason, when I see such dogmas stated or implicitly
assumed, I'm very worried that we might have overlooked something and be
going to do something very wrong.

> Wikimedia has made it clear in promotional materials, donation
> drives, and nearly anywhere else that its focus is the English Wikipedia. Of
> all the criticisms you can make about the Wikimedia Foundation, I wouldn't
> say that "it's not being upfront about its intentions or motivations on this
> issue" is a valid one.

Nemo

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