Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2021-01-31/News and notes

1,000,000,000 edits, board elections, virtual Wikimania 2021: Who else but Ser Amantio di Nicolao?


Edit number 1,000,000,000

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Ser Amantio di Nicolao is already well known for being the "most productive editor" on the English language Wikipedia in terms of the number of edits he has made. This month, he added "the billionth edit" made by all editors on enWiki to his laurels. The count was complicated by a change in software and other factors – so let's say it was the billionth edit since the counter was reset in 2002.

The article he edited was Death Breathing and it was later converted to a redirect. He told The Signpost "Getting the billionth edit wasn't actually my goal, though it's certainly a nice lagniappe – all I had been trying to do was to push us closer to the goal itself, so that we could hopefully clear it before the twentieth anniversary of Wikipedia on January 15. It was quite a shock to discover that I'd hit the magic number. The article itself holds no particular interest for me – my musical interests lie more in the direction of classical. It was just one of a large handful of articles to which I was adding authority control templates. Nothing special."

He explained the personal significance of the achievement with a story. "Not long before my mother left the Soviet Union, her employer, Leningrad State University, got a copier for use in the office. It was a revolutionary tool; previously, office staff had relied on mimeographing and typing to perform many of the tasks the copier would take over. The powers-that-be knew that the new machine could be dangerous in the wrong hands, and restricted access to it. Only the departmental secretary could let people in to use it. And they had to be witnessed while they were making their copies. My mother never used this miracle machine, but when she heard about it her first thought was: 'This is it. This marks the beginning of the end of Soviet power.'"

"Just like the paper copies in Leningrad, each of the billion edits on Wikipedia, no matter how insignificant, is another step in ensuring that knowledge, and learning, and freedom, can be made available to all. That's the force of this moment in Wikipedia's history. The cumulative effect of those billion edits shows me just how far we have managed to come, collectively, in changing the world. 'As ordinary as it all appears,' to borrow a line from Jhumpa Lahiri, 'there are times when it is beyond my imagination.' "

Foundation removes community elections from bylaws, calls for feedback on future process for "community-and-affiliate-selected" trustees

The Board of Trustees has approved a bylaw change to increase the number of trustees from a maximum of 10 up to a maximum of 16 with 8 seats to be "community-and-affiliate-selected". The minimum number of seats is 9. As a step to ensure that the balance will not favor board-appointed seats, the Board will not make an appointment if that appointment will result in a minority of "community-and-affiliate-selected" seats.

In the announcement, the board's chair remarks that "We have not used the term 'community-sourced' that we initially proposed and instead now call these 'community-and-affiliate-selected' seats." According to a three-way diff prepared by a community member, the change otherwise largely implements the revision that the board had published for feedback in October (see our detailed earlier report). In particular, it still removes the requirement that a certain number of trustees have to be "selected from candidates approved through community voting," replacing it with the wording "sourced from candidates vetted through a Community and/or Affiliate nomination process" (also combining the board seats selected by editor community with those selected by affiliates, i.e. chapters and other recognized organizations within the Wikimedia movement). With this change, the board aims for "a process that enables diverse and equitable representation from communities across the Wikimedia movement." It is also likely to help the board avoid situations like the community re-electing a community-selected trustee despite the rest of the board having dismissed him not long before.

The removal of "voting" had been controversial, with founder trustee Jimmy Wales objecting that "I will personally only support a final [bylaws] revision which explicitly includes community voting". However, the December 9 resolution approving the change was unanimous. On the other hand, the announcement notes that "the status of Jimmy Wales as Community Founder Trustee remains unchanged" – after the October consultation, the board had taken up a proposal to remove his position (see earlier coverage: "WMF Board considering the removal of Jimmy Wales' trustee position amid controversy over future of community elections").

How are the community seats to be selected? We don't know yet! You can comment on an appropriate method at Call for feedback: Community Board seats from February 1 to March 14.

Wikimania 2021 going virtual

Last year's Wikimania scheduled for Bangkok was originally delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic. This week the in-person 2021 Wikimania was cancelled in favor of a virtual event. Janeen Uzzell announced on the Wikipedia-l mailing list that "it seems unlikely that we will all be able to travel freely and convene together by August 2021". Planning for the virtual Wikimania will begin soon and comments are welcomed at Talk:Wikimania 2021 on Meta.

Brief notes

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RFAs since 2007