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A Wiki not so Simple, a mayor motivating an editathon, a Marshall Plan, and a Wikimania under a cloud of criticism

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The UK Houses of Parliament

– all this and lots of other features in this month's issue including The Marshall Plan for Page Curation and Articles for Creation. We continue with our voyage on the Admin Ship and next month's publication will conclude with it docking in home waters, while we briefly report on a Wikimedia project, Simple English, that may be foundering. In the news is also more on the effects and media blowback of perceived Conflict of Interest causing a political storm with a former UK Member of Parliament at the helm. Also in the UK, the Mayor of London launches an editathon. A whirlwind of criticism mounts over Wikimania.

The new editorial team gets shipshape and settles down to a routine with the expected round-the-clock bustle of action in all time zones and tidal waters in the last few hours before deadline. We are all still wondering however, how earlier teams managed to bring out a weekly publication. For all of us still providing much of the content, it's a significant byte out of our regular editing time. With The Signpost developing into more of a monthly news magazine, do remember that anyone can submit an article.

Take to your cabin on your mobile device and curl up in your bunk for some bedtime reading. Enjoy.

Reader comments

Firehose of sewage reduced to a trickle

Within minutes of ACREQ being switched on, the new rule that limits creation of articles in mainspace to confirmed users, the number of totally inappropriate new pages dropped back to the level of the six-month trial.

As reported in our April issue in Special report, the switch, originally scheduled for 3 May, was urgently thrown a week earlier on 26 April bringing this six-year-long-awaited new policy finally into play.

Further developments on Articles for Creation and New Page Review work sharing

Promised by the Foundation, based on comments made by AfC reviewers during the RfC, special envoy Marshall Miller has been looking into the way AfC works, how it contrasts with New Page Patrol, and making some suggestions which have since moved to development stage.

AfC work could get better

Miller's analysis appears to have identified issues surrounding the productivity of AfC which can be addressed with software enhancements, while some editors involved in the discussion for improvement of the system suggest that the problems of AfC are social ones rather than technical: poor reviewing and too few reviewers.

Indeed, some are OK, but perhaps many of them are not, and a large number of them could be consigned immediately to the trash can. Many pages are dumped into the draft system by people who appear not to have the slightest intention of contributing anything coherent to a collaborative project, while others simply submit a substandard draft never to return. Since ACREQ, New Page Reviewers are increasingly moving borderline articles to the draft mainspace, thus adding to the workload for AfC but not on the scale that was feared. A dilemma faced by AfC reviewers, however, is that getting rid of even the most clearly unwanted draft is not so easy. Talks are ongoing on the possibilities of either introducing a special Criteria for speedy deletion criterion, a sticky proposed deletion à la Proposed deletion of biographies of living people, or the creation of a "Drafts for Deletion" on the lines of Articles for Deletion.

Although AfC is not the Article Rescue Squadron, many draft creators (and confirmed editors too), especially single-purpose accounts, submit their creation in Wikipedia expecting other editors to complete it or clean it up. They need to be informed up front that not only are notability and sources required, but that the article must also be appropriate for an encyclopedia, and that clean-up attempts by reviewers might not be the best deployment of their enthusiasm to rescue certain kinds of articles.

Dialogue with the creator is an intrinsic part of the AfC template system, and used well, more effective than Page Curation's message feature. Unlike New Page Review, whose principal task as a triage is to either tag articles for deletion or pass them for inclusion with perhaps some minor details needing to be addressed, at AfC the skill is in being able to sensibly recognise whether or not a new article has true validity and potential for the encyclopedia and offer some basic advice – the rest is about not being scared to keep or delete:

The Marshall Plan

NPP work gets better – with new challenges and a shift in focus

After the New Pages Reviewer user right was created in November 2016, the effect was to reduce a mammoth backlog of some 22,000 articles down to 3,500 in just over a year, hitting what is probably the lowest level ever of exactly 700 just before the copy deadline of this month's Signpost. Prior to the introduction of the NPR user group, poor patrols and incorrect tagging were frequent; odd uses of tags and deletion criteria still occur, but at a much reduced level.

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a black hat
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a black hat editor – blocked and banned. Self portrait.
The challenge facing New Page Reviewers now is in shifting their focus to copyright infringements, ever increasing spammers, and black-hat users – those subtle and sinister undeclared paid editors who exploit Wikipedia as a platform for financial gain instead of contributing truly needed content, or to promote certain products, services, or points of view.

In an April 2018 article, Foundation chief executive Katherine Maher discussed similar problems, though it was noted that "longtime Wikipedia editors are able to distinguish this kind of activity, and conduct their own investigations to weed such actors out."[2] The problem facing Wikipedia in reality, however, and which the Foundation's research cannot identify, is that many of the older and more experienced editors have long since moved on from the mundane and depressing task of repetitively tagging trash. It's then largely left up to enthusiastic but inexperienced new users who still do not need special rights to apply the tags to the articles and drafts.

Automation may be able to help. Probably hinting at ORES, Maher goes on to say:

Notability should be as much a part of the process as it is at New pages patrol. However, this tends to be more of an issue of subjective interpretation of notability by the reviewers. Unless they know them by heart through years of creating articles or patrolling them, no one knows the mass of notability guidelines properly or has even read them until push comes to shove. Just not having sources in the article is not a reason for a lack of notability if credible claims of notability are expressed in the article. That said, a raft of sources needs to be carefully examined; chances are that the more references that come with a new article, the majority of them are just Internet barrel-scraping, and what's left is barely reliable. It shouldn't necessarily be the reviewer's job to go searching for sources. Creators need to be pointed to the instructions for reliable and verifiable sources and asked to go back and do it themselves. In this respect the Article Wizard could be improved – currently it directs the creator to Citing sources which is a mind bending page with a steep learning curve for a newbie. A simpler version needs to be written.

Among the other suggestions were the possibilities of:

  1. deprecating AfC altogether;
  2. creating AfC as an officially recognised function with its own software and a proper feed, rather than an informal WikiProject operating on its indispensable helper script but which urgently needs bringing in line with today's situation; and
  3. merging AfC and NPP into a common user interface that provides both functions.

The third option has been chosen by the Foundation as the one they can address within the resources available at this time. Notwithstanding:

  • The Interface exists already but needs a (partial) rebuild.
  • There is a list of urgently needed enhancements at Page Curation/Suggested improvements.
  • This could be the opportunity for the WMF to finally agree to take those requirements into consideration, and as long-time WMF developer Ryan Kaldari once suggested, rewrite the code while incorporating the functions of AfC.
  • AfC reviewing is inconsistent.
  • The AfC reviewers could be upgraded to New Page Reviewers to give them an official status.

Replying to Miller's question – "Would you say that the biggest benefit with this idea would be 'improve communication between reviewers and authors to decrease iterations', 'increase the speed/ease that reviewers can do their workflow', or both?" – Legacypac says that it "[d]efinitely improve[s] communications between reviewers and authors and between different reviewers. Better communication improves workflow in all contexts."

An engagement

Based on Marshall Miller's findings, a summary of AfC's challenges, goals, and ideas for improvement, Community Tech and volunteers are already collaborating on developments bearing in mind that knowing what is needed and writing the code for it are very different specialisms. Miller has been posting regular progress updates and asking for community feedback. The collaboration has emphasized creating separate list of drafts in the New Pages Feed for better organisation of the way AfC agents select the drafts they wish to review and finally accept or reject. The entries in the feed will be flagged by ORES for copyright violations.

A marriage

Screenshot of in-progress New Pages Feed
Wedlock: A sneak peek at AfC and NPP sharing the same bed

Miller's list of 18 improvements included: "take steps toward a shared interface between AfC and NPP, since those processes are similar in many ways" and "automated checks for copyright violation as part of the helper script" and "rotate reviewers on repeat submissions instead of routing repeat submissions to the same reviewer".

While their tasks are as similar as they are different, both Articles for Creation and New Page Review are urgently in need of additional, competent hands on deck. If you have the required level of experience and would like to spare some time helping not only to keep the backlogs down, but helping genuine but confused new users, please check out New Page Review and Articles for Creation and apply for the use of the tools.


Further reading (history)


  1. ^ Wikipedia:WikiProject Articles for creation/AfC Process Improvement May 2018/Background
  2. ^ a b Kozlowska, Hanna; Timmons, Heather (27 April 2018). "200,000 volunteers have become the fact checkers of the internet". Quartz. Atlantic Media. Archived from the original on 29 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.

Reader comments

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Admin Ship demasted, in a storm, and taking on water

The Admin Ship – all hands on deck!

In last month's Signpost we reported that discussions about adminship had dropped not just to a trickle, but had dried up completely. The article produced a massive 70,000 byte river of comment, positive and objective. It refloated talks again at WT:RfA, once Wikipedia's most popular forum, after its longest period ever without a post, and culminated in the successful bids for captaincy by two new candidates. However, with still only five new admins for the year, as we mark the halfway point through 2018, the seachart painstakingly maintained by WereSpielChequers, continues to predict dismal progress over the sysop waters. In this June issue, we take a look at what admins actually do and why they do it. We asked an ad-hoc selection of some 40 or so of the most active admins to describe their work.

What they get up to while we're not looking

The vast majority of the work admins do comprises operations that get little publicity. Literally swabbing the decks of backlogs of routine issues, it's what give them the name of "janitor", and their tool(s) the "mop". Most of the admins we asked each do a variety of tasks that involve the tools in non-contentious areas. One admin, Diannaa, focuses nowadays almost exclusively on copyright cleanup using the copy patrol Interface. She spends two to five hours a day on this and chose this area because there are very few people working on copyright cleanup in particular. That's a lot of hours and shows real dedication to a single and very necessary chore. Most others, although they have preferred areas, touch on several aspects of the job. Just a few sysops systematically patrol areas for instances where their tools are most useful, AfD closures, and other deletion backlogs, such as RHaworth who sails on a set course through the Category:CSD: "Almost entirely doing speedy deletions from CAT:CSD with blocking and page protection to complete some jobs. Why? Each deletion is complete in itself. There is no need for ongoing monitoring and discussion as is needed if one looks after a specific article."

Others regularly take care of permission requests, or regularly responding to vandalism reports or requests for page protection. Many simply intervene during their normal editing where they can use their tools to resolve the problems they encounter, and occasionally close editing debates requiring admin trust to assess the consensus.

What they get up to while we are looking

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A poop deck, the traditional command centre of a galleon

Creating the bow wave with all their spray are the drama boards, blocks, bans and other sanctions. Wikipedia's Hurricane Alley with even hotter waters than the Atlantic Ocean is the poop deck of that dreaded sea dragon, Aunty Ani, more politely referred to as Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents, and woe betide anyone who gets dragged there, whether admin or simple deck hands. Not too infrequently, editors asking for other users to be keel-hauled end up with the wind blowing the spray back in their faces; there's a Wikipedia essay on that too: Boomerang. Not many of the admins we spoke to venture into these dangerous waters – for some, it's more to be feared than the Bermuda Triangle. One admin finds that ANI seems to have developed an "unruly and aggressive culture" that makes it "very difficult to hold a structured productive discussion". Boing! said Zebedee tells us:

One of the admins who rarely participates on drama boards or policy-making believes the growth of policies over the years is the worst change that has ever happened to Wikipedia. MelanieN is another admin who avoids the drama boards as much as possible. She nevertheless participates as a regular editor on contentious article talk pages and is sometimes described as "the grown-up in the room." On Discretionary sanctions, another fairly contentious area that has even led to wheel warring on several occasions, Bishonen, who actually likes working there also believes that people stay clear of all DS because of the paperwork, the logs, and the templates.

Just how challenging is it being a fairly busy admin?

One admin replies with one of his characteristic pithy comments: "Keeping my mouth shut and my tools in the box when people piss me off. I find it really hard sometimes to let them have the last word, but I usually do. It's unbelievable how stubborn and/or nasty some people can be. Some people just don't realise that admins, just like all other genuine editors, are unpaid volunteers." Comments from other admins include 'Explaining why I've done something. The explanation isn't necessarily difficult, but attempting to demonstrate to someone that what I've done is proper and completely within the bounds of what an admin should do (especially when they just are complaining and are refusing to listen) is frustrating at times' (Primefac), and Alex Shih (quoting Dennis Brown) says: "[...] the most difficult time would be when you are being personally attacked, but unable to take admin action when you technically could, and unable to receive assistance in time.'

What do they enjoy doing most as admins?

Our admins are almost unanimous in that they derive the greatest satisfaction from using their tools to rescue new or confused users who have strayed unwittingly into deeper waters and nudge them back into the shallows, although some do say that this is often not an easy thing to do. One admin finds the easiest and most pleasant part of their work is "being able to help the overwhelming majority of our responsible, collegial Wikipedians get on with their work by shielding them from troublemakers through administrative sanctions where they are needed." Yunshui enjoys the fact that so many admin tasks can now be completed in a handful of clicks using scripts instead of doing them manually. He gets satisfaction from "consigning vandalism only accounts to the dungheap of blockdom". Like most admins, Anne Delong likes "being able to fix my own problems instead of having to ask for help, and to deal with technical issues such as page moves, history merges, and [revision deletions]". Like most other active admins, she values being able to see deleted content when contributing to discussions.

Admin 'abuse'

One of the very quirks in our English language is that the phrase 'admin abuse' can be interpreted two ways. Yes, dear Reader, you've got it: either you are one of those editors who hurls insults and offense at sysops, or you are an admin who (apparently) mistreats the editors – or you simply get on with your work and stay out of the firing line whichever way the cannon balls are flying, which is actually what quite a few of our admins do. One admin has twice received nasty emails from editors who found her personal website and email address online, and for a while she was being impersonated by someone who was trying to solicit money for COI edits. She hasn't noticed general hostility towards her personally as an admin.

When asked about whether they have been the target of harassment or personal attacks, Sandstein reports "[...] regularly, from editors who are angry that I sanctioned them, or from their friends. If one works in sanctions-related areas, one has to accept this, to some degree, as part of the job, and one has to be able to ignore it. But I regularly have to remind myself that I need to be able to distinguish valid, good-faith criticism from the sort of reflexive assumptions of bad faith that are sometimes the consequence of sanctions, and this is not always easy."

The author of this Signpost article tells of being abused:

HJ Mitchell "Harry", explains that he has suffered abuse "many, many times":

Are they in it for the power it gives them over content and to bully other users?

Apparently not. But most of them report a suspicion that some non-admins think they are. According to JamesBWatson, "[...] contrary to what a lot of non-admins think, being an administrator is not much about having more power, much more about spending time on routine cleanup work and therefore having less time available to do constructive editing, which is what I (and probably all of us) came here to do". Beeblebrox concurs, saying: "As always when discussing adminship I'd like to mention that it is not some all-powerful position of godlike authority. When you’ve deleted a few thousand pages of the same promotional garbage you begin to understand that it really is just keeping the place clean."


Generally, our most active admins like their work although some find it sometimes time-consuming and at times not quite so easy. Those who work in the stormier waters accept that they will occasionally bear the brunt of remarks and actions of less pleasant contributors, trolls, and vandals, but they take it in their stride. The questions we asked (for this article) were:

  • In which areas do you mainly or normally use your admin tools? (such as deletion/undeletion, blocking, page protection, revdel, PERM, etc.). What's the reason for your choice?
  • In what areas, if any, do you regularly exercise non-tool admin judgement? (such as debate closures, RfA, AN, ANI, Arbcom cases, policy making, etc). What's the reason for your choice?
  • What do you find most challenging or difficult about being an admin?
  • What do you find easiest, or most pleasing about being an admin?
  • Have you ever been the target of harassment or PA? How do you perceive some of the claims that the non-admin community is generally hostile towards sysops?
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The sailors of the Admin Ship meeting the press gang.

The admins were exceptionally frank and forthcoming with their answers. Readers who are interested in how each admin replied can see the full set of sysop answers for this article, with an introduction, at Wikipedia:Signpost/June 2018 admin Q&A. We heartily thank the respondents for allowing themselves to be press-ganged into participating in our inquisition without any hesitation. We make no comments as to whether the survey is truly representative of our admins in general.

In next month's issue of The Signpost, we will be sailing into hopefully calmer waters on the last leg of the admin ship's current voyage. Admins will be giving us their thoughts on the RfA process and some advice for potential candidates.

Reader comments

Zarasophos is currently working on everything related to Jadidism. The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not reflect any official opinions of this publication.
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My work, Google's traffic

If you type "Rizaeddin bin Fakhreddin" into Google, Google will give you a list of links and a small box to the right. The first link will probably be to the English Wikipedia article on bin Fakhreddin, created and written by me; this can easily be checked by going into the page history of the article. But most likely you'll never bother to actually click on the article because of that small box to the right. "Rizaeddin bin Fakhreddin was a Tatar scholar and publicist that lived in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union", it reads.

I typed that sentence. I also put the birth and death dates onto Wikipedia. I uploaded the picture to Wikimedia Commons and put it into the article – or articles, actually, because I also created the article on the German Wikipedia. But now I find this information directly on Google. There is a link to the Wikipedia article, but that may as well be a result of Father Google's omniscient mercy. Nowhere does the box state that it presents the work of an unpaid volunteer next to Google advertisements. The effect is obvious: In a 2017 study, half of the participants attributed what they found in the Knowledge Graph, which is the name of that small box, not to Wikipedia, but to Google.

Only good enough to blame

The Knowledge Graph has recently been in the news for saying that California Republicans are Nazis. The scandal was reported, discussed, closed, opened again and finally forgotten. Conservatives still think Google is biased against them; Google says the whole thing wasn't its fault.

We regret that vandalism on Wikipedia briefly appeared on our search results. This was not the the result of a manual change by Google.
— Google press release

No, obviously it wasn't. None of the content you presented there was. That was all Wikipedia's.

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But the interesting thing is that in the public eye, this was still Google's fault. Read through the Twitter thread; none of the enraged commenters there seem to believe that this wasn't an action by a Google employee. "Google: Republicans are Nazis", read the headline on the Drudge Report article exposing the issue, and Wired magazine made a whole story out of making clear that the vandalism itself happened on Wikipedia. And all of that while more Wikipedia editors quickly did the dirty work; they hunted down the specific edit that caused the problem, corrected the vandalism and placed the page under semi-protection to prevent copycats. Meanwhile, the Knowledge Graph is still humming along, the ideology section removed, the rest still filled with Wikipedia data, and Google can be happy until the next scandal.

And we are left with a question: Why do we let this happen? Why do we let a multi-billion dollar company exploit us as uncredited mules – as long as there isn't a need for someone to shift the blame to? Where is the organization that should be responsible for protecting the rights of its volunteer editors – where is the WMF? Traditionally, Google is one of the biggest sponsors of the Foundation; for example, they chucked Jimmy Wales a $2m grant in 2010, more than they donated the whole last year. A few months later, they acquired the knowledge base Freebase, which was to form the basis for the Knowledge Graph, for an undisclosed sum.

Exploiters of free content should give back

After the recent scandal surfaced, the Foundation took an apologetic stance. "We're sorry", its statement seems to say, "and no, online encyclopedias still aren't a bad thing." But on 15 June, WMF executive director Katherine Maher, writing an opinion piece in Wired, saw the other side: "If Wikipedia is being asked to help hold back the ugliest parts of the internet, from conspiracy theories to propaganda, then the commons needs sustained, long-term support", she says, "The companies which rely on the standards we develop, the libraries we maintain, and the knowledge we curate should invest back. And they should do so with significant, long-term commitments that are commensurate with our value we create."

This is a step in the right direction. At the very least, the platform economies of the world should give something back to the largest source of the information they feed their algorithms with. As Maher concludes, "we shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for our value", but maybe it is time we see Google – and Facebook, and Amazon – not only as partners, but also as the ones making huge profits sustained by our unpaid labor.

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Problems on the run-up to Wikimania

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Familiar faces at Wikimania?

The announcement of Wikimania scholarships for 2018 provoked complaints on a Foundation mailing list. Among the raised issues was that of some editors repeatedly being awarded scholarships while others are denied, who claim to have important presentations to make or a real need to meet people with whom they collaborate on significant developments. Indeed, some who fairly regularly attend Wikimania at their own cost mention that they see the same faces every time. There was also a call for more coordination between scholarship committee and programme planners as well as the repeated complaint that the presentations were WMF-top heavy.

A member of this year's scholarship committee replied with changes made to the scholarship process already:

This year's Wikimania will take place in Cape Town from July 18 to 22. The Signpost will provide further coverage.

Eleven new projects funded

The WMF Project Grants Committee has announced eleven new projects that will be founded in this round of grants. In total, these projects will receive over $320,000.

Seven software projects

One online organizing project

  • Community toolkit for Greater Diversity "will develop tailored online and offline training modules to equip veteran volunteers to create a more inclusive, diverse editing community on Indic language Wikipedias."

Three offline outreach programs

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User Group Côte d'Ivoire in the process of destubbing the French article for Bernard Dadié, the father of Cote d'Ivorian literature. On to a hundred more articles with Les Classes Wikipedia!
  • Les Classes Wikipedia (Wikipedia Classroom) "will continue a successful pilot program in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Teens and young adults will be trained to create and improve Wikipedia articles, focusing on the 100 most notable Ivorian writers."
  • Les sans pagEs "will expand both its online and offline presence in Europe, engaging the francophone community to collaborate on reducing the gender gap on the French Wikipedia."
  • WikiDonne roadmap "will continue to organize event coordinators across Italy to help promote more gender diversity in Italian Wikipedia. The group aims to increase female biographies by writing at least 250 new articles."

There have also been several changes to the process of WMF Grants. Rapid Grants will now need a minimum amount of $500, in order to reduce administrative work at the Foundation. Application openings will be from the 1st to the 15th of each month. New Project Grants will "likely" be accepted during a single grant cycle in November 2018 for amounts between $2,000 and $100,000. Conference grants will get two rounds of funding, with existing regional and thematic conferences staying funded. New applications for local or national conferences will be considered up to an amount of $10,000.

Grants are currently in a phase of "major changes to our funding processes in the long term [...] these changes will reengineer the roles of participating organizations (the Wikimedia Foundation, committees, and grantees alike)", according to a Wikimedia announcement. Discussion of these and further changes is welcomed at the Annual plan talk page.

A Library for Women in Red

Women in Red (WIR) is seeking coders to help adapt the Koha integrated library system to eBook lending for the project. According to a short interview with members of the project, the project so far attracted funding via World Contest winners' donations to the Wikipedia:WikiProject Women in Red/The World Contest#Women in Red Book/WIR Subscription Fund, and is now planning to create a eBook and open access book lending library with Koha managing circulation and catalog functions. This effort is spearheaded by WIR members with professional library knowledge, namely Megalibrarygirl, Rosiestep, and SusunW. After an initial beta phase, model and software may be extended to other WikiProjects if they prove successful.

Technical Engagement Team formed

According to a Foundation announcement, this new team will report to the Foundation's CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and include a Cloud Services group and a Technical Advocacy group. Cloud Services will continue maintaining current services, while Advocacy will encourage API adoption through example software, tutorials, and other documentation and work with "groups at affiliate organizations and the larger Wikimedia volunteer community". The Foundation will also hire a new engineer and create the position of Developer Advocacy Manager. Initial reaction has been highly positive, with some expressing hope that the new team would fulfill a current need for code review.

Brief notes

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Pbsouthwood wielding an underwater administrator keyboard
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TheSandDoctor's new T-shirt
  • New administrators: We welcome two new admins this month.
  • Pbsouthwood is from South Africa and has been editing Wikipedia since 2009. He specialises in WikiProject Portals and Scuba diving.
  • TheSandDoctor made his first edit in January 2017. He likes working on Rolling Stones related articles and is studying for a degree in Computer Science, majoring in gaming and graphics.
  • Not new but returning: Gogo Dodo was once a prolific vandalism and spam fighter, having deleted over 78,000 pages and blocked nearly 20,000 accounts. He suddenly stopped editing on 13 February 2017 and was procedurally desysoped in March 2018 following a full year of total inactivity. Returning from what he calls 'a long nap', his tools were restored on 27 June following a request at the Bureaucrats' Noticeboard.
Five admins were desysoped for inactivity on 1 June. This brings the total number of Admins to 1,212, with 549 active in the last two months. Two bureaucrats were also desysoped, one due to inactivity and one after resignation due to an ArbCom case.
  • Milestones:
  • The Portuguese Wikipedia became the 15th Wikipedia to have more than 1 million articles on 26 June. The Afrikaans Wikipedia reached 100,000 registered users this month.
  • At 16:40 (04:40PM UTC) 28 June, the English Wikipedia New Page Review backlog dropped to 700 during a concentrated backlog drive. Down from around 16,000 around a year ago – aided by the implementation of a new policy debated at WP:ACREQ (see The Signpost Special report March 2018).

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Arbitration committee thrust into the media spotlight

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Jimmy Wales in Moscow, 2016

Wikipedia's Arbitration committee was thrust into the media spotlight this month, with several stories being published including "The 15 People Who Keep Wikipedia's Editors From Killing Each Other: Online committee called ArbCom tries to keep the peace at internet encyclopedia".

  • Arbcom keeps the peace The Wall Street Journal, by Corinne Ramey, May 7 (paywall).
  • ArbCom member User:NewYorkBrad The Wikipedia editor Ira Brad Matetsky (User:Newyorkbrad) is featured in Princeton Alumni Weekly for his role as an ArbCom member.
  • "Mystery Wikipedia editor", "witch-hunt", Arbcom coverage Also reported by Haaretz, the editor Philip Cross has drawn ire from a cohort of Russian-backed media (RT, Sputnik), Wikileaks (which tweeted a Craig Morris blog post), and former UK Labour Party politician George Galloway, who all accuse him of making biased, politically-targeted edits. Wikipedia's co-founder, Jimmy Wales, was even asked to weigh in on the dispute. Haaretz concludes that "Though Cross does have a clear political bent, it is not necessarily one that undermines the entire project that openly strives to reflect mainstream bias." The BBC discussed the issue and called it "a huge debate on the internet encyclopaedia - one of the world's most popular websites" (their words) – the same editing fracas that is subject of a case covered in this month's Arbitration report. The BBC story mentions the current Arbcom case.

European copyright law threatens Wikipedia – and memes: online freedom of speech "delegated to complaint mechanisms"

The much-maligned EU Copyright Directive was passed on June 20 and slated for future consideration by the EU Parliament. A storm of warnings did nothing to prevent the law from passing, not even a dramatic intervention by Cory Doctorow that called out the potential horrible consequences, especially for Wikipedia:

Article 13 gets Wikipedia coming and going: not only does it create opportunities for unscrupulous or incompetent people to block the sharing of Wikipedia's content beyond its bounds, it could also require Wikipedia to filter submissions to the encyclopedia and its surrounding projects, like Wikimedia Commons. The drafters of Article 13 have tried to carve Wikipedia out of the rule, but thanks to sloppy drafting, they have failed: the exemption is limited to "noncommercial activity". Every file on Wikipedia is licensed for commercial use.

John Weitzmann, head of politics and law at Wikimedia Deutschland, also condemned the law ahead of the vote in a talk held at re:publica 2018, saying that if more people do not "take part in the dividends from a market ... with stakeholders that are too strong ... it is the task of cartel and competition law to correct this." Weitzmann expressed concerns that Article 13 "establish[es] a total filtration of all net platforms" with "freedom of speech delegated to complaint mechanisms".

Several media outlets, including German site and Gizmodo, also reported on the law. As the title of the Gizmodo article reads: "Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped."

Award for binary options exposé

The Trace Prize for Investigative Reporting was given to Simona Weinglass, the reporter who wrote a series of articles about the binary options industry for The Times of Israel, including "Wikipedia vs. Banc De Binary: A 3-year battle against binary options 'fake news'" which appeared exactly a year ago. That article covered The Signpost's February 2017 Special report by Smallbones. (The Times of Israel, "Times of Israel's Weinglass wins reporting honor for binary options exposé")

Smallbones provided this reaction for The Signpost:

Anybody who has edited anything related to binary options knows [Simona Weinglass's] contributions well. She took an organized crime topic where most newspapers fear to tread, if only to avoid libel suits, and opened it up so that the whole world could see it and smell it - the big picture and the smallest details. Her work moved the Israeli government to ban binary options, and just when it looked like political maneuvers would gut the bill, she took on some of the most powerful people in the Knesset and won that fight too. Remarkable journalism. Thanks Simona.

Digital commons becomes corporate picnic: donated Wikipedia content fuels for-profit Internet giants

Vice News reported that "GOOGLE LISTED “NAZISM” AS THE IDEOLOGY OF THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY" in the Knowledge Graph search result as a result of vandalism to the Wikipedia page. A related story appeared on front page of the Drudge Report, and the WMF apologized (?) via Twitter. US House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Google for the incident, and California Republican Party added criticism of Wikipedia (CBS). Also reported by tech media Search Engine Land, CNET, Wired, Gizmodo, the journalism school Poynter, & mainstream media RT, Fox News, Newsweek, Forbes and USA Today. See also this issue's Opinion.

After the high-profile vandalism event, WMF's executive director, Katherine Maher, wrote an op-ed in Wired magazine titled "Facebook and Google must do more to support Wikipedia", contrasting a community garden to a "corporate picnic" and calling attention to the digital commons' exposure to "overuse, exploitation and commodification".

In brief

Other contributors: 3family6

Cannes 2018 Star Wars 2.jpg
Presentation of Solo: A Star Wars Story at Cannes
  • Solo Compared to a "Filmed Wikipedia Page" The New York Times wrote in its review of the film Solo that the movie was essentially a "filmed Wikipedia page".
Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.

Reader comments

Wikipedia Event coordinator.svg
The logo of the new Event Coordinator group

Closing Simple English Wikipedia?

A discussion is taking place on Meta on the possible closure of one of the Foundation projects. Tagged with a WMF caveat to '...keep in mind that all project closure discussions are advisory. The Language Committee and WMF Board make all final decisions on project closures', a proposal has been put forward by Piotrus this month for the closure of Simple English Wikipedia.

Simple English which has around 135,000 articles is an English-language edition of Wikipedia, primarily written in basic English and special English. Launched in 2003, its stated aim is to provide an encyclopedia for "people with different needs, such as students, children, adults with learning difficulties, and people who are trying to learn English".

Among the 118 editors who have chimed in so far, are several well known Wikipedians who are on opposite sides of the fence - speakers in defence of SE include Beeblebrox, Andrew Davidson, and Cyberpower, while those supporting the motion to close it down include TonyBallioni, Blue Rasberry, and  SMcCandlish. When asked why his name is not among the commenters, Kudpung, who usually takes part in major debates, told The Signpost: "My home turf is the English Wikipedia and that's where I work. Simple English probably doesn't cost any money to run, but its contributors' time might possibly be better spent on en.Wiki. I don't really know; from what I have seen its language level could probably be more accurately targeted and measured, but I'm not overly concerned with an outcome either way." Kudpung is a retired TEFL linguist whose career included training ESL teachers around the world and writing text books and graded readers.

At 64 (against) vs 54 (for), the discussion is still fairly evenly balanced. Comments are thought provoking.

Jimbo gets reverted in move discussion

At the time of the Royal Wedding, Jimbo Wales moved Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's pages to match their new royal titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Discussions took place on Talk:Prince Harry and Talk:Meghan Markle about whether the articles should be at their current names or at Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex respectively. There was a strong consensus in favor of using the current names, per WP:UCN. This therefore managed to wreak havoc on the Top 25 Report twice.

Promising drafts

On WT:CSD, a discussion is going on as to whether pages tagged with {{promising draft}} should be exempted from CSD G13 (for abandoned drafts). At this time, there are more opposes than supports by a thin margin.

Deleting InternetArchiveBot's posts

InternetArchiveBot is a bot which replaces dead links with working ones from the Wayback Machine (a site owned by the Internet Archive). Originally, after editing a link, it would post a message on the relevant article's talk page (see here for an example). However, in February, this functionality was disabled as the result of an RfC due to the bot being more accurate and the false positive reporting system being simplified. This RfC asks whether these deprecated posts should be deleted from talk pages, either manually or with a bot. Consensus seems to be against this proposal.

Main page design refresh

Nixinova created a new version of the Main Page in userspace which replaces the 2nd-level headings with <div> HTML elements. A page containing only these proposed changes can be found here. Implementation of this change was debated on the Main Page's talk page and closed early in favor per WP:SNOW, and the changes can be seen on the Main Page now.

Proposed icon refresh

Wikipedia's icons have not changed in a long time, and some users consider them outdated, leading to one user proposing on the village pump that icons be adopted from icon sets such as OOjs, Emoji One, and Google Material Design. Users are divided as to the suggested icons' quality.

Mailing list

  • French law prohibits listing people based on their religion, such as with Category:French Jews, and there is no such category on the French Wikipedia. This led one user to raise a concern on Wikimedia-l as to what should be done in response to English Wikipedia's apparent violation of French law. The consensus was that compliance was not needed due to EnWP servers not being based in France.
  • Another mailing list topic, entitled "Are we losing out to bad editing?" seeks solutions to Wikipedia's ongoing admin decline (It's really bad) and what that means for the fight against vandals, PoV pushers, and paid advocacy editors.


  • The Event Coordinator (EVC) group written about in the last issue has been implemented. Users interested in running events can apply for the permission at WP:RFP/EVC.
  • The proposed changes to WP:Drafts#Miscellany for deletion were approved and added. The following text was added to the section: "A draft that has been repeatedly resubmitted and declined at AfC without any substantial improvement may be deleted at MfD if consensus determines that it is unlikely to ever meet the requirements for mainspace and it otherwise meets one of the reasons for deletion outlined in the deletion policy."

To suggest a discussion for inclusion in the next installment of the Discussion Report, leave a comment below or on the Signpost Newsroom's talk page.

Reader comments

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from May 19 through June 18. Text may be adapted from the respective articles and lists; see their page histories for attribution.

Featured articles

18 featured articles were promoted.

Rockefeller Center, December 1933.jpg
Construction of Rockefeller Center, undertaken as an urban renewal project for Midtown Manhattan, was the largest private construction project at the time. Shown here partially completed in December 1933.
Lord Howe swamphen has been extinct since the early 19th century.
Tutupaca, a complex formed by three overlapping volcanoes in Peru's Central Volcanic Zone, reaches 5,815 metres.
Ceratosaurus mount utah museum 1.jpg
Ceratosaurus cast at Natural History Museum of Utah

Featured lists

18 featured lists were promoted.

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B.jpg
Fomalhaut b (Dagon), 25 light-years away, is one of the nearest exoplanets, and has been directly imaged.

Featured pictures

Five featured pictures were promoted.

Reader comments

Active cases

World War II in Europe, 1942.svg
Arbcom is about to decide how we talk about this.

The evidence phase closed 13 June and when the workshop closed on 20 June, it included comments from seven editors (not counting one entry considered unsuitable by a clerk). In some cases, the workshop items call for investigation of content changes such as "intricate detail" removal or excessive article redirection, which remain contentious as an Arbcom matter. Other issues being considered include harassment or following; POV or advocacy editing; and off-wiki discussions of other editors, their content, and associated meatpuppetry.

Another content question under discussion is how to correctly use a biased yet reliable source. This requires careful framing and context.

Proposals floated prior to workshop closure included limiting redirects by an editor; blocks, bans, or a one-way interaction ban on LargelyRecyclable; or a two-way interaction ban and (tentatively) an admonition of K.e.coffman (KEC) for advocacy, downgraded from "battleground mentality".

If Arbcom's decision comes down purely to editor interactions rather than considering content, then this comment by TonyBallioni will be of great importance:

[T]here has been no evidence presented that K.e.coffman has acted inappropriately towards LargelyRecyclable. Multiple administrators have commented here saying that they consider LargelyRecyclable's conduct both towards K.e.coffman to be problematic, and evidence has been presented against them both in terms of how the have interacted with K.e.coffman, and their interactions with Bishonen during this case [...] K.e.coffman should not be subject to [an interaction ban or site ban] if there is no evidence of their wrongdoing.

A great deal of discussion has revolved around alleged long-term "civil POV pushing" by KEC. One commenter at the workshop called this an "insidious" practice. To this, editor Beyond My Ken has replied:

A number of these editors have made complaints about KEC's editing, and some of those complaints may have merit, but what they have consistently failed to do is to show that KEC is atempting to bias articles in a certain direction [...] KEC's editing has the effect of keeping articles properly neutral [...] The same cannot be said for the complaining editors, who, the evidence shows, are—either deliberately or simply by not understanding the effect of their editing—the ones skewing the articles [...] It's worth noting, also, that the editors I am referring to also control WikiProject Military History, which points out the danger which can come about when WikiProjects basically claim ownership rights to articles.

The issue of bias brought about by an editing clique, institutionalized through a WikiProject and its coordinators, is a significant concern brought up by multiple editors in addition to the one quoted above, and may be examined by the committee.

A proposed decision was originally due by 27 June, shortly before The Signpost's publication deadline, but has since been extended to 7 July.


BLP issues on British politics articles

Signpost 20180629 Arbcom redaction.png
Much of this discussion has been redacted

The case was accepted on 8 June with the scope being "the editing of Philip Cross in the topic area of British politics, especially as it relates to potential violations of the Biography of living persons policy and/or the Conflict of interest guideline". The evidence phase closed 22 June.

According to JzG (Guy), who created the case as a spin-off of an Administrators' noticeboard dispute, "this is an off-wiki dispute about Wikipedia, imported to Wikipedia. It is inherently difficult for the community to handle not least because some off-wiki material would result in an instant block or ban if repeated here and we have very blurred lines about linking to off-wiki outing and harassment." (emphasis added)

On 11 June, a large amount of material was suppressed, leaving the impression it involved the off-wiki evidence that Arbcom demanded be sent to them privately.

One of the parties has posted doubts about Arbcom's integrity, especially "the complete concealment of off-Wiki evidence" in reference to the other party's offline identity.

A number of remedies have been proposed, including:

  • no additional actions, since Philip Cross has already received a topic ban on a particular contentious article;
  • discretionary sanctions for all articles related to post-1979 British politics;
  • amending the Biographies of living persons policy to restrict editors from "offensive or disparaging" social media posts on their on-wiki work;
  • an RFC to enact the social media strictures above if Arbcom can or will not;
  • a broader topic ban; and
  • a smörgåsbord of other civility restrictions and topic bans, including other restrictions of off-wiki behavior.

The unusual off-wiki restrictions noted above were not embraced by everyone; whether this is permitted by Arbcom's charter remains an open question.

Some commenters have suggested we are headed for wide-ranging discretionary sanctions for British politics paralleling American politics 2.


Related content: In the media § Arbitration committee thrust into the media spotlight

Open and shut case

In a case filed reluctantly by Beeblebrox on 5 June, user Andrevan—who acquired administrator and bureaucrat rights at 13 and 10 years ago respectively—was accused of being from the "cowboy admin" days "retaining an attitude of shooting first and asking questions later." The case was accepted by 11 Arbitrators with one recusal. Faced with a long list of evidence of poor blocks, closing an RfA he had voted on, and numerous behavioral incidents while editing, Andrevan requested the removal of his Admin and Bureaucrat rights while already blocked for another issue. In less than 48 hours of being opened, the case was closed by motion on 11 June with Arbitrators voting 12 to 0 that Andrevan may only regain permissions through new RfA and RfB submissions per the removal "under cloud" policy provision.


Reader comments

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga (June 3 to 9), OZOO (June 10 to 16), and Stormy clouds (June 17 to 23).

Celebrity hangings (June 3 to 9, 2018)

Prepared with commentary by Igordebraga

After a few weeks without high profile deaths, June barely started and two celebrities hanged themselves within a few days of each other: Anthony Bourdain got the higher views, but Kate Spade brought in more family members to the list. Otherwise, there are six movies (one from India), two Google Doodles, Netflix programmes aimed at teens, American sports finishing off their playoffs (four entries related to the anti-climactic basketball finals, one of the more competitive ice hockey one) while a sport the U.S. is still learning to like keeps its foothold (the FIFA World Cup, which is expected to dominate upcoming lists), someone who might enter the ever-present death list, and one article that is somehow also becoming a mainstay, the K-pop group EXO.

For the week of June 3 to 10, 2018, the most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 Anthony Bourdain C-Class article 6,094,775
Anthony Bourdain 003.jpg
The chef famous for food travelogue shows such as No Reservations and Parts Unknown took his own life by hanging himself in a hotel room. Tributes for Bourdain emerged from everywhere, including the current and previous Presidents of the United States.
2 Kate Spade C-Class article 4,231,518
Three days before Bourdain, another celebrity had hanged herself, namely a fashion designer known for her accessories (i.e handbags and wallets sold for hefty prices).
3 Andy Spade Stub-Class article 1,318,774 The widower of Kate (#2), who was also her partner in the company Kate Spade New York.
4 Virginia Apgar C-Class article 1,219,385
Virginia Apgar.jpg
Google released a Doodle homaging the obstetrician who created the Apgar score, used to summarize the health of newborn children.
5 LeBron James Good 979,980
LeBron James with Cleveland 2018.jpeg
Sometimes, you can't do everything by yourself. Playing his eighth consecutive NBA final and ninth overall, LeBron was accomplishing the usual high numbers for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but facing a team stacked on all-stars while your teammates are underwhelming (to the point of stupidity) didn't go well, and he suffered a 4-0 sweep. Fans and the media now speculate if "King James" will jump ship.
6 Asia Argento C-Class article 952,199
Asia Argento Cannes 2018.jpg
This Italian actress, daughter of horror director Dario Argento, was dating Anthony Bourdain (#1) until his tragic death.
7 David Spade Start-Class article 939,932
David Spade.jpg
How many people were surprised to learn that this comedian (known for Saturday Night Live, Just Shoot Me! and movies with friends Chris Farley and Adam Sandler) was actually related to the recently deceased Kate Spade (#2) through his brother Andy (#3)?
8 2018 FIFA World Cup C-Class article 932,385
20180423 FIFA Fußball-WM 2018, Pressevorstellung ARD und ZDF by Stepro StP 3870.jpg
Thursday is the day where most football fans will start having their lives in Moscow Time to follow the biggest event of their sport.
9 Avengers: Infinity War C-Class article 823,796
The avengers logo.png
It's official, the 19th Marvel movie has broken $2 billion worldwide. In the meantime, wonder if it will still be on this list as the 20th hits theaters in July.
10 Deaths in 2018 List-Class article 776,366
Caucasian Human Skull.jpg
This week's list is topped by two recent entries on this article, so no surprise it remains in the top 10.

World Cups past, present, and future (June 10 to 16, 2018)

Prepared with commentary by OZOO

No surprise what the big news of the week is, with ten of the top 25 focusing on the FIFA World Cup, whether that's a look into the past, an eye on the future; or just keeping up with the current year, and the battle for supremacy between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, or the dramatic late change in the management of the Spain national football team.

Of course, there is other news, with both protagonists from the Kim – Trump summit making it into the list. There's a good number of films, with Hereditary topping the Wikipedia Box Office this week. There's tennis for people who prefer their sport to have a bit less contact; and there's some UFC for those who don't.

For the week of June 10 to 16, 2018, the most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 2018 FIFA World Cup C-Class article 3,007,166
Zabivaka-Maskottchen. 2H1A1576WI.jpg
The 21st FIFA World Cup has begun, bringing together the giants of world football. Except for Italy, who didn't qualify. And the United States. Also it turns out having our guy pretty much win the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final single-handedly doesn't give Wales an automatic wildcard spot, for some reason. Anyway, expect to see this staying at or near the top for the next few weeks, with host nation Russia getting us under way on 14 June with a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. Article also featured as ongoing at WP:ITN.
2 Anthony Bourdain C-Class article 1,799,523
Anthony Bourdain 003.jpg
American celebrity chef and TV personality Bourdain was found dead on June 8 at the age of 61, following a suicide. Bourdain was known for hosting food-and-travel shows such as A Cook's Tour, No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo B-Class article 1,213,959
Cristiano Ronaldo 2018.jpg
On the second day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup all eyes were on Portuguese star Ronaldo – regarded as one of the best players in the world – as his side took on Spain. Ronaldo shone in the lime-light, scoring the fifty-first hat-trick in FIFA World Cup history, including a late free-kick to secure a draw between the two highly ranked teams.
4 Kim Jong-un B-Class article 1,025,714
Kim and Trump shaking hands at the red carpet during the DPRK–USA Singapore Summit (cropped).jpg
Kim, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, met with US President Trump in Singapore this week, (meeting pictured) the first such summit to take place between the North Korean and American leaders. Trump agreed to cease all US-South Korea military exercises; in exchange for North Korea pledging to denuclearization. Some have criticised the meeting, given North Korea's significant human rights violations; and it has been suggested that the US has got very little out of the meeting while handing Kim a PR boost. Others would argue that a chance of ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and the potential of expanded rights in a less-isolated North Korea would be worth any image issues.
5 FIFA World Cup Featured article 1,010,708
Stamps of Ecuador, 2006-038.jpg
The overview article for what most of this Top 25 list is all about.
6 Michael Peterson (murder suspect) Symbol question.svg 926,807 Peterson, a novelist convicted in 2003 of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson and whose sentence was subsequently reduced to manslaughter in 2017; is the subject of the 2004 French documentary series The Staircase, which was released, including three new episodes, Netflix on June 8.
7 2026 FIFA World Cup C-Class article 850,112
FIFA World Cup 2026 - United States Potential venues.jpg
The 2026 FIFA World Cup – the first to feature an expanded field of 48 teams from the current 32 – will be held across Canada, Mexico and the United States, after the United bid beat a rival bid from Morocco in a vote take on 13 June.
8 Hereditary (film) Start-Class article 814,566
Toni Collette by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Toni Collette (pictured) stars in Hereditary, the feature film directing debut for Ari Aster. The supernatural horror film – released on June 8 in the US – has received positive reviews from critics, but a D+ grade from CinemaScore. The opening weekend gross of $13.6 million is the highest opening for a film distributed by A24.
9 Avengers: Infinity War C-Class article 757,159
The avengers logo.png
I wonder if the 2018 FIFA World Cup is being held within the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I like to think it is, although some countries may have (spoiler alert) some selection problems, what with the end of this film and all.
10 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured list 753,126
Agencia-brasil-novas-jogo20140714 0005.jpg
The 20th FIFA World Cup final (1950 didn't have a final) will be held at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 15 July.

Olé, Olé, Olé! (June 17 to 23, 2018)

Prepared with commentary by Stormy clouds

Ladies and gentlemen, it is football season, and I, for one, am ecstatic. Since the 14th of June, every remote control in my house has lain idle; the football, and nothing but the football, is on, and that is the end of discussion. And we're not even at it! It's the World Cup, an unstoppable force that lets every soccer aficionado worldwide neglect everything else, even the heinous organisation that is responsible for the footy festivities. However, this week, we were reminded that other stuff exists, with the shocking death of a rap star, which is perched atop this week's iteration of the report. However, the list is still dominated utterly by Telstars and VARs, making it fun for a devout footballing fan to compile.

So, without further ado, for the week of June 17 to 23, 2018, the most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 XXXTentacion C-Class article 7,306,664
Xxxtentacion mugshot.jpg
XXXTentacion, the 20-year old rapper behind "Sad!", amongst other hits, died in a shooting in Florida. His sudden death through gun violence, reminiscent of other prominent rappers, evoked a large reaction, and propelled a large swell of people to his article. Views on the death are decidedly mixed, between those who admired his music and its outlook on mental health issues, and those who criticised him due to his violent past (he was convicted of domestic abuse). I won't comment on his legacy, but the shocking nature of his death left him atop the Report this week.
2 2018 FIFA World Cup B-Class article 4,163,410
Zabivaka-Maskottchen. 2H1A1590WI.jpg
Now this is more in my wheelhouse. Six consecutive articles related to football appear in the Top 10 of the report, demonstrating the sheer power of the World Cup to captivate and intrigue. The football has been engrossing thus far, and I have been duly glued to it - between the influx of penalties wrought by the VAR system, to the propensity of players to hit absolute screamers in matches (for technique alone, this remains my favourite finish to date), this World Cup has truly caught the attention. As to who will win, I remain clueless. However, for brevity, let's discuss the footballing reasons behind the following entries, and why they are drawing such attention.

  • Ronaldo (CR7, not the harshly nicknamed "fat Ronaldo", incidentally a World Cup legend in his own right), netted three for Portugal against his Iberian rivals, claiming the match ball and a valuable point. He then scored the winner against a feeble Morocco, eliminating them and ensuring qualification for Portugal. Amidst the turmoil and anarchy at his old club, a nation's hopes ride on his back. SI!!!

  • The 2018 contest is the 21st time that the footballing teams of the world have convened for a month of hard contested bouts. Wikipedians were drawn to two articles, regarding the contest as a whole and its evolution through time, and a comprehensive list of competitions prior, as they investigate more about the origins of the fabled trophy, named for FIFA's early president Jules Rimet.

  • Ronaldo, curiously, is not alone in having the hopes of an entire country on his shoulders. Messi, his only peer in the modern game (sorry, #15), is also flying the flag for his native Argentina, albeit with far less success. A draw against Europe's mightiest minnows (in which he missed a penalty), followed by a thumping 3-0 loss to Croatia, has left Argentina in severe jeopardy of elimination in the group stages. That would be quite a descent from the last tournament, where we claimed the Golden Ball. Messi's legacy is on the line, as, without a World Cup win to emulate that of Mexico '86, he may be doomed to remain in the gargantuan shadow of Diego Maradona, cursed to be considered Argentina's second greatest footballing son.

  • Finally, we have the previous World Cup, hosted in Brazil. 2014 was memorable for a whole host of reasons, from James' sublime volley for Colombia to the 7-1 blitzkrieg inflicted on the hosts by a rampant German side. They went on to win the tournament, defeating Lionel Messi's Argentina with a extra-time goal from Mario Götze to secure their fourth title, and first post-reunification.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo B-Class article 1,376,672
Ronaldo em campo.jpg
4 FIFA World Cup Featured article 1,297,469
Jules Rimet vers 1930.jpg
5 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured article 1,038,969
World cup hosts.png
6 Lionel Messi Good article 994,470
Maradona mundial 2006 2.jpg
7 2014 FIFA World Cup C-Class article 905,222
Germany and Argentina face off in the final of the World Cup 2014 -2014-07-13 (6).jpg
8 Incredibles 2 Start-Class article 895,572
Poznań Pyrkon 2015 Cosplay Girls.JPG
This film, above all others released this summer, holds a special interest for me. Pixar has begun creating sequels of late, such as Finding Dory, to its beloved classics from the early 2000's. Given that I was a young child in this timeframe, I absolutely adore these classics, most of all the studio's take on the superhero genre. The sequel entered release in the States last week, but unfortunately, due to the World Cup, I won't be afforded the chance to see it for another month or so. However, all reviews indicate that it is excellent - once again Pixar defies the notion that if all films are super, none of them are.
9 Money in the Bank (2018) Start-Class article 827,392
Braun March 2018.jpg
I'll be honest; I have never comprehended the allure of wrestling. If I wished to witness great acting and faux fighting, I would attend the theatre. However, it draws mega money - who can forget that time that a wrestling bout filled the world's largest stadium, in North Korea, of all places. The appearance of this article, concerning a scuffle to claim a briefcase loaded with dollar bills, is testament to this popularity. Apparently, Braun Strowman won.
10 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom C-Class article 810,821
Tyrannosaurus Rex Holotype.jpg
The latest film in Universal's monstrously large series hits US multiplexes this weekend, following a massive, inescapable marketing push. The film was released in Ireland a fortnight ago, affording me to see it in advance of my American brethren. I was not particularly thrilled, despite Andy Dwyer's charisma. At a certain stage, one has seen too many CG variations of a Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex before the novelty wears off.


  • These lists exclude the Wikipedia main page, non-article pages (such as redlinks), and anomalous entries (such as DDoS attacks or likely automated views). Since mobile view data became available to the Report in October 2014, we exclude articles that have almost no mobile views (5–6% or less) or almost all mobile views (94–95% or more) because they are very likely to be automated views based on our experience and research of the issue. Please feel free to discuss any removal on the Top 25 Report talk page if you wish.

Reader comments

New filters bookmarking - 1 - create a set of filters.png
New AI-assisted filters for review edits, which will become a standard feature of the Watchlist interface

AI-assisted filters on Watchlist coming out of beta

Collaboration team is announcing plans to graduate the New Filters for Edit Review out of beta on Watchlist by late June or early July. After launch, this suite of improved edit-search tools will be standard on all wikis. Individuals who prefer the existing Watchlist interface will be able to opt out by means of a new preference.

The New Filters introduce an easier yet more powerful user interface to Watchlist as well as a whole list of filters and other tools that make reviewing edits more efficient, including live page updating, user-defined highlighting, the ability to create special-purpose filter sets and save them for re-use and (on wikis with ORES enabled) predictive filters powered by machine learning. If you’re not familiar with the New Filters, please give them a try on Watchlist by activating the New Filters beta feature. In particular, it would be very helpful if you can test the new functionality with your local gadgets and configurations. The documentation pages provide guidance on how to use the many new tools you’ll discover.

Over 70,000 people have activated the New Filters beta, which has been in testing on Watchlist for more than eight months. We feel confident that the features are stable and effective, but if you have thoughts about these tools or the beta graduation, please let us know on the project talk page. In particular, tell us if you know of a special incompatibility or other issue that makes the New Filters problematic on your wiki. We’ll examine the blocker and may delay release on your wiki until the issue can be addressed. Kaartic correct me, if i'm wrong (adapted from VPT post)

Responsive MonoBook skin for mobile users

Wikimedia Hackathon 2018 showcase - Responsive MonoBook -02.jpg
Responsive Monobook demonstration at the Wikimedia Hackathon 2018.

Thanks to a volunteer-driven initiative, the MonoBook skin is now responsive, meaning it will have a mobile-optimized view for smaller devices (similar to the new Timeless skin). This is primarily targeted more towards the needs of third-party MediaWiki users, but is also available for users of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation wikis.

The initial deployment was made on 31 May with little notice, and had an overwhelmingly negative response at the Village Pump discussion. This was mostly due to the opt-out method not working, and accessibility problems for screen readers. The change was reverted on 2 June, and redeployed the next week after fixing those immediate concerns, and lowering the threshold (viewport width) for devices being considered mobile.

If you use the MonoBook skin, you can try the responsive layout out on a desktop device by shrinking your browser window. If you don't like the new layout, you can go to the Appearance tab in your preferences, uncheck "use responsive MonoBook design", and it will revert to the normal desktop styles.

Feedback, bugs, and suggestions can be reported on the Phabricator task.

(Adapted from VPT discussion)

Update on page issues on mobile web

Page issues - Multiple.jpg
Proposed display of a page notice on the mobile website.

Hi everyone. The Readers web team has recently begun working on exposing issue templates on the mobile website. Currently, details about issues with page content are generally hidden on the mobile website. This leaves readers unaware of the reliability of the pages they are reading. The goal of this project is to improve awareness of particular issues within an article on the mobile web. We will do this by changing the visual styling of page issues.

So far, we have drafted a proposal on the design and implementation of the project. We were also able to run user testing on the proposed designs. The tests so far have positive results. Here is a quick summary of what we learned:

  • The new treatment increases awareness of page issues among participants. This is true particularly when they are in a more evaluative/critical mode.
  • Page issues make sense to readers and they understand how they work
  • Readers care about page issues and consider them important
  • Readers had overwhelmingly positive sentiments towards Wikipedia associated with learning about page issues

Our next step would be to start implementing these changes. We wanted to reach out to you for any concerns, thoughts, and suggestions you might have before beginning development. Please visit the project page where we have more information and mockups of how this may look. Please leave feedback on the talk page. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) (adapted from VPT post)

Potentially untagged misspellings report

Potentially untagged misspellings (configuration) is a newish database report that lists potentially untagged misspellings. For example, Angolan War of Independance is currently not tagged with {{R from misspelling}} and it should be.

Any and all help evaluating and tagging these potential misspellings is welcome. Once these redirects are appropriately identified and categorized, other database reports such as Linked misspellings (configuration) can then highlight instances where we are currently linking to these misspellings, so that the misspellings can be fixed.

This report has some false positives and the list of misspelling pairs needs a lot of expansion. If you have additional pairs that we should be scanning for or you have other feedback about this report, that is also welcome. MZMcBride (talk) (adapted from VPT post)

In brief

Read-only for 30 minutes on July 18

Because of maintenance work, English Wikipedia will be read-only for up to 30 minutes on 18 July, at 06:00 UTC. Everyone will be able to read it, but you can’t edit. This is just to give you an early warning. If everything goes well, this should just take a few minutes, but prepare for 30 minutes to be on the safe side. You can read more in the tasks linked to from phab:T197134. — /Johan (WMF) (talk) (adapted from VPT post)

New user scripts to customise your Wikipedia experience

Bot tasks

Recently approved tasks
Current requests for approval

Latest tech news

Latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community: 2018 #22, #23, #24, #25, & #26. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. Translations are available on Meta.

Recent changes
  • You can now use global preferences on most wikis. This means you can set preferences for all wikis at the same time. Before this you had to change them on each individual wiki. Global preferences will come to the Wikipedias later this week. [1][2]
  • It is now easier for blocked mobile users to see why they were blocked. [3]
  • Wikidata now supports lexicographical data. This helps describe words.
  • There is now a checkbox on Special:ListUsers to let you see only users in temporary user groups. [4]
  • Some rare invisible Unicode characters have recently been banned from page titles. This includes soft hyphens (U+00AD) and left-to-right (U+2066) and right-to-left (U+2067) isolate markers. Existing pages with these characters will soon be moved by a script. [5]
  • Advanced item There's a new Wikimedia Foundation team to support the Wikimedia technical communities. It's called the Technical Engagement team. Most of the team members did similar work in other teams before this. More details in this issue's News and notes. [6]
  • There will be a new special page named PasswordPolicies. This page gives information about the password rules for each user group on that wiki. [7]
  • A new way to see moved paragraphs in diffs is coming to most wikis. This is to make it easier to find the moved paragraphs and the changes in them. [8]
  • Advanced item Wikis can enable Citoid to provide automatic reference look-up in the visual editor and the 2017 wikitext editor. This is complex. The tool will now disable itself if the configuration isn't correct. It has warned about this in the JavaScript console since February. Check that your wiki is configured correctly. You can ask for help if you need it. [9]
  • Planet Wikimedia collects blogs about Wikimedia. It will now use the Rawdog feed aggregator to do this instead of Planet. [10][11]
  • Redirect links in Special:WhatLinksHere now link to the original page and not the target page. This was done earlier and changed the used messages on some pages. This was a problem for wikis that customized the message. A new change fixed this by using the old messages with one more parameter for customization. Wikis that already changed their customized messages will have to move the customization back again. [12]
  • In the Wikipedia app for Android or iOS users can create reading lists. The reading lists can be seen on different devices if you are logged in to your account. There is now a browser extension so you can add pages to your reading list from a web browser. At the moment it works with Firefox and Chrome. [13]
  • Advanced item There is a new version of Pywikibot. Pywikibot is a tool to automate tasks on MediaWiki wikis. [14]
  • Advanced item PAWS, our JupyterHub system, got an upgrade and a logo. Several bugs should be fixed.
  • Some translatable pages are showing old translations instead of latest ones. The cause of this issue has been fixed. We will update all pages automatically to show the latest translations. [15]
  • When a link text was in italics or had other formatting you could sometimes not edit it in the visual editor. This has now been fixed. [16][17]
Future changes
  • It could become easier to reference different pages of a book in an article. [18]
  • Content Translation drafts which have not been updated in over a year will be removed. This allows other users to translate those articles. [19]
  • A survey is collecting information on what users think about how Wikimedia wiki pages are loaded. This information could be used in future development. [20]
  • Advanced item Wikis will switch to use the Remex parsing library. This is to replace Tidy. Wikis with fewer than 100 linter issues in the main namespace in all high-priority linter categories were switched on 30 May and 13 June. This included Wikidata. Tidy will probably be removed on all wikis in the first week of July. [21][22]
  • You will be able to move local wiki files to Commons and keep their original data intact. This is planned to come to the first wikis in June. The legacy tools should still work, as long as they are maintained (three of five are actually deprecated already). The new built-in feature will probably become the preferred method since it will keep the page history and file history intact, including the move to Commons (and who moved it).
  • Content translation users who use the translation dashboard to translate between any two of Arabic, English, French, Japanese and Russian will be asked to be part of a research project. This is to create better tools for translating articles. [23]
  • Recurrent item Advanced item You can join the technical advice meeting on IRC. During the meeting, volunteer developers can ask for advice. The meeting takes place every Wednesday from 3 to 4 pm UTC. See how to join.

Installation code

  1. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Anomie/unsignedhelper.js' ); // Backlink: User:Anomie/unsignedhelper.js
  2. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Bellezzasolo/Scripts/arb.js' ); // Backlink: User:Bellezzasolo/Scripts/arb.js
  3. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Bellezzasolo/Scripts/ajaxrollsum.js' ); // Backlink: User:Bellezzasolo/Scripts/ajaxrollsum.js
  4. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Sam Sailor/Scripts/WRStitle.js' ); // Backlink: User:Sam Sailor/Scripts/WRStitle.js
  5. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Amorymeltzer/easyblock-modern.js' ); // Backlink: User:Amorymeltzer/easyblock-modern.js
  6. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Amorymeltzer/crathighlighter.js' ); // Backlink: User:Amorymeltzer/crathighlighter.js
  7. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Amorymeltzer/oldafd.js' ); // Backlink: User:Amorymeltzer/oldafd.js

Reader comments

Wikimedia Foundation Blog Vectorized Logo 2.svg
The following content has been republished from the Wikimedia Blog. The views expressed in this piece are those of the author alone; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. For more information on this partnership see our content guidelines.

Late last year, photographers from around the world were invited to share their photos of people at work on the African continent. Over 18,000 were submitted. Here are the winners and other images.

Photo essays

The 2017 Wiki Loves Africa competition started on 1st October 2017 and closed on 30th November 2017. The original WMF blog post reposted here was edited and expanded to include other images, translations and descriptions not in the original blog post. Barbara Page.

Reader comments

Wikimedia Foundation Blog Vectorized Logo 2.svg
The following content has been republished from the Wikimedia Blog. Any views expressed in this piece are not necessarily shared by the Signpost; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments. For more information on this partnership, see our content guidelines.


  1. ^ "Wikipedia blocked in Turkey" (Press release). Turkey Blocks. 29 April 2017. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Turkish authorities block Wikipedia without giving reason". World News (Europe). BBC News. BBC. 29 April 2017. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  3. ^ Tomlinson, Akira (29 April 2017). "Turkey blocks Wikipedia as threat to national security". Paper Chase. JURIST. JURIST Legal News and Research Services. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  4. ^ Sezer, Can; Dolan, David (29 April 2017). "Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia". Technology News. Reuters. Istanbul: Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Türkei blockiert Wikipedia-Zugang" [Turkey blocks Wikipedia access]. Internetzensur [Internet Censorship]. Deutsche Welle (in German). 29 April 2017. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018. Nutzer berichteten davon, wie sie sämtliche Sprachversionen von Wikipedia nur noch mit Hilfe technischer Mittel wie VPN-Verbindungen nutzen konnten. [Users reported how they could use all language versions of Wikipedia only with the help of technical means such as VPN connections.]
  6. ^ "Türkische Regierung blockiert Wikipedia" [Turkish government blocks Wikipedia]. Politik (Ausland) [Politics (Foreign Countries)]. Focus (in German). Helmut Markwort. 29 April 2017. ISSN 0943-7576. Archived from the original on 27 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018. Die gängigste Methode für türkische Internetnutzer, die gesperrten Seiten zu erreichen ist über ein Virtual Private Network (VPN). [The most common method for Turkish Internet users to reach the blocked pages is over a Virtual Private Network (VPN).]

Reader comments

Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png
A monthly overview of recent academic research about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, also published as the Wikimedia Research Newsletter.

"On the Self-similarity of Wikipedia Talks: a Combined Discourse-analytical and Quantitative Approach"

Reviewed by Maik Stührenberg

This paper[1] is thoroughly structured and combines the theory of web genres with dialogue theory to examine Wikipedia talk pages. Since Wikipedia is a web genre, "Wikicussions" (as the authors call them) form a subgenre. In this context, talk pages are examined further, including the quality of cooperation between Wikipedia users, that can be linked to social differentiation regarding roles and statuses of Wikipedians (content- vs. administration-related users). These group-related processes can be seen as a mediating layer between external parameters (system requirements for Wikipedia's user community) and the structure and dynamics of WP's subgenres.

Unlike face-to-face dialogue, the authors argue that Wikicussions stand out due to a publicly available common ground (derived from dialogue theory), which may provide a reason for the structures they found.

The paper is enriched with a number of high-quality figures that support and underpin the findings.

Graph between November 2000 and November 2015 clearly demonstrating that most posts come from registered users
Frequency distribution of talk posts over time within the German Wikipedia (blue: registered users; red: anonymous users; green: bots; black: all users). Unsigned posts (without timestamps) are excluded. Posts dated by posters outside of the valid time-frame (before the date of creation of the discussion or after the date of its download) are also excluded. (Figure 7 from the paper)

"How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information"

Reviewed by Bri and Tilman Bayer

Our intuition might tell us that government censorship causes reduced access to online information. But recent research indicates that the effect can be exactly the opposite. Using data gathered from Wikipedia page views and other sources, researchers William Hobbs and Margaret Roberts found that:

Specifically, the authors studied the impact of a block of Instagram in China on September 29, 2014, following protests in Hong Kong, on Chinese Wikipedia pages that were already blocked in the country. (This predates the 2015 total block of the Chinese Wikipedia and the switch of all Wikimedia sites to full encryption with HTTPS around the same time, which made such per-page blocking impossible.) The censored Chinese Wikipedia pages with the largest increase in views "shows that new viewers accessed pages that had long been censored including those related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests",[2]:12 i.e. "viewing patterns that would be more typical of new users who had just jumped the firewall, rather than of old VPN users who had presumably consumed this information long ago."[2]:11 Here is an excerpt of the full list examined in the research, the top 10 for the second day of the block, linked here to their English Wikipedia equivalents:

  1. People's Republic of China blocked websites list
  2. Jiang Zemin
  3. Radio Australia
  4. Hu Jintao
  5. Zeng Qing
  6. Wang Weilin (Tank Man)
  7. Li Peng
  8. Tiananmen Square Incident
  9. Zhou Yongkang
  10. Wu'erkaixi (June 4 leader)

The researchers propose to name this phenomenon the "gateway effect", a "mechanism through which repression can backfire inadvertently, without political or strategic motivation",[2]:3 because it incentivizes people to learn how to evade censorship and thus "have more, not less, access to information and begin engaging in conversations, social media sites, and networks that have long been off-limits to them."[2]:15 They distinguish it from the Streisand effect, where individuals specifically seek out information that is being hidden.

The second author of the study, Margaret Roberts, is also the author of Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China's Great Firewall (Princeton University Press, 2018; print ISBN 978-0-691-17886-8, e-book 978-1-400-89005-7).

Marketing, social media, and Wikipedia

Reviewed by Barbara Page

This study was able to "characterize" the interests of Wikipedia editors and the editors' social media activity on Twitter to facilitate:

Photograph of person's left hand holding a smartphone that is accessing social media
A marriage between editor editing topics and Twitter (and possibly Facebook) will result in targeted marketing tailored just for you!

Conferences and events

See the community-curated research events page on Meta-wiki for other upcoming conferences and events, including submission deadlines.

WMF research showcase

Recent presentations at the monthly Research showcase hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation included the following:

"Conversations Gone Awry: Detecting Early Signs of Conversational Failure"
PDF of "Conversations Gone Awry" with first page depicted
Presentation slides (video)

Antisocial behavior can exist in online social systems and may include harassment and personal attacks. A new paper[4] by seven researchers from Cornell University, Jigsaw, and the Wikimedia Foundation describes how the prediction of undesirable negative exchanges may be able to prevent the deterioration of a discussion. Prediction may be possible at the start of a conversation to prevent its deterioration. One of the authors also gave an interview published on the Wikimedia Foundation's blog,[supp 1] and the paper was covered in popular media; see In the media § In brief.

Case studies in the appropriation of ORES

From the announcement (by Aaron Halfaker):

PDF of "ORES appropriation and reflection" with first page depicted
Presentation slides about the use of the ORES platform (video)

The presentation covered "three key tools that Wikipedians have developed that make use of ORES": Wikidata's damage detection models, exposed through Recent Changes; Spanish Wikipedia's PatruBOT; and WikiEdu tools from User:Ragesoss that incorporate article quality models.

Other recent publications

Other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue include the items listed below. Contributions are always welcome for reviewing or summarizing newly published research.

Compiled by Tilman Bayer
  • "On the Effects of Authority on Peer Motivation: Learning from Wikipedia"[5] – From the abstract: "We show that lateral authority, the legitimacy to resolve task‐specific problems, is welcomed by members of an organization in the resolution of coordination conflicts, the more so (1) the fiercer the conflict to be resolved, (2) the higher the competence‐based status of the authority, (3) the lower the tenure of, and (4) the more focused the organizational members are. Analyzing the discussion behavior of members of Wikipedia between 2002 and 2014, we corroborate our allegations empirically by analyzing 642,916 article–discussion pages."
  • "A Comparison of the Historical Entries in Wikipedia and Baidu Baike"[6] – From the abstract: "This research purposefully chose 6 entries and developed a framework to evaluate their performance in accuracy, breadth, depth, informativeness, conciseness and objectiveness. The result shows that: Wikipedia is superior in most cases while Baidu Baike is a little better in the entries on Chinese history. The operating mechanism is the main reason for it."
  • "Sentiments in Wikipedia Articles for Deletion Discussions"[7] – From the abstract: "We performed sentiment analysis on 37,761 AfD discussions with 156,415 top-level comments and explored relationship between outcomes of the discussion and sentiments in the comments. Our preliminary work suggests: discussion that have keep or other outcomes have more than expected positive sentiment, whereas discussions that have delete outcomes have more than expected negative and neutral sentiment. This result shows that there tends to be positive sentiment in the comment when Wikipedia users suggest not to delete the article."
  • "'What are these researchers doing in my Wikipedia?': ethical premises and practical judgment in internet-based ethnography"[8] – From the abstract: "The article reflects on the heuristics that guided the decisions of a 4-year participant observation in the English-language and German-language editions of Wikipedia. [...] it interrogates the technological, social, and legal implications of publicness and information sensitivity as core ethical concerns among Wikipedia authors. The first problem area of managing accessibility and anonymity contrasts the handling of the technologically available records of activities, disclosures of personal information, and the legal obligations to credit authorship with the authors' right to work anonymously and the need to shield their identity. The second area confronts the contingent addressability of editors with the demand to assure and maintain informed consent." (See also the Wikipedia essay "What are these researchers doing in my Wikipedia?")
  • "Digging Wikipedia: The Online Encyclopedia As a Digital Cultural Heritage Gateway and Site"[9] – From the abstract: "[...] this article introduces Wikipedia as a digital gateway to and site of an active engagement with cultural heritage. We have developed the open source and freely available analysis architecture Contropedia [website] to examine already existing volunteer user-generated participation around cultural heritage and to promote further engagement with it. Conceptually, we employ the notion of memory work, as it helps to treat Wikipedia's articles, edit histories, and discussion pages as a rich resource to study how cultural heritage is received and (re)worked in and across languages and cultures. [...] The analysis facilitated by Contropedia [...] sheds light on the contentious articulation of perspectives on tangible and intangible heritage grounded by conflicting conceptions of events, ideas, places, or persons. Technologically, Contropedia combines techniques based on mining article edit histories and analyzing discussion patterns in talk pages to identify and visualize heritage-related disputes within an article, and to compare these across language versions." (cf. earlier coverage: "'Contropedia' tool identifies controversial issues within articles"; "Towards better visual tools for exploring Wikipedia article development – the use case of 'Gamergate controversy'")
  • "Use of Louisiana's Digital Cultural Heritage by Wikipedians"[10] – From the abstract: "This case study details an analysis of Wikipedia links to online resources from Louisiana cultural heritage institutions [also known among Wikimedians as GLAMs] in order to determine what types of cultural heritage resources users are citing on Wikipedia, what is the content of the Wikipedia articles with Louisiana CHI citations, and how this can influence the work of CHI. The results of the study include findings that digital library items and archival finding aids are the most cited sources from cultural heritage institutions on Wikipedia and are particularly popular for Louisiana-specific Wikipedia articles on society and the social sciences and culture and the arts."
  • "The Conceptual Correspondence between the Encyclopaedia and Wikipedia"[11] – From the abstract: "This study [...] focuses on the roles and attributes of both printed encyclopaedias and Wikipedia. First, we analyse the roles and attributes of an encyclopaedia by conducting a review of research related to them. Then we analyse whether or not Wikipedia fulfills the same roles and has the same attributes as the encyclopaedia by reviewing academic work that investigates and analyses Wikipedia from various perspectives. The results show that Wikipedia does not conceptually correspond to an encyclopaedia, except in cases where people use it for one-time searches. In the world of digital media, Wikipedia does not have the same status that the encyclopaedia holds in the world of print media."
  • "Structural Differentiation in Social Media: Adhocracy, Entropy, and the '1 % Effect'"[12] – From the text: "Over the study period (2001–2010), we observed 235,701,162 edits completed by 22,792,847 unique contributors. Of these, 19,680,637 users were anonymous, identified only by their unique IP addresses. The rest (3,112,210) were registered users who were logged into their respective accounts. [...] logged-in users were the clear minority group, yet they contributed far more edits than the anonymous users—all told, those logged-in individuals were responsible for almost two-thirds (68%) of the observed revisions. Even more importantly, the top 1% of all contributors were responsible for 77% of the collaborative effort based upon the extent to which the text of articles was actually changed (i.e., the contribution delta). [... The] simple answer to research question 2 (RQ2), 'What is the social mobility (or its inverse, elite "stickiness") of functional leaders on Wikipedia over time?' is that on average, across the entire 9.5-year period, an individual who was a top contributor at a given point in time had a 40% probability of remaining in the top contributor group 5 weeks later. Twenty weeks later, that individual would have a 32% chance of still being a top contributor, and after 30 weeks, this figure would be at 28%."
    In a press release by Purdue University, one of the authors commented: "What we saw is that a clear leadership has emerged, but it's a leadership that cycles. We have a group of individuals who shape the content by working the hardest and clocking the most hours. The agenda is shaped by these people, and they're driven by a sense of mission, much like political or religious movements."[supp 2]


  1. ^ Mehler, Alexander; Gleim, Rüdiger; Lücking, Andy; Uslu, Tolga; Stegbauer, Christian (January 30, 2018). "On the Self-similarity of Wikipedia Talks: a Combined Discourse-analytical and Quantitative Approach" (PDF). Glottometrics. RAM-Verlag (published January 2018). 40: 1–45. ISSN 1617-8351. OCLC 7493144471. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2018 – via ResearchGate. open access
  2. ^ a b c d e Hobbs, William R.; Roberts, Margaret E. (April 2, 2018). "How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information". American Political Science Review. Cambridge University Press: 1–16. doi:10.1017/S0003055418000084. eISSN 1537-5943. ISSN 0003-0554. OCLC 7435466814. closed access
  3. ^ Torrero, Christian; Caprini, Carlo; Miorandi, Daniele (April 9, 2018). "A Wikipedia-based approach to profiling activities on social media" (PDF). p. 1. arXiv:1804.02245v2 [cs.IR]. Free to read
  4. ^ Zhang, Justine; Chang, Jonathan P.; Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Cristian; Dixon, Lucas; Yiqing, Hua; Thain, Nithum; Taraborelli, Dario (May 14, 2018). "Conversations Gone Awry: Detecting Early Signs of Conversational Failure" (PDF). arXiv:1805.05345v1 [cs.CL]. Free to read
  5. ^ Klapper, Helge; Reitzig, Markus (May 7, 2018). "On the Effects of Authority on Peer Motivation: Learning from Wikipedia" (PDF). Strategic Management Journal. John Wiley & Sons. doi:10.1002/smj.2909. eISSN 1097-0266. OCLC 7586436764. Retrieved June 28, 2018. open access
  6. ^ Shang, Wenyi (March 15, 2018). "A Comparison of the Historical Entries in Wikipedia and Baidu Baike". In Chowdhury, Gobinda; McLeod, Julie; Gillet, Val; Willett, Peter (eds.). Transforming Digital Worlds. International Conference on Information (iConference 2018; March 25–28 at Sheffield, United Kingdom). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 10766 (Online ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG. pp. 74–80. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-78105-1_9. ISBN 978-3-319-78105-1. OCLC 7357407865. closed access
  7. ^ Xiao, Lu; Sitaula, Niraj (March 15, 2018). "Sentiments in Wikipedia Articles for Deletion Discussions". In Chowdhury, Gobinda; McLeod, Julie; Gillet, Val; Willett, Peter (eds.). Transforming Digital Worlds. International Conference on Information (iConference 2018; March 25–28 at Sheffield, United Kingdom). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 10766 (Online ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG. pp. 81–86. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-78105-1_10. ISBN 978-3-319-78105-1. OCLC 7357407963. closed access
  8. ^ Pentzold, Christian (May 3, 2017). "'What are these researchers doing in my Wikipedia?': ethical premises and practical judgment in internet-based ethnography" (PDF). Ethics and Information Technology. Springer Science+Business Media (published May 5, 2017). 19 (2): 143–155. doi:10.1007/s10676-017-9423-7. eISSN 1572-8439. ISSN 1388-1957. OCLC 7039749181. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2018 – via Free to read
  9. ^ Pentzold, Christian; Weltevrede, Esther; Mauri, Michele; Laniado, David; Kaltenbrunner, Andreas; Borra, Erik (March 13, 2017). Scopigno, Roberto (ed.). "Digging Wikipedia: The Online Encyclopedia as a Digital Cultural Heritage Gateway and Site" (PDF). Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage. Special Issue on Digital Infrastructure for Cultural Heritage, Part 1. New York: Association for Computing Machinery (published April 14, 2017). 10 (1): 5:1–5:19. doi:10.1145/3012285. eISSN 1556-4711. ISSN 1556-4673. OCLC 7006965721. Retrieved June 28, 2018 – via ResearchGate. Free to read
  10. ^ Kelly, Elizabeth Joan (November 28, 2017). "Use of Louisiana's Digital Cultural Heritage by Wikipedians". Practical Communication. Journal of Web Librarianship. Taylor & Francis. 12 (2): 85–106. doi:10.1080/19322909.2017.1391733. eISSN 1932-2917. ISSN 1932-2909. OCLC 7566358637. closed access
  11. ^ Yamada, Shohei (December 29, 2017). "The Conceptual Correspondence between the Encyclopaedia and Wikipedia". Journal of Japan Society of Library and Information Science. Japan Society of Library and Information Science. 63 (4): 181–195. doi:10.20651/jslis.63.4_181. eISSN 2432-4027. ISSN 1344-8668. OCLC 7261862873. closed access
  12. ^ Matei, Sorin Adam; Britt, Brian C. (September 21, 2017). "Analytic Investigation of a Structural Differentiation Model for Social Media Production Groups". In Alhajj, Reda; Glässer, Uwe (eds.). Structural Differentiation in Social Media: Adhocracy, Entropy, and the '1 % Effect'. Lecture Notes in Social Networks (1st ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature. pp. 73, 75. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-64425-7_5. eISSN 2190-5436. ISBN 978-3-319-64424-0. ISSN 2190-5436. LCCN 2017948031. OCLC 7138124671.
Supplementary references:
  1. ^ Zhang, Justine; Chang, Jonathan (June 13, 2018). "'Conversations gone awry'—the researchers figuring out when online conversations get out of hand". Wikimedia Blog (Interview). Interviewed by Melody Kramer; Dario Taraborelli. Wikimedia Foundation. Archived from the original on June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Bush, Jim (November 6, 2017). "Results of Wikipedia study may surprise". Purdue News Service and Agricultural Communications (Press release). West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University. OCLC 7177119166. Archived from the original on June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2018.

Reader comments

Haley Joel Osment in 2001.jpg
Interestingly enough, this child star was a humanoid manifestation of artificial intelligence in a Spielberg film and, as an adult, actually ended up in an X-files episode.
My favorite Thanksgiving plot with Mr. Potato Head meeting his enemies Madame Cream, Mr. Salt, and Dr. Pepper
Buddy Ebsen - USCG.jpg
Jed Clampett during his days with the US Coast Guard and before he took his shotgun and discovered a crude oil well near the surface of the ground somewhere in the Ozarks
Beaver House 2003.jpg
The Beaver's house in 2003
Jack Webb Grave.JPG
The only image that is in the public domain that has anything to do with the Dragnet television series
Eugene Mirman by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Eugene from Flight of the Conchords. Hey Eugene, just remember that I am the one who made you even more famous via The Signpost.
Jim Henson (1989) headshot.jpg
The Muppets' ringleader
Gillian Anderson Berlinale 2017.jpg
Gillian is still stunning. Photo by Martin Kraft ( License: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons, who apparently has found a way to market himself through attribution.

Call the cable company and upgrade your package

Plot summaries. Enough said except that they tend to be very funny.

You will want to catch up on all those episodes listed below so set your DVR and catch up on the programming you've missed. This isn't as difficult as it sounds since every program since the beginning of time is being run again somewhere. In all fairness to those editors who work very hard on describing these programs I have to admit that context is everything. I have lifted these excerpts right out of the articles. Aficionados of each of these programs will read this humor article and not find it funny... at all. If you are not familiar with some of these programs or actors, reading these descriptions can be a little disorienting, but that usually is the purpose of this section of the Signpost anyway. I can't account for all the marijuana that is part of some plots. I've heard that watching television (especially The Benny Hill Show) is how many folks around the world learn English. I do hope this isn't true.

"Kate Austen wakes up on the floor of a locker room. Tom allows her to have a shower and afterwards, forces her to change into a dress, after which she is led to an elegant breakfast on the beach with Ben, who tells her to put on handcuffs before she can eat. [...] A teenager, Karl, in a nearby cage initially ignores Sawyer [...] Tom makes Karl, who is now beaten and bloody, apologize to Sawyer before taking the teen away. Sawyer figures out the mechanical puzzle in his cage, though Tom says it 'only took the bears two hours.' Kate is then put in Karl's cage.'

"Ben, is revealed to be the leader of the Others. In flashbacks, Jack obsessively tries to find out who his wife Sarah is having an affair with during his divorce settlement. Jack suspects his father and attacks him at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Jack is arrested and bailed out by his wife.[1][2]

In case of several characters providing lead vocals, the performers are listed in the order in which their characters (of the first of their characters in case they voice several) start singing.

Baloney tries to cover up the death of Mr. Potato Head's favorite plant as a pair of aliens arrive on Earth seeking a new ruler for their interstellar empire. Meanwhile, Dr. Fruitcake creates the Ham Monster for Mr. Potato Head's monster show which proves to be too dangerous for him to control. [...] Upon finding out that Donkey Waddlefoot's show stole his submarine show, Mr. Potato Head informs the TV Guys about it as he is told to do a spy show. Mr. Potato Head does this as well as trying to find out how Donkey Waddlefoot found the footage to make his own episodes.

"A new case for Chief Justice Commissioner Frank Stolte and Chief Justice Commissioner Ingo Fischer. A bomb disguised as a crabbose detonates at a motorway extinguishment. Two road workers survive with scarce need. Immediately, the perpetrator appears with Richie Weber, who had just threatened with bombs along the highway. Shortly thereafter, a junkyard bursts in. The stolen items are found a little later with a cassette and a tin figure near the motorway. On the cassette, a certain 'Rascar Capac' emerges as the author of the bombing. He calls for 1 million DM in cash and one kilo of gold. In the trumpet, the commissioners find out that 'Rascar Capac' is a figure from a Tintin comic. After a failed ransom transfer, a construction site is converted, so that it comes to a mass carambola. For Frank, a cat-and-mouse game begins. First he is sent by the bomber to a swimming pool, but when Ingo appears, 'Rascar Capac' sends Frank to a museum."[3]

Beaver won't eat his Brussels sprouts and thus jeopardizes his chance to join an upcoming family outing, to a football game featuring two of the best pro teams, including the Green Bay Packers. June is insistent about Beaver finishing his sprouts. She appeals to Ward, who commands, 'Eat, Beaver.' Eddie suspects their resolve and encourages Beaver: 'Hold the fort, kid. They're cracking.' Ward compromises and says Beaver can go with the family but must eat his sprouts the next time they're served. At a restaurant, Beaver finds the vegetable du jour is Brussels sprouts. The wait staff and another diner notice Beaver's reluctance, and intervene, creating a scene. Beaver reluctantly puts one in his mouth and Wally slaps him on the back. Beaver suddenly swallows the sprout. He decides Brussels sprouts are not so bad. Later, Ward and June tell Beaver that he, too, will ask his kids to do things they don't want, out of love. But Ward admits that sometimes even parents make mistakes. Beaver is impressed that his father can admit to making a mistake.

The Clampetts travel to Washington DC to give their fortune to the President to fight the smog problem [...] Jethro converts the truck to steam (evidently either wood-fired or coal-fired, producing thick clouds of smoke), then converts it to electricity (requiring a very, very long extension cord). A young (early thirties) Rich Little impersonates President Nixon.

An elderly businessman, concerned about the welfare of his grandchild, informs Friday and Gannon that his daughter and son-in-law are using marijuana regularly. The young couple make no apologies for their lifestyle, which inevitably leads to disaster.

Trimbole learns of a massive shipment of Lebanese cannabis from his friend Dr Nick Paltos (Wadih Dona) and makes plans to import it [...] Allison implicates the entire syndicate and provides evidence linking Trimbole to the Mr. Asia syndicate. The prime minister announces a Royal Commission and disbands the Federal Narcotics Bureau; the move ultimately results in Jack Smith and nearly 150 equally corrupt Narcotics agents being demoted to customs agent-status. But due to Trevor Haken alerting his friends in the NSW Police of the impending bust, George Freeman tips off Trimbole, who is able to flee overseas. Brian Alexander, by then having fallen into alcoholism due to stress, is fired from his position and shunned by his former allies Freeman and Trimbole. The NSW police determine that he knows too much and could spill the beans in an interrogation: Dennis Kelly and his partner Jim Egan (Daniel Roberts) lure him to a yacht where they kill him by dumping him into the sea with his feet attached to a stove. Meanwhile, Frank Tizzoni is arrested in Griffith as he was driving a van loaded with marijuana. After some time in custody he agrees to cut a deal with Messina, giving him evidence of Trimbole and Clark's involvement in the murder of the Wilsons. The taskforce furthermore begins suspecting Haken of leaking intel.

Flight of the Conchords manager Murray (Rhys Darby) brings a reluctant Bret (Bret McKenzie) and Jemaine (Jemaine Clement) to a nightclub to experience 'dancing music', recruiting their friend Dave (Arj Barker) to compel them inside [...] Jemaine goes home with a woman (Sarah Wynter), but when he awakes the next morning, he finds himself surrounded by Australian memorabilia. He suspects he has slept with an Australian, a major taboo for New Zealanders, and attempts to sneak out, calling Bret for help when he cannot unlock the door. However, the woman catches him, introducing herself as Keitha, a rough, crude Australian.

Leo is a permanently stoned hippie (although he did become briefly cured when the Formans served him a cup of coffee in 'Long Away'), the owner of a Foto Hut shop and Hyde's employer. His marijuana use has left him quite dimwitted, to the point of doing nothing about misdeeds that are about to be performed by the teenagers that should be brought to the attention of parents or authorities, even if he disapproves of these actions. He has little regard for his major duties as a store owner and would rather take the time to play board games with Hyde than work.

"The crew returns from vacation, with Miss Piggy claiming to have gone through a spiritual change after returning from Argentina and adopting a Magellanic penguin chick that she names 'Gloria Estefan', much to the dismay of Uncle Deadly [...] Lucy Royce, visits the show and forces them to work with a consultant named Pizza to 'update' the program. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele gravely warn Kermit and Miss Piggy about the repercussions of following the suggestions, noting that after working with Pizza and implementing his changes, Key & Peele was canceled [...] Pizza visits the show during the night's taping and informs Kermit that he stopped Key and Peele's scheduled appearance due to them pitching their oven mitts on Shark Tank. In order to save the show, Kermit performs 'In Spite of Ourselves' with Miss Piggy, which makes Denise feel awkward. Afterwards at Rowlf's Tavern, she tells Kermit they should re-evaluate their relationship."[4]

     New plot summary by Barbara Page:[5]

"The still amazingly gorgeous Agent Scully and aging-Mulder are quietly eating in a fully automated Japanese sushi house. At first they are having a delightful time when Mulder is served a disgusting looking bulbous, slimey gray fish that I expected was going to bite his finger off any second. Though I was disappointed at the lack of amputation, Mulder reacts by stubbornly refusing to leave a tip. As he attempted to pay for the meals, the credit card became jammed in the payment slot. This is the point where I got pretty suspicious myself and became slightly anxious on his behalf. While the card was jammed, insistent and annoying requests for a tip bombarded him on monitors. Well, from this point on, I became convinced that the AI machines are out to get him and Scully because there was still 38 minutes left in the episode.

"As they left the restaurant, I tried warning Scully not to get in the driver-less car that (sure enough) was part of the machines' plan to hurt her unless the restaurant AIs got their 15% tip. But did she listen? NO! All I could think of was 'I told you so!' Meanwhile Mulder is returning to his own home (why do they live separately, again?). Some wiley drones begin their persecution of Mulder for neglecting to tip. And even though they are very small, it looks like they still had the power to inflict much harm. The itsty bitsy ones are getting into the house and chasing him around like a pack of killer bees. He is running out of the house and heads on over to Scully's. He gets there and despite my dire, loud and verbal warnings NOT to enter Scully's house, he isn't listening to me. He breaks down the door and grabs Scully and throws her out the door right before the whole place blows up in a big fireball. Mulder eventually breaks down later in the episode and pays the tip. The machines back off and they are allowed to live.[6]

"In the last sequence of the episode, Mulder and Scully are having breakfast together in a human-operated diner, paying with paper money and still focusing on their smart devices. Scully decides to put her phone aside and gently touches Mulder's hand, to which he reacts by turning his phones [sic] screen down. They both sit contemplating and holding hands."[7]


  1. ^ From the article Lost (season 3).
  2. ^ I am definitely lost on this plot, which makes me a minority when compared to the 18.82 million viewers who obviously loved it.
  3. ^ Methinks this is a machine translation.
  4. ^ Of course they should reevalute their relationship, the implications of a GMO resulting from the union of a mammal and amphibian are very troubling.
  5. ^ Who says my prose stinks!
  6. ^ This is my personal version of the show... I think I'll watch it again.
  7. ^ From the real plot summary.

Reader comments

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Although essays are not policies or guidelines, many are worthy of consideration. Policies and guidelines cannot cover all circumstances, consequently many essays serve as interpretations or commentary of perceived community norms for specific topics and situations. The value of an essay should be understood in context, using common sense and discretion. Essays can be written by anyone and can be long monologues or short theses, serious or funny. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. An essay, as well as being useful, can potentially be a divisive means of espousing a point of view. Although an essay should not be used to create an alternative rule set, the Wikipedia community has historically tolerated a wide range of Wikipedia related subjects and viewpoints on user page. (from WP:ESSAY, a policy supplement)

In the coming months we'll be highlighting and reprinting some of the more interesting/useful/original/pointless/helpful/tasteless essays written by Wikipedians from among the thousands listed in the Essay directory. We thought that this one about essays themselves, "Ignore all essays", short and sweet, written in 2011‎ by Tom Morris, would be an appropriate lead into the new feature. Thank you Tom.

Ignore all essays

It is already established that one should ignore all rules. Some essayists believe we should ignore all dramas, others think we should ignore all uses of "ignore all rules". Other things we should ignore all of include rules, except for the one about consensus, or maybe ignore credentials or even more radically ignore all users.

There is a much simpler and easier thing to do: just ignore all essays! This is much easier to follow: you just don't read essays and ignore appeals to them. It won't affect editing articles or fighting vandals or any of the other things you do on the site.

But this may present something of a paradox. If you ignore all essays, you are following the advice given in this essay, and are therefore not ignoring all essays. Wikipedians, you have your own liar paradox! Enjoy it until some mathematician or philosopher makes it disappear in a puff of logic.

The argument

In summary:

  1. Wikipedia has established the policy of Wikipedia:Ignore all rules.
  2. Rules are more formal than essays, and represent the opinions of more users (sometimes, however, that doesn't matter; see Wikipedia:Ignore all users, which is, admittedly, an essay)
  3. Thus, we should establish the policy of Wikipedia:Ignore all essays.

Hazards of essays

Reader comments

The topic is in the news again, so although only just over a year old, we're reprinting this article by Smallbones from the 6 February 2017 edition of The Signpost

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Predators unconcerned with Wikipedia's wellbeing may be closer than you think.
Smallbones has worked on articles impacted by paid editing throughout his 12 years as a Wikipedia contributor. He has a Ph.D. in finance and professional experience in legitimate financial markets.

From 2013 until its demise in January 2017, Banc De Binary (BDB), a financial broker based in Israel, drew an international stream of accusations and regulatory penalties. Following a lawsuit and negative media reports about the company, a cohort of mostly undisclosed paid editors sought to influence the firm's coverage on Wikipedia.

Given the multiple, time-consuming deletion requests, sockpuppet investigations, and content disputes, it is clear the effort took its toll on Wikipedia's volunteer editors and functionaries. Can we quantify how much such an incident costs Wikipedia? Certainly there's the cost in editor time that could be used better elsewhere. There's the cost of administrative time spent in investigating sock puppets, banning editors, and the like. There's the cost of a diminished reputation for accuracy. And there can be significant costs to our readers from trusting an article or acting on the information in it.

BDB advertised itself as a leader in binary options, an industry viewed with great skepticism by many regulators and journalists. Exposés of scam artists in the industry now abound with titles like 80% losses guaranteed!, Ex-binary options salesman: Here is how we fleece the clients and The unethical sellers of dreams. One victim, after losing $113,250, told her BDB broker that she had no more money left to send him, according to computer records obtained by the Financial Times. The broker answered, "Don't you have a kidney? Sell it."

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has called for a worldwide ban on binary options trading.

Article creation by sock puppets

A 2013 sockpuppet investigation led to the determination that the initial version of the article had been created by a sock puppet. Scubadoofeck re-created the article, but was then banned as a sock puppet of User:Morning277. Morning277 had been a central figure in the 2013 Wiki-PR paid editing scandal, in which over 250 accounts were blocked or banned. The article has been deleted twice, has been the subject of at least three additional deletion requests, and has been the subject of extensive edit warring. A biography of the company's CEO was also deleted three times in 2013.

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) licensed BDB as a broker in January 2013, allowing BDB to trade in many European Union countries. Though BDB was fined four times by CySEC, BDB kept its license until January 2017, when the company closed.

Edit wars

In June 2013 two US regulators, the SEC and the CFTC, filed civil suits against BDB and jointly issued a warning against the entire non-US binary options industry.

An external link to these civil suits was placed in the article two days later, prompting a protracted edit war. In May 2014, an editor nominated the article for deletion; that editor was blocked as yet another sockpuppet the next day. During the intervening 11 months, nearly 500 edits were made. An IP editor (traceable to Israel) claiming to be BDB CEO Oren Shabat Laurent, made five identical edits in the same day, all of which were reverted, to include highlights of Laurent's biography, and lists of products and countries served. He also reduced the coverage of the regulators' lawsuits and buried it at the bottom of the article. The article was protected due to edit warring, and vacillated between semi- and full protection until June 2014.

In May 2014, an editor observed changes in web search results relating to BDB, and asserted that the Wikipedia efforts might be part of a search engine optimization (SEO) effort to remove and de-emphasize coverage of the company's bad press from the web. The Times of Israel later noted, under a headline decrying the "wolves of Tel Aviv", that SEO "expertise has plainly been applied by fraudulent binary options firms, whose affiliated sites show up high in Google searches — sending unsuspecting and naive clients their way."

The article was kept after an Articles for Deletion discussion, despite the participation of User:BDBJack, who had declared he was working for BDB, and eight other editors whose comments were discounted as "obvious single-purpose accounts and socks".

User:BDBIsrael, later indefinitely blocked along with BDBJack, also stated that he was paid by BDB. In June he began relaying messages from the BDB board of directors, clearly stating that BDB had been a customer of Wiki-PR and naming several editors who either worked for BDB directly or through Wiki-PR. One of the editors who worked directly for BDB, User:Notsosoros was indefinitely blocked along with 37 related accounts for sockpuppeting. Most of these socks were apparently "sleeper accounts"—deceptive accounts being prepared to be used later—which hadn't yet edited the BDB article.

Word was posted on Wikipedia that BDB had advertised a five figure fee for "crisis management" of the article. This posting rallied Wikipedia editors to fight for an unbiased article.

A sock puppet started the editing in June 2014 with a request for speedy deletion [24]. 106 edits and six days later, the article was placed under full protection. On June 4 a well-known paid editor, who told the Signpost that he never accepted money from BDB, started another article deletion request, but the article was speedily kept. Three days later, he deleted 88% of the article text. The article talk page was even busier, with about 450 edits that month.

On June 16, 2014 the Wikimedia Foundation announced a new requirement for paid editors as part of Wikipedia's terms of use. Paid editors from that date forward were formally required to declare their paid status, their employer, clients, and other relevant affiliations, so that other editors could easily review their work. Paid editing at the BDB article slowed immediately. Only two banned or permanently blocked editors edited the article until 2016.

The collapse

2016 was a rough year for BDB. In January Israel changed its law to make trading binary options with its citizens illegal. In February BDB settled the US regulatory cases with $11 million in fines and restitution, and an agreement not to trade with or even indirectly solicit US residents. The Times of Israel ran a series of detailed exposés on the binary options industry, starting with "The wolves of Tel Aviv: Israel's vast, amoral binary options scam exposed" One article focused on BDB. The prime minister’s office condemned the whole industry, and the Knesset scheduled hearings on stopping all binary options trading in Israel. CySEC fined BDB four times and there were other regulatory setbacks in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, and Belize.

This did not appear to stop the undisclosed paid editing on the BDB article. Four accounts, later banned or permanently blocked, removed content from the article in 2016: FoCuSandLeArN, Tianderni, Beranpolti, and Euclidthalis.

BDB fought hard to push its advertising into the article, and to remove news of its regulatory problems. Wikipedia editors and administrators fought harder and did a good job under the circumstances. Perhaps Wikipedia editors, myself included, could have been clearer: a reader skimming the article might have drawn the erroneous conclusion that BDB was a legitimate business with just a few problems with regulators. Of course we are constrained by what reliable secondary sources say – we could not have written, for instance, "BDB is a scam" unless several sources had printed that.

Other languages

Coverage of BDB in Wikipedia's German, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish editions was less informative than in the English edition. All the articles were created from 2013–14. They appear to have been translated from one of the English article versions written by BDB; all but one had a small paragraph on US regulation buried at the bottom.

The creator of the Spanish article got his account globally locked as a "spam only account", but the article stayed pretty much the same until December 2016. The Greek and Russian articles stayed much as originally written. The German and Portuguese articles started in 2013 with word of BDB’s regulatory problems in the lede, but those sentences were deleted in June 2014.

The bottom line

A prolonged conflict around an article impacts Wikipedia's most valuable resource—volunteer time—and impacts the quality of information conveyed to its readers. All of these should be regarded as significant costs to the Wikipedia project. Furthermore, to whatever extent Wikipedia's readers take detrimental action based on faulty information from Wikipedia, those individuals share in the cost, as well.

In total, three editors of the English-language article were banned as sock puppets of Morning277, and 17 others were banned or indefinitely blocked. These editors all pushed BDB's point of view. A couple dozen more were blocked as sock puppets of a BDB employee before they could edit the BDB article.

With 781 edits to the article and 870 edits to the talk page, BDB likely consumed hundreds of hours of our editors' time. Eight related deletion requests, two massive edit wars, 20 banned or blocked editors, and years of page protection likely used hundreds more hours of administrators' time.

The Israeli binary options industry is reported to take in more than US$1 billion per year. BDB reported unaudited revenues of $100 million in 2014. How much of that came from Wikipedia readers can only be guessed. But given the time and money BDB spent trying to manipulate the article on Wikipedia, it must have been a very large amount. Maybe we should all count our kidneys, and keep our eyes on the wolves.

Reader comments

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