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From the editorIf only if
Technology report
New bots, new prefs

Black-and-white photograph of sailors scrubbing a ship's deck
Will there be another crew willing to sweep the deck (note supervisor at right)?

In this issue, the Admin Ship berths in home port, a re-sysoping warns admins to think again before handing in their tools, and some older advice from a well-known admin warns editors to think again before launching a RfC. A reprint of an essay from another well-known admin and former arbitrator suggests quite bluntly that if you don't like it at Wikipedia, please leave.

Three months ago, I never saw myself in the shoes of E-in-C. I just missed the paper very much, and if anyone had suggested it to me, it would have been the last thing I would have thought of doing. I just jumped into the breach. However, it is time-consuming and it also comes with a certain level of responsibility (not to be confused with 'competence') which not everyone would be entirely happy about having to shoulder. Notwithstanding, having been a teacher of creative writing, and during the 1980s a freelance reporter for a certain popular Berlin-based daily newspaper, I like writing.

With this therefore being our third issue with me (kind of) at the helm, if only temporarily, I believe we need to understand the reasons why The Signpost dwindled from being weekly, then fortnightly, then monthly, to nothing at all until we somehow roped it together again. There is a lack of motivation in every corner of Wikipedia right now (and that's enough for an article itself), and people have left the editorial team for many reasons – some legitimate, some simply from disinterest.

Since Pete Forsyth's 'From the Editor' in the January 2017 issue – 18 months ago – the wished-for changes have not materialised and The Signpost is still very much in a kind of limbo with at least two 'new' editorial staff retired already. There have recently been a lot of very good suggestions for The Signpost which generally repeat Pete's pleas for involvement.

We heard from several readers who reported reading The Signpost for the first time after having seen the recently implemented watchlist notice. Many more silent readers were probably drawn by it as well.

There were several suggestions that it should take the shape of a monthly news magazine. A monthly issue is going to be fatter. It will have accumulated everything that would previously have been dished out as hotter weekly news, and it must have an interest level beyond simply being a (fairly) dry report on what's going on. But it needs writers.

Most importantly, however, The Signpost frees us – and the Wikipedia community – from the strictures associated with the composition of Wikipedia articles. While nevertheless avoiding being too critical of what we all work for (there are plenty of Wikipedia hate sites doing that, and sadly authored by some of our regular editors), it is an opportunity to make a broader audience, including the world's established media, aware of the things that Wikipedia is not and what is required from its corporate owners to do something about it.

As always, if only we had more ideas and submissions from our readers at our suggestions page...

Animation of the Wikipedia logo's omega puzzle piece circling the globe
The Signpost is hiring!
More of a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle than a bung for a hole in the sinking ship that the periodical once was, we are now looking for a permanent Editor-in-Chief to fill a vacant slot in the editorial team. Start 31 August or sooner. Candidates should expect to work in excess of their contracted 30 hours per month for no additional remuneration. Salary $00.00 commensurate with age and experience.

Reader comments

The Admin Ship comes back to port – where the voyage starts

Photograph of a large boat whose starboard side is listing and riding up against the harbor
The Admin Ship returns to port.

Is the Admin Ship actually sinking? No, but listing heavily. This last leg of our current cruise on the Admin Ship brings us to a round up of what seasickness or other ills deter candidates of the right calibre from coming forward – back to where it all begins: RfA. We list some of the comments we fished out of the dirty water on the way as well as some of the answers and advice from the admins we interviewed. However, if you are an aspiring admin, don't let it discourage you; and if you are a voter at RfA, the admins' and other users' comments reveal much about the situation and perhaps you may like to read Advice for RfA voters. With comments such as "My default attitude is that an admin is dishonest and/or corrupt. An individual admin has to prove themselves to be otherwise. So maybe their reputation is so slimy that it's hard to recruit any more" Carrite's opinion may be accurate based on his own experience but may not be shared by the majority of the community.

Commenting on the reforms he made in December 2015, Biblioworm says "I especially supported the idea of separate clerks, but every comprehensive clerking proposal has been rejected. I remember someone, maybe Montanabw, suggesting restrictions on the length of vote rationales. I didn't comment, but I, as well as Kudpung, thought it was a good idea. Perhaps someone could take that up."

No BIG deal?

Image macro meme depicting the Wikipedia globe logo with a mop layered over it; top text: "WP:RFA"; bottom text: "BECAUSE THIS PLACE IS NOT GOING TO MOP ITSELF" with "BECAUSE" misspelled

A big deal?

Back in July 2012, exactly six years ago, Andrew Lih—a 2003 admin (Fuzheado) and author of The Wikipedia Revolution—told a reporter in The Atlantic: "The vetting process is akin to putting someone through the Supreme Court," he said, "it's pretty much a hazing ritual at this point." Lih became an admin in October 2003 and was formerly an associate professor of journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.


Suggestions are frequently made to limit voting to users who at least have a minimum knowledge of what adminship is all about.

Her edit summary reads: "yeah, but there are people who can always find a reason to oppose. Why have we not taken steps to remove them?"

Where it stalls, however, is the paradox that because no official entry point exists for admin candidates, one can hardly impose regulations on those who vote. It's a Catch-22 question. The English Wikipedia is the only major language project not to operate such restrictions.

Advice for candidates

Beeblebrox, who succeeded at his second attempt, gives this advice: "If you believe you have the experience and have demonstrated the demeanor expected of an admin, go ahead and run. The worst that can happen is that you won't get it. It's not the end of the world."

This writer who has now been researching RfA for many years advises prospective candidates to read WP:RFAADVICE page – "properly, and don't waste our time. Unless you want something to brag about in the schoolyard, adminship is absolutely no big deal. Someone has to do the dirty work, so if you think being an admin is a cool job, think again. If you joined Wikipedia with the intention of becoming an admin on the world's #4 web site, you joined for the wrong reasons; go away."

Lourdes who declined the bit immediately following her second but nevertheless very successful landslide RfA (207/3/1), says: "My advice would be, don't go for it. Going for an RfA is not at all worth the time of a good productive editor, given the stress before and during the RfA and the investment of personal time further on; and later even the possibility of public denoument of admin actions. RfAs and adminship are not for those who can't take mass criticism on a public platform, and that includes the majority of editors here. While I sincerely extend all my support to RfA candidates, I would reiterate that it's not worth it."

Admins were asked to comment on their experience at RfA

"Very stressed. Very negative. I don't recommend it. That was in 2012, which was a different era than now. Don't seek RFA unless you can handle a lot of abuse. We are just glorified teacher's assistants with mops, and no teacher, so don't seek it unless your goal is to fix things and help people. It can be rewarding, but it is also a huge pain sometimes. There is no glory in the job, so make sure your reasons for wanting it are worth it. If in doubt, don't", says Dennis Brown whose very successful RfA (134/31/2) was something to write home about in the days when 100+ support votes were still rare.

On another successful bid at 121/3/2 in days of yore, Worm That Turned said: "It was stressful, despite having a very positive RfA. But it was also years ago, and things are different now – quite possibly worse."

"It went much better than I expected. I did a thorough preparation with the nominators and knew that if there was one thing that could cause RfA to fail it would be civility. However, in the event it only generated a handful of opposes," says Ritchie333 with a very healthy 138/3/3 in pre-reform days.

Again quoting Beeblebrox, who tells us that during his RfAs he was not relaxed. "...I was distressed to see one or two opposes that got basic facts wrong."

Cullen328 who currently holds the record for the most successful RfA ever (post reform), found the process somewhat stressful, but "...the result was gratifying. Once the trend was well-established, I was relaxed and a bit amazed. Very amazed and humbled in the end."

This writer describes his supports and opposes going up and down until the last two days. "I was on tenterhooks the whole time. I had been investigating the RfA system because I wanted to know how a couple of admins who harassed me ever got their bits (they've long gone). With that and other work I was doing I was urged to run for office. Due to lies and blatant PA (even from since desysoped admins), it was one of the worst ever examples of a 'horrible and broken process'. Although I finally passed with flying colours [100+ in 2011], it was not a pleasant experience so I've been involved in RfA reform ever since. I'm getting on for 70 and it was the most humiliating experience in my life."


Wikipedia:WikiProject Administrator/Five Problems with a Single Solution (for some reason tagged as defunct) is more pertinent today than it ever was (at least most parts of it). Quite deliberately mainly some of the more negative aspects of RfA have been highlighted here, but in fact many successful applicants found them less worrying. The main consideration is that candidates should do a thorough self analysis to ensure they are ready to become admins.

Depending on who turns out to vote, the bar is set anew at each RfA. Objective comments based on the criteria and research of serious voters carry a lot of weight and significantly influence the voting. RfA actually does a reasonably good job of passing those who are ready for the bit and failing those who are not. The problem is how the candidates are treated by the community, whether they look like passing or not. Discussions at WT:RfA always come full circle, but a lot of research has been done into RfA and adminship both on- and off-Wiki. A vast amount if it was done at WP:RFA2011 and from more recent discussions among people who are not even aware of the 2011 project, it appears that essentially, most of it is still very valid today. It could well be that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the RfA process itself, and that the dearth of candidates is due to the environment they are expecting to meet when they run for office. On the other hand, the climate they will meet as admins if they choose to work in the front line will be much, much worse.

A matter of principle deters many users from accepting a process in which editor behaviour clearly dismisses fundamental policies for seven days. Apart from a small core of regular voters, the participants are nowadays largely drawn from users who only occasionally make an appearance at RfA, some of whom neither fully understand the the process, nor what being an admin really entails – many of them quite wrongly assume, for example, that an RfA is a quest for power. New admins are needed, but equally required is an informed and well behaved electorate to get there.

We leave this series of articles and disembark from the Admin Ship without expressing any opinion, and leave our readers to form their conclusions – and perhaps run for adminship?

Reader comments

Jim Heaphy has been a Wikipedia editor since 2009 and is a regular Teahouse host. His focus is on content where he creates an eclectic mix of articles. The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not reflect any official opinions of this publication.

Wikipedia referees wag a finger at Professional Wrestling editors

Photograph of a wrestler in mid-air with arms out, preparing to land on the wrestler below
Sport or entertainment?

Joining such hot button topics as the Syrian Civil War, ISIS and cryptocurrencies, professional wrestling is the latest topic area to come under community-authorized general sanctions. This decision was a result of a sometimes heated discussion at the Administrators' Noticeboard that concluded on June 22, 2018. Why did the community feel the need to impose these sanctions?

Inexperienced but passionate editors working in the professional wrestling area led to excessive edit warring and heated disputes. The nature of professional wrestling itself, which occupies a grey zone between truly competitive sports and scripted fictional entertainment such as film and television dramas, was an even deeper cause. The term sports entertainment is sometimes used. Complicating the issues even further, although the matches are scripted and predetermined, professional wrestling has historically presented itself as reality. Called kayfabe within professional wrestling, the social convention is that scripted matches performed by stylized characters are presented as if it is all genuine. This practice leads those who dislike it to conclude that pro wrestling is based on lies. In this strange cultural phenomenon that goes back to its origins in carnivals and sideshows many decades ago, all participants in professional wrestling were expected to insist that the matches, championship titles, the grudges, the feuds, the gimmicks and the over-the-top characters were all 100% genuine. The dominance of kayfabe has eroded a bit in the Internet era, but the attitude is still very much alive. Unsurprisingly but unfortunately, the kayfabe attitude influences Wikipedia's coverage of pro wrestling.

I first saw professional wrestling around 1960. These locally produced wrestling matches were shown on black-and-white TV with much lower production values than today, but they presented the matches as absolutely genuine. I remember sitting in front of the TV with several other neighborhood children, and I was laughing and calling the whole thing a fake. The other kids were indignant with me and insisted that these were real athletic competitions fought by truly brave and strong warriors. That was my introduction to kayfabe although I had never heard that term at that time. It seems that I was a skeptic from a very young age.

Sport or entertainment?

Reminiscing, I recalled a massive hulk of a gravelly voiced wrestler known as Dick the Bruiser who was a dominant figure in the Midwest at that time. Sure enough, there is a Wikipedia biography of this fellow, and I was surprised to learn that he had played professional football for the Green Bay Packers in the early 1950s, when the Packers were a mediocre team. The rough voice was due to a larynx injury he suffered with the Packers. He had appeared in every regular season game for his four-year NFL career before becoming a professional wrestler. It seems that wrestling was a more lucrative career than football in those years, and quite a few NFL football players later became wrestlers. I expanded the biography, adding some facts about his education and football career, which I had learned about. I also discovered that he was involved in a wrestling riot at the old Madison Square Garden in 1957. Two police officers were injured, two fans were arrested and Dick the Bruiser, whose real name was William Fritz Afflis, was banned for life by the New York State Athletic Commission. Since that brawl was reported by the New York Times, of course I added it to the article. It seems that kayfabe was forgotten that night, at least by the enraged fans who threw hundreds of chairs.

For some reason, working to improve the biography of a single wrestler who died nearly 27 years ago gave me a bit more sympathy for the productive editors who work in this strange topic area, even if I disagree with some of their opinions about what is encyclopedic and what isn't. It must be something about my personality. I try to assume good faith and that serves me well.

Wikipedia norms

I cannot agree with treating professional wrestling as a real competitive sport and presenting its scripted story lines as if they were real events. Some wrestling editors like to point out that our plot summaries of fictional movies, for example, describe the plots as if those events actually happened. That ignores the fact that this content is presented in a section called "Plot summary" and that the motion picture industry does not present its fictional films as true. The professional wrestling industry continues to present its scripted matches as if they are real competitions, and that influences young fans. While care must be taken to ensure that our professional wrestling articles reflect Wikipedia's norms, and not kayfabe norms, I do agree that professional wrestling is highly notable and that this encyclopedia ought to give it comprehensive coverage. I have a growing respect for the editors who are trying sincerely to improve those articles.

WikiProject Professional wrestling is very active, and I recommend that any editor with any interest in the topic area should read its talk page and make constructive comments there. Simply reading a couple of lengthy threads there helps any editor to better understand the passions and enthusiasm that motivate many pro wrestling editors.

A current debate

Since July 10, an ongoing, in-depth discussion at the Village Pump asks: "Should the 'In wrestling' section be removed from professional wrestling articles?" In effect, this proposal gives productive wrestling editors a consensus to systematically clean up poorly referenced trivia from these articles. Reading that debate reveals how many wrestling editors are devoted to maintaining poorly referenced fan site content. It seems that Wikipedia is now, in effect, the fan site for professional wrestling. That makes me uncomfortable. Unsurprisingly, many of these accounts commenting at the Village pump are newly created and show little if any understanding of our policies and guidelines.

Cleaning up over 10,000 pro wrestling articles is a necessary challenge but I am optimistic it will happen because I have learned that there are quite a few solid pro wrestling editors who are trying to do the right thing.

Reader comments

Wikimania 2018

Group photograph at Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town
Wikimania 2018

This year's annual conference was held this week in Cape Town, South Africa. It came and went and, as always for the attendees, it wasn't long enough. Claimed by the organisers to have been a success, The Signpost hopes to make a report on the event in next month's issue.

Still something wrong with The Signpost's own advertising?

Is one The Signpost not enough? A relatively new user asks at Wikipedia's Teahouse this week how they can start their own Wikipedia newspaper. It not only begs the question 'Are we doing enough to get The Signpost noticed?' but also raises the issue of why, after all these years, Wikipedia still does not have a 'Thank you for registering' page which not only offers some new basic information, but also places a short automated message on the user's talk page with some brief tips and where to get help.

New Page Review

Chart showing the amount of unreviewed new articles since the start of 2018, which has seen rapid decline overall, but has begun rising since July
Waiting list for new users gets longer again

Once down to around 350, the number of articles in the New Pages Feed (NPP) rises sharply again following the recent backlog elimination drive. A discussion is taking place at NPR Coordinators on whether an election should be held to install official process coordinators. Following the February 2017 election, the successful candidates did not take up their posts. For anyone who might not be aware, NPR is a major core function and Wikipedia's only firewall against unwanted new articles—the project needs many more skilled and truly active reviewers.

Brief notes

Simple drawing of an "Admin T-Shirt" that says "I'm an admin and all I get is this crappy T-shirt :)"
Sro23 has a new T-shirt.
  • New user-groups: The Affiliations Committee has announced the approval of new Wikimedia movement affiliates: the User Group Uganda and the Slovakia User Group are recognised for a one-year renewable period.
  • New administrators: The Signpost welcomes one new administrator to our English encyclopedia this month. Sro23, whose RfA voting closed with 277/4/0, is a Sockpuppets Investigations clerk and has been editing Wikipedia since May 2015.
  • Returned admin tools: After having voluntarily relinquished their admin rights in January, a request for the return of the tools by Ymblanter was granted following a very lengthy discussion on the Bureaucrats' Noticeboard involving many comments from the community.
  • New newsletter: The Timeless skin (reviewed in a previous issue of The Signpost) has a new newsletter. You can read and subscribe to it here.
  • Spell check: Wikipedia:Typo Team/moss has collected statistics on misspellings, a list of articles containing a word not found in the dictionary, and instructions for volunteers to fix them.

Reader comments

Wikipedia blackout

Reported in greater depth in this issue at the Discussion report, the Spanish, Italian, Latvian, Estonian, Polish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, Hungarian, and Slovenian Wikipedias blacked out, incurring extensive media coverage throughout Europe:

Business Insider also showed a Twitter exchange between Jimmy Wales and European Commission over the blackout.

UK venture capitalists are not notable

Cartoon caricature of Wikipedia cabalists discussing and denying that there is a cabal
Cabal of anti-UK editors deciding the fate of venture capital articles?

Writing on 13 July for the Technology Intelligence section in leading UK newspaper The Telegraph, James Cook reports on anonymous users suggesting Wikipedia is biased against British entrepreneurs while allowing articles about US financiers. Listing deleted articles Angel CoFund, Eden Ventures, Episode 1 Ventures, Hoxton Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners, Notion Capital, Passion Capital, Rob Kniaz, Saul Klein, and Scottish Equity Partners, he claims that deletions of 19 articles are an orchestrated effort of three Wikipedia users who support each other's AfD nominations. In the Articles for Deletion discussion about the Tom Blomfield biography, the page was procedurally kept following a 'no consensus' closure.

In a brief interview with The Signpost, one of the deletion nominators, HighKing, had this to say about the accusations:


In brief

Other contributors: Bri

Photograph of luggage being unloaded from an airplane at the airport
Maher living out of a suitcase – taking her office with her?

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

Screenshot of the top-half of the English Wikipedia main page with the banner "To all our readers in Germany" at the top
The banner as it appeared to readers in Germany

EU copyright banner deployed on English Wikipedia at Jimbo's recommendation; other European Wikipedias blacked out

A proposed copyright law in the European Union would have required websites to pay other websites when they included snippets from those other websites. Lawmakers attempted to create an exception for sites like Wikipedia, with language mentioning "nonprofit" sites such as "online encyclopedias". However, this exception would not apply to Wikipedia because Wikipedia content is licensed for all use, not just nonprofit.

Wikimedia's legal department, as well as Jimbo Wales, frequently voiced their concerns and encouraged action. After previous discussions failed to reach a consensus on a site-wide banner to display to EU readers, a post by Jimbo on the Village Pump led to a few neutrally-worded proposals. This led to a banner being approved (see image). Other Wikipedias went even further, with the Spanish and Italian Wikipedias both blacking out the entire site (similar to the English Wikipedia's SOPA blackout). In the following hours, the Latvian, Estonian, Polish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, Hungarian, and Slovenian Wikipedias blacked out as well. On July 5, the European Parliament voted not to fast-track the bill; further debate and amendment will occur in September.

JavaScript/CSS editing permission created

Following the discussion at Meta, on 27 August admins will lose their rights to edit sitewide and other users' JavaScript and CSS pages. How these users will be appointed is left to each individual wiki. Knowing the English Wikipedia, this would result in the creation of yet another horrible and broken process called RfIA (quick, get that shortcut reserved!). The right will be granted by bureaucrats and stewards.

The proposal for 'TechAdmin', the criteria for access, and how the the new user right will be accorded are being discussed at Interface administrators.

The concern brought up by the proposers is the ability of rouge... I mean rogue admins to deploy malicious code to millions of readers. Additionally, most admins don't edit these pages, making this an unnecessarily dangerous right in the eyes of the proposers. At the same time, this does bring back memories of when admins stepped up to implement consensus on the Visual Editor Default State RfC after the WMF's refusal to do so, and one wonders what would happen with that were this group implemented.

Should protection be unbundled?

To help experienced editors better deal with vandalism, a new user right was proposed at the Village Pump to allow editors frequently involved in vandal-fighting to protect pages for a few months. Consensus seemed strongly against this proposal until NeilN made a more restricted proposal limiting the length of protection to 3 hours and only allowing it to be applied to biographies of living people. While the final result was a "no consensus" close, the possibility of further discussion on NeilN's proposal and others was left open.

In brief

Other contributors: Bri

  • Someone suggested that a bot deliver discretionary sanction notices. How do discretionary sanctions work? I have no idea. But that doesn't mean I won't link to it here.
  • About the same time last month that we reported on the Arbitration Committee in the media, the article on Ira Brad Matetsky (AKA Newyorkbrad) was facing a deletion debate. The debate was closed "no consensus" shortly before we went to press but after the publication deadline. B
  • A new Women in Red user group (an upgrade from the WikiProject on the English Wikipedia) has been proposed on Meta. The greatest discussion is in a thread titled "Statement on global visibility of women and non-binary genders". B
  • The "Making widely-used icons consistent and modern" discussion mentioned in the last issue closed as "no consensus".

Reader comments

Sepia-toned photograph of the tomb of Baghi, which was destroyed in 1926
One of many domes, cupolas, and mausoleums razed in the demolition of al-Baqi (a good article)

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from June 19 through July 20. Text may be adapted from the respective articles and lists; see their page histories for attribution.

Featured articles

11 featured articles were promoted.

Photograph of a helicopter hovering above ocean with the Apollo 10 capsule and astronauts floating nearby
Helicopter 66 during the Apollo 10 recovery in 1969

Photograph of a mountainous skyline depicting the Taapaca volcanic complex with the town of Purte in the bottom-left corner
Taapaca complex in Chile

Photograph of snowy mountain peaks with a hiker in the bottom-left atop grassy terrain
Cascade Pass in the U.S. state of Washington's North Cascades National Park

Featured lists

18 featured lists were promoted.

Black-and-white portrait photograph of Willy Brandt in a suit and tie
Willy Brandt, one of the Chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

Featured pictures

Three featured pictures were promoted.

Featured topics

One featured topic was promoted.

Illustration of two maps displaying a summary of the 2006 Pacific hurricane season as provided by NOAA, which depicts activity off the western coast of Mexico
2006 Pacific hurricane season

Good articles

Apart from these featured contents, the following good articles were promoted in July.

Click to show
Photograph of an ice-capped mountain range covered in snow
Peaks of the Eldorado Icecap seen from Eldorado Peak at North Cascades National Park (a featured article).

Reader comments

Active cases

Infographic map illustrating the state of World War II in Europe in 1942
Arbcom is about to decide how we talk about this.

See our May and June arbitration reports for background. The case is in its final phase now at Proposed decision. As of publication deadline (31 July), the following proposed remedies are on the table:

  1. Topics related to the German participation in the Second World War, broadly interpreted, are placed under discretionary sanctions. 10–0 opposed (cannot pass).
  2. For engaging in harassment of other users, LargelyRecyclable is indefinitely banned from the English Wikipedia under any account. 11–0 in favor (passed).
  3. Cinderella157 is admonished for personal attacks against K.e.coffman and casting aspersions on their editing and character. 6–1 opposed, 1 abstained.
  4. K.e.coffman is reminded that the use of biased and questionable sources are not prohibited by policy, especially when the content is verifiable, non-controversial and has been included by editorial consensus. They are encouraged to continue to identify unreliable sourcing and bring them to wider community attention. 11–0 opposed (cannot pass).
  5. Auntieruth55 is reminded that project coordinators have no special roles in a content dispute, and that featured articles are not immune to sourcing problems. 4–3 opposed, 1 abstained. Dissenting, DGG: "I think the extent of attempted authority does justify a reminder."
  6. All editors are reminded that consensus building is key to the purpose of Wikipedia. The most reliable sources should be used instead of questionable sourcing whenever possible when dealing with sensitive topics. Longterm disagreement over local consensus in a topic area should be resolved through soliciting comments from the wider community, instead of being re-litigated persistently at the local level. 10–0 in favor (passed).

Projection/takeaway (op-ed): There will be no new discretionary sanctions, LargelyRecyclable will be banned, K.e.coffman will face no tangible sanctions, and the status quo will stand with respect to community participation in contentious discussions. B

BLP issues on British politics articles

Screenshot of the Evidence subpage's history between 11 July and 12 July depicting most of the revisions as deleted
Much of this discussion has been redacted.

Workshop closed after three comments on July 9. Arbitrators began filling out Proposed decision on July 18–19. A key finding is that the committee's jurisdiction only covers on-wiki editing, but "[t]he Committee may take notice of conduct outside its jurisdiction when making decisions about conduct on the English Wikipedia if such outside conduct impacts or has the potential to impact adversely upon the English Wikipedia or its editors" (emphasis added). Newyorkbrad stated that "we can tell [an] editor that they must stop engaging in seriously problematic conduct on another site (for example, conduct verging on threats or revealing editors' private information) if they wish to continue participating here."

An interesting finding of the committee was that "Philip Cross was the subject of an intense campaign of harassment and intimidation both on-wiki and off-wiki during this case, including the creation of attack pages, efforts to obtain and reveal his personal details, and unsupported speculation that he is a state agent". Thus far, The Signpost has refrained from publishing this speculation.

Consensus seems to have emerged that Philip Cross has exhibited a conflict of interest, but has also been the target of harassment. He may continue editing under his topic ban. KalHolmann will be indefinitely restricted from linking to or speculating about the off-wiki behavior or identity of other editors. The new discretionary sanctions on British politics that we discussed in the last issue do not have the committee's backing.

A reminder to the community about the provisions of Wikipedia's policy against outing was backed unanimously with this understated comment by Newyorkbrad: "there are inherent tensions between our policies allowing anonymous editing but discouraging conflicts of interest." B

Return of access levels

In other words, getting one's mop back. On 20 July 2018, following an intense discussion at the Bureaucrats Noticeboard concerning a request by Ymblanter for reinstatment of his administrator status, the Arbitration Committee ruled squarely that a decision to either resysop or require a new RfA falls within the domain of Bureaucrat discretion. The concerns were centred around whether or not Ymblanter had voluntarily resigned his adminship 'under a cloud' in order to escape possible sanctions. Among the arbitrator comments were: "The determination of 'controversial circumstances' is based on the discretion of the bureaucrats. In the the relatively infrequent situation where an administrator did not relinquish their privileges in a completely uncontroversial manner, a bureaucrat discussion should take place to allow consensus among the bureaucrats to emerge, which is what happened with the Ymblanter case" by Alex Shih, and, invoking earlier precedents: "Based on these decisions (which are consistent with the current policy), ArbCom only has a potential role in this area if an administrator has resigned (1) while a case to which he or she is a party had already been accepted and was being considered, or (2) while a request for arbitration was pending. Ordinarily, an admin who resigns under either of these circumstances would need a new RfA to regain adminship" by Newyorkbrad.

The moral of the story (op-ed) is that before handing in their tools for whatever reason, admins should be aware of anything in their history that may prevent what they might have thought would be a straightforward request for their return. K

Reader comments

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Stormy clouds (June 24 to 30, July 15 to 22) and igordebraga (July 1 to 7, July 8 to 14).

Fifty (two) years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming (June 24 to 30)

Player scoring a goal after a failed block

Soccer! "'Football', said the rest of the fucking world." Bilbo Baggins is my spirit animal. Once again, the report is dominated by football, as the World Cup continues to infect Wikipedians worldwide like a chaotically cascading contagion. World Cup fever is tangible, especially across the pond. Apparently, it's coming home. They're even dropping 'arry and losing intentionally to dodge Brazil, the madlads. Shia LaBeouf seems to be excelling at this game of 4-D chess he's playing. With a "handy" run to the semi-finals, hopefully he can put it away this time.

Anyway, other stuff has the audacity to occur during the World Cup, including death, Google Doodles, retirement, and other intrigues, diversifying the report to a certain extent. However, it is dwarfed by the swarms of interest provoked by World Cup fever. A great manager once said that football is much more important than life or death. This iteration of the report lays credence to that claim. I hope you enjoy it.

Without further ado, for the week of June 24 to 30, 2018, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 2018 FIFA World Cup B-Class article 4,855,112
Adidas Telstar 18 in Russia vs. Argentina.jpg
The top 5 all relate directly to the ongoing World Cup, and I despise inefficiency, so let us attempt to address all five items in a succinctly synopsised fashion:
  • Unless you live under a rock (or happen to be American), you are likely aware of the ongoing footballing festival in Russia, as the world's greatest teams (and Saudi Arabia) compete for the famous trophy. The tournament has been utterly compelling and has induced feverous fanaticism globally, as evinced by the massive number of views it has received. The Telstar has been involved in a copious number of screamers, including this peach, and has kept the eyes of the world on Russia.
  • One of the greatest footballers of his era, Lionel Messi looks destined to end his career without a World Cup victory, after his native Argentina were eliminated by Mbappé (#7) and France. Whilst he is the proud recipient of five Ballons d'Or, he has failed to emulate his Argentinian peer and footballing legend Diego Maradona, and seems destined to linger in his shadow; at the age of 31, he seems increasingly unlikely to lift the Jules Rimet trophy. His individual talent has led millions to adore him, but he has come up short on the world's greatest stage once again—in fact, he has never scored in the knockout stages of the World Cup, a monkey on the back that he will not shake in Russia.
  • Once again, the popularity of the World Cup has led Wikipedians to research its history, both in terms of its origins and the various vibrant locales where it has been hosted. As all football aficionados know, the first tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was an invitational event. Conceived by Jules Rimet (then President of FIFA), the World Cup sought to breed unity and grow the prestige of the game globally, which I feel it has achieved greatly. Uruguay claimed victory in 1930, lifting the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time in glory, and the World Cup has only grown since, becoming the sporting behemoth which we know and love today. The original trophy, incidentally, was awarded in perpetuity to Brazil following their third win in 1970, and was replaced by the [[:|iconic trophy]] which is to be awarded this year.
  • One of the greatest footballers of his era, Cristiano Ronaldo looks destined to end his career without a World Cup victory, after his native Portugal were eliminated by Cavani and Uruguay (#20). Whilst he is the proud recipient of five Ballons d'Or, he has failed to emulate his Brazilian namesake, and at the age of 33 seems increasingly unlikely to lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy. His individual talent has led millions to adore him, but he has come up short on the world's greatest stage once again—in fact, he has never scored in the knockout stages of the World Cup, a monkey on the back that he will not shake in Russia. (Weird parallels, huh?)
2 Lionel Messi Good article 1,266,982
Lionel Messi 16 June 2018.jpg
3 FIFA World Cup Featured article
Stamps of Romania, 2006-062.jpg
4 Cristiano Ronaldo B-Class article 1,243,989
Cristiano Ronaldo 2018.jpg
5 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured article 1,042,913
Uruguay 1930 World Cup.jpg
6 Richard Benjamin Harrison C-Class article 970,703
The "Old Man" on Pawn Stars died this week following a lengthy bout with Parkinson's disease, driving a typhoon of views towards his article from fans of the extremely popular History Channel show. Harrison founded the shop in Las Vegas in 1981 along with his son, following a twenty-year tenure in the US Navy, and spawned a pawn-powered empire as a result.
7 Kylian Mbappé C-Class article 852,932
Kylian Mbappe 2017.jpg
France, in my view, have been one of the stand-out performers of the World Cup thus far, having dispatched with Messi & Co. just yesterday. The star of their squad is probably Antoine Griezmann, but their best player to date has been the young Mbappé, only 19 and already dominating the game. He hit headlines last year following his €180 million ($203 million) transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, and he has justified that lofty valuation with some stoic performances for Les Bleus.
8 Diego Maradona B-Class article 828,139
Maradona cup azteca.jpg
While opinion differs as to whether or not he can be considered the greatest player ever, (a certain Brazilian may disagree), Maradona's status as a legend of the game cannot be denied. The man behind the Goal of the Century, divine intervention, a near-solo World Cup win, and the meteoric rise of Napoli as a footballing power, Maradona revolutionised the way football was played. He has recently been a stalwart at the World Cup, attending every game played by Argentina, and courting controversy in doing so.
9 Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis C-Class article 806,907
The Normal Distribution.svg
Mahalanobis was an Indian mathematician and scientist, best known for his pioneering work in statistics and his eponymous distance. He was honoured this week with a Google doodle, which drove many curious perusers of the encyclopedia to investigate his work in greater depth and detail on his article. The statistician went by P.C., but remarkably did the vast majority of his mathematics without the aid of computation.
10 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom C-Class article 805,172
Velociraptor Wyoming Dinosaur Center.jpg
The mixed reception to the latest installment in the paleontologic Jurassic Park has not prevented it from roaring its way to massive box office receipts as audiences flock to the multiplexes to see the latest exploits of featherless creatures. I found the film to be derivative and dull, but to each their own—many are enamoured by Peter Quill and his carnivorous pals.

And Moscow football makes me sing and shout (July 1 to 7)

As expected, the FIFA World Cup is still dominating. And given recent developments in the Russian fields, you might notice my attempts at venting off tournament frustrations (my Welsh and Irish Report colleagues have already done it, so why not me?). The only entries not related to football are superheroes out of Hollywood (both live-action from Marvel and animated from Cartoon Network), action star biopics out of Bollywood, basketball stars gone Hollywood, holidays out of the U.S., historical figures out of Google Doodles, and those out of the 2018 deaths category.

For the week of July 1 to 8, 2018, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 2018 FIFA World Cup B-Class article 3,640,351
Vladimir Putin FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour kick-off ceremony.jpg
In spite of many, many matches where teams seem to have forgotten how to score, the tournament has had its share of fun and surprises. Except when it involves your national team getting eliminated, double if it involves bad playing and/or incompetence (scoring at your own net!), along with the refs refusing to give your team a penalty. Anyways, with four teams from the Old World in the semifinals, Russia also involuntarily became host of an edition of the UEFA European Championship.
2 FIFA World Cup Featured article 1,418,501
Every four years, football fans have a whole month of the best the sport has to offer. And given 2022 will be in a country with no sport tradition that is so hot that the event will happen during the winter, followed by 2026 screwing up the formula by adding 16 teams and putting everyone in groups of 3, we'd best cherish the 2018 edition while it doesn't end.
3 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured article 1,334,534
Selo da Copa de 1950 Cr 1,20.jpg
2018 can have a new team getting to the decision end of the tournament. Still, whoever gets there will still be a far cry from Brazil's 5 titles.
4 Sanju Start-Class article 1,294,947
Ranbir at LFW16.jpg
India is currently giving big crore to the biopic of a Bollywood action star (played by Ranbir Kapoor, pictured), depicting his turbulent rise to prominence and subsequent fall from grace (including an arrest for possessing illegal firearms).
5 Sanjay Dutt Start-Class article 1,246,193
Sanjay dutt department.jpg
6 Cristiano Ronaldo C-Class article 1,137,751
Juventus FC 2017 logo.svg
The last time Brazil won the World Cup, they had two Ronaldos, one of whom was the tournament's top player and scorer. Eventually, colonizer Portugal got their own Ronaldo, who—following four attempts—will probably retire from the national team without lifting the FIFA trophy. Still, we have to admire CR7's penchant for challenge: tired of winning everything with Real Madrid, he's signing with Juventus F.C..
7 LeBron James Good article 1,128,107
Lac Peyto (4).jpg
After eight straight seasons winning the NBA's Eastern Conference, LeBron is finally letting someone else have a chance by going west and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's to the Golden State Warriors struggling against him all year long!
8 Ant-Man and the Wasp C-Class article 1,006,275
Pachycondyla berthoudi sam-hym-c007394a profile 1.jpg
For the second time, Marvel follows an Avengers movie with a flick about this size-shifting superhero. Only this time, as the title makes clear, there is a female co-lead to help Ant-Man in his fight (next year comes the woman-centered Captain Marvel). Given Ant-Man and the Wasp is both the latest installment in a license to print money while providing the levity that fans need following the downer that was the ending of Avengers: Infinity War (to the point it's getting even better reviews than that movie!), expect big box office numbers and article views.
9 Jordan Pickford Start-Class article 993,723
Jordan Pickford 2018.jpg
England pulled off what many thought to be impossible: winning a penalty shootout! Following three defeats apiece in both the Euro and the World Cup, the defeat of Colombia owed much to goalkeeper Pickford saving one of the South American kicks. Another good performance followed in the quarterfinals, and the Everton keeper will surely aim to emulate his stoic performance against Luka Modrić and his Croat colleagues.
10 Kylian Mbappé C-Class article 926,100
Kylian Mbappe 2017.jpg
At the age of just 19, Mbappé already has three goals in the FIFA World Cup. And for personal reasons, I'm all for him reaching the finals, by Toutatis!

We Are the Champions, My Friend (July 8 to 14)

One last FIFA World Cup-heavy list, even if the final happening on a Sunday ensures next week will still feature some more of the tournament. Along with a blockbuster transaction that happened after a superstar was out of the Russian fields, football is even present in an incident where a Thai team was stranded in a flooded cave. Otherwise, we have tennis in Wimbledon, American politics, celebrities and blockbusters, Indian movies and Netflix shows, and that death list that just won't go.

For the week of July 8 to 15, 2018, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 2018 FIFA World Cup B-Class article 2,424,759
Final of the Soccer World Cup Russia between the national teams of France and Croatia.jpg
The most beloved month for football fans ended today in Moscow with the French team winning their second title. Plenty of good moments happened, though the organization should be ashamed of the cruel and unusual punishment that is featuring "Seven Nation Army" in every game.
2 Croatia Good article 2,259,554
Civil Ensign of Croatia.svg
A former Yugoslav nation smaller than 41 of the U.S. states and less than half the population of London, Croatia is gathering huge attention for the unexpected success of its national football team. In the meantime, people have discovered many interesting things about the country, such as their blonde president who went to the World Cup out of her own salary and the rallying cry with fascist roots.
3 Hailey Baldwin Start-Class article 2,122,321
Hailey Baldwin Backstage Billboard Muisc Awards 2018.jpg
This model, daughter of actor Stephen (and subsequently niece of Alec and cousin to another model, Ireland), has announced her engagement to Justin Bieber (#21). Hope she can put some reason into his head!
4 Brett Kavanaugh C-Class article 1,804,185
Judge Brett Kavanaugh.jpg
The newest proposed member of the Supreme Court of the United States, nominated by President Trump to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy.
5 Cristiano Ronaldo C-Class article 1,353,021
Por-Mar (1).jpg
CR7 was not in the World Cup final (and seems unlikely he'll lead Portugal there in 2022, when he'll be 37), but still gathered loads of views through the week as it was confirmed he is going to Juventus (#16) for an incredible €100 million ($113 million) plus additional expenses.
6 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured list 1,140,242
France champion of the Football World Cup Russia 2018.jpg
Croatia (#2, #10), became the 13th country to contest for the World Cup; and the victorious French team (pictured) got its second title, matching two teams they beat in the playoffs (Argentina and Uruguay).
7 FIFA World Cup Featured article 1,120,613
The 21st edition ended today. The next one is sadly more than "just" 4 years from now, given it will be in November–December so that the players don't get boiled by the scorching Middle Eastern summer (just one of the many, many downsides of giving the hosting rights to Qatar!).
8 Ant-Man and the Wasp C-Class article 927,310
WW Chicago 2015 - Ant-Man and Star-Lord (20860228630).jpg
After a high stakes interplanetary war that does not end well, Marvel decided to just let viewers have fun again at their movies with a return to this size-shifting superhero, now joined by size-shifting superheroine with wings and blasters, fighting among other adversaries an intangible girl. Ant-Man and the Wasp got great reviews and is already nearing $300 million worldwide (numbers that will only grow as it hits European markets that decided to release the movie after the World Cup was over).
9 Stephen Baldwin B-Class article 919,838
Stephen Baldwin.jpg
Stephen's career might be in a downfall (from Born on the Fourth of July and The Usual Suspects to Christploitation films such as God's Club and Faith of Our Fathers), but the fact his daughter (#3) is marrying Justin Bieber (#21) brought in some attention.
10 Croatia national football team C-Class article 829,225
Brazil and Croatia match at the FIFA World Cup (2014-06-12; fans) 40.jpg
Known for their checkered shirts (compared to either tablecloths or racing flags), the Croats have a distinction of having surprised the football world twice. In their 1998 debut, Davor Šuker and friends went all the way to the World Cup semifinals against hosts France and scored first before a comeback, but then won the third place match. Twenty years later, the squad led by Luka Modrić (#13) managed to go one stage and position further: Croatia won a comeback in the semifinals against England before losing the final against that same France. Part of it must have been exhaustion: all the previous knockout games went to extra time, meaning the Croats played the equivalent of seven games in six!

Elle est revenue en France (July 15 to 22)

L'équipe de France a gagné la Coupe du Monde pour la deuxième fois dimanche dernier, et je crois que personne ne s'étonnera de constater que le foot est encore une fois le sujet dominant de la semaine.

To avoid causing further offence to any aghast Francophones with my abhorrent standard of la langue française, I will switch to a strictly anglophilic perspective hereafter. As with the last several iterations of the report, football is dominant, with the French victory in the Luzhniki Stadium resonating throughout the week, and accounting for a large bulk of the items in the list. My soccer (Ugh) aficionado has been left bored in the absence of the footy, but with monster transfers and massive pre-season friendlies, I need not despair. Aside from the football, the list is populated by television shows, deaths (real and fictional), and sublime acting. Hopefully next week, we will have a new contender at number one, without the necessity of a shocking death. We await eagerly, but for now let us rejoice in the elegance and formidability of the Bleus (last one, I promise!).

Without any further delay, for the week of July 15 to 21, 2018, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 2018 FIFA World Cup B-Class article 1,932,942
France champion of the Football World Cup Russia 2018.jpg
And, as swiftly as it arrived on the collective television screens of the world, the football fiesta is finito, with France finding their way to a second victory, having already tasted glory as hosts in 1998. The French team, captained by goalie Hugo Lloris (the Premier League's second best sweeper keeper), swept aside the Croatian challenge with a two-goal margin in a convincing 4–2 win, capping off a great tournament and hoisting the fabled trophy once again.
2 Croatia Good article 1,732,037
Coat of arms of Croatia.svg
Finishing as the second most-read article of the week are the defeated finalists of #1. Readers of Wikipedia were propelled by the football to research the Balkan state, which finally received just attention and plaudits for their soccer exploits, led by captain Luka Modrić (#9). Croatia's road to the final is remarkably impressive for a wide array of reasons—the country was forced to qualify for the tournament through the dreaded play-offs and has a miniscule population of merely 4.1 million. The young nation has had a tumultous, turbulent infancy, and many of the stars of the team were refugees. They deserve immense praise for overcoming such odds to reach the pinnacle of the game.
3 Kylian Mbappé C-Class article 1,717,026
Kylian Mbappé 2018.jpg
The newest wunderkind on the footballing block, Mbappé ascended to world stardom owing to his supreme performances in the World Cup, where he was integral to the French victory. The perfect blend of speed and skill, the nineteen year old is already capable of decimating defences, and, in a frankly ridiculous twist of events, is making €180 million ($203 million) look like a bargain for Paris Saint-Germain. He will doubtless claim many more accolades to accompany his newest title.
4 List of FIFA World Cup finals Featured article 987,029
Uruguay 1930 World Cup.jpg
As we see out the twenty first tournament, many Wikipedians sought a concise list of all of the quadrennial contests. The list dates back to 1930, where the first iteration of the footballing tourney was won by the hosts, Uruguay—the first of two victories for the small CONMEBOL nation.
5 Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović C-Class article 919,210
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovićile (34771463620).jpg
With the exception of Mbappé, no BLP article drew more readers following the World Cup than that of the Croatian President, who attended the final alongside her French counterpart to cheer for the boys in red and white. The fact that viewers watching the largest sports event on the planet were more interested in googling the gorgeous politician in the stand than the play on the pitch says a significant amount about the degree to which filthy casuals watch the World Cup. All I can say is that we live in a society.
6 FIFA World Cup Featured article
Stamp of Kyrgyzstan soccer1.jpg
Attentive fans of the Top 25 Report should be more than acquainted with this article, which has lurked in the top ten for the guts of a month at this stage. While the majority of readers gravitated towards the 2018 article, curiosity for the general topic, and the intriguing history of the Jules Rimet Trophy and the FIFA president behind it, has remained persistent, and did so in the wake of the tournament's conclusion.
7 France national football team C-Class article 889,159
Home Farm cockerel, Beamish Museum, 9 July 2010.jpg
During their link race through Russia-related articles, football fanatics would doubtlessly have investigated the victors, who claimed victory under the astute stewardship of Didier Deschamps. Their glory in Moscow allowed the cockerel to avenge their loss to Eder in the final of the Euros two years ago. Looking at the abundant talent and youth of the squad, plenty more wins lie in the future of French football. At least now, they have put to bed the rumour that Frenchmen can't succeed in Russia—they just need to do so in the summer.
8 Rowan Atkinson C-Class article 874,908 "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Twain's famous quip (so famous, in fact, that he never said it) proved accurate once again this week as a hoax circulated online claiming that the seminal British comedian, who portrayed Mr. Bean and Blackadder, had met his end. Thankfully, this was false, and Atkinson is entirely healthy, and prepared to don the tuxedo of a clumsy English spy once more.
9 Luka Modrić B-Class article 821,664
Luka Modrić receives the golden ball prize at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.jpg
Now we turn our attention to two of the stars of the World Cup, both of whom participated in the final last Sunday, with vastly variant degrees of success. Both share multiple similarities, from the fact that they play their club football in the Spanish capital to their propensities to hit sublime goals from outside the 18-yard box. However, it was the Fortnite-loving Frenchman who claimed victory in dubious circumstances. Nonetheless, Modrić's performances were recognised as he received the Golden Ball. Guess Antoine should just take the L on this one; not that he'll mind.
10 Antoine Griezmann C-Class article 793,075
Suisse - France 2016 - Griezmann (crop).png


  • 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.
  • Exo (band) – EXO-Ls, explicitly leaving remarks that you're gonna try to game the system is not a good idea. We will simply continue to ignore the article as long as views are gamed, so your efforts are futile.

Reader comments

Rolled out

  • Global preferences were rolled out on 10 July as announced at the Village Pump.
  • TemplateStyles enabled as previously covered in our May issue.

In brief

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Latest tech news

Latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community: 2018 #27, #28, and #29. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. Translations are available on Meta.

  • The database for tags will be changed. This happened on 2 July on French Wikipedia and 9 July on all other wikis. Please report if recent changes get slower or you can't save edits. This could especially affect editors who use the database on ToolForge. (source)
  • WebM video files have smaller file size but still be of the same quality. Creating WebM files will take longer time. (source)
  • The new filters for edit review tools and interface for watchlists will leave beta. This was supposed to already have happened but was delayed. For most wikis this will happen on 9 July. For the rest it will happen on 16 July. (source)
  • Advanced item All wikis now use the Remex parsing library instead of Tidy. This could cause errors. You can help fix the errors. (source)
  • When you edit a link in the visual editor, there will be two separate fields for the link target (target) and display text (label). (source 1, source 2)
  • On the mobile version, you can find a link to an editor's contributions from their user page. Now this will work even if they haven't created a user page. (source)
  • When you edit a discussion on the mobile version, you sometimes get your signature automatically added. Now, this will no longer happen if you have already signed your post. This is to avoid double signatures. (source)
  • Structured discussions toolbars will have more style options. (source)
  • Advanced item When you look at Wikimedia code in Gerrit, there will be a new interface. It is on by default for new users and developers. This is to make it easier to understand what is happening. (source)
  • You can now use global preferences on Wikimedia wikis. You can set them on the global preferences page. (source)
  • You can now see a new log of pages being created at Special:Log/create. It includes pages which are later deleted. It is now available on all Wikimedia wikis except Commons and Wikidata. (source)
  • You can see how many page views a wiki had from specific countries. The Wikistats2 maps have now been updated. (source)
  • Your watchlist will show changes from the last seven days by default instead of just three. If you have already set a length preference, it will not change. (source)
  • When you log in to your account, you can choose to keep being logged in. This checkbox now works better than before on the mobile version for users without JavaScript. (source)
  • Wikis that use Citoid can automatically generate citations for Swedish news sites. This only works in the visual editor. This now works for Swedish public service radio. More will come. Others could use this to add news sites in other languages in the future. (source)
  • Editors can submit a maximum of 90 edits per minute. This is new since last month. This does not affect bots or administrators. (source)
  • When you rolled back an edit, it could get both the Rollback and Undo tags. This has been fixed. (source)
  • Rollbacks from autopatrolled users were not marked as patrolled. This has been fixed. (source)
Future changes
  • Presently, all administrators can edit CSS and JavaScript for the entire wiki. There will be a new user group for editing CSS and JavaScript. Administrators will no longer automatically be able to do this. This is because it is a security risk when all administrator accounts can edit JavaScript even if they never plan to or do not know how it works. You can read more here. (source)
  • Page previews will be on by default for new accounts. (source)
  • Some articles have messages to readers about problems with the article—for example, that it does not cite sources or might not be neutral. Readers do not see these messages on the mobile version. The developers now want to show them. You can read more and leave feedback here.
  • You can use <inputbox> to create search boxes for specific pages, such as for searching the archives of a community discussion page. Instead of prefix:Page name, you will see a text that explains which pages are being searched. You can read more and leave feedback here.
  • 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 3:00–4:00 p.m. UTC. See how to join here.

Installation code

  1. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:BethNaught/hideSectionDesktop.js' ); // Backlink: [[User:BethNaught/hideSectionDesktop.js]]
  2. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Danski454/WhoisSidebar.js' ); // Backlink: [[User:Danski454/WhoisSidebar.js]]
  3. ^ Copy the following code, click here, then paste:
    importScript( 'User:Yair rand/HistoryView.js' ); // Backlink: [[User:Yair rand/HistoryView.js]]

Reader comments

July seems to be a traditional month for nations obtaining their independence, breaking away, or merging. And let's not forget France whose national holiday is always on July 14. It might not be directly related to independence from colonialism, but rather the unity of the French people. It's is one of the biggest worldwide celebrated national annual events. Plus the very next day they had another huge party in the streets across the mainland and all their many overseas territories: winning the FIFA World Cup – for the second time.

No less than 22 countries celebrate independence day in July:

  • Algeria from France
  • Bahamas from the UK
  • Belgium from the Netherlands
  • Burundi from Belgium
  • Canada from the UK
  • Cape Verde from Portugal
  • Comoros from France
  • Kiribati from the UK
  • Liberia from the American Colonization Society
  • Malawi from the UK
  • Maldives from the UK
  • Mauritania from France
  • Peru from Spain
  • Rwanda from Belgium
  • São Tomé and Príncipe from Portugal
  • Solomon Islands from the UK
  • Somalia from Italy & the UK
  • South Sudan from Sudan
  • Vanuatu from France and the UK
  • Venezuela from Spain
  • Oh, yes, one more – the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain

The Signpost joins them in celebrating.

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.
Photograph of all pyramids of Giza on a clear day
The Pyramids of Giza, constructed between the Early Dynastic and Late periods of ancient Egypt, have remained emblematic of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination.

Napoleon led an army across the Mediterranean in an effort to conquer Ottoman Egypt; while he was there, the invasion force travelled with a scientific contingent and uncovered many artifacts from Egypt's ancient past, like the Rosetta Stone. After publications by the British describing these discoveries (following Napoleon's defeat), Western European interest in ancient Egypt skyrocketed. I talked with pseudonymous volunteer Wikipedia editors Iry-Hor and Mr Rnddude, who focus on ancient Egypt.

  • What fascinates you both about ancient history, and specifically the Egyptians?

Iry-Hor: Ancient history, from the Neolithic revolution until the end of the Bronze age (c. 1100 BC) is the central yet short period over which we grew out of more than 200,000 years of relatively slow-paced prehistory and into a bewildering race to technological advancement and total planetary dominance. This makes me very curious as to what exactly happened then. I always find it thrilling to read ancient sources relating long past events which would have vanished were it not for a few surviving texts. Now the Egyptians are, with the Sumerians, the oldest civilisation there is, with hieroglyphic writing appearing roughly simultaneously with cuneiform (the skeptics can see Abydos tomb U-j). At the same time, the Egyptians advanced the organisation and concept of state much further and much more rapidly than the Sumerians. Fascinating stuff.

Mr Rnddude: History has always been interesting to me. I've always wondered about things like: "what were the Greeks up to?", "How did the Romans rise and fall?", etc. In the case of the Egyptians, I find the pyramids to be the most interesting, followed by their complex and extensive mythology, and then the hieroglyphic writing form. I get to cover all three topics while writing about the pyramids. That's really about it.

  • Do you have any academic training in ancient history?

Iry-Hor: Not in ancient history, no; unfortunately I was pushed to study maths and physics when I was a student as I was doing pretty well on these subjects and did not have enough self-confidence at the time to say I wanted to do something else. I have tried to make up for this regret by learning Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics, some Akkadian, and the general chronology of the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods but this is all self-taught. 1 hour per day did the trick back when I had lots of free time.

Mr Rnddude: No, nothing formal. I chose ancient history as an elective for my senior years in high school, alongside biology, chemistry and physics. History is just a subject that interests me. I went on to study aviation, for a pilot, at University. History is unrelated to my career choice, unless I become an aviation historian at some point.

  • What are your favorite articles you have written and why?

Iry-Hor: This is hard to tell, reason tells me to like Nyuserre Ini for the amount of research I have invested in it, but I have a soft spot for the Featured Article on Sheshi, a relatively obscure pharaoh of the Second Intermediate Period. Sheshi was a lot of fun to research as he is one of the few very well-attested pharaohs regarding whom you can find Egyptologists disagreeing with one another on every single aspect of his life, time, and reign. Sheshi was today's Featured Article on the 1st of March. (Editor's note: Today's featured articles appear on Wikipedia's main page, and usually receive tens of thousands of views in those 24 hours.)

Mr Rnddude: Battle of Antioch (218), as the first article and A-class I ever worked on; followed by Caracalla, one of two Roman emperor Good Articles I've written; and Pyramid of Neferirkare, the first pyramid I've worked on and my first Featured Article.

  • What challenges have you faced in writing these Featured and Good articles?

Iry-Hor: Writing a Featured Article is a lot of work and the main challenge for me is to find the time needed to do enough research to be satisfied that the article covers everything there is to be known. Beyond this, I can see from my earlier Wikipedia work that it takes time and efforts for a Wikipedian to learn to write good or Featured Articles. It seems to be a kind of maturation process that's needed to grow from a young editor and into a Featured Article author. I read the article "Wikipedians are born, not made", and while I adhere to the analysis presented by the authors (even my first days of activity fit with their predictions!), I would add that the birth is only the beginning and experienced Wikipedians are made through continuing efforts.

Mr Rnddude: The challenges were different for each article. For the Battle of Antioch, the main challenge was getting to grips with reliable sourcing. I predominantly used the ancient texts of Cassius Dio and Herodian of Antioch backed with secondary sources. This was before I had ever heard of any Wikipedia policy and I'd really just picked some random article to work on. I got it through GA easily enough, but failed the first military history (MILHIST) WikiProject A-class review, primarily because of the abundance of primary sources in the article. One particular section was overflowing with primary sourcing and had to be rewritten to comply with Wikipedia's policy on original research. I managed to get it accepted at A-class in my second attempt. (Editor's note: A-class is another marker of high quality on the English Wikipedia, albeit not widely used.) I'm not, however, satisfied that the article meets FA standards.

Finally there is my first Featured Article: Pyramid of Neferirkare. In terms of challenges, I had most barriers removed through the help of Iry-Hor. When I needed a source, Iry-Hor provided it to me. When I nominated the article for GA, Iry-Hor took on the review and helped me suss out the finer details to move the article a few steps ahead. The article was ready for an FA review when I submitted it. I've had lots of helpful comments and no major issues. I should credit Tony1 for writing a brilliant guide for writing Featured Article worthy prose which certainly helped me improve my writing, and I should mention Ceoil's assistance in tightening the prose.

  • How does Wikipedia's coverage of ancient history compare to other sources on the internet?

Iry-Hor: There is no question that Wikipedia is far beyond other web sources, with the exception of certain specialised encyclopedias, such as the Oxford Encylopedia of Ancient Egypt (which isn't supposed to be available on the web by the way...). And even there, I can say that Good and Featured articles are always more detailed, broader and richer than the corresponding entries on the specialised encyclopedias. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is still very much patchy, with few such high-quality articles and many important topics are far from good enough to win the comparison. Take for example the article on the Old Kingdom of Egypt. I am convinced that we will ultimately get there, however, as every article is only one Wikipedian away from reaching featured quality.

Mr Rnddude: Wikipedia is all over the shop with regard to the quality of its articles. In my experience, ancient history articles that haven't had a guiding hand tend to fall into one of two groups: (1) Stub or short articles in need of great expansion. This issue is prevalent among more obscure topics and persons; or (2) Generally comprehensive and detailed, but disjointed and poorly sourced articles. Every article I've worked on falls into one of those two categories. It's difficult to compare it to other online sources because the answer is quite varied. In comparison to other free sources, usually better. In comparison to paid or subscription sources, often more detailed but less accurate.

  • Why do you think so many people remain fascinated by the ancient Egyptians even today?

Iry-Hor: I must say this remains mysterious to me: while I can understand that people are drawn to the Great Pyramid of Giza, Ramses II, or Akhenaten, I do not quite understand why Djedkare Isesi or Unas receive between 60 and 120 readers a day on average. These numbers might seem tiny to people working on popular topics, but they still represent thousands of views every year for pharaohs that are far from well-known! Even the most obscure pharaohs (try Nuya, Wazad, or Wepwawetemsaf) get at least 5–6 views a day. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that no more than 1 view a week corresponds to someone hitting the random article button, so that leaves you wondering why someone would want to read about Nuya? Anyway, I am just glad I could contribute on these articles!

Mr Rnddude: In one word: pyramids. Pyramids are the quintessential icon of the ancient Egyptian world. If you know even one thing about the Egyptians, it's going to be the great superstructures that stand as the last surviving ancient wonder of the world. It helps that their purpose and construction remains shrouded in mystery.

  • What articles are coming up next for you both?

Iry-Hor: Userkaf and Sahure both need to reach FA to complete the 5th Dynasty, and after that the article on the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt itself would have to be written. This will be a monumental task, as we will try to cover everything from the administration, religion art and architecture of the period. I hope that Mr Rnddude will provide his expertise on pyramid construction techniques and mortuary temple architectures for this article. Once this is done, an all-Featured topic with 10 articles (more if some pyramids reach FA) will be completed and the 5th Dynasty spell will finally be broken. I might then finish the article on the Gebel el-Arak Knife, or see if Pepi I and Sobekhotep IV need help.

Mr Rnddude: I'm taking a short break from the Fifth Dynasty right now. There are nine pyramid articles for the period that I'm aiming to bring to Featured Article status. I have brought one pyramid to FA, one pyramid to Good Article status, one was brought to GA by Iry-Hor, and the rest are in various stages of development from stub to generally comprehensive. I've been doing some work on the Twelfth Dynasty's Senusret II and his pyramid. Whether or not I'll pursue GA for those two articles is to be determined. I just chose them for a change of pace.

  • Where are you from, and what do you do for a living?

Iry-Hor: I shall only say that I hold a 1851 Research Fellowship and work on algebraic combinatorics and quantum mechanics. Publish or perish makes work very stressful for young researchers like me and so editing Ancient Egyptian articles is a welcomed break from the pressure. As a consequence, I have vowed never to edit Wikipedia on any other topic—a vow I broke only 5 times, always for minor edits.

Mr Rnddude: I'll keep my real name to myself. I currently live in South-East Queensland, Australia. I'm not a fully qualified pilot yet, but I'm working towards that goal. I am employed currently, working on construction sites. A dull job, and not one I intend to stay in for much longer.

  • Did I miss anything?

Iry-Hor: I just wanted to add that Wikipedia is now a well-known resource among academics, with a pretty good reputation and the lofty purpose of collecting all human knowledge and making it freely available painfully contrasts with some scientific publishers. This is often more than enough to persuade established researchers to send you a copy of an article you can't access or some help of some sort if you ask them.

Reader comments

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

Diverse image usage across languages

Reviewed by Morten Warncke-Wang

A paper[1] presented at the recent ICWSM conference studies image usage across 25 of the larger Wikipedia language editions. Whereas diversity of the text of Wikipedia's articles across language editions has received much attention from researchers, studies of image and other media usage is rare. The paper has two main research questions:

  • What is the diversity of visual encyclopedic knowledge across language editions of Wikipedia?
  • How does the diversity in visual knowledge compare to the diversity of textual encyclopedia knowledge?

The paper chose to study 25 specific language editions to enable direct comparisons to prior work on textual diversity. Their methodology only examines image usage in articles that are not redirects, not disambiguation pages, and were not created by a bot (thereby excluding, for example, the Swedish Wikipedia's extensive amount of bot-created pages), resulting in a dataset of more than 23 million articles. Furthermore, they develop a method to filter out images that are frequently included based on templates, such as navigation boxes or stub templates, as these often do not reflect visual encyclopedic knowledge. Previous studies of textual diversity similarly removed templated-based links.

To enable exploration of the image use across languages, the authors developed the WikiImg Drive tool, a tool that visualizes image usage for any concept found in multiple Wikipedia editions. The tool provides information on how many editions has an article about a given concept, how many images are found in those articles, and shows a chord diagram to visualize image usage across the languages (an example diagram is shown below). Users can then get further information about what the used images are, and which specific editions use a given image.

Chord diagram as described in caption
Chord diagram showing image usage across language editions based on the article "Guitar". Chords connecting two different languages represent images that are used on both Wikipedia editions in the corresponding article about the instrument.

The paper studied diversity of visual encyclopedic knowledge in two ways: image diversity across language editions, and image diversity within coverage of a concept. When it comes to image diversity across language editions, they find that more than 67.4% of all images only appear in a single language edition. The proportion of images used in multiple editions is relatively small and decreasing quickly: only 14.1% of images appear in two editions, and in all only 142 images (0.0014%) were used in all 25 language editions. The majority of these "global images" are either portraits or other images showing a specific person.

For image diversity within concepts, they made pairwise comparisons and calculated averages, finding a range from 22.2% (German and Indonesian) to 75.6% (Hungarian and Romanian). This means that, on average, more than 24% of images used in an article in a specific language will be unique relative to an article about the same concept in a different language, and that for some languages this rises to almost 80%.

Lastly, when comparing visual diversity to textual diversity, they find that the overall degree of diversity is roughly similar. At the far ends of the diversity scale, there are some clear differences: 67.4% of images are only used in a single language edition, whereas 73.5% of concepts have an article in only one language edition. This reverses on the opposite end of the scale: 0.13% of concepts are "global concepts" (found in all 25 editions), whereas only 0.0014% of the images are "global images".

The paper discusses what may drive the larger diversity in image usage. Cultural diversity can lead to significant differences in how one might want to illustrate a concept. There are also examples of language editions using variations of the same image, meaning that further image analysis would be necessary in order to identify those. Lastly, they discuss whether images having English names on Commons might enable cross-language usage. Previous research from 2012 (where this reviewer was one of the authors) found that English is the primary language from which translations were made,[supp 1] and we have also covered research in May 2016 that found English to still be the lingua franca of Wikipedia.

Furthermore, the paper discusses how the diversity in image usage can affect algorithms and AI trained on Wikipedia data, cautioning that using images from a single edition will likely result in a biased view. The paper points out that gathering images from all language editions is relatively straightforward and should therefore be the preferred approach.

Filling knowledge gaps: PDFs as "boundary objects" between experts and Wikipedia

Reviewed by Morten Warncke-Wang

What strategies have success when seeking to fill knowledge gaps in peer-produced content? In a recent paper titled "Beyond notification: Filling gaps in peer production projects",[2] Ford et al. studied several approaches aiming to improve coverage in articles relevant to teachers in South African primary schools. A committee of scholars and researchers in ICT and education—especially primary school education—along with teachers, parents, and Wikipedia experts, identified 183 articles in the English Wikipedia that are relevant to the South African national primary school curriculum. Five strategies for soliciting improvements to these 183 articles were then tested and evaluated with regard to whether articles were improved, and if the strategy was helpful in bringing new contributors to Wikipedia:

  1. Edit competitions were relatively successful. Articles with few online sources or requiring specialized knowledge were unlikely to be improved, and the competitions did not result in newcomers editing.
  2. Edit-a-thons were not successful as no articles were improved during those.
  3. Notifications proved largely unsuccessful. These notifications were sent to WikiProjects, and regardless of whether there appeared to be activity within the project or articles related to it, the notifications tended to be ignored.
  4. Reaching out to academics to write topic pages that can later be moved on to Wikipedia as articles was unsuccessful. One academic responded negatively, noting that they did not recognize Wikipedia as a legitimate academic enterprise.
  5. Eliciting and responding to expert reviews resulted in a low overall number of improved articles, but had the most sustained engagement and the highest quality results. The experts would get a PDF of the Wikipedia article and review it. The team would then copy the comments onto the article's talk page, and use OTRS to verify that the comments were appropriately licensed by the expert. Wikipedia contributors could then respond by incorporating changes to the article or discuss the review on the talk page.

In the paper, Ford et al. discuss how the PDFs can be seen as a form of "boundary objects" that allow for a negotiation between the workflow and epistemological paradigms of the experts and Wikipedia, and that this negotiation is necessary in order to facilitate collaboration. They also argue that expanding the collaboration between experts and Wikipedia contributors is an important strategy to close the knowledge gaps in the encyclopedia.

Contributor experience and article quality

Reviewed by Morten Warncke-Wang

A short paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research studies the "Effects of Contributor Experience on the Quality of Health-Related Wikipedia Articles".[3] Using a dataset of 18,805 articles from the Health and Fitness portal on the English Wikipedia, the paper compares those articles that were at some point tagged with a template indicating a quality flaw (also called "cleanup templates") to those that never contained such a template. The goal is to understand to what extent contributor experience, in the form of average number of edits made or number of articles edited by contributors to these articles, correlates with the presence of these cleanup templates. Only the number of articles edited was found to have a significant relationship, and contributors to non-tagged articles had a higher average number of articles edited. The authors discuss these findings in relation to ensuring that articles about medical topics on Wikipedia are of high quality.

The paper's limitation section discusses the operationalization of article quality used, citing early work on predicting article quality and suggesting that the methodology could be improved by incorporating multiple quality factors. This resonated with this reviewer, who has both done extensive research in this area and reviewed other work for this newsletter. There are two papers that appear particularly relevant in this case: we covered one using a deep learning approach last year, and a second paper used the ORES API to measure the development of article quality across time enabling a demonstration of the Keilana Effect.


Reviewed by Kudpung
Wikipedia Teahouse logo
"Evaluating the Impact of the Wikipedia Teahouse on Newcomer Retention"[4]
Aaron Halfaker is a WMF employee and edits Wikipedia as EpochFail. Jonathan Morgan is a WMF employee and, while editing as Jtmorgan, is a Teahouse Host.

From the abstract: "[F]ew interventions employed to increase newcomer retention over the long term by improving aspects of the onboarding experience have demonstrated success. This study presents an evaluation of the impact of one such intervention, the Wikipedia Teahouse, on new editor survival. In a controlled experiment, we find that new editors invited to the Teahouse are retained at a higher rate than editors who do not receive an invite. The effect is observed for both low- and high-activity newcomers, and for both short- and long-term survival."

Can there ever be a solution to the dwindling number of new and active users? In their paper, Halfaker and Morgan explain that "[s]o far, neither purely social or purely technical efforts have been shown to be effective at providing effective socialization at a scale that leads to a substantial increase in the number of new editors who go on to become Wikipedians." They examine the Teahouse which they describe as "one of the most potentially impactful retention mechanisms that has been attempted". Their research demonstrates that "new editors who are invited to the Teahouse are significantly more likely to continue contributing after three weeks, two months, and six months than a similar cohort who were not invited."

Comparing it with the Wikipedia Adventure new editor training system developed in 2013, which—although often used—did not show any long-term impact, the Teahouse (created in 2012) "combined social and technical components to provide comprehensive socialization on a large scale, and was designed to promote long-term retention." Their study evaluates "the effect of invitation to the Teahouse, rather than participation in the Teahouse." Both the 24-hour and 5-edit threshold before issuing a Teahouse invitation, while avoiding vandalism-only accounts, may result in "many good-faith newcomers being denied the opportunity for positive socialization", they say.

"ORES", they explain, "provides powerful predictive models that can accurately discriminate between damaging and a non-damaging edits, and between malicious edits and edits that were made in good faith, even if they introduce errors or fail to comply with policies." The authors consider that "most new editors" receive "overwhelmingly negative and alienating experience [...] when they first join Wikipedia," but they do not appear to draw on any data for this assumption.


Research presentations at Wikimania 2018

Summarized by Morten Warncke-Wang and Tilman Bayer

One of the presentations at the recent Wikimania 2018 conference was on the "State of Wikimedia Research 2017–2018". An almost yearly occurrence since 2009, this presentation gives a quick look into the overarching themes in research published about Wikimedia projects over the previous year. This year's presentation (slides) is now available on YouTube, and covers five main themes: images & media, talk pages, multilingual comparisons, non-participation (who is not contributing?), and Wikipedia as a source of data. The first of these highlights the "Tower_of_Babel.jpg" paper also covered above.

A keynote titled "Creating Knowledge Equity and Spatial Justice on Wikipedia" (summary, slides) by Martin Dittus, a data scientist at the Oxford Internet Institute, featured various results about the geographical distribution of geotagged Wikipedia articles and IP edits, partly from earlier research by Dittus' colleague Mark Graham and others (cf. earlier coverage). Other presentations included:

Infographic illustrating topic coverage that varies across different Wikipedia language editions
Coverage of topic areas compared across 15 different Wikipedia languages (from the "Wikipedia Cultural Diversity Observatory" project)

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 Kudpung and Tilman Bayer


Photograph of the inside of an abandoned building with prolific graffiti covering the walls
"Vandalism on Collaborative Web Communities: An Exploration of Editorial Behaviour in Wikipedia"[5]

The study found that "most vandalisms [on Wikipedia] were reverted within five minutes" on average and that "the majority of the articles targeted [with vandalism] are related to Politics (29.4%), followed by Culture (26.4%), Music (23.5%), Animals (11.7%) and History (8.8%)."

Simple English

"Evaluating lexical coverage in the Simple English Wikipedia articles: a corpus-driven study"[6]

From the paper: "[Simple English Wikipedia] articles require surprisingly large vocabularies to comprehend, comparable to that required to read standard Wikipedia articles."

"Open algorithmic systems: lessons on opening the black box from Wikipedia"

From the abstract:[7] "This paper reports from a multi-year ethnographic study of automated software agents in Wikipedia, where bots play key roles in moderation and gatekeeping. Automated software agents are playing increasingly important roles in how networked publics are governed and gatekept, with internet researchers increasingly focusing on the politics of algorithms. [...] In most platforms, algorithmic systems are developed in-house, where there are few measures for public accountability or auditing, much less the ability for publics to shape the design or operation of such systems. However, Wikipedia's model presents a compelling alternative, where members of the editing community heavily participate in the design and development of such algorithmic systems."

"High-quality standards in information presentation are not globally shared" across Wikipedia languages

"Cultural diversity of quality of information on Wikipedias"[8]

From the abstract: "This article explores the relationship between linguistic culture and the preferred standards of presenting information based on article representation in major Wikipedias. Using primary research analysis of the number of images, references, internal links, external links, words, and characters, as well as their proportions in Good and Featured articles on the eight largest Wikipedias, we discover a high diversity of approaches and format preferences, correlating with culture. We demonstrate that high-quality standards in information presentation are not globally shared and that in many aspects, the language culture's influence determines what is perceived to be proper, desirable, and exemplary for encyclopedic entries."

Revert behavior differs between "political" and "unpolitical" articles

"Case study in political user behavior on Wikipedia"[9]

From the paper:

How German Wikipedians coin words that describe unwanted editing behaviors as diseases

"Combinatorics of the suffix -itis on talk pages of Wikipedia: A word formation pattern for the discursive regulation in the collaborative knowledge production" (in German)[10]

From the English abstract: "The study reveals that -itis is a highly productive suffix in meta(-linguistic) discourses of the online-encyclopaedia: Wikipedia authors using word formation products with the suffix -itis (e.g. Newstickeritis or WhatsAppitis) try to standardise the collaborative knowledge production with the help of these linguistic innovations. The corpus analysis delivers evidence for the fact that certain linguistic innovations and special types of word formation characterise the community of Wikipedia authors and their discourse traditions."

"Linking ImageNet WordNet Synsets with Wikidata"

From the abstract:[11] "The linkage of ImageNet WordNet synsets to Wikidata items will leverage deep learning algorithm with access to a rich multilingual knowledge graph. [...] I show an example on how the linkage can be used in a deep learning setting with real-time image classification and labeling in a non-English language and discuss what opportunities lies ahead."

"Capturing the influence of geopolitical ties from Wikipedia with reduced Google matrix"

From the abstract:[12] "[We] show that meaningful results on the influence of country ties can be extracted from the hyperlinked structure of Wikipedia. We leverage a novel stochastic matrix representation of Markov chains of complex directed networks called the reduced Google matrix theory. [...] We apply this analysis to two chosen sets of countries (i.e. the set of 27 European Union countries and a set of 40 top worldwide countries). We [...] can exhibit easily very meaningful information on geopolitics from five different Wikipedia editions (English, Arabic, Russian, French and German)." (See also earlier by some of the same authors: "Multi-cultural Wikipedia mining of geopolitics interactions leveraging reduced Google matrix analysis".)

AI assessment of article quality using deep learning

"A Hybrid Model for Quality Assessment of Wikipedia Articles"[13]

From the abstract: "We explore the task [of document quality assessment] in the context of a Wikipedia article assessment task, and propose a hybrid approach combining deep learning with features proposed in the literature. Our method achieves 6.5% higher accuracy than the state of the art in predicting the quality classes of English Wikipedia articles over a novel dataset of around 60k Wikipedia articles." (See also earlier coverage in August 2017 of related research by a different team: "Improved article quality predictions with deep learning".)

"Social capital" of editors has a "significant impact" on article quality

"Using big data and network analysis to understand Wikipedia article quality"[14]

From the abstract: "The research reported in this paper focuses on the question of why Wikipedia articles are different in quality. [...] We focus on three major types of social capital with respect to teams of contributors working on Wikipedia articles: internal bonding, external bridging and functional diversity. Through a social network analysis of these articles based on a dataset extracted from its edit history, our research finds that all three types of social capital have a significant impact on their quality. In addition, we found that internal bonding interacts positively with external bridging resulting in a multiplier effect on article quality."


  1. ^ He, Shiqing; Lin, Allen Yilun; Adar, Eytan; Hecht, Brent (15 June 2018). "The_Tower_of_Babel.jpg: Diversity of Visual Encyclopedic Knowledge Across Wikipedia Language Editions" (PDF). Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. The 12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-18). 12. Palo Alto, California: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. pp. 102–111. eISSN 2334-0770. ISBN 978-1-57735-798-8. ISSN 2162-3449. Archived from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) Free to read
  2. ^ Ford, Heather; Pensa, Iolanda; Devouard, Florence; Pucciarelli, Marta; Botturi, Luca (24 March 2018). "Beyond notification: Filling gaps in peer production projects". New Media & Society. SAGE Publications. 20 (3): 1–19. doi:10.1177/1461444818760870. eISSN 1461-7315. ISSN 1461-4448. OCLC 7782926975. closed access
    Ford, Heather; Pensa, Iolanda; Devouard, Florence; Pucciarelli, Marta; Botturi, Luca (27 March 2018). "Beyond notification: Filling gaps in peer production projects". SocArxiv (Preprint). Center for Open Science. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/QN5XD. open access
  3. ^ Holtz, Peter; Fetahu, Besnik; Kimmerle, Joachim (10 May 2018). "Effects of Contributor Experience on the Quality of Health-Related Wikipedia Articles". Journal of Medical Internet Research. JMIR Publications. 20 (5). e171. doi:10.2196/jmir.9683. eISSN 1438-8871. ISSN 1439-4456. OCLC 7587362244. PMC 5968213. PMID 29748161. Archived from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) open access
  4. ^ Morgan, Jonathan T.; Halfaker, Aaron (22 August 2018). "Evaluating the impact of the Wikipedia Teahouse on newcomer socialization and retention" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Open Collaboration. The 14th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym '18). 14. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Article 20. doi:10.1145/3233391.3233544. ISBN 978-1-4503-5936-8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) open access
    Morgan, Jonathan T.; Halfaker, Aaron (19 April 2018). "Evaluating the impact of the Wikipedia Teahouse on newcomer socialization and retention". SocArxiv (Preprint). Center for Open Science. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/8QSV6. open access
  5. ^ Alkharashi, Abdulwhab; Jose, Joeman (26 June 2018). "Vandalism on Collaborative Web Communities: An Exploration of Editorial Behaviour in Wikipedia" (PDF). In Tramullas, Jesús; Trillo-Lado, Raquel; Nogueras-Iso, Javier (eds.). Proceedings of the Spanish Conference on Information Retrieval. V Congreso Español de Recuperación de Información [The 5th Spanish Conference on Information Retrieval] (CERI '18). International Conference Proceedings Series. 5. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Article 8. doi:10.1145/3230599.3230608. ISBN 978-1-4503-6543-7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018 – via University of Glasgow. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) Free to read
  6. ^ Hendry, Clinton; Sheepy, Emily (3 December 2017). "Evaluating lexical coverage in Simple English Wikipedia articles: a corpus-driven study." (PDF). In Borthwick, Kate; Bradley, Linda; Thouësny, Sylvie (eds.). CALL in a climate of change: adapting to turbulent global conditions – short papers from EUROCALL 2017 (PDF) (E-book) (1st ed.). Dublin, Ireland; Voillans, France: Research Publishing. pp. 146–150. doi:10.14705/rpnet.2017.eurocall2017.9782490057047. ISBN 978-2-490057-04-7. OCLC 7585336027. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) open access
  7. ^ Geiger, R. Stuart; Halfaker, Aaron (5–8 October 2016). "Open algorithmic systems: lessons on opening the black box from Wikipedia". Selected Papers of Internet Research 2016. The 17th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (#AoIR2016). 6. Berlin, Germany: Association of Internet Researchers (published 16 May 2017). ISSN 2162-3317. Retrieved 30 July 2018. open access
  8. ^ Jemielniak, Dariusz; Wilamowski, Maciej (7 August 2017). "Cultural Diversity of Quality of Information on Wikipedias" (PDF). Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. Wiley-Blackwell. 68 (10): 2460–2470. doi:10.1002/asi.23901. eISSN 2330-1643. ISSN 2330-1635. LCCN 2013203451. OCLC 7150253054. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) Free to read
  9. ^ Neppare, Christoffer; Blomberg, Pontus (11 May 2016). Fallstudie i politiskt användarbeteende på Wikipedia [Case study in political user behavior on Wikipedia] (PDF). School of Computer Science and Communication (Bachelor thesis). Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology (published 24 May 2016). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018. Free to read
  10. ^ Gredel, Eva (12 April 2018). "Itis-Kombinatorik auf den Diskussionsseiten der Wikipedia: Ein Wortbildungsmuster zur diskursiven Normierung in der kollaborativen Wissenskonstruktion" [Combinatorics of the suffix -itis on talk pages of Wikipedia: A word formation pattern for the discursive regulation in the collaborative knowledge production]. Zeitschrift für Angewandte Linguistik [Journal for Applied Linguistics] (in German). Walter de Gruyter. 68 (1): 35–72. doi:10.1515/zfal-2018-0003. eISSN 2190-0191. ISSN 1433-9889. OCLC 7468452272. closed access
  11. ^ Nielsen, Finn Årup (23 April 2018). "Linking ImageNet WordNet Synsets with Wikidata" (PDF). In Champin, Pierre-Antoine; Gandon, Fabien; Médini, Lionel; Lalmas, Mounia; Ipeirotis, Panagiotis G. (eds.). Companion Proceedings of the The Web Conference 2018. The Web Conference 2018 (WWW '18). Geneva, Switzerland: International World Wide Web Conference Committee. pp. 1809–1814. arXiv:1803.04349v1. doi:10.1145/3184558.3191645. ISBN 978-1-4503-5640-4. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) open access
  12. ^ Zant, Samer El; Jaffrès-Runser, Katia; Shepelyansky, Dima (13 March 2018). "Capturing the influence of geopolitical ties from Wikipedia with reduced Google matrix" (PDF). arXiv:1803.05336v1 [cs.SI]. Free to read
  13. ^ Shen, Aili; Qi, Jianzhong; Baldwin, Timothy (December 2017). "A Hybrid Model for Quality Assessment of Wikipedia Articles" (PDF). In Wong, Jojo Sze-Meng; Haffari, Gholamreza (eds.). Proceedings of the Australasian Language Technology Association Workshop. 15th Annual Workshop of the Australasian Language Technology Association (ALTA '17). 15. Australasian Language Technology Association. pp. 43–52. ISSN 1834-7037. Archived from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) open access
  14. ^ Liu, Jun; Ram, Sudha (16 February 2018). "Using big data and network analysis to understand Wikipedia article quality". Data & Knowledge Engineering. Elsevier (published May 2018). 115: 80–93. doi:10.1016/j.datak.2018.02.004. eISSN 1872-6933. ISSN 0169-023X. LCCN 90649274. OCLC 7321135118. closed access

Supplementary references

  1. ^ Warncke-Wang, Morten; Uduwage, Anuradha; Dong, Zhenhua; Riedl, John (27 August 2012). "In Search of the Ur-Wikipedia: Universality, Similarity, and Translation in the Wikipedia Inter-language Link Network" (PDF). In Lampe, Cliff; Cosley, Dan (eds.). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. 8th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym '12). 8. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Article 10. doi:10.1145/2462932.2462959. ISBN 978-1-4503-1605-7. OCLC 5132192281. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) Free to read

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ANI and Wrestling

Portrait Photograph of masked wrestler without a shirt, wearing black armbands that blend into background
Would you let this guy with no arms date your daughter (or son, for that matter)?
Photograph of Hulk Hogan tearing off his flamboyant costume and exposing his chest
He tried Hollywood but it didn't work out.
Photograph of two female wrestlers grappling each other
Getting ready for the Olympics in 2022.
Photograph of two women wrestling and covered in mud
"I'm sick and tired of your split infinitives!"

I'm not the only one who has seen a synergistic connection between WikiProject Professional wrestling and ANI. Discussion has already progressed from a very simple idea all the way to the merging of these two very active areas of the English Wikipedia. This new PW–ANI WikiProject has been recently created to streamline the creation of content and consensus that is common between these topic areas. Basically, the topic that binds these active areas of editing together is exciting and filled with orchestrated productions created for entertainment. One does not have to spend much time finding the sublime similarities between the two. Both involve the "suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief [which] has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment."

From a recent discussion of pro-wrestling:

Your inability to comprehend the meaning of my "half-serious" proposal is, ironically, emblematic of the very reasons that editing in topic areas such as pro "wrestling" and snooker and beauty pageants needs special restrictions. EEng 1:59 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
Let's face the real facts here: Galatz is a member of WikiProject Professional wrestling and doesn't like EEng expressing his opinions about the value of the encyclopedia covering that sport spectacle, given the number of disputatious editors involved in writing about it and the noticeboard complaints it generates. Beyond My Ken (talk) 2:19 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
Next you'll be telling us pro wrestling isn't real. EEng 3:35 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
As someone who works in the performing arts, one has to appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into conceiving, staging, choreographing, and rehearsing these shows -- about 15 minutes of appreciation should be sufficient. I still like the line from one of The Thin Man films, where someone tells Nick that he's going to see a great wrestling bout, and Nick replies "Why? Were you at the rehearsal?" Beyond My Ken (talk) 5:25 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)[1]

Let us compare these two segments of the English Wikipedia along with the 'real' sport of amateur wrestling and a previous version of Mud wrestling:

Topic descriptions WikiProject Professional wrestling Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents Amateur wrestling Mudwrestling
Use of mysterious and sometimes ridiculous names Yes Yes No No
Incorporates the use of flimsy tables and chairs Yes No No no, but water is necessary
A high school competitive sport No likely Yes not yet
A competitive sport No Yes Yes Yes
Women participants Yes and it boosts ticket sales 9.8% of the time Yes actually dominate the sport
Pageviews/day 2,209 3,310 104 27
Prone to hyperbole Yes major rhetorical device No not yet
Weight requirements No Using bold font lends weight to the discussion Yes Chubby women are not as popular as non-chubby women
Olympic sport No Working on it Yes not yet
Get paid Yes No No probably
Page watchers 252 7,423 48 <30

See also

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Written in 2012 by Drmies, this essay is as apt today as it was then. (image added by The Signpost)

Wikipedia does not need you

You need the wiki—that's a fact. It's statistically proven and phenomenologically indisputable: you need the wiki.[citation needed] After all, you're here. Equally true, and much more insidious to the idea that we are all unique individuals and that we matter, is that the wiki does not need you—especially if you're a diva. It likes you, it appreciates your presence and your contributions, it wants you to get an account, to patrol Recent Changes (well... it doesn't mind it), to start verifying unreferenced BLPs, to make copyedits by hand or by bot—but the wiki does not need you. It wants you to trim External links sections, to change {{Reflist}} into <references /> and back again, to trim trivia sections and tag them, to add WikiProject templates to talk pages—but the wiki does not need you. The wiki appreciates your incessant jokes at WP:ANI, your useful advice at Wikipedia:Reference desk, your cheerful jabs at Jimbo Wales—but the wiki does not need you.

Sketch caricature of person walking away
"I better get out of here!"
(image by Frode Inge Helland)

Should it happen that a cabal of admins, operating on the talk page of an article or the lion's den of AN/I, manages to block you on an invented charge, the world will continue to turn. The grass will grow, the birds will lay eggs, the number of Pokémon-related articles will still double every 1.7 weeks, and articles on weathermen will be brought to AfD. Sure, it won't be done as smoothly and as elegantly as when you did it, but it will be done. The wiki will continue to turn. Sad, but true.

So if things are too stressful—take a break. Or leave. The latter would be especially sad, but Wikipedia will still be here tomorrow. It's bigger than me, bigger than you, possibly bigger than Jimbo. So if you start to think you're untouchable because you're indispensable to the project, just remember: you're not. However, there's a good chance that a deep breath and a cup of tea will resolve the problem that has you stressed, and then you and the Wiki can spend more quality time together.

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We reprint this op-ed by Beeblebrox as it appeared in our August 2011 issue to illustrate the eccentricities of our system for obtaining consensus, rather than pending changes itself. His experience motivated him to later pen his excellent essay "The perfect policy proposal" – anecdotal, but a perfect tutorial for anyone wanting to start a Request for Comment (RfC) and not wishing to be 'the guy trying to be the ringmaster of an out-of-control circus'.

The pending changes fiasco: how an attempt to answer one question turned into a quagmire

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I had good intentions, and they led me straight into Wikipedia Hell. As most of you know, pending changes (PC) was a modified version of the "flagged revision" system used on other Wikipedia projects. It was deployed here as a trial: the trial period expired and ... nothing happened. That's where I come in.

I had applied PC to a few dozen articles during and after the trial period. I got a message on my talk page from a user who noted that I was still using it even though the trial period was over. I didn't think I was doing anything drastic, but it was still bothering some folks because there was no clear mandate to continue using the tool. I'd participated in a number of policy discussions in the past, so I took it upon myself to seek an answer to the question of whether we wanted to retain this tool or not. Six months later, the question remains unanswered.


It started with a simple request for comment ([1]). I really didn't know what to expect. I knew the original discussions had been heated, and that many people had believed this tool would create more class divisions on Wikipedia; but after the trial began, the furor seemed to have died down. My goal was to come up with a yes or no answer as to whether we should use the tool, but in retrospect it was naive of me to think it would be that simple. I opened the discussion on February 16. By the 19th it had grown into a long, disjointed conversation on a myriad of topics. There were many misunderstandings, and a lot of confusion regarding who was supposed to do what when the trial ended. That appears to be where this whole thing went wrong. Everyone was angry that nothing was being done, but nobody seemed to know definitively who was supposed to be doing what in the first place.

Things were getting a bit out of control as discussions were duplicated and new participants added new sections without apparently having read previous posts. On March 8 the second phase of the RFC began. The rate of participation was high, and disruption and factionalism were low. However, a small (it seemed to me) but very vocal group of users felt that we shouldn't have a conversation about whether to keep it until it was turned off. Gradually, this became the primary topic of discussion on the talk page. Contributors began to split into two camps: editors who wanted the tool turned off and those of us who felt this was irrelevant. I was dismayed by what I saw as the emergence of an adversarial relationship. The waters were becoming muddied and an unpleasantly confrontational atmosphere was developing on the talk page: a storm was brewing.

To try once again to organize discussion into a format that would yield usable results, I proposed yet another phase. The idea would be a survey for editors to complete. I'd participated in the Wikipedia:RfA Review/Recommend survey and liked the format. I believed this issue was not as contentious as RfA, and that we could use the combined results of the three phases to determine what the community wanted and move forward. I still believe that.

Phase three

I tried to roll out the third phase. I asked for feedback on it, but got very little. Eventually it was clear the increasingly vocal users who wanted to switch off PC didn't like the existence of the third phase. For my part, while I didn't "own" the RFC I did feel it should focus on the particular purpose for which I'd created it: to determine whether or not we should continue to use PC. How could we craft a policy on the use of a tool if we couldn't even decide if we would use it, and how could we expect the Foundation to expend its resources to develop it if we were unable to tell them if it would end up being used? I decided to push ahead as only a few users out of the 100+ who had participated in earlier phases had objected to the final phase. The breakdown of what happened in phase two suggested that we had some fairly usable results, and I didn't want to lose the momentum we had. I wanted to get this over the finish line and answer what I was now calling "The Big Question".

I turned on the questionnaire phase after ten days of discussion that had resulted in changes to both the wording and ordering of the questions. Nobody had proposed an alternative procedure other than reverting back to open discussion, which had already proved to be too messy to yield any usable results in my view. Was I being pushy? Maybe, but I felt it was important to resolve this issue, which had by then been discussed for more than a month.

Two questionnaires had been submitted when a user decided to revert phase three and place it on hold pending further discussion. For the first time, I was actually feeling stress and getting angry about something on Wikipedia. I am usually able to keep my cool fairly well, but accusations were being leveled at me and I felt that irrelevant objections were sidelining a major policy discussion that would have far-reaching consequences. I repeatedly stated that if turning PC off was what it would take to get the conversation back on track that we should just do it. That wasn't good enough for some users, and a new third phase was created whose sole purpose was to discuss the temporary use of the tool. I admit that I began to make some intemperate remarks and some foul language crept into my conversation. I was frustrated with Wikipedia for the first time in years. My third phase was put on hold while the other issue was being resolved. By now the RFC had been open for 45 days.

There's a lot more I could say about what happened next, but it is all there in the archives for those who want the details. Eventually I decided I'd had enough: too much time was being spent debating my alleged motivations as opposed to the actual issues, and I quit the process—a process I'd initiated with the simple intention of answering one question. I un-watchlisted the related pages and haven't looked at them again until now. A couple of users expressed concern that I might quit Wikipedia altogether, and I re-assured them that I was just sick of the tactics used in the debate, and didn't want to be part of it anymore. The RFC was finally closed on May 27, 101 days after I opened it. In the end, all that happened was that PC was "temporarily" taken out of use, the same way it was temporarily turned on. It's still there, we just aren't allowed to use it until we finally answer that "big question" I set out to answer back in February. Nothing more substantive than that was decided. There's still no policy on PC. For all that effort, we failed to achieve the primary goal of deciding whether or not to use the tool, although, after a poll, it was eventually removed from all pages on which it was still being used.


When I got the discussion about PC going, I saw it as my opus, my great contribution to Wikipedia's policy structure. Whether PC was kept or not, we would finally have a policy on it one way or the other after many years of debate. Although I admit I had a preferred outcome, what I wanted most, what Wikipedia needed most, was a yes or no answer. I dedicated many hours to organizing the debate and engaging in discussion. In the end it was a bitter disappointment that accomplished nothing. There seems inevitably to come a point in any such attempt where there are simply too many voices, too many nonsensical objections, too much petty bickering to get anything done. This is a growing, systemic problem at Wikipedia, and eventually we are going to have to deal with it.

When people talk to me about Wikipedia I always tell them that the best thing about it and the worst thing about are the same thing. The consensus-based decision-making model works in a lot of cases, but sometimes it fails us because there are no controls. Nobody was able to keep this process moving in a forward direction once those who wanted to discuss a different issue had derailed it. Perhaps, when the tool has been switched off for long enough, we can look at this again and try to answer that one question without the psychological barrier of its simultaneous non-consensual operation. When that day comes, I'll be happy to be on the other side of the fence as a participant, not the guy trying to be the ringmaster of an out-of-control circus.

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