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Carrying on without an official Editor-in-Chief, we—the collective Signpost newsroom team—also wear editor hats. We hope you appreciate the Nobel, err, noble efforts of several guest contributors in this issue, as well as our own. Herein, you will find a concise corpus of debates, data, and distraction for edification and enjoyment. And we're leading off with this question for the community about future directions.

Photograph of an 1880 painting by Mihály Munkácsy depicting a man angrily shouting
If any of our reporting on specific people causes you to feel like this, then let us know how we can do better

As anyone paying attention to The Signpost this year has noticed, the publication has been struggling. So has the team. One of the struggles that has recently cropped up is in how to deal with reporting that involves specific members of the Wikipedian community and wider Wikimedia movement. For example, what type of Wikimedian-specific content, if any, should we cover? Are critical pieces of specific Foundation members acceptable? What about controversies surrounding members of the community, such as chapter board members or notable Wikimedians? Is the line drawn at trawling AN/I for juicy threads, or is that acceptable, too? At what point does investigative journalism become sensationalism, or community news become gossip?

Prior issues have contained content which criticized specific people, and which reported on conflicts and controversies between particular users; reader responses have been mixed, with some condemning it, others criticizing it, and still others commending the commentary. While the support is encouraging, the criticisms, some of which are borderline personal attacks and harrassment in a venue that is considered by some to be a safe haven from our Wikipedia policies, and complaints tell us where we may be falling short of the hopes and expectations of our readers.

At The Signpost, as in Wikipedia generally, the readers come first. We write for you, so your input is paramount in deciding the content of what we write; and if you write, we publish. Like the rest of Wikipedia, we also value consensus in determining what to publish—and not just the local consensus that may be achieved in the newsroom. That is why we are bringing this to you, the readers:

What do you consider to be acceptable reporting
on individuals within the Wikimedia movement?

Please, tell us what you think in the reader comments below! We want to understand where the line is—and what you want to be reading—when it comes to reporting on controversies, conflicts, scandals, and other news involving specific members of the community. The better we do, the better we can provide the content you will want to read - or in the worst case scenario, if you wish to continue reading The Signpost at all, and whether or not the editorial team is fighting an uphill battle to keep it in print.

Finally, the editors and contributors to The Signpost would like to wish our readership and the Wikipedia community a very happy holiday season. Enjoy a well deserved break, and we'll see you after the new year.

Reader comments

Smallbones has been a Wikipedia editor for 13 years, contributing to The Signpost regarding paid editing and financial market regulation. He has a Ph.D. in finance and professional experience in finance.
Exterior of the Federal Trade Commission building (3360757186).jpg
Federal Trade Commission offices

On November 30, 2018, the United States Federal Trade Commission released a series of emails and other documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) related to the Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's work on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing (WPM). The company was a scam, taking up to $400,000 from any hopeful inventor it could hook, while providing few if any services to them.[1] WPM was fined $26 million, the total of its alleged fraudulent take, and was shut down by the FTC in May of 2018.[2]

Whitaker's selection would be controversial even without his involvement in an obvious patent scam. His November 7 appointment by President Donald Trump is widely viewed as having the potential to limit the Mueller investigation into the President. The appointment is being challenged as unconstitutional in several court cases because it avoids the process of confirmation by the Senate. Four hundred former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have petitioned Trump to replace Whitaker.[3]

The FOIA release included an email from the head of the scam company, which stated "Let's build a Wikipedia page and use Whitaker to make it credible."[4] The editing of Wikipedia articles by scammers is nothing new. For example, editing by employees of binary options scammer Banc de Binary was at times openly declared. Politicians and government officials have also edited articles promoting their careers, including Corey Stewart, who ran in the 2017 Virginia Republican gubernatorial primary while telling CNN of his campaign's Wikipedia edits.[5] But the possible combination of edits made by outright scammers with the possible participation of an official who later achieved a position as high as Acting U.S. Attorney General is unprecedented.

A Signpost investigation of the released documents[6][7] has revealed that an editor with an account name almost identical to that of a WPM PR agent, as named in the FOIA release[8] edited the article on Whitaker, adding external links in the text to both WPM's website and Whitaker's law office. It should be remembered, of course, that no purely on-wiki evidence can prove the editor's real world name. "Joe jobs" are possible, where a user account is created to embarrass the named person. Other suspicious edits include the creation of the English Wikipedia article on Whitaker as a possible autobiography. A resume that Whitaker sent to WPM is included in the released documents. It contains the false statement that Whitaker was awarded the prestigious Academic All-American honor while playing college football.

Football career

Whitaker's football career plays an important part in this investigation. He played football at the University of Iowa for the 1990, 1991, and 1992 seasons including the 1991 Rose Bowl.

While he played in 33 games as a tight end, he was not really a star, catching only 21 passes in his career for 202 yards and two touchdowns.[9] In 1991, his best year, at least four other Iowa receivers surpassed him in each of the above categories.[10] But he was a good student, being honored with the Big Ten Award for University of Iowa student-athletes for each of his three years.

His resume, shown in the FOIA release, was attached to an email to Scott Cooper, CEO of WPM. Both the resume and email contained the claim that he was named an Academic All-American.[11] He was not. A spokesperson for the awarding organization, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), told the Signpost that Whitaker is not listed as an Academic All-American.[12][13] Whitaker made the claim not just while applying for an advisory board position at WPM, but also later on the website of the law firm where he was the managing partner,[14] and on a Department of Justice website announcing his 2009 resignation as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.[15]

Whitaker graduated while still playing football and immediately began his legal studies. His law career began slowly with several small law firms. In 2002, he ran for the Iowa state office of Treasurer, losing with 43% of the vote.[16] In 2004, as a fairly young and inexperienced lawyer, President George W. Bush appointed him to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. A Democratic U.S. Attorney replaced him in 2009 and Whitaker resumed private legal practice in a small firm that he headed in Des Moines, Iowa.

In 2006, while Whitaker was still U.S. Attorney, the editor User:Whimat made his only four edits, taking a total of less than 15 minutes. The first and last edits were to the Iowa Hawkeyes football article, listing Matthew G. Whitaker as a "notable player". The editor's second edit was to create the article United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa which named Whitaker as the current officeholder. The editor's third edit was to create the article Matthew Whitaker (attorney), a short and factual article that named him as a former Iowa football player.

World Patent Marketing

While continuing to work with his law firm, on October 15, 2014, Whitaker joined the WPM advisory board. Several members of this board did not actively contribute to WPM's operations, but allowed it to use their names and photos for marketing purposes. Whitaker was more involved with the company. He was paid for some legal advice and answered or forwarded emails from disgruntled customers. He even discussed appearing in WPM marketing videos.[17]

Email Nov 21 2014 from WPM released FTC FOIA.jpeg
From the FOIA file

On November 21, 2014, WPM's CEO, Scott Cooper, suggested "Let's build a Wikipedia page and use Whitaker to make it credible".[4] There's no record of an attempt to create an article on WPM at this time, but on December 29 User:Vinnylabarbera added links to the websites of both Whitaker's law office and WPM to the article on Whitaker. The FOIA release lists a business associate of WPM with a nearly identical name as the CEO of an online PR firm. The same editor drafted an article on another member of the WPM advisory board at User:Vinnylabarbera/sandbox.[18]

The simple external links added to the text were later supplemented by other editors, with the section on WPM in the Whitaker article growing into a very large paragraph by the time Whitaker was named Acting Attorney General.

Appointments at the DOJ

In October 2017 Whitaker was appointed to be chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The FTC had previously subpoenaed documents from Whitaker related to the WPM case. A surprised FTC investigator emailed his colleagues "You're not going to believe this. Matt Whitaker is now chief of staff to the Attorney General. Of the United States."[19]

Voicemail from Matthew Whitaker to Federal Trade Commission staff, October 2017

FTC staff reminded Whitaker by voicemail that the subpoenaed material was overdue. Whitaker's voicemail response was included in the FOIA release. According to The Washington Post, the subpoenaed material was likely never given to the FTC.[19]

On November 7, 2018, the FTC staff were surprised again. Whitaker had just been appointed Acting Attorney General by President Trump. The staff anticipated questions from reporters and seemed anxious about how much information about Whitaker and the scam was already public. What to do? They checked the Wikipedia article on Whitaker. One staffer wrote

With Sessions' resignation, the Acting AG is Matthew Whitaker. Whitaker was an "Advisory Board" member of World Patent Marketing, and may have done some legal work for Scott Cooper. We subpoenaed his law firm last year. His Wikipedia page has a whole paragraph on his involvement with WPM (as of the sending of this email).

Wanted to give you a heads-up in case there is press/public attention.[20]

The section of our article on Whitaker that started with the insertion of an external link to WPM had grown to a 218-word paragraph with five references.


Several questions about Matthew Whitaker and World Patent Marketing were considered in this Signpost investigation.

  • Did WPM, as it had planned, submit an article about itself to Wikipedia using Whitaker's name to give the company credibility?
    • No evidence of such a submission was found.
  • Did WPM edit Wikipedia to help promote its scam?
    • Some of the evidence relies on the name of a user account that is nearly identical to the name of the CEO of a PR firm that worked for WPM. Like much on-wiki evidence, it can not be definitively proved that the user account was used to edit by WPM's PR agent. That said, there is circumstantial evidence that WPM’s PR agent linked the article on Whittaker to WPM's website, and that he submitted a draft article about another member of WPM's advisory board.
  • Did Matthew Whitaker create an autobiographical article on Wikipedia?
    • Given the limitations of on-wiki evidence it is impossible to say for sure, but there is evidence that he did create the Wikipedia article about himself.
  • Did Whitaker mislead the American people?
    • Based on evidence contained in the FOIA release published by the FTC and other evidence discovered in this investigation about his claim of being awarded the prestigious Academic All-American honor:
      • Whitaker misled Scott Cooper of WPM when he submitted his resume and a cover email.
      • He misled his current and potential legal clients when he posted the claim on his law firm's website.
      • He misled everyone when he repeated the claim on a Department of Justice website.

Matthew Whitaker and the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs did not respond to emailed requests for comment by copy-deadline.


After the publication of this article, Steve Roe, the University of Iowa Assistant Athletic Director for Communications contacted The Signpost, noting that the 1993 Media Guide for University of Iowa Football cited Whitaker as "GTE District VII academic all-American", which might explain Whitaker's claims.

The media guide should have more accurately stated "GTE District VII Academic All-District".

Given the possibility that Whitaker might also have been confused about the status of his award or relied on the Media Guide, we have replaced the word "lied" with "misled" in the text under "Conclusion".

  1. ^ Shammas, Brittany (22 August 2017). "A Miami Beach Scam Took Millions of Dollars from Thousands of Inventors, Feds Say". Miami New Times. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  2. ^ Leonnig, Carol D.; Rosalind S., Helderman (November 9, 2018). "Federal Investigators Scrutinized Whitaker's Role in Patent Company Accused of Fraud, According to People with Knowledge of Case". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  3. ^ Johnson, Kevin (December 4, 2018). "400 DOJ Alums Sign Statement Opposing Acting AG Matthew Whitaker". USA Today.
  4. ^ a b FOIA release, search "November 21, 2014"
  5. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew; McDermott, Nathan (March 23, 2017). "Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Removed Unflattering Info from Wikipedia Page". CNN.
  6. ^ FTC listing of all files in the release
  7. ^ FOIA release. This is a large unstructured document released under the Freedom of Information Act. Search "wiki" to find many of the relevant documents
  8. ^ FOIA release, search "9024"
  9. ^ "Matt Whitaker"
  10. ^ "1991 Iowa Hawkeyes Stats"
  11. ^ FOIA release, search "Academic"
  12. ^ In a December 21 email to the author of this piece, the CoSIDA spokesperson requested that this article include the following wording: Whitaker "is not listed on the Academic All-America honors lists, a national scholar-athlete honor selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)."
  13. ^ The official full list of *all* Academic All-Americans. This is a very large file; search "Whitaker" or "Iowa". Year-by-year records for football are also available
  14. ^ archived at
  15. ^ archived at
  16. ^ "2002 State Treasurer General Election Results – Iowa". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. April 1, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  17. ^ Hamburger, Tom; Leonnig, Carol D.; Helderman, Rosalind S. (November 14, 2018). "'He Was Yelling': Whitaker Pushed Back Against Early Fraud Complaints About Company He Advised". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  18. ^ Since the article has been deleted, only administrators can view the contents of this draft article
  19. ^ a b Leonnig, Carol D.; Helderman, Rosalind S.; Hamburger, Tom (November 11, 2018). "Whitaker Fielded Early Fraud Complaints from Customers at Patent Company Even as He Championed It, Records Show". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  20. ^ FOIA release, search for "Wiki"

Reader comments

In 2018, the fourteenth year of The Signpost, a total of 157 articles have been published spanning 12 issues from January to December. Collectively these 157 articles, created by 64 Wikipedia users, have received a total of 353,134 pageviews until 7 December. After including views from the first page and the single-page edition the pageviews sum reaches 388,484. These 12 issues have also seen a total of 1,222 comments, totaling 96,473 words.[a]

Article pageview totals, both one week totals as well as all time totals. Each dot represents an article, Dot 1 is Vol 14, Issue 1, Article 1 and so on. A total of 157 articles are covered till Issue 12. Correlation between one week totals and all time totals is 0.83. (Pageviews counted till 7 December, hence the overlap visible for Issue 12)

The Signpost statistics 2018, an effort to understand The Signpost, throws up various other findings, such as:

2018's highest viewed articles (till 7 December)
Date Article title Pageviews (all-time)
29 Mar Op-ed: Death knell for The Signpost? 4,988
29 Jun From the editor: The Admin Ship is still barely afloat, while a Foundation project risks sinking 4,068
30 Aug News and notes: Flying high; low practice from Wikipedia 'cleansing' agency; where do our donations go? RfA sees a new trend 4,061
20 Feb News and notes: The future is Swedish with a lack of administrators 4,054
29 Jun Discussion report: Deletion, page moves, and an update to the main page 4,038
  • Average views per article (one week total) for the first six months – January to May – is 780, and for the last six months – June to December – is 906. Although this indicates a general increase in readership per article from the beginning of 2018 to the end of the year, this increase in readership cannot be observed when average all-time views per article are considered.
  • Over 80% of all page views of any given Signpost article come in the first four weeks.

Which categories of articles get the most pageviews?

  • "Op-ed" and "From the editor" articles have the highest average pageviews (one week totals). "Op-ed" articles get an average of 1,340 pageviews and "From the editor" articles 1,320 pageviews. Gallery articles get the least pageviews.
"Op-ed" and "From the editor" articles have the highest average pageviews.

How many users have contributed to The Signpost in 2018?

10 contributors to The Signpost (Vol 14) amount to 72.8% of the total byline mentions, with the remaining 56 contributions accounting for the remaining 27.2% of byline mentions.
  • 10 Wikipedia users for The Signpost in 2018 amount to 72.8% of the total byline mentions, with the remaining 54 users accounting for the remaining 27.2% of byline mentions. (This includes bylines for 'essays', 'from the archives' and 'blogs', which may have just been "selected" by the user.)
  • 103 articles out of the 157 have only one name in the byline; that is, 65.6% have either been written or compiled by one user. The remaining 54 articles have two or more names in the bylines.

How many comments did The Signpost get in 2018?

  • Seven articles in 2018 (Issue 1 to Issue 12) generated comments crossing 4,000 words. 42 articles got one or no comments.
2018's most commented-upon articles (till 20 December)
Article title No. of comments No. of commentators Total words
Op-ed: Has the wind gone out of the AdminShip's sails? 79 37 11,460
Op-ed: Death knell for The Signpost? 73 34 7,436
News and notes: Flying high; low practice from Wikipedia 'cleansing' agency; where do our donations go? RfA sees a new trend 72 35 4,877
Op-ed: Wikipedia's Strickland affair 61 36 5,621
Op-ed: What do admins do? 47 15 4,567
Community view: It's time we look past Women in Red to counter systemic bias 28 21 4,327
Opinion: Google isn't responsible for Wikipedia's mistakes 28 21 4,102

How many users subscribe to the The Signpost?

A total of 1,149 users have added their names to the user-talk page delivery list. Template subscription transclusions total 2,007, whereas the global delivery list currently has 227 users.

  1. ^ Total words has been calculated excluding signatures. Each signature generates an approximate of seven words in MS Word, the word counter used to count the total words in comments.

Reader comments

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. . ." (5354088519).jpg
Community wish list furnished stocking stuffers for 2018

Arbitration Committee election 2018

A total of 2,209 users voted for the 13 candidates in the running. Of these, 91 were discarded because the voter had voted twice, and 13 were struck. The full list of voters was published at List votes: 2018 English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee election. The results were announced on 14 December, with Mkdw, GorillaWarfare, AGK, SilkTork, Joe Roe, and Courcelles being elected for a 2-year term. At this year's election the number of committee positions is reduced from 15 to 13 members. Full details of the election results are here.

Remaining in office for the second year of their term are BU Rob13, Opabinia regalis, KrakatoaKatie, Premeditated Chaos, Callanecc, RickinBaltimore, and Worm That Turned.

Community wish list results

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Blinded by the light? "Wikipedia skins are very bright, and at night they can be hard on the eyes."

As reported in last month's issue of The Signpost in Special Report, the WMF's wish list poll for software development closed on 30 November. The results were announced on 4 December with a total 7,282 support votes recorded for the 212 proposals. Leading the poll in the top position with 157 votes was the request by the New Page Reviewers with a proposal by Insertcleverphrasehere for 19 urgently needed open Phabricator tickets to be addressed. A fairly close second with 130 votes was the request for work on five open Phabricator tickets was the proposal by Premeditated Chaos for 'Some kind of toggleable dark or night-mode like YouTube or TV Tropes', because: "Wikipedia skins are very bright, and at night they can be hard on the eyes."

The rationale for the improvement to the suite of New Page Curation tools was: "New Page Review is a key process on Wikipedia, and the only firewall that prevents inappropriate new pages being added to the Encyclopedia. However, there are many longstanding issues with the Page Curation tools and the New Pages feed which inhibit efficiency and cause problems to be overlooked. Aside from a few additions made when the Growth Team added Articles for Creation (AfC) drafts to the New Page Feed last year, the tools haven't been supported for many years and the list of proposed developments is long. These include bugs, features never implemented, and suggested improvements which have been left unaddressed. While a few requests for improvement of the tools used by New Page Reviewers can be addressed by on-wiki customisation by volunteers, most others are part of the Mediawiki software and require the intervention of the WMF developers."

The full list of results is at m:Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Results.

Brief notes

Successful requests for adminship 2018.jpeg
The ten successful RFAs this year
  • New administrators: The Signpost welcomes the English Wikipedia's newest administrator, Galobtter, who obtained the suite of admin tools at their RfA with 208/46/12 (82%) in yet another contentious RfA that incited much discussion in the comments section – reinforcing the new trend. With three admins nominating, over 70 of the 208 supporters were admins. Among the 46 voters opposing were 6 admins. The oppose rationales included claims that the candidate's edit count was 'only' 25,000 with 'only' 8,000 to mainspace, and relatively short tenure. One support and one oppose both from the same sock farm, were struck. This makes a total of 10 new admins for 2018 – less than half the number for the previous year, demonstrating again RfA's inverse Moore's law.
  • Emergency desysopping: The level 1 desysopping procedures for compromised accounts were effected on the accounts of Orangemike, Killiondude, Garzo, and Esanchez7587 precipitating a discussion that is taking place at the Village Pump on a proposal to tighten up the admin inactivity procedure with suggestions for mandatory two factor authentication (2FA) for admins. Following satisfactory explanations, the tools were restored to the accounts Orangemike and Killiondude while Garzo and Esanchez7587 are users whose accounts have been dormant for many years.
  • Retired admins: Six admins were desysopped on 1 December under the inactivity policy. One further admin voluntarily retired their tools for personal reasons and inactivity.
Maggie Dennis 2015.jpg
Maggie Dennis
  • WMF staff reshuffle: Maggie Dennis is "...excited that we have located a new chief [of Community Engagement (CE)], who will join us in January 2019, whereupon I will transition to the role of Vice President of Support and Services. CE is a Wikimedia Foundation staff department of over 40 people focused on the goal of increasing the quantity, quality, diversity, and reach of free knowledge by supporting people and organizations aligned with the Wikimedia Foundation mission. We support contributors by representing them in the development of new technical tools."

Reader comments

WMF trumped again?

  • Wikipedia engages the ‘nuclear option’ after Trump penis hack: reported in The Verge on 4 December, Russel Brandom's article discusses the recent spate of vandalism on Donald Trump's Wikipedia article, compromised administrator accounts, and the 'self-unblock' feature. Mentioning posts by users Swarm and John Cline, Brandom refers to a thread in which criticisms are expressed on unilateral action from the WMF. The Foundation responded to The Verge with: “Our Security department will be implementing new, more comprehensive password policies,” and “working with volunteers to raise awareness of password best practices among our volunteers to help prevent this kind of vandalism and account abuse in the future.”

British shadow cabinet minister now a shadow

In brief

  • In more on the Trump vandalism: Andrew Griffin of The Independent (an online-only UK newspaper) explains in a 23 November article, 'Siri doesn't appear to think highly of Donald Trump', how Apple's Siri is affected by false information in Wikipedia articles, however temporary it may be.
  • Still more vandalism: On 30 November, Alex Myers, writing in The Loop (an online golfing digest) describes how the Stephen A. Smith Wikipedia article was vandalized with the addition of an amusing explanation for the initial 'A' of Smith's middle name.
  • US government blames Google for Wikipedia articles: Inc. reports that United States congressman Louie Gohmert complained to Google CEO Sundar Pichai that Wikipedia's editors disallowed his paid staff member from editing the article about himself. Forbes and Vox similarly described Wikipedia's place in that public hearing. Conversation about Gohmert's editing is ongoing at Talk:Louie Gohmert.
  • Google translations for Indonesia: Jaclyn Teng of TechinAsia in 'Google partners with Wikipedia to translate content for Indonesians' reports on 3 December about Google's initiative to have articles from the English Wikipedia translated into Bahasa Indonesia using their machine translation engine.
  • Can't sleep? Read Wikipedia: Alan Farrell tells reporter Niamh Horan of the Independent on 24 November about his lifelong problems of getting to sleep: "My worst attribute is wikiloops. I might look at something on Wikipedia and I would research something and then I would click on a link to the next page and the next page and all of a sudden it's three hours later and you've gotten nothing done and you are in a wikiloop, going down a rabbit hole".
  • 28,000 photos uploaded: Amid concerns expressed on infringement of copyright, The Wikipedia Israel chapter has uploaded a large number of photos taken from 1900 to 1946 in the region which eventually became the state of Israel, reports Stuart Winer in The Times of Israel on 29 November. Michal Lester, executive director of Wikimedia Israel, is confident that there has been no breach of legalities. Some of the photos are displayed on the Wikimedia Israel website (in Hebrew).
Librarians at Bay Area WikSalon - 1.jpg
Merrilee Proffitt (left) with Christina Moretta (centre), and Andrea Davis (right), speaking about San Francisco Public Library resources at the Bay Area WikiSalon, June 2016.
  • Book: Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge, Merrilee Proffitt, (2018). 256 pages. American Library Association. In the May 2018 edition of the magazine American Libraries, Phil Morehart discusses the book with the author with a focus on her research and its impact. The Signpost June issue this year mentioned her interview with Publishers Weekly.
    Editor's note: Maybe it's time for someone to examine the potential for a Wikipedia article about the author.
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

More WP:RSN discussions

There were many discussions this month about the practice of deprecating sources deemed to be extremely unreliable (i.e. caught multiple times fabricating stories). Deprecated sources are strongly discouraged from being used in articles and may not be used to establish notability.[a] As proposals to deprecate additional sources stacked up, other editors weren't so sure.

  • The Sun is a British tabloid that some consider even less reliable than the Daily Mail. Many supporters were surprised it wasn't deprecated already. Opposers, meanwhile, warned of instruction creep and apparent left-wing bias in deprecating mostly right-wing sources (out of the 5 deprecated/banned sources on WP:RSP, only Occupy Democrats is listed on as left-wing). The community is very divided on this issue, with 24 supports and 21 opposes as of December 21.
  • WorldNetDaily is a far-right site described on WP:RSP as promoting conspiracy theories and lies. There was a strong consensus to deprecate it.
  • There's also a proposal the other way: to un-deprecate the Daily Mail. Some supporters argue that a change in editors has led to an improvement in the paper's reliability; many opposers disagree on this point, though some are open to change in the future after more time to see if the tabloid has improved in their opinion.

Administrators: ending with a whimper?

RFA candidates by year.png
2018 saw half as many RfAs as 2017, though a higher percentage were successful.

Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_adminship/Archive_252#Nine was a lively conversation for November and the first week of December, concerning the new record low nine admins recruited this year (now ten, still a record low). The conversation petered out without any plan for action. B

Other discussions this month

  • On WP:VPP: Should victims of tragedies who would not otherwise have their own articles be listed in the article about the event?
  • On WT:N: Can interviews be used to establish notability? The argument is that they are not independent of the subject because the subject was involved in creating them.
  • When the ability for admins to unblock themselves was removed from the MediaWiki software, a new feature was added to block the admin who blocked you. Wikipedians are now discussing under what circumstances such blocks should be acceptable.


  • After Dr. Blofeld offered to incubate substubs he created, the community concluded that some content was better than no content, so the articles remained in mainspace.
  • The following Bot Approval Group inactivity policy proposal was enacted:
    BAG members are expected to be active on Wikipedia to have their finger on the pulse of the community. After two years without any bot-related activity (such as posting on bot-related pages, posting on a bot's talk page, or operating a bot), BAG members will be retired from BAG following a one-week notice. Retired members can re-apply for BAG membership as normal if they wish to rejoin the BAG.
  • The Community Wishlist Survey results have been released. Currently, every successful item is "pending investigation". More details are to be found in this issue's News and notes.

  1. ^ This is often misleadingly called "banning" sources; only a very small number of possible sources, such as Breitbart and InfoWars have been formally banned via en entry on the spam blacklist.

Reader comments

Screenshot of afch-rewrite v0.8 main view.png
The Articles for Creation helper script by Theopolisme

WikiProject Articles for Creation is the WikiProject whose active members volunteer to review submissions to Articles for Creation. While any autoconfirmed user can review drafts manually, it is strongly recommended that only participants in the WikiProject do so. Participants must have extended-confirmed rights in order to use the Helper Script, and permission is accorded by administrators; the full criteria for access to the tools can be found here. The introduction of this control was passed by consensus on a RfC proposal made by Kudpung in 2013.

Flow chart for AFC 3.1.png
AfC flow chart

Unlike its counterpart New Page Reviewing, as a project AfC has no formal selection or vetting process anchored in policy for its operators and their tasks, although it is often claimed that the required level of knowledge of notability and other guidelines is very similar. A move towards more formal acceptance of the project was established through the Wikimedia Foundation's 2018 efforts to develop a more structured approach by embedding a live feed for new AfC submissions in the New Pages Feed. Many AfC reviewers are holders of the NPR flag. Armed with this knowledge, any reasonably experienced editor should not find the tasks too complicated – while they may however present challenge to less experienced users, the actual instructions for reviewing are easy to follow, and are supported by a flow chart.

New pages Feed - AfC interface.png
New pages Feed for AfC draft reviewing

AfC reviewers have multiple tasks that fall within their purview related to the Articles for Creation process. First and foremost, they assess submissions to determine their suitability for the encyclopedia. This is done with the help of a user script. Secondly, they answer questions from editors about their reviews, and provide feedback on how they can improve their article. Finally, they assist editors at the help desk.

Q and A with reviewers Nosebagbear, Legacypac and K.e.coffman

The Signpost sat down with reviewers Nosebagbear, Legacypac, and K.e.coffman to discuss their contributions.

What motivated you to become a member of WikiProject Articles for Creation?

Nosebagbear: 2 main reasons encouraged me to sign-up to help out with AfC – Articles for Deletion & ACPERM. The former, slightly counter to the idea of AfC, was my first real area in the back-end of Wikipedia, and one of the things that I found so frustrating in my early time at AfD were the number of new articles that were in no way ready for article-hood and would be deleted within 2 weeks of uploading. As a freely admitted inclusionist, I felt that helping editors through a less destructive beginning seemed like a great way to avoid both biting new editors and to ultimately bring in more, better, content to Wikipedia. [Secondly, I] finally turned my long-term account active while the post-ACTRIAL RfC was taking place. The consensus was overwhelming in two ways – yes it's needed & yes there are going to be some big problems. I felt it was needed so joining up seemed a great thing to do.

I lied. There was a third reason. It's good fun – and you learn some weird things before anyone else does!

Legacypac: The opportunity to help good new content get into the project. I also enjoy maintenance, clearing out junk, spam and otherwise useless pages to improve the average quality of pages available here.

K.e.coffman: I've been nudged a couple of times on my Talk page, but joined only recently. Early on, I accepted a few drafts that had been submitted three months prior, which seemed like a really long time to wait to get one's draft reviewed. This motivated me to keep going. The current backlog is just shy of four weeks, which is much more reasonable.

There has been discussion about integrating Articles for Creation into the New Pages Patrol. What are your thoughts on this?

Nosebagbear: Hmm. I'd say I have a mixed view. It obviously appears outwardly reasonable, but it depends on a couple of things. A properly shared reviewing platform/set-up has to be able to handle both sides well, rather than with an NPP focus. There is already a good script made by Theopolisme & Enterprisey, so any system that wasn't at least as good at that would be useless. In other ways, I just don't know, more clarity on quite how close a merger is needed – NPP and AfC both make processes that work for them, and so a tight merger risks disrupting a system designed for drafts (often 1st time drafts). I would say my biggest concern is being pushed into a less than suitable set of changes without a sufficient chance to discuss a proper set of proposals.

Legacypac: The skill set is the same and the qualifications should be fully aligned. The major difference between AfC and NPP is the location of the pages. Drafts have been brought into the NPP tool recently so NPP reviewers can review Drafts the same way they review in mainspace.

K.e.coffman: The two projects have overlapping goals – shepherding new articles into mainspace while maintaining the integrity of the encyclopedia – but I don't think that the functions are exactly the same. The NPP browser now allows users to toggle between the two processes, which is useful.

The Articles for Creation backlog has fallen dramatically recently. How are reviewers keeping the backlog low?

Nosebagbear: So one of the big changes is the number of new reviewers (as well as lots of returning reviewers) has increased significantly in the last couple of months. In an ongoing sense, this helps reduce the demand on a handful of super-reviewers doing the bulk of the work. It's one of the big benefits that has shown up from the steps towards merging NPP & AfC – lots of the active page patrollers have spread some of their time and also contributed in AfC. That said, it is that 10% of most active reviewers that cover over half of each month's submissions, so I think credit must flow for that. Finally, and very controversially, we recently had an editor review about 1100 drafts – unfortunately, the editor in question was identified as a hostile Sock. This did trigger a silver lining though of review-reviewing, with a large number of both accepts and declines looked over. This burst has put us in a much better position to keep on top of the review timeline rather than let it build up.

Legacypac: Like most backlogs, it fluctuates mostly because one or a small group of editors changes their activity level. AfC always processes most drafts within the first two to three days of submission. The long backlog is usually the minority of pages that are harder to assess for some reason. We were able to cut that from 8+ weeks to 3 weeks through some dedicated effort. We also cut the total pending from around 2300 to under 1300. Ideally all submissions would be answered within a few days but that will require more volunteers.

K.e.coffman: The new rejection feature (to discourage resubmissions) is helping; I'm no longer seeing drafts that have been resubmitted two, three, four times. Fewer resubmissions mean fewer total submissions, and it's better to be upfront with the authors if the topic is not suitable, rather than implicitly asking them to invest more time into "hopeless" drafts.

Have you seen a difference in your workflow following the conclusion of WP:ACTRIAL?

Nosebagbear: Not having a 1st person experience before and after I can't really compare – however the month after I joined (in May) received the most submissions AfC has ever had, so it was a fun start time.

Legacypac: WP:ACREQ was a huge success. It cut down the submission of junk into mainspace dramatically. However there was a pretty big uptick in AfC submissions, but not nearly as much as the reduction in problematic mainspace submissions so overall it was a big win. At AfC we can decline page rather than always seeking deletion like in NPP so most of he junk just gets quietly deleted WP:G13 in six months or so. This is a much better use of volunteer time overall.

K.e.coffman: I only joined the project two months ago, so I don't have the first-hand experience with what has changed compared to before ACTRIAL. I would argue that the bar should be raised even further than ACTRIAL went – four days and 10 edits in no way prepare news users to write encyclopedia entries directly in mainspace. More drafts being channelled to AfC would hopefully relieve the pressure on NPP reviewers, while improving the overall quality of articles that reach mainspace. To keep the AfC backlog manageable, we would need more AfC reviewers, of course.

What are WikiProject Articles for Creation's most pressing needs?

Nosebagbear: New Reviewers! 40 new reviewers doing 20 reviews each month would let us keep the turnaround time to less than a week which would be brilliant.

Legacypac: We need some more reviewers. It is an interestimg mix of quality control and encouraging great new content. I learn a lot from reading random submissions, even the spam is interesting as I learn about new companies and ideas.

Some advice from Legacypac to anyone interested in joining:

There is a PERM like process to access the reviewing script at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Articles for creation/Participants. If you are not ready for that, there are interesting ways to still help while you can learn more about the process and build up confidence. We are in the business of sorting out the junk and promoting the good. You can CSD spam/copyvio and MfD other problems in Category:Pending AfC submissions. If you prefer content creation or gnoming, please look for good notable topics in the same category and improve the pages. Many submitters are new, without the skills to add sources properly, format pages correctly, and other issues. Helping get good pages ready for mainspace and eliminating bad pages makes the AfC reviewer's job much easier.

K.e.coffman: The project can always use more reviewers. I found that AfD experience makes AfC a seamless transition. Exposure to AfD and various notability guidelines is helpful in knowing which subjects are and aren't likely to survive a deletion discussion. With that in mind, I would encourage AfD regulars to try their hand at AfC. There's also an interesting proposal on the table regarding "Drafts for assistance", which would hopefully draw other projects into lending a hand. I'd like to see this idea implemented.

The Signpost would like to thank the interviewees for their time. If you would like your WikiProject featured in a future report, please drop us a line at the Newsroom talk page.

Kudpung contributed to this report.

Reader comments

Case accepted: GiantSnowman

An Arbitration case opened on 18 December with nine arbitrators accepting and zero declining. The request included multiple editors presenting evidence of inappropriate mass rollback with the rollback toolset (bundled for all administrators and held by some non-administrators as well). At issue is interaction between GiantSnowman – an administrator since 2012 with over 300,000 edits – and less experienced and less privileged accounts. Besides what some called immoderate use of rollback, additional concern was expressed about "social damage" (UninvitedCompany) emanating from "blocks of new users who may not know our sourcing rules that is particularly concerning" (DGG). Perhaps the most pointed statement in the request was from Softlavender who opined "This is harming the project (we cannot afford to lose good editors more than we already are), and no one can babysit such an admin to make sure he is competently using the tools and competently reverting." On the other hand, some expressed views that the problematic interactions can be solved through less drastic means, for instance: "[I]t is not clear to me that desysopping GS is going to suddenly fix the issue that differentiating between good and bad changes to sports statistics is difficult. Can we try to work on this issue instead of focusing on people?" (Kusma). The case will be in evidence phase until January 3.

Incipient case mooted: Editor resigns

A request initiated on November 27 appeared to possibly be rendered moot when Jytdog abruptly announced they would be leaving Wikipedia for good. In response, Arbcom passed this motion without a formal case: "Jytdog may not resume editing, under any account name or IP, without notifying and obtaining permission from the Arbitration Committee". Arbcom's opinions in the discussion whether or not to take it ranged from angry-sounding "I don't understand where anyone could come up with the notion that it's ok to call someone out of the blue off-wiki... [s]ome action will have to be taken here" (DeltaQuad) to more conciliatory. Notwithstanding the 10–0 vote to take the case, arbitrator DGG stood his ground on the motion saying that "I oppose a block as unnecessary and inappropriate. But saying 'without notifying and obtaining permission from the Arbitration Committee' is in fact a block–an indefinite block."

The Signpost notes that not all members of the committee agreed that the off-wiki communication had been initiated by Jytdog without the consent of the other party. This would surely have been the crux of a case, and there are hints that there is private communication available to the committee that contradicts the record the rest of us can see.

Case declined: alleged misbehavior by Arbitration Committee member

A case was unanimously declined on December 8 regarding Arbitration Committee member BU Rob13. An editor had commented on this request in the last issue of The Signpost as a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, while rebuking us for not covering it in that issue's Arbitration Report.

Electoral Commission steps in during Arbcom elections

The Electoral Commission made an "official statement on Fred Bauder's standing as candidate" during his candidacy for Arbcom. It also stands as an unusual case (unprecedented as far as we know) of a candidate being admonished and desysopped for editwarring on their own candidacy page.

Election results

The following content originally appeared at Administrators' noticeboard. Results of the 2018 Arbitration Committee election are further detailed at News and notes in this issue.

All incoming arbitrators have elected to receive (or retain, where applicable) the checkuser and oversight permissions.

We also thank our outgoing colleagues whose terms end on 31 December 2018:

Outgoing arbitrators are eligible to retain the CheckUser and Oversight permissions, remain active on cases accepted before their term ended, and to remain subscribed to the functionaries' and arbitration clerks' mailing lists following their term on the committee. To that effect:

  • Stewards are requested to remove the permission(s) noted from the following outgoing arbitrators after 31 December 2018 at their own request:
    CheckUser: Euryalus, Newyorkbrad
    Oversight: Euryalus, Newyorkbrad
  • Outgoing arbitrators are eligible to remain active on cases opened before their term ended if they wish. Whether or not outgoing arbitrators will remain active on any ongoing case(s) will be noted on the proposed decision talk page of affected case(s).
  • All outgoing arbitrators will remain subscribed to the functionaries' mailing list.
  • All outgoing arbitrators will remain subscribed from the arbitration clerks' mailing list, with the exception of Euryalus and DGG at their request.

Reader comments

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga (November 18 to 24, December 2 to 8 and December 9 to 15) and OZOO (November 25 to December 1).

I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana (November 18 to 24)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of the Week (November 18 to 24, 2018)

Narcos is back, only this time in Mexico (#13), and this means Netflix users are sorely tempted to pause their binge-watching and learn more about the drug lords (#1, #10, #23) and their victims (#12). The streaming service even got the latest Coen brothers film (#15), although on Wikipedia it did not garner as many viewers as films in theaters, about Queen (#2, #16, #25), A Kind of Magic (#5, #18), and someone who will Spread Your Wings and Gonna Fly Now (#21). Regular TV also leads to extra entries regarding a British reality show (#9, #19, #22) and the latest WWE event (#11). And in spite of being Thanksgiving (#6, #17) — followed by the usual shopping sprees (#8) — some people instead had a week where they were hardly thankful for: a rapper got arrested (#3), a missionary joined the never-leaving death list (#14) for trying to convert an hostile and isolated tribe (#4, #7), some European footballers fell short in their latest tournament (#20), and Trump got into the usual problems (#24).

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo Start-Class article 1,710,658
Diego Luna - Lucca Comics & Games 2018 01.jpg
The currently imprisoned drug lord who formed the Guadalajara Cartel, also known as El Padrino ("The Godfather") and who due to his declining health was transferred from a maximum security prison to a medium one. Maybe he'll be allowed to watch how Diego Luna (pictured) portrays him in Narcos: Mexico (#13).
2 Freddie Mercury Good article 1,701,291
Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1977.jpg
Get your party gown, get your pigtail down, get your heart beating baby! The acclaimed frontman of Queen (#16) continues pretty high on the list due to the continuing popularity of biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (#25), and the yearly views of his Wikipedia article approach 19 million, placing him in-between the Queen of England and the King of Wakanda among the year's most popular.
3 6ix9ine C-Class article 1,237,012
6ix9ine June 2018 (cropped).jpg
While planning to release his debut album Dummy Boy, this rapper who wears some horrifying grills was arrested for racketeering and firearms charges.
4 Sentinelese B-Class article 1,170,303
M V Portman.jpg
This isolated tribe who inhabit an island (#7) in India's Bay of Bengal entered the news after they possibly killed an American missionary who decided to convert them.
5 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald C-Class article 1,117,309
Johnny Depp by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
It's now been 17 years since the first Harry Potter movie (, I'm old), and I keep on seeing them during opening day. The Crimes of Grindelwald (who, as played by Johnny Depp, appears on the left) is unfortunately the least satisfying of the bunch, overstuffed with subplots that made the pacing problems of its predecessor (#18) even worse, and some questionable twists and reveals. It is making money nevertheless, with $465.6 million worldwide so far, meaning it might soon surpass our #25.
6 Thanksgiving C-Class article 1,024,611
2017-11-22 17 49 56 A Thanksgiving dinner plate with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, croissant rolls, pickles and deviled eggs in Ewing, Mercer County, New Jersey.jpg
Every November, the United States (#17) celebrates their beloved holiday by gathering at Grandma's, overeating, downing antacids and even taking time to learn about the holiday on Wikipedia. And the following day, there's a shopping spree (#8).
7 North Sentinel Island B-Class article 980,170
North Sentinel Island.jpg
The Indian government keeps its distance from this island and even prohibits travel to it, as they know the locals (#4) have rejected, often violently, any contact with the outside world. Missouri missionary John Allen Chau still missed the memo, traveled illegally there with the help of some fishermen, and his attempt at converting the Sentinelese only resulted in his own death.
8 Black Friday (shopping) B-Class article 880,839
The day after Thanksgiving retailers claim is the beginning of the holiday season. Long lines, discounts, hard hits on your credit rating and leftovers are on the day's agenda. It is a shopaholic's favorite day of the year despite the fact that they will be paying off their credit card debt until July 2020.
9 Anne Hegerty Start-Class article 874,054
In my country, we take subcelebrities and take them to a farm; in the UK, instead they head to the jungle in the amusingly titled I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, where one of the contestants is Ms. Hegerty, primarily famous for asking questions in the game show The Chase.
10 Rafael Caro Quintero Start-Class article 794,238
Mexican drug cartels 2008.jpg
A co-founder of the Guadalajara cartel, although unlike our #1 he is currently on the run, having vanished ever since being freed from jail on 2013. In Narcos: Mexico (#13), he's played by Tenoch Huerta Mejía.

Hail to the Chief (November 25 to December 1)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of the Week (November 25 to December 1, 2018)

The top story of the week of November 25 to December was the death of former President of the United States George H. W. Bush. Second place was the release of new Indian film 2.0, and third was the death of SpongeBob SquarePants creator, Stephen Hillenburg. Further down the list, a number of the subjects of Netflix's Narcos: Mexico were in the list, as were the lead pugilists of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury and a motley crew of musicians, TV personalities, and Baroque painters.

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 George H. W. Bush B-Class article 1,644,902
George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait (cropped).jpg
George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, died on November 30 at the age of 94. Bush was President from 1989 to 1993, as well as being Vice President for eight years prior to that. During his time in the White House, Bush signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and involved the US in the First Gulf War.
2 2.0 (film) C-Class article 1,634,758
Rajinikanth at the Inauguration of MGR Statue.jpg
With a budget of ₹543 crore (US$76 million), Tamil sci-fi film 2.0, released on 29 November, is the most expensive Indian film of all time. A sequel to 2010's Enthiran, the film sees Rajinikanth (pictured) reprise the roles of Dr. Vaseegaran and Chitti, alongside Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson. The film, which has received positive reviews, earned ₹117.34 crore (US$16 million) worldwide on its first day, the second highest ever for an Indian film after old Top 25 favourite Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.
3 Stephen Hillenburg Good article 1,324,217
Stephen Hillenburg by Carlos Cazurro.jpg
Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the long running Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, died on November 26 at the age of 57. Hillenburg served as showrunner of the aquatic animation from debut in 1999 to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 2004, as well as doing the story for the 2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. He revealed in March 2017 that he had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease, motor neurone disease), and died from complications from that disease this week.
4 Freddie Mercury Good article 1,201,579
The legendary Queen (#19) front man remains in the list with the continued popularity of the biopic based on him, Bohemian Rhapsody.
5 Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo Start-Class article 1,059,989
Diego Luna Berlinale 2017.jpg
Mexican drug lord Félix Gallardo, who formed the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s, is a primary subject of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico (#25); in which he is played by Diego Luna (pictured). Félix Gallardo, also known as El Padrino (The Godfather), with his cartel, at one point controlled almost all drug trafficking in Mexico and the corridors along the Mexico–United States border.
6 6ix9ine C-Class article 991,765
6ix9ine June 2018 (cropped).jpg
Daniel Hernandez, or "six-ix nine-ine", as I presume his stage name is supposed to be pronounced, released his debut album, Dummy Boy on November 27. Professional reviews for the album have leaned towards the negative. The album had been delayed from the original release date of November 23 following Hernandez's November 18 arrest on charges including conspiracy to murder and armed robbery, charges for which he is currently being held in custody without bail pending trial.
7 Deaths in 2018 List-Class article 725,584
96 Mortulo.svg
💀💀 It happens to us all 💀💀
8 George W. Bush Good article 718,028
George H.W. Bush's (#1) eldest son, GWB was President of the United States himself from 2001 to 2009.
9 Sentinelese B-Class article 616,432
North Sentinel Island.jpg
The indigenous Sentinelese people, who inhabit the North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal in India, are considered to be one of the world's last uncontacted people. They are known to be extremely hostile to outsiders, as demonstrated with the death of American missionary John Allen Chau on 17 November, killed by the islanders while attempting to convert them to Christianity. Indian officials abandoned attempts to recover the body on 28 November, due to a risk of conflict between investigators and islanders.
10 North Sentinel Island B-Class article 563,653

Reading Around the Bush (December 2 to 8)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of the Week (December 2 to 8, 2018)

George H. W. Bush died on a Saturday, so the following week still had lots of people searching for what the former U.S. President did, and led him to repeat as the top article while inspiring half the articles on this Top 25 (13, because counting the never-leaving death list as the 14th is a stretch), including George's dead wife, all his offspring (including another White House occupant and a daughter who died in her infancy), a daughter in-law, and the guy who he was VP for. Otherwise, we have India giving lots of money (#25) to 2.0 (#3) and seeing celebrities also spending a similar fortune to get married (#4, #5), the UK searching for a celebrity in the jungle (#18) with a famous mom (#20), three guys who returned from last week (#10, #11, #19), and another who'll probably take a while to leave (#22).

For the week of December 2 to 8, 2018, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 George H. W. Bush B-Class article 4,744,951
George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait (cropped).jpg
All the commotion for the death and state funeral of the 41st President of the United States leads him to repeat as #1. Along with the Gulf War, NAFTA and "Read my lips: no new taxes", the other notable thing about Bush's government was Dana Carvey impersonating him on Saturday Night Live (Bush himself was a fan).
2 George W. Bush Good article 1,996,037
#1's oldest son, who like him was also President of the United States, started a war in Iraq, and inspired great SNL moments.
3 2.0 (film) C-Class article 1,977,120
Amy Jackson as female humanoid Robot in 2.0 (film).jpg
Big-budget sequels to sci-fi hits are not exclusive to Hollywood anymore, as shown by the most expensive Indian movie ever, 2.0, a follow-up to 2010's Enthiran, featuring robots (such as the gynoid in the left, played by Amy Jackson), mad scientists and huge battles. The film is now the highest-grossing Indian film of the year.
4 Priyanka Chopra Featured article 1,948,305
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas in 2018.jpg
India and exorbitant expenditures again, namely one of its greatest stars marrying the youngest of the Jonas Brothers in a five day long party that took place in a palace and had a massive wedding cake.
5 Nick Jonas C-Class article 1,690,575
6 Jimmy Carter B-Class article 1,545,236
Not only is Carter now the oldest living U.S. president, but he has actually outlived the two guys who occupied the White House after him (#1 and #23), even surviving a cancer a few years back. And if Carter lives until April of next year, the peanut farmer will surpass Bush as the president with the longest lifespan!
7 Bob Dole C-Class article 1,010,109
Bob Dole at 2016 RNC.jpg
Like our #1, Dole lost a presidential election to Bill Clinton. And during Bush's funeral, the 95 year old politician stood up from his wheelchair and saluted the coffin, showing he takes paying his respects very seriously.
8 Barbara Bush B-Class article 928,464 Barbara Bush portrait 1992 (cropped).jpg Seeing his wife of seven decades die back in April certainly worsened the health of our #1. At least they're together again.
9 Pauline Robinson Bush Start-Class article 892,161 Prescott Bush Headstone.jpg The saddest story in the Bush family, enough to inspire touching cartoons, "Robin" - the second child of the family, after our #2 - died before her fourth birthday of a leukemia. Her remains are now in the George Bush Presidential Library along with those of her parents (#1, #8).
10 Freddie Mercury Good article 828,583
The legendary frontman of Queen, whose biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is still attracting crowds. And adequately to the week's biggest subject, he once sung:
"Hot dog, I say, Cool it man
I don't wanna be the President of America!"

India controls report (December 9 to 15)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of the Week (December 9 to 15, 2018).png

The second most populous country on Earth has more than 10% of its 1 billion people speaking English, so no wonder sometimes the Top 25 Report gets extremely Indian. Local blockbusters (#3, #14), marriages of local rich people (#10), local important people (#7)... and if you wanna get technical, there's a Parsi-descendant rock legend at #8. Still, the list is topped by YouTube's "hall of dishonor", now led by the video service's own YouTube Spotlight channel as millions of people showed their disdain for the latest YouTube Rewind. Some superheroes are also present: DC Comics has an Aquaman movie (#5, portrayed by #2, married to #4), while Marvel gives an animated Spider-Man (#9). That obituary that just won't leave (#6) completes the top 10.

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 List of most-disliked YouTube videos List-Class article 2,098,077
YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind, the latest installment of the video service's yearly recap, was so underwhelming (too much Fortnite, not enough YouTubers people actually know) that it got showered with thumbs down and less than a week later, the 10 million dislikes (now 14) were enough for the "honor" of taking the top of this list from Justin Bieber (music videos are most of the list, including complaining about big names releasing annoying songs, YouTubers trying to be musicians, and dreadful stuff such as "Friday", Crazy Frog and The Gummy Bear Song). For curiosity's sake, the one with the biggest dislike percentage is a singer from my country doing a call to arms against the crazy man who was running for president, leading to backlash from "Bolsominions" who guaranteed Brazil will have a rough 2019.
2 Jason Momoa C-Class article 1,946,897
Jason Momoa (35368584534).jpg
If people stop making jokes about Aquaman being a ridiculous excuse for a superhero, you can probably thank his portrayer in the DC Cinematic Universe, who made him a drunk and boisterous barbarian, basically a G-rated Khal Drogo who breathes underwater and talks to fish. Momoa stars in the hero's solo movie (#5) which is already a critical and commercial hit.
3 2.0 (film) C-Class article 1,088,225
Amy Jackson as female humanoid Robot in 2.0 (film).jpg
2.0, a follow-up to 2010's Enthiran, featuring robots (such as the gynoid in the left, played by Amy Jackson), mad scientists and huge battles, is both the most expensive Indian movie ever (₹543 crore, or US$76 million) and the highest-grossing Indian production of the year with ₹800 crore ($100 million, an impressive quantity even on Hollywood), making it climb positions on the list of highest-grossing Indian films.
4 Lisa Bonet Start-Class article 961,550
Zoe Kravitz and Lenny Kravitz at the 25th Spirit Awards (cropped).jpg
The actress wife of #2, with whom he has two children. Commons doesn't have a picture of her, so here's Bonet's previous relationship and the result of it, Lenny Kravitz and their daughter Zoe.
5 Aquaman (film) C-Class article 932,125
Aquaman LEGO statue (41786295750).jpg
One week after debuting in China and making heaps of money, the DC Atlantean superhero played by #2 hit most international markets including mine (though the United States debut is due this week), so I can attest it is easily as fun as Wonder Woman.
6 Deaths in 2018 List-Class article 719,897
On a Noose (4341950907).jpg
7 Shaktikanta Das C-Class article 662,729
Shaktikanta Das, IAS.jpg
It's been one of those weeks with a lot of Indian people. Mr. Das shows up for being named the new governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
8 Freddie Mercury Good article 660,927
Picswiss VD-45-08.jpg
Rami Malek now has a Golden Globe nomination for playing the iconic Queen frontman, whose run in our list basically screams "Don't Stop Me Now!"
9 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Start-Class article 634,766 Montreal Comiccon 2015 - Spider-Verse (19458583445).jpg Sony Pictures tries to makes up for unleashing Venom into the world with a Spider-Man animated film that decides to team the Webhead with all alternate versions of himself, including Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham. Reviews were glowing and the film topped the U.S. box office, though the country of this writer only gets it next month.
10 Mukesh Ambani C-Class article 618,373
Mukesh Ambani.jpg
This Indian billionaire saw his daughter Isha marry the son of a fellow billionaire in festivities that cost $100 million and had guests ranging from Bollywood stars to Hillary Clinton and Beyoncé. It probably looked like something out of Crazy Rich Asians.


  • 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) and BTS (band): the Billboard Social 50 might accept the EXO-Ls and the BTS Army checking the pages of these K-pop groups many times daily for their rankings, but we won't condone this gaming of the system.

Reader comments

Happy solstice!

For your final Gallery of 2018, here are some images of the Sun and Moon (and humanity) in perspectives you may not have seen before.

August 2010 CME SDO Multi-Wavelength.jpg
Multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet snapshot of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory during an August, 2010 solar outburst
International Space Station Lunar Transit (NHQ201801300001).jpg
The International Space Station photographed transiting the full moon in January, 2018. The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere coincided with a full moon a few days ago.
Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2011.jpg
Another manner of solstice celebration: Stonehenge
Polar Bear Plunge in the water.jpg
And a polar bear plunge to ring in the new year

Reader comments

The Wikimedia Foundation, as reported in last month's 'Opinion' in The Signpost, no longer publishes its blog. News and information is now on its new WordPress website. This is my pick of what they have had to say recently:
Photograph of Trey Jone
Trey Jones

How the Wikipedia search engine works, and what's in a name - a rose perhaps?

The anatomy of search
by Trey Jones

A facinating series of articles entitled The anatomy of search by computational linguist Trey Jones, WMF Senior Software Engineer, Search Platform, some of which were published in the Wikimedia blog earlier this year. Easily readable even by non-language scientists. Of particular interest to editors working on redirects and disambiguation pages, but nevertheless highly entertaining for absolutely anyone. My top choice – but of course as a linguist and lexicographer, I'm biased (and envious of Jones's knowledge of the subject...) Enjoy. K

More on searching - the WMF announces a new tool

Eureka! A new visual interface for specialized searches
by Johanna Strodt, 13 December 2018

Have you tried the new search page on Wikipedia (and other Wikimedia wikis) yet? Now everyone can carry out specialized searches without specialized knowledge. With over five million articles, finding the exact Wikipedia article you want can sometimes feel like you’re searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. That’s why if you go and search the world’s largest encyclopedia, you will see a new interface that provides several common search terms. No longer will people looking for their favorite salad be faced with the dilemma of 50,000 search results for rocket. More specifically, search pages now have an additional visual interface that provides several common search options. For instance, when you type space, Nasa, and missile into the field “Not this text” and salad into “One of these words”, you can narrow your search for rocket down to little more than 100 results. Other options are to search in page titles, for exact text, to look for pages in certain categories, with a particular template, and more...

Hershenov resigns as General Counsel

Eileen Hershenov departs from General Counsel position at the Wikimedia Foundation
by Katherine Maher, 2 December 2018

Photograph of Eileen Hershenov
Eileen Hershenov

Eileen Hershenov will be departing from her role as General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation in December. It is with deep regret that I share that Eileen Hershenov, General Counsel and Board Secretary, will be departing from her position at the Wikimedia Foundation. On behalf of the executive team, Foundation Board, and myself, I want to thank Eileen for her critical contributions to advance our legal, public policy, and advocacy work during her time with us at the Foundation.

Eileen will be departing from her position in early December, and Tony Sebro, current Deputy General Counsel, will act as Interim General Counsel as we look to fill the position permanently. I thank Tony for his willingness to support this transition period and know and trust the Legal Department will be under excellent leadership during this time...

Maher signs deal in Jordan

Photograph of Katherine Maher signing a memorandum of understanding with Kamal Bani-Hani
Katherine Maher, Wikimedia ED, signs deal in Jordan

Hashemite University, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia volunteers partner to expand access to free knowledge resources in Jordan
by Wikimedia Foundation, 30 November 2018

Last month, the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia community members in Jordan, and Hashemite University—one of the most esteemed higher education institutions in Jordan—signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance cultural cooperation and access to free knowledge resources in the Arabic language. It is the first MOU of its type signed with any university in the Middle East. The partnership was announced at a roundtable discussion hosted at Hashemite University by Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and Professor Kamal Bani-Hani, Hashemite University President. They were joined by Hashemite University staff, students, the Wikimedians of the Levant User Group—the local Wikimedia community of volunteer editors—and other guests...

A patchwork of copyright exceptions and limitations in European education

We’re endorsing a proposed copyright treaty that adds educational and research exceptions. Here’s why
by Hugues Plessis, 19 November 2018

The Wikimedia Foundation, and 15 other civil society and research organizations, have endorsed the Proposed Treaty On Copyright Exceptions For Educational And Research Activities that introduces exceptions and limitations to copyright, supporting open knowledge and the free culture. The proposed treaty will be presented to the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at its 37th session from November 26th-30th.

This may come as a surprise, but copyrighted works often cannot be used in educational and research materials.

For example: students in France, Italy, Luxembourg and Romania cannot legally quote an entire artwork in a digital presentation. In Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom a teacher may not send an email to her students with excerpts of reading materials. In Denmark, Finland, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom an educator in a nonprofit cannot legally show parts of a video from a DVD they own in a free history class. (You can read more about this in a recent COMMUNIA report.) ...

Winners of the photo competition announced

Photograph of basalt at Cape Stolbchaty
Cape Stolbchaty, winning photo by Ekaterina Vasyagina

Lose yourself in our planet’s beauty with the winners of Wiki Loves Earth
by Ed Erhart, 17 December 2018

"A lonely monastery. Sunrise over the desert. A walk through a national park. These are just a few of the spectacular sights captured in the winners of the international Wiki Loves Earth photography competition, announced today. Coming in first place, seen at top, is a shot of the famed columnar basalt of Cape Stolbchaty, located in the Kuril Islands. Ekaterina Vasyagina’s photo was praised by one competition judge for its “brilliant composition and depth,” with another saying that it simply “makes you want to breathe...."

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Have you seen me?


Jersey Devil Philadelphia Post 1909.jpg
Jersey Devil
Spot the cow.gif
Cow as a homeomorphism of a sphere, leading to a related mathematical joke that topologists can't tell the difference between a coffee mug and a donut[1]
Bird people The widely recurring motif in legends and fiction of birds who are people, or people who are birds.
Behind the sofa Where young British children hid from menacing scenes in sci-fi TV, now recalled humorously and nostalgically by British adults.
Bigfoot trap Believed to be the world's only Bigfoot trap.
Featured article Cottingley Fairies A successful photographic hoax in 1910s England.
Easter Bilby How do you have an Easter Bunny in a country that has had a bad experience with rabbits? With an Easter Bilby of course!
Kaspar Hauser A German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell, and was once thought to be linked to the princely House of Baden.
Icelandic Elf School Possibly the only school granting elf-spotting degrees. (Though certificates are also available from John Oliver.)
Josiah S. Carberry An expert on cracked pots, and one of only three fictional people to have won the Ig Nobel Prize.
Machine elf An entity that people claim they become aware of after having taken tryptamine based psychedelic drugs such as DMT.
Man-eating tree Hoaxes and unsubstantiated reports in Madagascar and elsewhere.
Monkey-man of New Delhi Reports in 2001 of a strange monkey-like creature appearing in New Delhi at night and attacking people.
Phantom social workers Mysterious claims of "social workers" seeking to abduct infants and children.
Proverbs commonly attributed to be Chinese ...although they're probably not.
Reptilian humanoid A recurring theme in fiction, especially science fiction, pseudoscientific theories and conspiracy theories.
Rods Photographic anomalies which some think are undiscovered flying creatures or miniature UFOs.
Russian reversal In Soviet Russia, Wikipedia edits YOU!
Spring Heeled Jack A mysterious character said to have existed in England during the Victorian age.
Telling the bees An alternative explanation for the declining bee population.
Titivillus The patron demon of scribes, responsible for many errors.
Tsukumogami According to Japanese folklore, if you keep your straw sandals (or any other household items) around for 100 years, they may become "alive and aware" and develop eyes and sharp teeth.
Vampire pumpkins and watermelons A folk legend from the Balkan peninsula of south-eastern Europe based upon the idea that any inanimate object left outside during the night of a full moon will become a vampire.
Vril A belief that aliens controlled Nazi Germany and helped Hitler and others to escape to the South Pole when the war was lost.
Well to Hell A 9-mile (14 km) borehole drilled by Soviet scientists uncovers the sounds of millions of damned souls. Hot stuff.
Witch window A superstitious practice in the State of Vermont to prevent witches from flying through open windows at night.
Monsters under the bed I promise to write this one so I can be on the main page on 4/1/2019 – Barbara

Mystery animals and animal folklore

Looks a load of Bonnacon to me...
Pieter Dirkx's imagining of the Mongolian death worm
Vegetable lamb (Lee, 1887).jpg
That's either one fast-growing plant, or...
Bonnacon A mythical ox which flings burning dung at its enemies from its rear and horn.
Cattle mutilation The alleged killing and subsequent mutilation of cattle, sheep or horses by unknown perpetrators. Some say they may be aliens.
Chupacabra A legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, generally reported in Latin America, that preys on livestock. An episode of the X-files proves this is true.
Dog spinning Do Bulgarians really twizzle their domestic canines to foretell prosperity? The British Green Party thinks so, and they're not happy about it.
Drop bear A fictitious Australian marsupial supposedly related to the koala.
Entombed animal Tales of live toads and other creatures encased in stone.
Fearsome critters North American lumberjack folklore, with Axhandle hounds and jackalopes.
Flying pig The classic impossibility has been officially proved possible by the Internet Engineering Task Force: "With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."
Gef the talking mongoose A poltergeist-like creature which claimed to have been an 80-year-old Indian mongoose, alleged to have haunted a Manx cottage during the 1930s.
Humanzee A hypothetical(?) human/chimpanzee hybrid.
Hodag The animal of Rhinelander, Wisconsin and has been confronted by Scooby Doo
Jersey Devil A mythological creature said to inhabit the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This another reason why we should just give New Jersey to Canada as a gesture of good will.
Liver bird A legendary cormorant or eagle that is the symbol of a major English city.
Lluvia de Peces It's raining fish in Honduras.
Mongolian death worm A large, bright red worm that kills using acid and electrical discharges – allegedly.
Montauk Monster Actually a decaying raccoon... or is it?
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus An endangered creature, whose major predator is the Sasquatch. Apparently.
Phantom kangaroos They're not just found in Australia.
Popobawa A bat-winged monster from Zanzibar said to sodomize people during election campaigns.
Featured article Pig-faced women A lesson never to compare a person's children to pigs when pregnant, lest you be cursed.
Rat king Not the rodent monarch familiar from The Nutcracker, but a rare (some say nonexistent) phenomenon in which a group of rats grow up with their tails tangled in a knot.
Rhinogradentia A fictitious mammal order documented by an equally fictitious German naturalist.
Sidehill gouger Fictional creatures said to inhabit the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and the southwestern sandhills of Saskatchewan.
Spherical cow "Consider a spherical cow in a vacuum..."
Vegetable Lamb of Tartary Money might not grow on trees, but maybe sheep do.


  1. ^ Hubbard, John H.; West, Beverly H. (1995). Differential Equations: A Dynamical Systems Approach. Part II: Higher-Dimensional Systems. Texts in Applied Mathematics. 18. Springer. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-387-94377-0.
Attribution goes to all the contributors to this Wikipedia page, WP:Unusual articles. Their names can be found here.

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Originally started in December 2007 by Daniel Santos, twelve editors have contributed to Wikipedia:Requests for medication as of this version. Do you want to suggest an essay you would like republished in The Signpost? Perhaps you would like to write a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next month's edition in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.
Medication Committee
Chill pill.jpg
What editors are traditionally offered at ANI
Possum cyanide warning.JPG
What they secretly long for

Requests for Medication is the most important step in formal dispute resolution on Wikipedia. High volumes of stress can often manifest when the desire to continue to have the privilege of editing Wikipedia overrides the body's innate desire to choke the living shit out of some bastard who really has it coming. Medication is administered by members of the Medication Committee and has proven time and again to aid in resolving content disputes, curing headaches and averting the occasional natural disaster. Side effects may include:

  • watery eyes
  • blurred vision
  • not giving a crap anymore
  • smiling way too much
  • missing work the next day
  • not giving a crap anymore
  • staying home instead to edit Wikipedia
  • loss of Internet access or residence due to non-payment.

Before requesting medication, you should invite some friends over so that they may benefit from the humor of your behavior, tease you about it for the remainder of your life and post pics on your talk page. If medication fails to bring about a resolution to your dispute, tell the other guy to chill the fuck out. If this still doesn't work, then try taking up a different dispute or a hobby; you're probably wrong anyway. I mean, really, I lost a dispute and started knitting instead and I'm much happier. With the proceeds from the sweaters that I sell, I've accumulated enough money to pay my ISP again.

See also

Reader comments

Four recent desysoppings (two of which were restored) – see News and notes – remind us that strong and uniquely used passwords are required, especially for admins. The article reprinted here from The Signpost from 2007 shows that although first published 10 years ago, hijackings of admin accounts are still a reality and that all users still need to be vigilant and report anything unusual. The author, Thatcher, is an admin and has not significantly edited since 2010.

Editor's note: Admins KnowledgeOfSelf, AndyZ, and Conscious were later desysopped for lack of activity; user BuickCenturyDriver was first blocked in 2012 for sockpuppetry and the extensive SPI is still ongoing as of 2018.

Administrator status restored to five accounts after emergency desysopping

Key ring.jpg
Admin key rings get lost

Last week the Signpost reported that four administrator accounts which had used weak or insecure passwords were indefinitely blocked and desysopped after they were hijacked by an unknown person who cracked the password.

This week, a fifth administrator account was temporarily hijacked by the same vandal, although it was restored to the user's control a few hours later. All four of the original administrator accounts have been unblocked and resysopped. Mangojuice has proposed a method by which editors may place encrypted identifying information about themselves on their user pages, so they can easily confirm their identity in case of future password attacks (see related story).


On Tuesday, May 8, KnowledgeOfSelf (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · page moves · rights · RfA) reported (via an alternate account ActWonActToo) that he had been logged out of his account and his password and e-mail address had been changed. Commenters on the Administrators' noticeboard were initially split on whether to accept the claim, but when KnowledgeOfSelf uploaded an obscene image with a deceptive name, the account was immediately blocked and desysopped. Checkuser confirmed that ActwonActToo was KnowledgeOfSelf, and that the account had been hijacked by the same user who was responsible for hijacking four other administrator accounts the day before. KnowledgeOfSelf stated that he had used a strong password [2] [3], so the method of hijacking remains unknown. KnowledgeOfSelf was able to identify himself to Brion VIBBER, who reset the account password to enable KnowledgeOfSelf to retake control about 5 hours later. Bureaucrat Raul654 restored his administrator privileges.


AndyZ (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) was blocked and desysopped on Monday, May 7, after his password was compromised and his account used for vandalism. AndyZ was unblocked on Tuesday, after establishing his identity to Mark. His administrator rights were restored on Wednesday.


Jiang (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log), who was also blocked and desysopped Monday morning, was unblocked Monday evening, May 7 and resysopped Thursday evening, May 10.

Marine 69-71

Marine 69-71 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) was unblocked and resysopped on Monday, May 7, a few hours after the hijacking.


Conscious (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) was unblocked and resysopped Thursday after checkuser confirmed that he was still in control of his account.


Finally, the indefinite block on BuickCenturyDriver (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) was lifted three days after the incident, based on an apology and on checkuser evidence that he was responsible for blocking Ryulong from AndyZ's account but was not the culprit behind the attack.

See also

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