Please join me welcoming the new members of the Usability Project Team.
Arash Boostani, a fourteen-year tech-veteran from Genentech, has joined
the project team as a Senior Software Developer. Arash also previously
directed the development team of an environmental non-profit directory
service called WiserEarth, which runs on collaborative software similar
to MediaWiki. At WiserEarth, Arash led the way in making the software
available as open-source software for the development community.
As of February 1st, Trevor Parscal was internally transferred from the
Wikimedia tech team to the position of Software Developer on the
Usability project. Trevor has over eight years experience as an
independent consultant in both software development and user interface
design. After joining WMF, Trevor worked on data center management
tools, amongst other development projects.
Parul Vora, a former resident designer of the Design Innovation Team at
Yahoo! (Yhaus) and researcher at Yahoo! Research Berkeley, joined the
team. Parul brings a unique combined talent of user experience
research, design, and technology to the team. She has worked on various
research and design projects such as experimental information interfaces
and an event-based media sharing application. At Intel Research Labs,
she researched open-source physical computing platforms, their sensors
and actuators, and visual programming languages for mobile phone platforms.
We are currently interviewing candidates for the second software
It is my honor and privilege to work with Arash, Trevor and Parul on the
Wikipedia Usability Initiative. I am excited to have the mixture of
great talents on the team.
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
I am rather disturbed at the discussion on meta here:-
about closing this project and I am surpried that the issue has not come
up here. While the consensus is clearly against closure, so it likely
will not happen, there are issues. Is this kind of discussion on Meta
really the best way to handle this kind of issue? I am particularly
concerned about the suggestion that only meta regulars (with more than
100 edits there) can contribute. This prevents or at least discourages
the users of Simple from going to Meta to comment. I also wonder whether
Simple editors really know about this issue, although I see it is
mentioned on their main page.
There is also a similar discussion about closing the Simple Wiktionary.
These issues need a much wider and intelligent debate than they are
receiving. They are too important for there to be any chance that they
just dissappear one day, with most people not knowing about it.
Brian Salter-Duke b_duke(a)bigpond.net.au
[[User:Bduke]] is single user account with en:Wikipedia main account.
Also on Meta-Wiki, Wikiversity, fr:Wikipedia and others.
Treasurer, Wikimedia Australia Inc, Go Wikimedia Australia Inc, Go!
*Angela* beesley at gmail.com said:
Problem Reports are used quite successfully on Wikia.
Yes, I used the convenient Wikia links to report several problems with Green
Wikia articles plagiarizing copyrighted content (verbatim) from other
environmental websites across the Internet. I then tried to assist Wikia by
deleting or earmarking those pages that were in violation. Green Wikia's
very own "Angies" then "quite successfully" blocked my Wikia user account
for one year, for "Intimidating behaviour/harassment". I look forward to
helping Wikia find more copyright violations when my block expires later in
Steve Smith writes:
> > My strong belief is that the Foundation can make *suggestions* to the
> community about what content policy should be, but that *it must remain up
> to the community whether to adopt such policies and how to enforce them*.
> How is this reconcilable with Foundation issue #1:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Foundation_issues ?
I'm unclear as to how it seems inconsistent to you. Can you explain what you
think is unreconciled? I assume you recognize that NPOV has been adopted by
the Wikipedia community and is enforced by it (and not by the Foundation).
On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 10:50 AM, Steve Smith
> * at the very least, the WMF should clarify that its policy that no
> account is needed to edit does not preclude the default
> semi-protection of BLPs (or any similar configuration of flagged
> revisions). This has been one of several stonewalling responses at
> en-wiki when protection of BLPs has been proposed: "Sorry, we can't do
> it; Foundation issue".
It's worth noting that the "f" in "foundation issues" as described at
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Foundation_issues is a lowercase "f".
The WMF didn't yet exist when the page was first created.
It's interesting to note the evolution of that page since it was created.
In 2004, the following five principles were described as being
"essentially beyond debate." "Any challenge to these issues" was
described as "usually ignored," and "people who disagree with them"
were said to "usually end up leaving the project."
1. "The 'wiki process' as the final authority on article content" --
Not always true.
2. "Ability of anyone to edit articles without registering" -- No longer true.
3. "NPOV as the guiding editorial principle" -- True on some projects.
4. "GFDL licensing of content" -- Not true on some projects, and it
looks like it may not be true on any projects at some point in the
5. "Jimbo Wales as ultimate authority on any matter" -- No longer
true, though he continues to wield considerable influence.
Here are the five "foundation issues" as presently listed:
1. "Neutral point of view as the guiding editorial principle"
2. "Ability of anyone to edit articles without registering"
3. "The 'wiki process' as the decision mechanism on content"
4. "Free licensing of content; in practice, defined by project, either
GFDL or CC-BY."
5. The Board of Trustees has ultimate authority on all matters
pertaining to the Wikimedia Foundation. By convention, Jimbo Wales
retains some authority on the English Wikipedia. On some projects, the
Arbitration Committees can make binding, final decisions such as
banning an editor.
While most of these are largely true, the idea of the existence of
"Foundation issues" that can never be contravened is largely false.
"Sorry, can't do it, Foundation issue" is an invalid argument.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Charles Ainsworth <cla68(a)yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:04 AM
Subject: Judd Bagley presentation on Wikipedia
If you aren't familiar with the history behind this episode, Judd
Bagley was banned from en.Wikipedia for trying to out a financial
journalist who had created several user accounts in Wikipedia to
promote naked short selling. Partly as a result of his experience,
Bagley has created a presentation which he gave recently to a class of
business students at the University of Texas. The presentation is
here - http://antisocialmedia.net/lecture1/player.html.
The first part of the presentation concerns the efforts by several
individuals in the finance industry to manipulate the Internet to
promote naked short selling (NSS). Starting on slide 52, Bagley
describes an attempt by one of the NSS proponents to use Wikipedia as
a promotional tool for himself as well as for NSS. Bagley then
describes what happened when he attempted to intervene.
I believe that personally hearing Bagley's experiences and lessons
learned would be of benefit for the WMF. I suggest that the WMF
consider inviting Bagley to give his presentation to WMF's staff and
boardmembers. I believe that Bagley's contact information is
available on his website- http://antisocialmedia.net/.
Charles Ainsworth (Cla68 on en.Wikipedia)
> My strong belief is that the Foundation can make *suggestions* to the community about what content policy should be, but that *it must remain up to the community whether to adopt such policies and how to enforce them*.
How is this reconcilable with Foundation issue #1:
I'm very pleased to see this discussed at the Foundation level, and
even more pleased that this discussion includes the use of technical
features to prevent BLP violations. The discussion that's taken place
so far surrounding improving the BLP reporting is good, but I'd rather
focus on the ounce of prevention side of things. For that reason, I
believe the following:
* the WMF should mandate that all projects adopt a technical
configuration (of flagged revisions, or semi-protection, or what have
you) that prevents edits made by unregistered users from going
* at the very least, the WMF should clarify that its policy that no
account is needed to edit does not preclude the default
semi-protection of BLPs (or any similar configuration of flagged
revisions). This has been one of several stonewalling responses at
en-wiki when protection of BLPs has been proposed: "Sorry, we can't do
it; Foundation issue".
* with regards to the significant criticism, it might be worth
exploring the creation of some kind of clearinghouse for reporting
these, for projects that don't have their own Biographies of Living
Persons Noticeboards or equivalent (sort of a meta-BLPN). Obviously
language issues are going to be problematic, but it might at least
help get light shining.
* something like en-wiki's BLP policy should be mandated an all
foundation projects, but I don't honestly think that'll do much. The
problem isn't in policy not mandating the right content, it's in
policy not being consistently applied.
Again, I'm pleased to see that this is receiving attention at the
levels it should be.
> I would like to see Mike's opinion, though, on how deeply the Foundation
> be involved in establishing Wikimedia-wide policies on content like BLPs.
> would seem to challenge the notion that the Foundation itself hosts but
> not control project content.
My strong belief is that the Foundation can make *suggestions* to the
community about what content policy should be, but that *it must remain up
to the community whether to adopt such policies and how to enforce them*.
The available cases (mostly US cases, but some foreign ones) suggest that
any top-down initiative from the Foundation to control the development or
maintenance of content (including BLPs) runs the risk of being interpreted
by courts and/or legislatures as general editorial control, which would
undercut the legal principles we rely on to protect the Foundation.
In order for the Foundation to function with the least possible risk of
legal action that might threaten the projects' operation (or even
existence), we have to lower the expectation that the Foundation plays any
editorial role beyond the minimum one required by law (such as DMCA
takedowns). The Foundation is best situated when it's perceived as something
like a phone company -- a platform for other people to produce content on.