This paper (first reference) is the result of a class project I was part of
almost two years ago for CSCI 5417 Information Retrieval Systems. It builds
on a class project I did in CSCI 5832 Natural Language Processing and which
I presented at Wikimania '07. The project was very late as we didn't send
the final paper in until the day before new years. This technical report was
never really announced that I recall so I thought it would be interesting to
look briefly at the results. The goal of this paper was to break articles
down into surface features and latent features and then use those to study
the rating system being used, predict article quality and rank results in a
search engine. We used the [[random forests]] classifier which allowed us to
analyze the contribution of each feature to performance by looking directly
at the weights that were assigned. While the surface analysis was performed
on the whole english wikipedia, the latent analysis was performed on the
simple english wikipedia (it is more expensive to compute). = Surface
features = * Readability measures are the single best predictor of quality
that I have found, as defined by the Wikipedia Editorial Team (WET). The
[[Automated Readability Index]], [[Gunning Fog Index]] and [[Flesch-Kincaid
Grade Level]] were the strongest predictors, followed by length of article
html, number of paragraphs, [[Flesh Reading Ease]], [[Smog Grading]], number
of internal links, [[Laesbarhedsindex Readability Formula]], number of words
and number of references. Weakly predictive were number of to be's, number
of sentences, [[Coleman-Liau Index]], number of templates, PageRank, number
of external links, number of relative links. Not predictive (overall - see
the end of section 2 for the per-rating score breakdown): Number of h2 or
h3's, number of conjunctions, number of images*, average word length, number
of h4's, number of prepositions, number of pronouns, number of interlanguage
links, average syllables per word, number of nominalizations, article age
(based on page id), proportion of questions, average sentence length. :*
Number of images was actually by far the single strongest predictor of any
class, but only for Featured articles. Because it was so good at picking out
featured articles and somewhat good at picking out A and G articles the
classifier was confused in so many cases that the overall contribution of
this feature to classification performance is zero. :* Number of external
links is strongly predictive of Featured articles. :* The B class is highly
distinctive. It has a strong "signature," with high predictive value
assigned to many features. The Featured class is also very distinctive. F, B
and S (Stop/Stub) contain the most information.
:* A is the least distinct class, not being very different from F or G. =
Latent features = The algorithm used for latent analysis, which is an
analysis of the occurence of words in every document with respect to the
link structure of the encyclopedia ("concepts"), is [[Latent Dirichlet
Allocation]]. This part of the analysis was done by CS PhD student Praful
Mangalath. An example of what can be done with the result of this analysis
is that you provide a word (a search query) such as "hippie". You can then
look at the weight of every article for the word hippie. You can pick the
article with the largest weight, and then look at its link network. You can
pick out the articles that this article links to and/or which link to this
article that are also weighted strongly for the word hippie, while also
contributing maximally to this articles "hippieness". We tried this query in
our system (LDA), Google (site:en.wikipedia.org hippie), and the Simple
English Wikipedia's Lucene search engine. The breakdown of articles occuring
in the top ten search results for this word for those engines is: * LDA
only: [[Acid rock]], [[Aldeburgh Festival]], [[Anne Murray]], [[Carl
Radle]], [[Harry Nilsson]], [[Jack Kerouac]], [[Phil Spector]], [[Plastic
Ono Band]], [[Rock and Roll]], [[Salvador Allende]], [[Smothers brothers]],
[[Stanley Kubrick]]. * Google only: [[Glam Rock]], [[South Park]]. * Simple
only: [[African Americans]], [[Charles Manson]], [[Counterculture]], [[Drug
use]], [[Flower Power]], [[Nuclear weapons]], [[Phish]], [[Sexual
liberation]], [[Summer of Love]] * LDA & Google & Simple: [[Hippie]],
[[Human Be-in]], [[Students for a democratic society]], [[Woodstock
festival]] * LDA & Google: [[Psychedelic Pop]] * Google & Simple: [[Lysergic
acid diethylamide]], [[Summer of Love]] ( See the paper for the articles
produced for the keywords philosophy and economics ) = Discussion /
Conclusion = * The results of the latent analysis are totally up to your
perception. But what is interesting is that the LDA features predict the WET
ratings of quality just as well as the surface level features. Both feature
sets (surface and latent) both pull out all almost of the information that
the rating system bears. * The rating system devised by the WET is not
distinctive. You can best tell the difference between, grouped together,
Featured, A and Good articles vs B articles. Featured, A and Good articles
are also quite distinctive (Figure 1). Note that in this study we didn't
look at Start's and Stubs, but in earlier paper we did. :* This is
interesting when compared to this recent entry on the YouTube blog. "Five
Stars Dominate Ratings"
I think a sane, well researched (with actual subjects) rating system
well within the purview of the Usability Initiative. Helping people find and
create good content is what Wikipedia is all about. Having a solid rating
system allows you to reorganized the user interface, the Wikipedia
namespace, and the main namespace around good content and bad content as
needed. If you don't have a solid, information bearing rating system you
don't know what good content really is (really bad content is easy to spot).
:* My Wikimania talk was all about gathering data from people about articles
and using that to train machines to automatically pick out good content. You
ask people questions along dimensions that make sense to people, and give
the machine access to other surface features (such as a statistical measure
of readability, or length) and latent features (such as can be derived from
document word occurence and encyclopedia link structure). I referenced page
262 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to give an example of the
kind of qualitative features I would ask people. It really depends on what
features end up bearing information, to be tested in "the lab". Each word is
an example dimension of quality: We have "*unity, vividness, authority,
economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance,
precision, proportion, depth and so on.*" You then use surface and latent
features to predict these values for all articles. You can also say, when a
person rates this article as high on the x scale, they also mean that it has
has this much of these surface and these latent features.
= References =
- DeHoust, C., Mangalath, P., Mingus., B. (2008). *Improving search in
Wikipedia through quality and concept discovery*. Technical Report.
- Rassbach, L., Mingus., B, Blackford, T. (2007). *Exploring the
feasibility of automatically rating online article quality*. Technical
I have asked and received permission to forward to you all this most
excellent bit of news.
The linguist list, is a most excellent resource for people interested in the
field of linguistics. As I mentioned some time ago they have had a funding
drive and in that funding drive they asked for a certain amount of money in
a given amount of days and they would then have a project on Wikipedia to
learn what needs doing to get better coverage for the field of linguistics.
What you will read in this mail that the total community of linguists are
asked to cooperate. I am really thrilled as it will also get us more
linguists interested in what we do. My hope is that a fraction will be
interested in the languages that they care for and help it become more
relevant. As a member of the "language prevention committee", I love to get
more knowledgeable people involved in our smaller projects. If it means that
we get more requests for more projects we will really feel embarrassed with
all the new projects we will have to approve because of the quality of the
Incubator content and the quality of the linguistic arguments why we should
approve yet another language :)
NB Is this not a really clever way of raising money; give us this much in
this time frame and we will then do this as a bonus...
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: LINGUIST Network <linguist(a)linguistlist.org>
Date: Jun 18, 2007 6:53 PM
Subject: 18.1831, All: Call for Participation: Wikipedia Volunteers
LINGUIST List: Vol-18-1831. Mon Jun 18 2007. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.
Subject: 18.1831, All: Call for Participation: Wikipedia Volunteers
Moderators: Anthony Aristar, Eastern Michigan U <aristar(a)linguistlist.org>
Helen Aristar-Dry, Eastern Michigan U <hdry(a)linguistlist.org>
Reviews: Laura Welcher, Rosetta Project
The LINGUIST List is funded by Eastern Michigan University,
and donations from subscribers and publishers.
Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyer(a)linguistlist.org>
To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at
From: Hannah Morales < hannah(a)linguistlist.org >
Subject: Wikipedia Volunteers
-------------------------Message 1 ----------------------------------
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 12:49:35
From: Hannah Morales < hannah(a)linguistlist.org >
Subject: Wikipedia Volunteers
As you may recall, one of our Fund Drive 2007 campaigns was called the
"Wikipedia Update Vote." We asked our viewers to consider earmarking their
donations to organize an update project on linguistics entries in the
English-language Wikipedia. You can find more background information on this
The speed with which we met our goal, thanks to the interest and generosity
our readers, was a sure sign that the linguistics community was enthusiastic
about the idea. Now that summer is upon us, and some of you may have a bit
leisure time, we are hoping that you will be able to help us get started on
Wikipedia project. The LINGUIST List's role in this project is a purely
organizational one. We will:
*Help, with your input, to identify major gaps in the Wikipedia materials or
pages that need improvement;
*Compile a list of linguistics pages that Wikipedia editors have identified
"in need of attention from an expert on the subject" or " does not cite any
references or sources," etc;
*Send out periodical calls for volunteer contributors on specific topics or
*Provide simple instructions on how to upload your entries into Wikipedia;
*Keep track of our project Wikipedians;
*Keep track of revisions and new entries;
*Work with Wikimedia Foundation to publicize the linguistics community's
We hope you are as enthusiastic about this effort as we are. Just to help us
get started looking at Wikipedia more critically, and to easily identify an
needing improvement, we suggest that you take a look at the List of
Many people are not listed there; others need to have more facts and
added. If you would like to participate in this exciting update effort,
respond by sending an email to LINGUIST Editor Hannah Morales at
hannah(a)linguistlist.org, suggesting what your role might be or which
entries you feel should be updated or added. Some linguists who saw our
on the Internet have already written us with specific suggestions, which we
share with you soon.
This update project will take major time and effort on all our parts. The
result will be a much richer internet resource of information on the breadth
depth of the field of linguistics. Our efforts should also stimulate
students to consider studying linguistics and to educate a wider public on
we do. Please consider participating.
Editor, Wikipedia Update Project
Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable
LINGUIST List: Vol-18-1831
There is a request for a Wikipedia in Ancient Greek. This request has so far
been denied. A lot of words have been used about it. Many people maintain
their positions and do not for whatever reason consider the arguments of
In my opinion their are a few roadblocks.
- Ancient Greek is an ancient language - the policy does not allow for
- Text in ancient Greek written today about contemporary subjects
require the reconstruction of Ancient Greek.
- it requires the use of existing words for concepts that did
not exist at the time when the language was alive
- neologisms will be needed to describe things that did not
exist at the time when the language was alive
- modern texts will not represent the language as it used to be
- Constructed and by inference reconstructed languages are effectively
We can change the policy if there are sufficient arguments, when we agree on
When a text is written in reconstructed ancient Greek, and when it is
clearly stated that it is NOT the ancient Greek of bygone days, it can be
obvious that it is a great tool to learn skills to read and write ancient
Greek but that it is in itself not Ancient Greek. Ancient Greek as a
language is ancient. I have had a word with people who are involved in the
working group that deals with the ISO-639, I have had a word with someone
from SIL and it is clear that a proposal for a code for "Ancient Greek
reconstructed" will be considered for the ISO-639-3. For the ISO-639-6 a
code is likely to be given because a clear use for this code can be given.
We can apply for a code and as it has a use bigger then Wikipedia alone it
clearly has merit.
With modern texts clearly labelled as distinct from the original language,
it will be obvious that innovations a writers needs for his writing are
This leaves the fact that constructed and reconstructed languages are not
permitted because of the notion that mother tongue users are required. In my
opinion, this has always been only a gesture to those people who are dead
set against any and all constructed languages. In the policies there is
something vague "*it must have a reasonable degree of recognition as
determined by discussion (this requirement is being discussed by the language
subcommittee <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_subcommittee>)."* It
is vague because even though the policy talks about a discussion, it is
killed off immediately by stating "The proposal has a sufficient number of
living native speakers to form a viable community and audience." In my
opinion, this discussion for criteria for the acceptance of constructed or
reconstructed languages has not happened. Proposals for objective criteria
have been ignored.
In essence, to be clear about it:
- We can get a code for reconstructed languages.
- We need to change the policy to allow for reconstructed and
We need to do both in order to move forward.
The proposal for objective criteria for constructed and reconstructed
languages is in a nutshell:
- The language must have an ISO-639-3 code
- We need full WMF localisation from the start
- The language must be sufficiently expressive for writing a modern
- The Incubator project must have sufficiently large articles that
demonstrate both the language and its ability to write about a wide range of
- A sufficiently large group of editors must be part of the Incubator
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Next Thursday's office hours will feature Véronique Kessler, the
Foundation's Chief Financial Officer. If you don't know
Naoko, you can get to know her at
Office hours on Thursday are from 2100 to 2200 UTC (3:00 PM - 4:00 PM PDT).
If you do not have an IRC client, there are two ways you can come chat
using a web browser: First is using the Wikizine chat gateway at
<http://chatwikizine.memebot.com/cgi-bin/cgiirc/irc.cgi>. Type a
nickname, select irc.freenode.net from the top menu and
#wikimedia-office from the following menu, then login to join.
Also, you can access Freenode by going to http://webchat.freenode.net/,
typing in the nickname of your choice and choosing wikimedia-office as
the channel. You may be prompted to click through a security warning.
It should be all right.
Please feel free to forward (and translate!) this email to any other
relevant email lists you happen to be on. Also note, this is
Veronique's first foray into IRC, so lets show her how welcoming we can
Volunteer Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
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The next strategic planning office hours are:
Wednesday, 04:00-05:00 UTC, which is:
-Tuesday (8-9pm PST)
-Tuesday (11pm-12am EST)
There has been a lot of tremendous work on the strategy wiki the past
few months, and Task Forces are finishing up their work.
Office hours will be a great opportunity to discuss the work that's
happened as well as the work to come.
As always, you can access the chat by going to
https://webchat.freenode.net and filling in a username and the channel
name (#wikimedia-strategy). You may be prompted to click through a
security warning. It's fine. More details at:
Thanks! Hope to see many of you there.
Facilitator, Strategy Project
mobile: 918 200-WIKI (9454)
Imagine a world in which every human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
My name is David Castor and I am known on Swedish Wikipedia (and less known
but somewhat active on Commons and a few foreign language Wikipedias) by the
user name dcastor. I am one of the users who have been pushing for a change
in the way we handle the copyrighted WMF logos. I would like to clarify and
announce a few things on the way the dilemma is presently being handled.
First off, we have not yet made any final decisions; the topic is still open
for discussion at the Swedish village pump. No changes have yet been widely
As a background it is important to know that there is an almost unchallenged
consensus on Swedish Wikipedia not to allow fair use imagery, in part
because the "fair use" concept is not applicable in Swedish law, Sweden
being of course home soil for a majority of the users. It's been years since
we blocked local media upload, now depending solely on Commons. This means,
as far as I am aware, that the WMF logos are the only pictures used on
Swedish Wikipedia that are not being spread under a "free" license, free in
this case concerning copyright of course, and not trademark or personality
rights (making comparisons to proper names irrelevant to the discussion).
The use of these logos are thus the only thing standing in the way of
stating that all material from Swedish Wikipedia can be freely reused,
without any further permission. (The license template on the WMF logos
reserve all rights and call for specific permission for use.)
The argument is not, and has never been, whether or not we are allowed to
use the logos. Some users on Swedish Wikipedia as well as in this thread
have given replies suggesting that they think that is what the issue is
about. It is not. The issue is whether it is compliable with the principles
of Wikipedia to include copyrighted material, which may not be re-used by
others. I suppose that this dilemma is less problematic in jurisdictions
that implement a "fair use" system, but where such are not present a
copyrighted picture may not be freely redistributed.
The current discussion on Swedish Wikipedia is divided into three main
1. Should we keep even the Wikipedia logo in the top left corner?
2. Should we keep the WMF logos of navigation templates placed in
3. Should we illustrate articles on the Wikimedia projects with the
The discussions have, as far as I can tell, led to a near consensus "yes"
for question 1, with the rationale that the picture is part of the GUI
rather than of the article, and a near consensus "no" for number "3". Most
of a lengthy debate has been over discussion number 2.
The opinions on how to relate to number two diverge greatly. Some of us,
including myself, would prefer to have all WMF logos removed from article
space, including template use, making it free to redistribute printouts and
PDF:s from Wikipedia articles. Some argue that since WMF will not pursuit
any copyright breaches, we don't need to bother. This viewpoint is supported
by those who think that the usability of the logos is too important to let
the copyright issues take effect. A few have, in support of status quo,
stated that there may be more to it, legally, than we know, but such claims
have yet to be supported.
For some users a main perspective is that of NPOV. They argue that since no
other external links are supported by pictures, neither should the links to
sister projects be. Also, since no other copyrighted logo are allowed,
neither should WMF:s logos be. To some of these users, the use of the logos
in well framed templates is agreeable, since this implies that the links are
part of the GUI rather than of the article itself.
Right now it seems like one of two suggestions will be the result of the
discussions. Either (1.) to allow the WMF logos in a few specific navigation
printouts and PDF:s. This has been tested and seems to work. The second (2.)
solution discussed is to implement a separate section for sister project
links, including logos, in the GUI menu section on the left.
I hope that I, despite having made rather clear stands on the issue, have
managed to convey a fair description of the discussion.
In a message dated 3/31/2010 12:21:33 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> In openstreetmap we are not allowed to import the positions of items
> based on the locations in wikipedia because they are derived from
> geoeye/googlemaps for the most part. So there is a rift between what
> is supposedly creative commons and what is really creative commons.
> Basically wikipedia is turning into a minefield of copyrighted material.>>
Are you suggesting that the mechanical determination of a longitute and
latitude of some object is copyrightable material? I.E. it's "position" is
Or am I reading this wrong? Perhaps you're suggesting merely that the map,
as an entirety is copyrightable.
Recently a friend noticed a sudden improvement at Translate.wiki,
concerning Wikipedia in Limburgish (li.WP). All remaining untranslated
items (28,18%) have been translated in one time. This is quite
When he told me about, I looked up again what I had written about
(small) Wikipedia language editions in my handbook (in German):
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benutzer:Ziko/Handbuch-Titel . I then, in
2008, found li.WP relatively good, but there were also some
difficulties, for example the lack of a technical vocabulary.
When I now checked Wikimedia Statistics again, I was stunned by very
impressive figures. For example, during 2009 the number of editors
with 100< edits a month increased from 13 to 37. I believe that li.WP
is nowadays the best among those of small Germanic languages. Nearly
all articles have encyclopedic quality and show a lot of pictures,
maybe sometimes a little too many.
When I examined the background I found out that most of the
li.Wikipedians indicate their real names and many are women. With
permission, here what Gebroeker:JennySteen wrote to me:
'I started editing in November 2008. Because I knew nobody I asked
friends to join. Most of us study at the university of Mestreech. […]
We meet nearly every week in a local café and talk in Limburgish to
keep our language skils fresh.'
Jenny explains about the unusual appearance of the site: 'We did not
like the original colours because they where cold and ugly. User pages
now have nice orange tones, and talk pages a green background that
helps to keep aggressiveness down.'
Jenny: 'When there is a conflict I talk to the person in the café. It
may happen that we ask a guy to stop visiting and editing for a week
or two, and after he has cooled down he is welcomed again to sit with
us.' On the other hand, if someone did well: 'We copy and paste lovely
icons on the user page, like flowers and kittys. Unfortunately there
was a case that someone misbehaved to a new user, and we had to take
those icons away.'
But there is still a problem: maintaining a Wikipedia language edition
means also doing a lot of technical stuff. The gals from Limburg would
love to see users from other language editions supporting them with
MediaWiki extensions, geolocalisation and the not so easy aspects of
Ziko van Dijk
Some of the people posting to this mailing list don't seem to understand how
to write a decent, readable reply to a mailing list thread. This makes for
far more noise than signal, as people wade through six copies of the
foundation-l footer or eight old and irrelevant replies trying to find the
content of the reply to the previous message.
The Toolserver wiki has a fantastic page that explains how to reply to a
mailing list thread the Right Way. If you suspect you've been Doing It
Wrong, please have a read.
David Castor writes:
The use of these logos are thus the only thing standing in the way of
> stating that all material from Swedish Wikipedia can be freely reused,
> without any further permission.
Is there any obvious legal problem with stating that (for example) "All
material from Swedish Wikipedia may be freely reused, without further
permission, with the exception of the Wikimedia trademarks and copyrighted
logos, for which separate, specific permission for reuse must be sought"?
Yes, that is a longer sentence. But in my experience the kinds of people who
agonize over copyright permissions are uniformly capable of parsing longer
Note that my suggestion handily dodges the need to instruct anyone about
whether the Wikipedia image in the corner of the page is freely licensed for
reuse. It also avoids the need to explain to someone what constitutes part
of the user interface and what doesn't. It also doesn't require a
non-law-trained user to parse issues of trademark versus copyright. So in
fact it is a simpler, user-friendlier solution that seems consistent with
David's statement of what Swedish Wikipedians want to be able to do.