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
>>> The people who are loudest in their demands for consensus
>>> do not represent the Wikimedia movement.
>> The voices loudest for the WMF doing something against the
>> Trump administration are not representative of the Wikimedia
>> movement either....
> Is the Community Process Steering Committee currently
> prepared to "engage more 'quiet' members of our community"
> with a statistically robust snap survey to resolve this question?
Anyone can go to Recent Changes and send a SurveyMonkey link to the
most recent few hundred editors with contributions at least a year
old, to get an accurate answer.
Will a respected member of the community please do this? I would like
to know what the actual editing community thinks of the travel ban and
their idea of an appropriate response. I don't want to see community
governance by opt-in participation in obscure RFCs.
I would offer to do this myself, but I value keeping my real name
unassociated with my enwiki userid.
I was asked by a volunteer for help getting stats on the gender gap in
content on a certain Wikipedia, and came up with simple Wikidata Query
Service queries that pulled the total number of articles on a given
Wikipedia about men and about women, to calculate *the proportion of
articles about women out of all articles about humans*.
Then I was curious about how that wiki compared to other wikis, so I ran
the queries on a bunch of languages, and gathered the results into a table,
(please see the *caveat* there.)
I don't have time to fully write-up everything I find interesting in those
results, but I will quickly point out the following:
1. The Nepali statistic is simply astonishing! There must be a story
there. I'm keen on learning more about this, if anyone can shed light.
2. Evidently, ~13%-17% seems like a robust average of the proportion of
articles about women among all biographies.
3. among the top 10 largest wikis, Japanese is the least imbalanced. Good
job, Japanese Wikipedians! I wonder if you have a good sense of what
drives this relatively better balance. (my instinctive guess is pop culture
4. among the top 10 largest wikis, Russian is the most imbalanced.
5. I intend to re-generate these stats every two months or so, to
eventually have some sense of trends and changes.
6. Your efforts, particularly on small-to-medium wikis, can really make a
dent in these numbers! For example, it seems I am personally
responsible for almost 1% of the coverage of women on Hebrew Wikipedia!
7. I encourage you to share these numbers with your communities. Perhaps
you'd like to overtake the wiki just above yours? :)
8. I'm happy to add additional languages to the table, by request. Or you
can do it yourself, too. :)
 Yay #100wikidays :) https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/100wikidays
Wikimedia Foundation <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
As we have stated in our annual plan , “currently, community members
must search many pages and places to stay informed about Foundation
activities and resources.” We have worked in the past two quarters to
create a single point of entry. We call it the Wikimedia Resource Center,
and its alpha version is now live on Meta Wikimedia:
As the movement expands to include more affiliates and more programmatic
activities every year, newer Wikimedians are faced with lack of experience
in the movement and its various channels for requesting support. In order
to expand Wikimedia communities’ efforts, we want to provide easy access to
resources that support their very important work. The [[m:Wikimedia
Resource Center]] is a hub designed in response to this issue: it is
intended to evolve into a single point of entry for Wikimedians all over
the world to the variety of resources and types of staff support they may
need to develop new initiatives or also expand existing ones.
This version of the Resource Center is only the beginning. For phase two of
the project, we will enable volunteer Wikimedians to add resources
developed by other individuals or organizations to the Wikimedia Resource
Center, and in phase three, the Wikimedia Resource Center will include
features to better connect Wikimedians to other Wikimedians that can
We want to hear what you think about this prototype and our plans for it!
If you have comments about the Wikimedia Resource Center, you can submit
your feedback publicly, on the Talk Page, or privately, via a survey hosted
by a third party, that shouldn’t take you more than 4 minutes to complete.
A feedback button is on the top right corner on every page of the hub.
Looking forward to more collaborations!
Communications and Outreach Project Manager, Community Engagement
Please join for the following talk:
*Tech Talk**:* A Gentle Introduction to Wikidata for Absolute Beginners
*Presenter:* Asaf Bartov
*Date:* February 09, 2017
*Time: *19:00 UTC
Link to live YouTube stream <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVrAx3AmUvA>
*IRC channel for questions/discussion:* #wikimedia-office
*Summary: *This talk will introduce you to the Wikimedia Movement's latest
major wiki project: Wikidata. We will cover what Wikidata is, how to
contribute, how to embed Wikidata into articles on other wikis, tools like
the Wikidata Game, and how to query Wikidata (including SPARQL examples).
As I mentioned in my email earlier this month, we've put together a longer
statement regarding paid editing and how we see the balance of the
communities' role and the role that WMF legal can play in these cases. We
tried to address the concerns that people have raised to us, and explain
when it's helpful to contact us to assist on a case. Of note, it does
explain what actions we can take even in cases that don't involve the WMF
You can find it here: Wikimedia Foundation statement on paid editing and
NOTICE: This message might have confidential or legally privileged
information in it. If you have received this message by accident, please
delete it and let us know about the mistake. As an attorney for the
Wikimedia Foundation, for legal/ethical reasons I cannot give legal advice
to, or serve as a lawyer for, community members, volunteers, or staff
members in their personal capacity. For more on what this means, please see
our legal disclaimer
Being put together by Eliezer Yudkowsky of LessWrong. Content is
cc-by-sa 3.0, don't know about the software.
Rather than the "encyclopedia" approach, it tries to be more
pedagogical, teaching the reader at their level.
Analysis from a sometime Yudkowsky critic on Tumblr:
(there's a pile more comments linked from the notes on that post,
mostly from quasi-fans; I have an acerbic comment in there, but you
should look at the site yourself first.)
No idea if this will go anywhere, but might be of interest; new
approaches generally are. They started in December, first publicised
it a week ago and have been scaling up. First day it collapsed due to
load from a Facebook post announcement ... so maybe hold off before
announcing it everywhere :-)
> Hi all,
> The Interactive Team in Discovery is in the process of putting its work on
> pause. The team's aim during this period is to get its work to a stable and
> maintainable state.
> Currently, work on new features is on hold. It is not yet known what the
> timeline is for this transition to a paused state, or whether there will be
> further deployments of features that have already been completed. I will
> update this list when there is more information.
> Dan Garry
> Lead Product Manager, Discovery
> Wikimedia Foundation
So it seems all work on Maps, Graphs and other interactive features is
going to be halted pretty soon. I was directed at this notification after a
Maps ticket mentioned:
With the team winding down
To which I asked:
> Why is the team winding down ?
To which Dan Garry responded:
> There were expectations that were set regarding things such as team goals,
> working collaboratively with stakeholders, and advance notice to
> communities, that were repeatedly not met by the team.
And he pointed me to this discovery mailing list announcement, which well
isn't really an explanation as much as a statement on the effect that
'winding down' will have.
My interpretation of the information up to here was: "we are dissolving
this team because it didn't perform and by posting to discovery mailing
list we did the minimal effort required to notify people, but lets hope
nobody notices what the notification really means"
At the same time Dan's words are a rather hefty review on the performance
of a team, which I'm not used to seeing from WMF. Refreshing, but unusual.
This annoys me and I answer:
> 1: I'd expect this to be announced on wikimedia-l, if we start a team we
> always seem more than anxious to do so.
> 2: I'd like some details. I thought we had left behind all the "let's try
> and hide this and hope no one notices it"-shit in 2016.
> 3: Thank you team ! You did some great work, and it was more productive
> and groundbreaking than many other teams have been able to do in 5 years.
A bit hyperbolic on all fronts, I admit.
To which Dan responds with:
> I am not the person who made this decision. I do not know all of the
> reasons it was made. The person who made the decision is on vacation for
> the next few weeks. I am trying my best to communicate as much as I can in
> her absence, which is why I made a public announcement of all that I know
> now rather than waiting weeks for my manager to return. I am afraid that
> some patience is required until Katie gets back from vacation.
So now Dan doesn't know enough to be able to discuss this, even though he
gave a rather destructive team review earlier.
1: This is exactly the kind of communication that 'the community' keeps
complaining about. Reactive instead of proactive. Evasive instead of
transparent. Now volunteers need to spend time to figure out what is
happening here ? This has cost me over 3 hours today. I would have liked to
have spent that time differently.
2: It shouldn't matter that Katie is on holidays, I'd assume/hope someone
takes over her duties while she is away (Likely Dan himself and/or Wes
Moran). Providing information on topics like this shouldn't have to wait
until someone returns from a (likely well deserved) holiday.
3: Why do I have to write this email ? It's really not that hard: Make a
decision, explain it.
I don't respond to Wikimedia-l discussion very often, but I think this
debate comes up often enough that it's worth it for me to explain and
elaborate on my own positions.
(1) I understand WP:NPOV to be a rule/guideline about content,
particularly Wikipedia content. I do not believe it is a rule about
Wikimedia processes, or about the Wikimedia movement's mission.
(2) As I put it many times many years ago in the years before and
after the SOPA/PIPA blackout, there are few POVs *less* neutral than
the commitment to give all the information in the world to everyone
for free. We are not a neutral enterprise, and we never have been.
(3) There is a vision that some members of the community have that WMF
employees (or contractors, or Trustees, or representatives) ought
never speak out and offer an opinion about political issues.
Ironically, some people in our movement would not want a WMF to have a
public opinion about, say, what "extreme vetting" means unless that
opinion itself were "extremely vetted."
(4) I think those who hold the view I summarize as (3) above are
making a mistake. It seems to me that the reason the community and the
Trustees have slowly crafted an evolving process that, when it works
well, results in strong, capable individuals who can speak effectively
both as representatives of our movement and as leaders of it, is that
we all know we can't hold a plebiscite for everything.
(5) We now know more than eve, thanks to events this year and last
year, that the larger, global, shared world of democratic values is
fragile, and that it's better to respond rapidly to rapidly emerging
issues (such as the treatment of Wikimedians of all backgrounds who
want or need to cross borders to participate in our shared, great
work) than it is to wait until our response is untimely, irrelevant,
or even impossible. The mode that seems to work most effectively for
us is to have strong, effective leaders and employees and
representatives who have earned our trust, and who for that reason can
be trusted to respond on our behalf as rapidly and effectively as
necessary to rapidly emerging issues. Without, shall we say, "extreme
(6) Sometimes those whom the Trustees and/or the community have chosen
are not up to the job we ask of them, and it is our strength that we
reserve the right to make our unhappiness known, through channels
ranging from this mailing list to Trustee elections to "voting with
our feet." Because our mission, the Wikimedia mission, is
fundamentally a human process it will be imperfect, and its
imperfections will make us unhappy sometimes. But we are adults, and
we live with those imperfections and take some joy at times in
recognizing them and trying to do better.
(7) Given all these considerations, I am proud to be part of the
Wikimedia movement, proud to be a part of the same community as all of
you, even when the community is sometimes contentious. I hope that in
the long run we agree now -- right now -- is a time when we should
stand behind anyone in our community, from the Trustees and Katherine
on down to every last one of us, who stands up and speaks out for
humane values and humane judgments, because, it seems to me, the
Wikimedia movement is meant to be a humane, outward-looking,
courageous movement that acknowledges self-doubt but also remains
committed to enabling us all to raise our individual and collective
voices in defense of values grounded in generosity, love, and
Thanks for listening.
WMF General Counsel 2007-2010