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Wikipedia-Books: Proposed deletion process extended, cleanup efforts

By Headbomb, 22 March 2010

Related articles
Book tool

Books extension enabled
March 2, 2009
New book assessment class
November 30, 2009
New Book namespace
January 11, 2009
Proposed deletion for books, other cleanup efforts
March 22, 2009

Extension of proposed deletion process

After about two weeks of discussion, the proposed deletion process was extended to cover Wikipedia-Books yesterday. (Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be rendered in various electronic formats, or ordered in print. See our previous article for more details.) This extension of the process was deemed necessary to prevent unnecessary burden on the miscellany for deletion process with the non-controversial deletion of books. The process, detailed at Wikipedia:Proposed deletion (books) (shortcut WP:BPROD or WP:BOOK-PROD), was extended to cover books in order to cleanup several test books, or books created by users who conflated Wikipedia-Books with WikiBooks. An estimate places the number of affected books around 1150, which corresponds to a rate of ~3 deletable books per day since the book creator was launched.

The proposed deletion process for books functions exactly as the regular proposed deletion process, but comes with its own set of templates and categories, as well as its own page to give guidance specific to the proposed deletion of books.

Technical overview
Articles Books
{{Prod}} {{Book-prod}}
{{Dated prod}} {{Dated book prod}}
{{PRODWarning}} {{BPRODWarning}}
{{PRODNote}} {{BPRODNote}}
Category:All articles proposed for deletion Category:All books proposed for deletion

It was argued that editors on the receiving end of a PROD should not be faced with details on the deletion of books, while editors on the receiving end of a BPROD should not be faced with details on the deletion of articles. After approximately two weeks, the extension of the proposed deletion process to books gained unanimous support, although some there was/is some disagreement about whether there should be one page for both article and book proposed deletions, or one page for each.

A first wave of approximately 120 proposed deletion of books were made yesterday to “field test” the new process and its templates. The other books will be proposed for deletion after the results of this first wave of deletion is known. All books proposed for deletion can be found in Category:All books proposed for deletion.

Cleanup effort

Hadronic Matter
An overview
Quark structure proton.svg
An example of a book cover, taken from Book:Hadronic Matter

In related news, WikiProject Wikipedia-Books is looking for help in cleaning up books. To help clean up books, simply go to Category:Wikipedia books (community books with errors), which contains the talk page of all books in need of cleanup. WildBot places detailed reports about the problems found in these books pm these pages, as well as instructions on how to fix them. The category is divided into several subcategories to help prioritize cleanup by the severity of problems (duplicates, disambiguation pages, and redirects are particularly problematic).

The {{saved book}} template was also recently expanded to give an HTML preview of the default covers of printed books (see Book:Hadronic Matter for an example). A default cover image for the book can now be specified, as well as the color of the cover. More details can be found in the template documentation.

For more about Wikipedia-Books, see Wikipedia:Books, Help:Books, and WikiProject Wikipedia-Books.

Explicit image featured on German Wikipedia’s main page

By HaeB, March 22, 2010

Explicit image featured on Wikipedia’s main page, despite request from Jimbo Wales

On March 21, the German Wikipedia‘s home page featured the entry on Vulva as the “article of the day”, including an explicit anatomical photo as part of the teaser. Unsurprisingly, this generated considerable controversy, with the discussion on the main page talk page alone surpassing 500 kB and at least 42 protest e-mails reaching the German OTRS team. Achim Raschka, describing himself as the main author of the article and a “40-year-old biologist with three children” justified the decision, mentioning the desire to demonstrate that it was possible to write “an objective, respectful, reference-based and adequate article” about such a topic, and defending his choice of the teaser image.

Alerted on his talk page on the English Wikipedia, Jimbo Wales commented “I’m astonished [the image] is there, and not in a good way” and shortly afterwards asked German Wikipedians to remove it:

I won’t do anything directly here, but I beg you all to quickly remove this image from the home page and have a review of your processes to see how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. This is not an issue of censorship, but as someone has said, a matter of the “Principle of Least Astonishment”. This is my opinion, you may do with it as you wish.

However, the image was not removed, and Jimbo Wales later contented himself with announcing his intention to discuss the issue with members of the German community on an upcoming trip to Berlin, threatening to climb the Reichstag dressed as Spider-Man.

Outside Wikipedia, the issue attracted the interest of many bloggers and generated hundreds of (mostly amused) tweets. However, media coverage remained limited to Telepolis and a short mention in Spiegel online.

(See earlier Signpost coverage related to explicit images on Wikipedia: January 2009, May 2008, August 2007, September 2006.)


This week in history

Campaign for video, costs of crowdsourcing, iPhone app, brief headlines

By Ottre and HaeB, 22 March 2010

Campaign to add more video to Wikipedia

Last week, the Open Video Alliance, an organization promoting “open standards, open source, and open content” for video, launched a campaign entitled “Let’s Get Video on Wikipedia”, involving a portal site at It is a collaboration with Mozilla Drumbeat, the Participatory Culture Foundation (makers of the Miro video platform)[1], and Wikimedia New York. Erik Möller welcomed the initiative on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, commenting:

We don’t expect that Wikipedia will turn into “Wikitube” anytime soon, but we do hope that thousands more relevant educational videos will find their way into articles in our projects.

As TheDJ explained, the portal uses the new HTML5 video player and other video tools developed by Kaltura‘s Michael Dale for MediaWiki.

On the English Wikipedia, the initiative is accompanied by the formation of the WikiProject Lights Camera Wiki!’, and the development of guidelines at Wikipedia:Videos (in addition to existing pages about file uploading and usage).

Role of experts on Wikipedia and Citizendium examined

In his article Shirky and Sanger, or the costs of crowdsourcing (appearing this month in the Journal of Science Communication), researcher Mathieu O’Neil examined the role of traditional notions of expertise in collaborative online knowledge production (“crowdsourcing“), comparing the differing approaches of Wikipedia and Citizendium (the online encyclopedia project founded in 2006 by Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s former chief organizer).

The article starts out by comparing Web 2.0 processes to the decision-making of the Internet Engineering Task Force and the free software movement, which eschewed authority derived from traditional hierarchies in favor of recognition of “autonomous technical excellence”, as exemplified by David D. Clark‘s famous slogan: “We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code”. While noting similarities to this culture in Web 2.0, which is still informed by the “hacker ethic“, O’Neil identifies the fact that in today’s non-hacker online collaboration “qualifications of participants are not always easily discernible” as an important difference.

As an example of such problems on Wikipedia, O’Neil highlights the case of William Connolley, who as a climatologist ran into trouble with an anonymous opponent while attempting “to correct mistakes on Wikipedia’s climate change article”. According to O’Neil, the case “resonated deeply as it highlighted what can befall respected experts who wade into controversial wiki-waters” (it has also been mentioned in a 2005 Nature article and a 2006 New Yorker feature about Wikipedia), exemplifying the concerns of supporters of traditional encyclopedic approaches such as Britannica’s and “the kind of incident which Sanger warned against in the early days of Wikipedia”.

Citizendium tries to avoid such problems and reconcile traditional expertise with open online collaboration by requiring contributors to defer to “editors“, users that have identified themselves as subject experts, for example by providing resumés. In an exchange with Sanger in fall 2006 [2][3][4], shortly after Citizendium had been proposed, Clay Shirky criticized this approach for its reliance on personal authority (“Deference, on Citizendium will be for people, not contributions … Deference, on Wikipedia, is for contributions, not people…”) and argued that Citizendium’s approch was doomed to fail because of the costs (efforts) which are implicit in certifying expertise, deferring to it and policing to ensure such deference:

“If users do not want to participate in a system where the costs of participating are high, Citizendium will simply fail to grow.”

O’Neil takes this 2006 debate a starting point for his evaluations of crowdsourcing, interpreting Citizendium’s lack of growth as evidence for Shirky’s position:

“Several years later, it appears, in the first instance, that Shirky’s criticism was well-founded: while Citizendium articles are of reasonably good quality, they are not very numerous. New participants to Wikipedia know that their contributions will have a significant audience; becoming a Wikipedia editor is trivial and instantaneous; since it lacks this immediate quality, Citizendium failed to attract the crowd.”

(See also last year’s Signpost review of O’Neil’s book Cyberchiefs: Autonomy and Authority in Online Tribes and O’Neil’s responses)

New commercial Wikipedia iPhone app reviewed

ArsTechnica recently reviewed Articles for iPhone, a new Wikipedia client for the iPhone and iPod Touch from Sophiestication Software. (Several other Wikipedia clients are already available for the iPhone, both free and fee-based.) According to the review, [t]he developer cited the lack of a solution with attractive article layout, including the Wikipedia mobile site, as a major reason as to why they pursued this project. ArsTechnica described the collapsing of infoboxes as the app’s main difference from the standard view on mobile Safari, and also highlights a “Nearby” feature as a possible justification for the $2.99 price (a map with links to geotagged Wikipedia articles in the vicinity, which is offered by other iPhone clients, too).

(Earlier Signpost coverage about Wikipedia on the iPhone: March 2010, October 2009, January 2009, December 2008, February 2008)


Percy Jackson Task Force

By Mono, March 22, 2010
WikiProject News

Go to the WikiProject Desk to submit your project’s news and announcements for next week’s issue of WikiProject Report

This week, the Report takes a look at an important component within many of the largest WikiProjects on Wikipedia. Task forces focus the attention of interested editors on a specific topic to help keep the broader WikiProject manageable. The Percy Jackson Task Force focuses on the novels, characters, and universe that author Rick Riordan created. This task force gives specialized attention to a group of interrelated articles that would otherwise be lost in the backlogs of a project as large as WikiProject Novels. We interviewed Airplaneman, Pmlineditor, PrincessofLlyr, and Aragorn135 to see the task force’s inner workings.

When did you first join the Percy Jackson Task Force? What are some of the challenges that the project has met since you joined, and how were they dealt with?

  • Airplaneman – I joined the Percy Jackson Task Force on May 28, 2009; it was the first project I joined. At the time, there were few active members, and many articles were in less than stellar condition. Since then, we have cleaned up the articles within our scope significantly, producing three good articles; our goal now is to bring all articles up to C class. Most of the issues in our articles were about writing quality, such as writing in an in-universe perspective, as well as original research and “fancruft”. Vandalism has also been a problem, leading to a few pages being protected.
  • Pmlineditor – Being one of the founders of the task force, I joined it on March 11, 2009, the day when it was created. When I joined, most of the articles were below C-class and the overall condition was quite poor. Thereafter, many of the articles have been cleaned up and three of them promoted to GA class. We had aimed to get all articles to C-class and this is a goal which we are striving hard to fulfill (though admittedly, I am semi-active). Apart from vandalism, the greatest challenge for our project has been the ones Airplaneman mentioned; namely in-universe writing, original research, POV, and also fancruft.
  • PrincessofLlyr – I joined the task force on July 8, 2009 due to the urging of Pmlineditor and Airplaneman. Like Airplaneman, it was my first project and is still the one in which I am most active. Vandalism is always a challenge, but more difficult to deal with are the good faith contributions that include excessive detail.
  • Aragorn135 – I joined this task force on February 7, 2010. The biggest challenge for me is not knowing that much about the series.

What motivated you to become a member of the task force? Does your background influence your interest or are you simply an enthusiast?

  • PrincessofLlyr – My motivation was mostly to clean up articles that were, for the most part, being edited by fans. I had recently read the series, but I would not consider myself an enthusiast.
  • Airplaneman – I am an enthusiast, but Percy Jackson is not my favorite series. I was motivated to join after reading the series and seeing the articles pertaining to it in dire need of attention.

The project currently has 3 good articles and several B/C class articles. Which of these articles are you most proud of being involved with? Overall, what have been some of the project’s greatest achievements?

  • PrincessofLlyr – I am most proud of helping to pull The Titan’s Curse through its GA nomination. Airplaneman did most of the preliminary work, but we both worked on improving the concerns mentioned in the GA review. For the entire project, our three Good Articles, The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse, are definitely our biggest accomplishments, in my opinion. However, I would also say that the constant vigilance of PJTF members to clean up vandalism in PJ articles is impressive.
  • Airplaneman – I am most proud of helping bring The Sea of Monsters and The Titan’s Curse up to GA status. I concur with PrincessofLlyr; our greatest accomplishments have been the Good Articles, but I am glad that PJTF members have been able to keep our articles vandalism-free.

I understand that there will be some new books related to Percy Jackson. Are you planning to cover those? What gaps in coverage exist that could be filled by new contributors?

  • PrincessofLlyr – The task force is planning to cover the new Camp Half-Blood series, but not Rick Riordan‘s The Kane Chronicles. As for coverage, we could use experienced editors to work on grammar, eliminate in-world writing, and find reliable sources. Those are probably the three biggest challenges for the Percy Jackson articles.

What are your short-term and long-term goals for the project?

  • PrincessofLlyr – Short-term we are trying to keep all of the articles clean and deal with the new articles which are constantly being created due to the developing nature of the Percy Jackson series. Despite the fact that the first main series is finished, multiple companion books have been written, and the film just came out, so that takes a lot of watching. Long-term, we would like to work all of our articles up to C-class and it would be really nice to have a featured article.

How can new editors help the project? What are the project’s most pressing tasks?

  • PrincessofLlyr – New editors are always good for a fresh view. Most of the dedicated PJTF members have read the majority of the project’s articles, which sometimes makes it difficult to spot mistakes. Our most pressing tasks are watching for vandalism, general cleanup, and promoting The Battle of the Labyrinth to Good Article.

Writing articles about books is difficult because it is often assumed that the reader knows this character’s name or that fact. How do you avoid fancruft?

  • PrincessofLlyr – That is definitely hard. It helps that there are many editors because someone else might catch something you wrote. Other than that, you just have to think critically and examine the writing constantly. Also, on occasion we will ask an editor not strongly involved with the project to look over an article.

Signpost readers are always ready to chip in and help out. Any final message for them on how they can get involved in the project or ways that they can advance the project?

  • PrincessofLlyr – While most of you probably do not know a whole lot about Percy Jackson or anything related to the PJTF, you could definitely help with editing out fancruft or in-universe writing. Finding reliable sources is also difficult, so any help with that is appreciated. General copy-editing would also be very useful. Really any help would be appreciated!
  • Airplaneman – I second PrincessofLlyr’s statement. What we need most is reliable sources, which are hard to come by. In-universe writing is slowly being eliminated, and we need all the help we can receive. General copyediting and vandal-reverting would also help keep PJTF articles clean.

Thank you to Airplaneman, PrincessofLlyr, Pmlineditor, and Aragorn135. Next week, WikiProject Report will highlight the third largest city in the United States. Until then, feel free to breeze through the archives.

Approved this week

By seresin, 22 March 2010


No editors were granted admin status via the Requests for Adminship process this week.

Featured pages

Three articles were promoted to featured status this week: Kala (album) (nom), Armillaria gallica (nom) and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (nom).

Nine lists were promoted to featured status this week: List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Boxer Rebellion (nom), List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Vietnam War (nom), List of Texas A&M Aggies head football coaches (nom), List of Milwaukee Brewers first-round draft picks (nom), List of Major League Baseball home run champions (nom), List of Smithsonian museums (nom), Venues of the 2010 Winter Olympics (nom), List of Missouri Tigers head football coaches (nom) and List of Olympic medalists in curling (nom).

One topic was promoted to featured status this week: John Douglas (nom).

No portals were promoted to featured status this week.

The following featured articles were displayed on the Main Page as Today’s featured article this week: Tom Crean, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa, New York State Route 174, Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom and Hurricane Lane.

Former featured pages

One article was delisted this week: Indian Standard Time (nom).

One list was delisted this week: List of One Day International cricket records (nom).

No topics were delisted this week.

No portals were delisted this week.

Featured media

The following featured pictures were displayed on the Main Page as picture of the day this week: Pistachio nut, Cork, Ireland ca. 1890, Dune stinkhorn, Tuskeegee Airmen, Illustratrion from a 1916 edition of The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, Danaid Eggfly and Dendy Street Beach in Australia.

No featured sounds were promoted this week.

No featured pictures were demoted this week.

Five pictures were promoted to featured status this week.

Transit of Mercury on November 8, 2006

Big, right, and Small, characters from Big & Small

Arbitration report

By Jéské Couriano, March 22, 2010

The Arbitration Committee neither opened or closed any requests this week, leaving three cases open.

Open cases