Sunday, June 28, 2020

@Wikipedia and freedom of speech

When you disagree on Wikipedia with current practices, you have to use stilted language to prevent administrators taking offence and blocking your account. 

At this time many articles of black female scientists have been marked for deletion. It is an organised effort because there are lists subdividing these articles on criteria. For the record, for many of these fine scientists I added content on Wikidata, added all kinds of information including awards.

When I learned that the article for Ayana Jordan was marked for deletion, I added the following protest: "Keep I want to stress that those !@##$ who make these proposals should be ashamed. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 05:10, 27 June 2020 (UTC)". The response came quick: "@GerardM: unlike some others here, yours is not a new account. So you should need no reminding that personal attacks and assumptions of bad faith are forbidden here. —" I replied with: " I did not use any swear words, I did express my opinion of the people who are so detrimental to what Wikipedia should stand for. That is not bad faith that is not a personal attack that is expressing revulsion. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 06:01, 27 June 2020 (UTC)". The conversation was taken elsewhere, I was blocked for a day.

For a Wikipedia administrator, it should be no news that these people who are repressive of what is not their cup of tea are widely resented. Marking articles for deletion is a form of harassment. I do not care who proposed the deletion, I do not know the person who marked Avana's article for deletion and I do not care to know him and his ilk. We have a situation where harassment is allowed and calling out such travesties is considered a personal attack and an assumption of bad faith. 

So I have been blocked for a day. I am proud to stand up against such bullies. I consider the process of deletion as rigged. These !@##$ are free to do as they wish because "we should assume good faith". Hell no.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hey @Wikimedia lets move the needle

The Wikimedia projects are biased. They favour only one language, the English language. When you look at Wikipedia traffic English Wikipedia is something like 50% and it does not represent 50% of our intended public. 

The objective is to improve the usefulness of the other projects and thereby increase their traffic. That is, more articles and books are read, more pictures are seen and downloaded.

Lets pick one language, Yoruba, as an example. There are currently 32,624 pages in its Wikipedia. There are some 40 million people speaking the language. So what can we do for Yoruba editors and readers. How can we track what makes a difference and also what makes a difference and what can the WMF do to achieve this.

* We can improve list support. 
Currently the best support for supporting lists in a Wikipedia is "Listeria". It is supported by Magnus.. Listeria lists have been shown to be more up to date then manual lists on English Wikipedia, for less resourced projects this will be even more true. When existing lists can be easily included in an article, it will expand available information hugely.. Here an example of Listeria lists on the Yoruba Wikipedia. Content of these lists show in Yoruba. Lists are better supported and adopted when it is WMF supported functionality.

* Choosing pictures for illustration
When people look for a picture, they have to goto Commons or they visit Wikipedia articles on the same subject and use these same pictures. When the Special:MediaSearch is available as a tool from every Wikipedia article, a much richer palette of pictures becomes available to choose from. (The search is for "Agbègbè Ìjọba Ìbílẹ̀ Mushin")..

The cool thing is, when this tool is available when writing an article, it is easy to more pro-actively add labels to Wikidata. This will improve the performance for the Special:MediaSearch even more.

What would truly support Special:MediaSearch is disambiguation. It is unreasonable to expect that we get descriptions in all the 300+ languages we support. What Reasonator supports are automated descriptions. It makes it easy and obvious to choose the right item in any language.

For the Wikimedia Foundation to support other languages, for it to move the needle on any and all languages, we need to measure what is meaningful. The number of searches by Special:MediaSearch and what language was used. The number of pictures used in each Wikipedia. The effect lists have on the writing of new articles.

When we did not measure such numbers so far, it is what we should do to move the needle. One needle is the total number of reads quite another is the number of reads for each project. Same for the use of Wikidata and Commons.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Marketing @Wikimedia but first some SWOT analysis

The Wikimedia Foundation has a 2030 strategy, it intends to increase its reach, increase its budget and rename projects into "Wikipedia something" in order to improve its visibility.. 

Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites on the Internet, its quality is good and is mostly edited by older white males in the first world. Typically when people mention Wikipedia they refer to the English version but it is only 50% of Wikimedia traffic. From a marketing point of view the English market is saturated, growth can be expected from Wikipedias in other languages and from other projects.

The Wikimedia Foundation is very much tied to the United States. Given the current regime and the possibility that it will prevail in November, this reliance is an existential threat. It is likely that the US government will want to intervene in Wikimedia content after 2020. I doubt it is possible, given the current hardware configuration, to move away from the US and still serve the rest of the world with a NPOV.

At this time the Wikimedia Foundation is centrally led, there are satellite organisations in many countries who are limited in what they can do; their budgets are centrally managed. Fundraising is mostly done from the USA and most of it is raised in the USA. That is problematic in its own right because many "Wikipedians" feel that too much money is raised, money not needed to support their project and people in other countries do not get to feel that it is "their" project because of "their" contributions. As a professional fundraiser, I am convinced contributions from the Netherlands could increase at least tenfold within a year.

The bias for English is huge and it is compounded by the bias for English Wikipedia. At a conference a Dutch professor stated that research not about or linked to the English Wikipedia is unlikely to get published. It follows that the data used for the 2030 strategy includes this same bias. The MediaWiki software is developed first and foremost for English Wikipedia and it is expected to work for other languages and for other projects. There used to be a development team specialised in language technology.. it was dissolved. 

There was a time when English Wikipedia did support the other projects. Because of an anti Wikidata stance by some this changed. There is no solution for false friends and lists are not as well maintained as they could be. When we link to the Wikidata item for an article and no longer to a title for that same article this will change. It is easy enough to build functionality that allows for both and by opt-in projects will understand the benefit and choose to adopt.

When marketing is the reason for changing the name of projects, it is important to consider the ramifications. The "Wikipedians" among us claim ownership of the Foundation, insist on actions in their image. They represent a staid community representing a saturated market. With a strategy in place it is possible to disregard them. This makes only sense when the WMF tackles its bias for English as a priority. This is what is needed to realise the 2030 strategy.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

@Wikipedia is old news, it could point to new sources

Wikipedia provides the best text on many subjects. It being static is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing when it is a topic that is very much in the public eye, it attracts many people willing to edit and come to a neutral point of view.

It is a curse when the topic is no longer popular. No longer is there an interest to maintain the information, new publications are not integrated in what used to be a neutral point of view.

In the references section of an article you find the underpinnings of what is stated in an article. It may be newspaper articles or science papers. Both newspapers and science have a hard time attracting attention and this endangers the availability of quality sources for future updates.

In Scholia information is continuously updated about the latest papers by authors and or about subjects. As time goes by, papers become available dated later than the latest reference. When such papers are clearly marked, it is an invitation for the Wikipedia community to revisit a subject and learn if what was a neutral point of view survives as such vis a vis the latest information.

Every subject should have its own Scholia.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Professor Vassie Ware - an early recipient of an early career award

On the page of the "GlobalYoungAcademyTeam", you find many young academies. You also find "early career awards". These young academies, these awards are represented by "Listeria lists", when something changes in Wikidata it is reflected in them.

The WICB Junior Award is an early career award for women conferred by the American Society for Cell Biology. An English Wikipedia article provided the initial content for this award and given that there are many people interested in what this award is about, I included all recipients of the award. Professor Ware is the earliest recipient I added by hand.

The standardised Listeria lists, show the people who are included, it shows their occupation, identifiers for ORCiD, Google Scholar and VIAF and it shows the number of publications known for them. The approach is a wiki approach and it is therefore fine that we only have two publications for Professor Ware, we do not have a freely licensed picture of professor Ware yet and, there is no Wikipedia article either.

Once a list is reasonably complete, new information is added all the time. It follows that the Scholia page for the award and for a scientist like Prof Ware evolve. In the true wiki spirit, a structure is provided and anyone who cares to makes a difference. A difference for the understanding of science and for the people who make science what it is.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

@Wikimedia and languages - @WikiCommons search, the most relevant development since @Wikidata

The Wikimedia Foundation is important for the support of languages on the Internet. The localisation of its software is done at, it is done in over 300 languages.

The milestones for multilingual support are:
These milestones have been very much technology driven. For me the one reason why Wikidata became the success it is, is because it was from the start linked to every subject covered by Wikipedia and the solution was so overwhelmingly superior that nobody could reasonably object.

To make a success of this latest milestone, institutional support is needed. It is for the Wikimedia Foundation, its movement to reduce its bias for English and make room for improved language support.

My way of phrasing this as an essential objective: "All of is available to every single person on the planet". As we adopt this as our objective, it is first and foremost about making Special:MediaSearch useful in any and all of our languages and make it available from any and all of our Wikipedias.

As we adopt this, it is essential that priority is given to multilingual search over special interests including GLAM, Open Data, SPARQL and what have you. Priority when we are to open up in multiple languages first. Special interest only gain relevance when it is made obvious how it helps it helps open up Commons in Swahili, Hindi, German or Vietnamese.

Special:MediaSearch is possible because of everything that went before.. Its functionality is part of MediaWiki and localised at The existing search engine is now linked to the labels for items in Wikidata and it was made public after Hay Kranen brought us his proof of concept. It became available warts and all and while finding منصور اعجاز  in Punjabi is huge, it is not great when you do not find cats because a user is called Kočka..

The challenge to us as an organisation, a movement are we willing to work on our existing bias, open up Commons in all the languages we are said to support and accept that our hobby horses will get attention not in the next but in a future iteration.