User talk:Van der Hoorn/Archives/2009/April

Manawan Police Training School Lahore attack

Thanks for editing it. Should I remove the clean-up tag now. Yousaf465 (talk)

Great work in cleaning it up; I fixed some more stuff. You could remove the clean-up tag and add {{review}} at the top of the article. Then someone will review the article and considers it OK to be published, or will provide some more advice. I'm not sure whether the article is OK to be published now, but the reviewer will check. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 09:20, 2 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

  Done Asked for a review thanks for the assistance. Yousaf465 (talk)

Wow, just, wow

I would award you a barnstar but things get a bit cluttered - just know that I am seriously impressed with the work you are doing here on Wikinews! Keep it up, but don't burn out! --Skenmy talk 22:23, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

That's why I try to vary in the things I do on Wikinews. :) I'm currently doing a lot of copy-editing and category/template-cleanup, but eventually those things will be done, or largely done. I participated in the latest writing contest, but writing news stories based on articles by other news agencies isn't really satisfying in my opinion; neither is reviewing articles by the way. I'm going to focus more on doing interviews or other original reporting. The latter is not always easy, mostly only press releases give original information. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 23:05, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Are you sure you don't want me to nominate you for an administrator? I think you would make an excellent candidate, and the bits should make things much easier for you (especially with the speedy delete and editprotected requests you're working on). ♪ Tempodivalse ♪ 23:10, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I don't have the 2 month activity requirement covered yet, but if I you think I'll pass, you may nominate me. :) Currently I'm not always mentioning things that need to get fixed (often takes too much time going to the talk page and then mentioning the issue, while often other issues are there as well, so it may be useful). Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 23:18, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Nominated: see WN:RFA. Please indicate that you accept the nom there. Thanks. ♪ Tempodivalse ♪ 23:34, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Done. Thanks! Van der Hoorn (talk) 23:47, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
By the way, just wanted to let you know someone (Bawolff) asked a question at WN:RFA for you a few days ago. I recommend you respond to it, as some people don't like it when their questions aren't answered and might oppose/abstain from voting because of that. Anyways, good luck, it looks like things are going your way.   Happy editing. tempodivalse 17:26, 8 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I overlooked it, thanks! Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 17:41, 8 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Response to coverage

Original discussion can be found here: Water cooler/policy#Coverage section

Hello Van Der Horn,

Thank you for your response on the question of coverage on the policy watercooler. I was wondering whether I might in turn respond to your point, which is easier to do so directly here.

You note that it is a waste of resources to do so presently. Perhaps, though it is not only quite the inverse, but almost all newspapers have editorial oversight to choose the articles to focus on and deadlines precisely in order to best allocate resources.

The example that I gave in explaining this was precisely meant to illustrate this. Say there are 30 journalists seriously working for Wikinews (or 20, or 10, whichever you choose). If everyone is just 'doing their own thing', then we might have 24 or so articles in a week. But of those, we have to assume that only half will come to standard. So then we end up with 12. Then from these 12, there are only half which are of general interest, the rest being on obscure topics, such as a photographer finds bird thought to be extinct in Philippines (a recent story on Wikinews). So now we have six articles in a week of general interest. But since the journalists have very limited time on their hands, these are very short and contain barely the facts. This seems to roughly what happens on Wikinews, in fact, as far as I can tell.

Let's take the converse situation. Instead, there is a simple process of coming to a collective agreement as to what articles should be covered on any given day and deadlines set. This is what happens in any newspaper and it is the most basic set of actions that allows a newspaper to function. Let's say 12 articles are picked with deadlines. Now we have 30 journalists, collaborating on 12 articles. These 12 articles will be written to a much better standard, because there are many more people focusing on these. As the stories to focus on will have been decided collectively, there will be less journalists working on random articles that they hope might be accepted, but likely will not because they would not have met the standards anyway.

Also, once you have a core of articles, most probably more people would be more inclined to write, because it would actually come half-way to what could be called a newspaper, (which now unfortunately is not the case) and it will be very easy to branch out on to whichever other subjects. However, without the core set of articles every day, the coverage is simply unreliable, so there is less of a reason for visitors to come to the site for the latest news and analysis.

Do you see how this would actually save resources?

This is, as mentioned, the normal way that most newspapers operate. So I am quite surprised, in fact, that Wikinews does not take any collective decisions on coverage. The result though is obvious, because I am sure that you notice, as do I, that the project is more aimless than it should be. But that need not be the case, as I am sure that there are lot of people, myself certainly included who would like to this as a success.

Please feel free to respond to this on my talk page. Regards,

Cicero79 (talk) 20:31, 17 March 2009 (UTC)Reply

I'm not sure if responding here is better, in fact I think it's not, as other people will not read this page. Again, I understand your reasoning, but I think some of your assumptions are incorrect (e.g. how many articles really don't get published?). Let me state the problems I have with a collective decision making process on Wikinews:
  1. Not everyone has the same interest. Many people are interested in topics that cover "World News" (with "World News" I mean the war in Afghanistan, the next elections in the UK, a NASA space launch, etc.), but not everyone is. Some people write articles about the elections in Queensland. Not everyone can write those articles, as you need information on the local setting. You need to know what is "hot" in Queensland on political level and what not. (Maybe this is not the best example, but I think people's interests decide what they like to write). Of course newspapers are in a different street here, because they pay their employees. Thus as an employee of a newspaper you cannot follow your own interest, because there is someone that pays you to do what the boss says. On Wikinews that won't work. A journalist on Wikinews can write whatever he likes; this is kind of the same on Wikipedia, you can write on whatever topic you like as long as it is encyclopedic. It also has to do with the actual readers not being the actual writers. Maybe readers would like different topics, but if the writers want to write about different topics, then that's their choice. Also, you cannot enforce people to write something they don't want to, because there is no reward system that says they should.
  2. It takes time to decide what topics to run. Who decides this? Journalists? They are not online at the same time and thus the decision making process will at least take a day or two. That's two days in which a lot can happen, in which other topics may get interesting. Newspapers have the advantage that they have a deadline when they should have a new newspaper ready. On Wikinews there is no deadline, because if the story is a bit late it may still get published. You can only have a deadline system with some kind of reward (or punishment) system, otherwise there is no incentive to reach the deadline.
  3. What will happen when a journalist decides to write an other article? Is that okay? If so, it will undermine the decision making process (which becomes useless if journalists do their own thing). If not, you will lose journalists who feel not supported by the decisions (i.e. their topics are not chosen); thus you will lose some journalists here.
  4. The decision making process will cost time. Who's time? Journalist's time? This will mean less time for writing articles. If not journalists, then other people (who don't write articles). Thus either way, you create more overhead.
  5. Also, I think that if a journalist tends to write articles that are not of high enough quality and those articles get rejected often, he will adjust the topics he covers, so that others will help him with the article reaching high enough quality. If he doesn't adjust the topics, his articles won't get accepted, thus (like in a regular market) he will.
I do think Wikinews loses potential contributors due to its unstructuredness, so maybe you're right. However, I think by improving the Newsroom, i.e. showing more clearly what needs to be done on new articles (and recently published ones), this loss may not be so large.
Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 21:15, 17 March 2009 (UTC)Reply

The above are very good and detailed points, so I would like to respond to these, because it seems like it is at least an important matter to consider with respect to the structure of Wikinews. The only reason that I am responding here to you is because it does seem a certain amount of detail is required to consider this properly and I wouldn't wish to take up the whole Policy page with one issue.
That being said:
First, before adressing your own points, I should note that a basic point of depature here is that almost all newspapers decide upon coverage and set deadlines. Wikinews does not and this is an exception from what is a general norm. Now the reason why newspapers generally do this is so that they can ensure certain standards of decency and coherency in their coverage, so that readers of the newspaper can know what to expect. If the coverage of Wikinews was excellent and reliable, I suppose this wouldn't be an issue. However, since that it has not yet attained that level, it seems that adopting the basic mechanism that most newspapers have anyway, deciding on coverage and setting deadlines, is a a very reasonable step and also may help the development of the site very much. There should at least be some very good justification why such a core and basic process for running a newspaper would not be adopted.
In response to your objections:
1) Your first objection seems to concern whether it is possible to arrive at a consensus, given the broad range of interests with respect to which journalists may choose to write articles.
Let's note as an important first point that wikimedia, especially wikipedia of course, is generally run on the basis of consensus.
We could, for example, say the same thing about a Wikipedia article. Somebody could say, how is it possible to arrive at a consensus on a Wikipedia article when so many people have different opinions and interests? However, we all know that it does happen and somehow most Wikipedia articles, even those that are quite contentious do arrive at a level of consensus. So it is possible.
But to consider this a bit more closely, how is it possible to arrive at consensus where there are so many interests? Here we could note a few points:
(a) The consensus on priority articles for coverage is only concerned with priority articles and so does not exclude any additional articles that people may wish to write out of interest. In fact, those would be likely welcomed as has generally been the case. So it is not as though the consensus would be in any sense exclusive.
(b) Even though people do have many personal interests, the consensus with respect to priority coverage concerns events that are happening in the world. These events are likely to be quite noticeable where there is attention given to this and there will be certain events that objectively will be considered important enough to merit coverage. The decision then is really a judgement about what is important to merit coverage and - only for the priority articles - is not primarily about personal interest although certainly these would often coincide, that is many journalists will also take an interest in events that are important. We should consider here, how do most newspapers make decisions about what to choose for core coverage? Probably they check on what is being considered top news by Reuters. So there are general tests that can be applied as to what merits coverage, then whether a journalist chooses to devote themselves to this depends on their personal interests of course.
(c)In terms of regional coverage, that was discussed in the last post. There simply should be prioritization by topic and by region, so that if a journalist considers an election in Queensland to be top priority, this should be a priority within the Australasia section.
In short, journalists will still be able to write on whatever they like, they will just be a core set of articles that would be decided by consensus, which would have no effect on any articles beyond this journalists would be interested in writing. It is possible to come to consensus on a core set of articles, in a similar way to it being possible to come to consensus on the content of a Wikipedia article.
2) Your second objection concerns how would consensus take place, whether this will take too much time to be worthwhile (on a time sensitive site) and what the point in having deadlines would be with no incentive system.
A consensus on topics to be covered could function in a somewhat similar way as a consensus on an encyclopaedia article in Wikipedia. What would have to be different to Wikipedia is that this should be divided by date, for the day and the week, with each time segment starting the consensus freshly. (This has to be like that because yesterday's news priorities are obviously different than today's priorities). There would also be divisions by topic and by region, including top news, for the front page and breaking news.
Then in a method similar to Wikipedia, journalists would just place on to the relevant section the article topics that they think are most important and a reasonable deadline for an initial and second draft, within a universally accepted time zone. This would be adjusted by other journalists should they disagree with reference to the discussion site. On any given day there are a certain core number of articles which it is not difficult to realize that these are priority articles that should be selected. (This is clearly the case because if you go to several newspapers on any given day, there are many topics which they share as top stories, for example today the reinstatement of the judge in Pakistan). So if a journalist thinks a news article should be priority they simply add it to the list together with a short justification and if a second journalist disagrees, they simply remove it from the list, again with a justification.
You might say, how could this possibly work? But it would, in fact, be very similar to the consensus process of any Wikipedia article and we know from experience that this actually works generally very well.
In terms of time then, as you can see this would take no time at all, since it would just be a matter of journalists adding on whichever stories they think deserve 'core coverage' at any given point at a moments notice and any other journalists are of course free to disagree. This would be a fast way to arrive at consensus.
What would be the point in a deadline? Probably what would be best if there were certain agreed stages in the write up of a newspaper as you seemed to suggest in an earlier post. The first stage could be a 'stub', which would be a short article outlining the key facts. The second stage would provide perhaps an interview and the third stage would add analysis. The deadlines could be set so that the articles reach each of the stages within a timely manner. It is true that there would be no rewards and punishment system. However - and very importantly - the deadlines would serve as benchmarks to measure the progress in the development of an article, so that it could be certain to reach a standard of decency (and hopefully excellence) within a certain allocated time. So the deadline would serve as a target that all the journalists can see and try to reach for the purpose of putting together a well put together article in time for it to be relevant and newsworthy.
3) Regarding whether a journalist could write a news article that is not part of the 'core coverage', this was addressed above. There is absolutely no reason why a consensus on the core coverage should in any way detract from additional articles that are beyond the core coverage. Again, this is clear from the way that a good newspaper runs. There are core stories which any reader would expect to find in a newspaper and there are always additional interesting stories that are peripheral, but nevertheless essential to what a newspaper is. So of course additional articles beyond core coverage should be welcomed as always.
4) Time - again this is addressed above. The process of arriving at consensus should cost virtually no time at all, just as in a Wikipedia article. See number 2 above.
5) You could be right that there may be an implicit free market at work by which if an article that they submit is not of high enough quality then they will eventually learn what is in demand. But such a process could take a very long time and Wikinews has already been operating for a number of years. In the meantime, by collectively deciding upon what is the core coverage gives journalists a guide as to what to focus upon and many opportunities for collaboration (or if they wish they can still write an article on a subject matter of their own choosing). Again, almost all newspapers decide upon coverage in this way and would not risk relying on a that sort of approach only because they have to make sure that they have a handle on all the stories a reader would expect within a short time. A magazine, of course, is quite different since they do not have these same pressure. However, Wikinews is more a newspaper than a magazine of course.
I am glad there is a lot of server space on Wikinews, because this was a lot longer than I expected. Having said that, I would be happy to continue the conversation which seems to me to be a quite healthy one and of course also it would be interesting other opinions from journalists in Wikinews as well.
Cicero79 (talk) 00:57, 18 March 2009 (UTC)Reply
Cicero, you have some interesting ideas that might improve Wikinews (such as your What would be the point in a deadline? paragraph), but may I suggest providing a summary of your last post so others interested (Van der Hoorn linked here) but with less time could get the core ideas. -- Wikignome GeorgeII (talk) 16:42, 19 March 2009 (UTC)Reply
Sorry for the late response, but here are some remarks:
  1. The consensus for Wikinews that you describe is far different from the consensus from Wikipedia. Consensus on Wikipedia is on article level, not above article level. Wikipedia doesn't require consensus on what article to write or improve; only what parts of the article should stay or not, should be rewritten, etc. The consensus you are describing for Wikinews is above article level, i.e. which article to give priority. This is something entirely different, in my opinion. People want to write something on a subject they like, whether that is important or not doesn't matter. Restricting people on what subjects to write first will lead to a net loss of articles. Also the amount of articles that doesn't get published or gets deleted is not that high.
  2. The number of articles that we know enough about beforehand (to make a proper deadline and to reach consensus on) is very low. For example the recent earthquake in Italy can't be planned. This is actually what happens with most news stories. Also we don't have the manpower to cover all "world news" articles. Especially if you look at w:Portal:Current events you see a lot of articles of other publishers that we don't cover here. That is not because we focus on the wrong articles; it is mainly because we lack manpower. I think that if we would have a lot more people writing articles, the consensus model you described would be more useful than it is now.
  3. I have no additional comments here.
  4. The consensus model does require time. Look at the talk pages on Wikipedia. They are covered with people trying to reach consensus and it definitely takes time. Also I don't think the lack of interesting subjects to write on is something we should consider. I think most article writers will hear something on the radio or television, or reach something online and will write an article on that subject. So the problem is not that people on Wikinews have trouble finding interesting enough subjects to write about, on the contrary I think.
  5. I'm not saying there is an implicit free market on writing qualitative articles, but there may be. :) However, I do think there is a free market on the topics that should be covered. If a certain news event is interesting enough to a lot of people, than those people will definitely write an article about it.
Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 20:31, 10 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Template:Water cooler/fromsitenotice

At one point, the sitenotice contained a rotation of 7 messages that changed on every page load. One of the messages was:

Have a question about Wikinews?
Ask at the Water Cooler

Which used to substitute {{Water cooler/fromsitenotice}} into the edit box. As such, the template couldn't be categorized as that would substitute the category into the edit box. (similar to Template:Australia new page, although the talk page could potentially be categorized. perhaps with a shiny template explaining exactly what thoose pages are.) However, that seems to be a moot point, as that message is no longer displayed in the sitenotice, so its probably ok for that template to be deleted. Bawolff 05:20, 6 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

You can categorize the template by adding <noinclude> tags around the category right? I thought that worked as well when substituting a template. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 10:56, 6 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
There used to a bug where that didn't work. Perhaps it has been fixed since last time i tried that (which was a while back). Bawolff 22:35, 7 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Nope, noinclude still doesn't work. See [1]. Bawolff 22:36, 7 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Hmm, that's unfortunate. Nothing much we can do about this I guess. Only solution would be to include the category, if the pagename equals a variable set to the name of the template. But that's maybe to difficult. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 22:43, 7 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I created a proof-of-concept where the category is only shown when the pagename equals the name of the page where the category is supposed to be on. User:Van der Hoorn/Sandbox/Noinclude subst fix is the template and User:Van der Hoorn/Sandbox/Noinclude subst fix test is the page that got preloaded. As you can see the category is only shown in the former and not in the latter. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 16:24, 10 April 2009 (UTC)Reply


Hi. Just wanted to take a moment and thank you for the great edits you make on improving the articles here at WikiNews, especially my articles. I really do appreciate it. Herb (talk) 22:39, 11 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

You're welcome! :) Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 11:01, 12 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Yes, merge

I agree, the two Cuba-U.S. restrictions-lifting articles (April 13) are about the same thing and could be merged. Ong saluri (talk) 21:14, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Admin status granted

Congratulations, you have just been made a sysop! You have volunteered for boring housekeeping activities which normal users sadly cannot participate in. Sysops basically can't do anything: They cannot delete pages arbitarily (only obvious junk like "jklasdfl,öasdf JOSH IS GAY"), they cannot protect pages in an edit war they are involved in, they cannot ban users except in cases of obvious vandalism or excessive edit warring (24-hour "cool down" ban). What they can do is delete junk as it appears, ban vandals, remove pages that have been listed on Deletion requests for more than a week, protect pages when asked to by other members, and help keep the few protected pages there are up to date.

Note that almost everything you can do can be undone, so don't be too worried about making mistakes. You will find more information on Wikinews:Administrators, please take a look before experimenting with your new powers. Drop me a message if there are any questions or if you want to stop being a sysop (could it be?). Have fun! Brian | (Talk) | New Zealand Portal 23:36, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Congratulations.   tempodivalse 23:37, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Thanks! I can finally fix my own {{editprotected}} requests. :) Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 23:38, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
congrats. Brian forgot to mention that you are also now allowed to make lame cabal jokes! :P. Bawolff 02:32, 17 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I thought you had to be a bureaucrat to be allowed to make lame cabal jokes? No? :) Van der Hoorn (talk) 10:39, 17 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
Congratulations! Sorry I doubted ya, I'm sure you'll do fine. :P Cirt (talk) 10:31, 17 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
No problem, Cirt. It's always good to express your concerns in a vote. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 10:39, 17 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

21 polo ponies die at US Open

Thanks for your improvements to 21 polo ponies die at US Open; this is my first try at a Wikinews article and I am learning as I go. I have expanded the article but still have a ways to go. More help would be most welcome. --Una Smith (talk) 22:04, 22 April 2009 (UTC)Reply


brianmc deals with the AR e-mail addresses and filing the names of the people who succeed. Please talk to him about that and not me. Mike Halterman (talk) 08:29, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

I put in the bare essentials of a listing, please feel free to tidy it up. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:45, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I understand that Mike, but _you_ moved the AR to the archive. Moving things to the archive results in other steps that need to be done to 'finish the AR' being skipped, which was exactly the case. Thanks Brian, I added some more information for consistency. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 09:53, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I understand that Mike, but _you_ moved the AR to the archive. Moving things to the archive results in other steps that need to be done to 'finish the AR' being skipped, which was exactly the case. I usually work in tandem with brianmc on those things. It was my understanding that he would have done it immediately. He didn't. The issue would be with him and not with me. Mike Halterman (talk) 19:23, 24 April 2009 (UTC)Reply
I added some information to the page regarding the moving of requests to the archive. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 10:08, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply


Have you been told your an animal recently?! It boggles my mind to see the amount of archiving (or god knows what) work you do on the older articles (and that's not to say you don't do anything with the new ones!). Regards Sean Heron (talk) 23:01, 25 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Thanks! I'm trying to create some consistency among (older) articles. I also think it is important to fix broken URLs, if possible. :)

A penny for your thoughts

Okay, not really, but I am requesting your participation in the following Water Cooler Discussion: OR and Broadcast report. The discussion involves the need for specific policy concerning how Original Reporting relates to information recieved from a broadcast report of an event. This can include both news-style reports and non-news reports, such as a sporting event. Thanks and again, please share your thoughts on this so we can get as many people involved as possible, especially since this relates to an important topic such as OR. —Calebrw (talk) 05:17, 27 April 2009 (UTC)Reply

Return to the user page of "Van der Hoorn/Archives/2009/April".