Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2010/June

Original reporting and verifiability

After our recent fiasco involving Matthewedwards, it's been brought up that our current standards for accepting original reporting are quite lax in terms of verifiability. All a trusted user has to do is slap a comment on the talk page saying "I talked with this bloke" or "I was present at this event", and anything he puts into the article will be unequivocally accepted as true even though there really is no way to back it up. This is especially true for email interviews; all we require now is that the email be forwarded, which really doesn't prove anything.

Of course, our current reporters are working for the good of the project and wouldn't think of doing this, but what I'm saying is that it's not difficult for a user wishing Wikinews harm to create and have published falsehoods.

So, to get to the point: My suggestion is that we require some sort of verifiability standards for original information. If you say you attended an event, you must upload videos or pictures to help back it up, if you had a person-to-person interview, you should provide audio as well as the transcript. Open to thoughts... Tempodivalse [talk] 17:28, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

For emails, we could as the reply-to address, so scoop gets a copy of the original email, without the chance for the reporter to edit it first? Δενδοδγε τ\c 17:51, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I seriously think you should go away and think long, and hard, before this turns into another dispute that drives away contributors. A cooling-off period prior to having this discussion seems in order. --Brian McNeil / talk 17:58, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with a cooling off period. discussing policy changes well everyone is all riled up about something is only going to cause reactionary type policies. How about we wait a week, and then start a discussion on if any reforms need to be made to OR and/or accreditation policy. Bawolff 18:16, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
-Shrug- Actually, people have been talking about this for some time now, it's not just because of this recent mess. Although I wouldn't be opposed to a cool-down period so we can think more rationally. Tempodivalse [talk] 18:35, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have half a mind to go create an account using a random wifi connection somewhere (ie, not my IP) and post a non-libelous fake interview with someone quasi-famous, just for demonstrative purposes. Careful with publishing OR from now on, you never know when it might be me setting up my test of the review system:P. The reason it hasn't happened yet is the same reason there aren't many Mac viruses: so far we're simply too small, insignificant, and piddly for the trolls and assholes out there to bother with. I think we all hope that one day that isn't the case;). Gopher65talk 18:31, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I support Dendodge's idea, that's a good way to verify it. Griffinofwales (talk) 01:40, 5 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I think we should discuss the use revdelete. I've been noticing its use to hide spam revisions, and I really wonder why we are doing that. The history of the page serves as a record of what happened, there is no harm with having spam on it. The spammers get no benefit from it being in the history, and keeping it there preserves a sense of transparency. I personally think we should only use revdelete in circumstances where there is a good reason for the masses not to be able to access the revision. Bawolff 17:53, 2 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. We need to be as transparent as possible. Benny the mascot (talk) 17:57, 2 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict) Yeah, I concur. The only really pressing reason I'd see for using the function is to hide personal information or maybe obscene usernames. Spam doesn't seem like something one needs to oversight, seems like it would be hidden enough in the page history. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:58, 2 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I removed it to prevent looking at/linking to the history and getting spam, mainly on the logic that if that was the only revision we'd delete. I'm not at all opposed to a policy prohibiting this - I was thinking as I did it that we really need to decide when we will and won't use the feature. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 20:57, 2 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sports Prefixes

Myself and user Fox (talk · contribs) have had a bit of disagreement about what prefixes to use for sports articles. I originally wanted to use "2010 Stanley Cup Finals:" and "2010 NBA Finals:," whereas Fox wanted to prefix them "Ice Hockey:" and "Basketball:" respectively. It has been my experience with Wikinews that these more specific prefix are acceptable, if not preferred. However, being trained in journalism and AP Style in America may bias me, as NBA or Stanley cup are synonymous with a certain sport. Looking across the pond and coverage of the NBA Finals from the BBC does not mention the term basketball once in the story. The BBC article is under the basketball category of the Sport site, but you would only know that if you are familiar with the BBC Sport layout.

Articles in question are: Stanley Cup Game 1, Stanley Cup Game 2, Stanley Cup Game 3 and NBA Finals Game 1.

Any thoughts on this? —Calebrw (talk) 18:19, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What about "Football"? In the US that's football, in the rest of the world that's soccer. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 19:33, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I think we should make the sport clear in the title, and preferably text too. I doubt many people outside of North America will know what the "NBA" or "NFL" is; we're writing for an international audience, whereas the BBC page you linked to is intended for a more local audience. (after edit conflict: well, don't we usually call "soccer" football, and gridiron "American football"? that seems pretty straightforward ...) Tempodivalse [talk] 19:39, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
About the "Football" difference - the vast majority of the world will call American football just that and the word "football" is generally associated (no pun intended) with soccer. Fox (talk) 20:05, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I obviously think, where the sport IS NOT specifically mentioned in the title (e.g. Manager Benitez parts company with Liverpool Football Club explicitly mentions "football", England defeats Australia and wins 2010 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup explicitly mentions "cricket") that you SHOULD at the very least include a prefix to indicate what sport it is. You can't expect the whole world to know what NBA is, what NFL is, what the FA Cup is, what Twenty20 is, what the Stanley Cup is... Fox (talk) 19:54, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I should also note that the BBC is pretty bad at assuming people have knowledge of its layout. Fox (talk) 19:55, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think it matters much. The sport should be generally guessable from the title, but as to if it uses a prefix, I think that should be up to the author of the article. There are plenty of sports articles with prefixes, and plenty without. Bawolff 20:13, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I really, really dislike this prefix idea. Use of a colon in a title should be a last resort. Starting to use prefixes has that tendency to lead to unmanageably long titles for articles.
While bearing in mind that titles cannot ever be reused,please try and keep them concise, but descriptive. Yes, a challenging balancing act; the project is better for it and regular readers will get used to it. There is little lost if abbreviations such as NBA are used and the fact that it is about sport can be readily inferred from the title.
I never look at the sports page in newspapers, or on the BBC site; those seeking such will quickly learn where to look for such on Wikinews.
Remember, your title is - to some extent - an advert for the article. The flip-side is that it is a caution for those such as myself who have zero interest in sports journalism. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:26, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Limit page move to reviewers?

While we're waiting for developments on the FR/RFP nomination I made a hash of, there's something else that seems to me to warrant community attention. I've been reminded by two incidents in the past few days that an autoconfirmed non-reviewer, while they can't make their edits to a published article become published until a reviewer sights them, can rename the article with immediate effect. Neither of these two incidents was vandalism. One was reasonably legitimate — at least, I wasn't sure it needed reversing, although I can see how someone might since it was more than 24 hours after publication. (I did revert most of the accompanying edits, which were a Wikipedian presumably echoing updates to the 'pedia article on the incident.) The other was the author of the article simply not realizing that we start a new article for new developments, and I was glad to see they'd subsequently succeeded in writing a publication-worthy successor article. But it seems odd that someone who can't publish a spelling correction to a published article can move it. Of course it would be fine if we could simply disallow non-reviewers moving reviewed pages — in fact, that would be preferable, for non-reviewers developing articles in the newsroom — but I'm under the impression that Flaggedrevs can't do that. I think we can limit all page moves to reviewers, though. Should we? --Pi zero (talk) 14:59, 12 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wonder if it is technically possible to make page moves wait for sighting the same way as edits do. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:43, 13 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think a good approach to this would be having a new userright splitting up moving reviewed and non-reviewed pages. Then we could have it so that once a page gets sighted, only reviewers could move it, but before it gets sighted anyone can move the page. Bawolff 05:22, 14 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So like an über-review then? —Mikemoral♪♫ 05:42, 14 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The most obvious way for users would be to automatically remove a page's 'sighted' flag when it is moved. --InfantGorilla (talk) 12:42, 14 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since the entire revision history is moved with the page, the previous sighted version is immediately under the new name. Having an unsighted version at the end of the history would bring it to reviewers' attention but wouldn't, I believe, prevent the move from taking immediate effect. --Pi zero (talk) 15:59, 14 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good point. The most natural way for users (if there is one) is often more complicated technically. I would suggest removing all the flags (so no version of the article is visible until it is reviewed again.) --InfantGorilla (talk) 19:48, 15 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't like that idea. a move vandal could then easily cause all articles to be de-published. Bawolff 23:18, 15 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Brainstorming — If we restrict moving to reviewers, might we provide... something... that would make an obvious and convenient interface for non-reviewers to slap a move-request template on the article's talk page (akin to {{editprotected}}, only aiming at reviewers instead of admins)? --Pi zero (talk) 04:17, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That sounds like a good idea. Bawolff 06:23, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Accreditation 2.0

Please see here, Tris' linked-to, somewhat lengthy, response, and pay heed to the initially proposed points.

As best I can work out, we will need !Editors on each continent who are prepared to divulge direct, personal contact details to all who receive accreditation. And, I do not mean just email addresses. I mean direct phone numbers, with hours that it would be reasonable to call such at. These need to be volunteers who will, with little-to-no-notice, get things sorted for anyone who gets into trouble.

The other critical point is ID cards. We've tiptoed round this in the past, and the "laminate yourself" ID is a crap option. These need to be credit-card style ID, with photographs. With full name & contact details that match any government issued ID you have, and contain real security features to confirm the card is genuine. So, yes, if you want to be accredited, it will cost money.

While keeping discussion short, I'd welcome feedback. Then, work up a proposal of several points to form the underpinning of a revised policy. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:12, 13 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Last time the ID issue came up, Shaka did some cost checking. Based on our needs buying a printer would not be a good idea. Individually purchased cards are the best, easiest, and most reliable option, at least until we have ~100+ active accredited editors on a continuing basis. Each individual ID card is reasonably priced, and some of them have decent security options. Most currently accredited reporters won't have a problem buying one card every two years even at 11 dollars per card, and that's at the top end of the price range. Gopher65talk 22:12, 13 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Points to consider that have, to-date, not been mentioned...
  • The committee, or board, who act as emergency contacts to/from Wikinewsies will need to be able to deal with contacting law enforcement, legal assistance, consulates, event organisers, and pro-rights/journalism groups.
  • The scope of tasks for the role will require people with serious Google-Fu.
  • I already have contacts for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Open Rights Group, Wikileaks, and sundry others. Yes, I'll share my Rolodex contents – there needs to be a commitment from those entrusted with it to only use in emergencies.
  • I can easily add Reporters Without Borders to my list of contacts, this may be essential – as may Amnesty International.
  • As highlighted in IRC, several of our current accredited reporters are under eighteen. This may be problematic for people taking responsibility over accreditation. I'm prepared to go through the hoops to be 'trusted' with "children" (despite the asshattery around this in the UK). Are others?
In other news, I've put the wheels in motion to remove the private registration from While it has been suggested to go elsewhere for such services, I have to say "no thanks, I'll risk my address in the public domain". All of these services effectively take ownership of the domain – bad.
I have contacted a UK-based firm that makes hi-tech ID printers. No, not to purchase one (we can't afford such) but, to get the names of a few bureaux who might manage card production and verification. I do, however, have a fallback plan:
  1. Purchase an SSL cert for
  2. Create some relatively simple CGI code to generate hashcodes to be printed on ID.
  3. Have an online system to verify the hashcodes.
  4. Hack together an Asterisk-based system for automated phone verification of hashcodes.
Most of this would require that we move hosting to a dedicated server.
Now, I'll leave the above for people to cogitate over. I will, as time progresses, turn this into a firm proposal to revise the accreditation process and policy. The working name for the group managing it is, per IRC discussion, "Community Accreditation Board for Assistance and Logistics". --Brian McNeil / talk 22:15, 13 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm wondering if we can get the Foundation to assist us. Honestly, I'd think it'd be best for the Foundation to handle our personal information and to also keep all this centralized. For the IDs, a private firm seems okay and is probably the easiest way for us to get our press badges. By the way, when was this IRC consensus discussion I seem to have missed. As a side note, IIRC, one of the local papers employs a few minors as journalists, but I cannot seem to recall the name. —Mikemoral♪♫ 06:55, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Assume Good Intentions - take two

I've recently tried to rework our new essay, WN:AGI, to be more consise [sic] and to-the-point. This is something we have needed for a long time, especially after the recent mess with Matthew Edwards. I'd like to get this community-approved as a guideline, so it has more weight, but first would welcome input on the page in its current state to see if this is something we can all agree on. Please read the page and comment on whether you think it needs something added, removed, or changed. Open to thoughts. Tempodivalse [talk] 16:13, 20 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One general thought. Moving forward on the page is important, but so is not hurrying the path to guideline status. This is clearly hard to get right for Wikinews. It's important to get it right. It's important to not get it wrong. And community sensitivity to the dangers is very high right now; the main function of the page is to guide the community in the long term, not the short term. So we can and should take the extra time to be sure we've thought everything through thoroughly. --Pi zero (talk) 21:36, 20 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If it's only a guideline, it doesn't need to be perfect. Griffinofwales (talk) 22:12, 20 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This isn't just any guideline. Due to the pervasiveness of AGF elsewhere, this thing applies a lot of leverage to whatever status it's given. AGF on Wikipedia (pardon my Anglo-Saxon) is "only" a guideline, after all. --Pi zero (talk) 00:33, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wasn't trying to "hurry" along the process, just trying to boost community input into it since the discussion appears to have stalled in recent weeks and I was also interested in what other people had to think about my recent changes. Although yes, i agree we should take the time to phrase this appropriately because it will inevitably carry a lot of weight. Tempodivalse [talk] 00:44, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Please don't build a strawman. I'd have to disagree with that, community consensus appears to be quite in favour of us having this, if the comments on the recent DR request and elsewhere on-wiki are any indication. At the very least I've not seen anyone - well, besides you - campaigning against it. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:50, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strawman; not my intent. Yes, a need for something'. WikiLawyering, and navel gazing do not further the primary project goals. Quit bugging people for what you think is best. If you can't sum it up, and the fundamental differences from The Other Place™, in the average article's two-sentence lede, then asking people to review it is project disruption. --Brian McNeil / talk 02:04, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm not trying to pester everyone into supporting my position, and I'm disappointed you see it that way. Besides one or two comments at Pi zero's talk page, this is actually my first on-wiki post regarding the issue. So please tell me in what other way I can get attention; you know how easily discussions stall here unless everyone is reminded of them. That AGI is different from WP's AGF IMHO should be immediately obvious from the first few lines - but go ahead, suggest an alternative if you don't think so. I don't think that wikilawyering or navel-gazing applies here at all. Tempodivalse [talk] 02:25, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a stupid thing to argue about. AGF is a good thing (yes I said agf not agi. It doesn't matter what you call it, it all boils down to the same thing, especially because the definition of an action committed with good intentions is an action in good faith). Yes assuming good faith can be taken too far, but if you assume everyone is evil they will turn out to be evil. So basically: Too much of anything is a bad thing, thus create two guidelines/essays/whatever. One talks all about agf in all its glory, the other talks about Trust but verify (or something similar) Put on the top of both pages that both extremes are bad, and a happy middle should be found. Bawolff 03:52, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't share that vision of what we should be aiming for. --Pi zero (talk) 05:48, 21 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure we need two separate pages - couldn't it all be in one? I think that would get the point across more clearly, plus will emphasise the few differences between us and WP if it's kept trimmed and short (to avoid TLDR).
I do agree with Bawolff in general about AGF though. Really, I fail to see what this level of antiwikipedianism is all about - so just because they have some guideline with a similar name, it's utter trash and we can't adapt the good parts of it to suit our needs? Tempodivalse [talk] 13:06, 22 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]