Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2014/January

License harmonization with Wikipedia

A long, long time ago, in wiki-time, Wikinews culminated a long discussion by voting on a license under which to publish, moving from PD to CC-BY. This was a large move from the most-permissive stance on copyright to something *much* stricter but not as strict as the GFDL 1.2 which was the sole license used at the time by Wikipedia. A few years later, Wikipedia agreed to allow dual-licensing under CC-BY-SA and the GFDL after some important changes to the GFDL now known as GFDL 1.3.

The incompatibility between Wikinews's current license, CC-BY 2.5, and the two licenses used on Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA 3.0 and GFDL 1.3, has been a source of irritation to both projects. Yesterday a bureaucrat on fr.WN was complaining to me about it. This got me thinking about two things:

  • We have the Wikinews Group nearly established. A cross-language discussion regarding the project's licensure is *exactly* the kind of thing this affiliate group can sponsor.
  • Wikinews doesn't need to 'migrate' our past contributions. We currently host hundreds of articles which were originally published into the PD, and that cannot be rescinded. Everything after the approval of CC-BY is released under that license. Why couldn't we likewise decide to use a harmonious license for future published content? (The CC-BY articles would require the addition of a template stipulating the terms under which that article was published, just as we currently do for the PD articles.)

I found at least 20 different discussions, in a very shallow search through the history of this page, which pointed out the difference of Wikinews's license with Wikipedia's. That's several times each year every year since the change was made. We stepped a long way toward harmonizing then, from PD to CC-BY. Maybe it's time to close the gap by moving to CC-BY-SA? - Amgine | t 15:11, 18 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Afaics, we're not public domain because we want to be credited (people should credit stuff by other people even if they don't have to, it's common courtesy really, but much of intellectual property law doesn't lend itself to courtesy, especially since it involves corporations rather than people; and really, nobody respects public domain news content, which is reasonable since if it had any value its authors would want credit for it), and we're not share-alike because that's inappropriate to news: we want news to be spread as widely as possible. We shouldn't be borrowing content from Wikipedia anyway, since their workflow inherently lacks the sort of rigor we apply and all their content needs to be put through the wringer on its way into our system.
So on one hand I don't see importing from Wikipedia as inherently desirable, and on another hand I don't see more restrictive licensing as desirable either. --Pi zero (talk) 15:50, 18 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps Wikipedia should switch to our license. --Pi zero (talk) 16:06, 18 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
<grin> perhaps they should! but I wouldn't hold my breath. On the other hand, being able to use the current Ambox series of templates (which rely on Lua, and so *are* software) might be nice. - Amgine | t 16:40, 18 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hm. There has long been a mismatch between our licensing interests for article content, versus our licensing interests for templates. It would seem rather impractical to have different licensing for different spaces, though, since one could then create licensing violations simply by moving a page between spaces. Iirc we cope with some javascript (HotCat comes to mind) by the simple expedient of loading the file from a different sister, so we don't have to host a copy of the javascript on en.wn. If we could do the same with Lua, that would solve some problems. (Although, I admit I'm dubious of the long-term wisdom of migrating template implementations to Lua, since it's essentially moving the content further out of the reach of ordinary members of the community into the control of a High Priesthood — an effect mitigated somewhat, but only somewhat, by the reality that the more esoteric templates were already rather out-of-reach.) --Pi zero (talk) 17:10, 18 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd have no problem with a transition to a more-current CC-BY license, and I know the same 'pathway' could-well be taken to a license allowing import of Wikipedia content. That's the wrong direction for content to move in, it should be news reporting that forms the basis upon which an encyclopædia is built.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see how Wikipedia is the first, logical, project to crowd-source as an online reference; that's given Wikinews a few issues, because the entire ecosystem largely exists to serve the encyclopædia. Recalling the spread of Avian Flu — and, the issues getting articles to retain the same version of the map documenting the spread — a lot of subtle little issues exist for the project.

Which license the project uses is pretty far down the list of things that might be improvements worth chasing. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:43, 30 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Support shift to CC-BY 4.0 for content; I don't know why we've kept CC-BY 2.5 here for so long; the newer versions offer clearer legal code. But for templates; I think we need to have an exemption in order to allow code sharing between projects; i.e. "CC-BY unless otherwise noted", but the only "unless otherwise noted" license can be the Wikimedia license agreement. ViperSnake151 (talk) 22:29, 3 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  Question If we do shift toward the newer CC-By 4.0 License, would there be any problems that might arise regarding content pre-shift vs post-shift? Content pre-shift would be CC-By 2.5 while content post-shift would be CC-By 4.0, so is it possible to say relicense content pre-shift to match the license post-shift, or will we have to come up with a big disclaimer that there are in fact two different versions of Wikinews licensed two different ways? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 04:44, 8 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We've changed license before. At that time, old articles were labelled (see this example) to highlight the different license. I'd not expect as-prominent a template for articles with the current license, because we'd just be updating to the latest version of that license and, in principle, they're the same. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:38, 8 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Accreditation - TWG recognition/affiliation

Given the current 'issues' over an open accreditation request, I think this is something we need to have a discussion on; one that likely needs to solicit input from across all languages. But, with English Wikinews being where accreditation is centralised, it makes sense to start the discussion here.

I'm going to throw out a couple of points for discussion. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:48, 23 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What do people think The Wikinewsie Group is for?

Since I set up, let me lay out what the intent was with the domain. First and foremost, we started out by asking the WMF if we could have email addresses. The Foundation is suitably risk-averse that the answer was, and likely always will be, no. is close-enough, and has been tightly-enough controlled, that people with email addresses can claim to be 'freelance affiliates'.

The next logical step was the provision of a closed wiki; an anathema to ideologue Wikipedians, but essential when you need to build trust with any organisation which might give information ahead of its official release. It's currently a mess, with two key reasons behind that. Firstly, we're on low-cost shared hosting, a lot of the things we'd like to be able to do aren't possible unless you've at least got virtual server hosting; secondly, I've been so swamped with work I've not had time to keep on top of maintenance.

After having a wiki, and with the constraints of NPOV banning all editorialising on-wiki, there was a need to have an editors' blog. It has seen little use, largely because we're too busy here. It is a valid use of the domain, but could — ideally — do with being combined with being the primary mirror of Wikinews, published content interwoven with commentary from the people responsible for that content.

I'll skip over the 'protection of journalists and sources' aspects of TWG. Those are a given, but we've still got a blank canvas on how that should work.

Lobbying is something we've not really touched on at-all. We need to be able to do that. As mentioned elsewhere, there are serious problems for citizen journalists right around the globe. We can do practically nothing at the really sharp end (such as people being killed in Syria for reporting what's happening on the ground); those are cases where all we can do is add our voices to the likes of the CPJ and spread whatever such brave folks manage to get out of their countries. However, when it comes to press laws which make a distinction between citizen journalists and full-timers, we can make a difference. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:48, 23 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've thought of TWG as an organisation that allows that allow contributors here to move away from the 'freelance affiliate' as needed. This shouldn't be an issue but there are organisations (primarily sporting) that require a journo to have organisational backing. As I understand it, we've partnered with local Wikimedia chapters to provide accreditation for contributors to go to say the Paralimpics.--RockerballAustralia c 03:24, 24 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Yes, moving a few steps away from the 'freelance affiliate' is needed. Sport is one area where affiliation with an organisation is needed, but remember that's largely because it is entertainment and there is almost-invariably a profit motive involved in controlling the media.
The affiliation requirement is also there if you want access to parliaments, and to press conferences. So, for the time being we'll still want to work with chapters where they've a reasonably well-established set of contacts with/recognition from government departments and so on. The Paralympics is a good example where we've had some success, so we should be building on that in other areas. This is why I want to chase press access to the Scottish Parliament with help from WM-UK; even if TWG isn't yet formally incorporated it starts getting it recognition. Similarly, I'd like to see WM-UK helping Tom Morris break into Westminster. If there's no local chapter, it should be the WMF themselves helping Bddpaux get access in Texas (as whatever legislative level he can best attend).
We do run into some technical problems there, which is one of the headaches of a bunch of individual 'freelance affiliates'. How, for example, does the individual going to be on-the-scene snag the 'official' feed from debating chambers (which you're generally required to do)? We need t be seen to make use of such access to report, which then leads to the political players we're reporting on being more-inclined to talk to us. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:58, 24 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Accreditation should take place on the relevant language version

I've commented on this elsewhere, and think this is the only way forward in the longer-term:

Every Wikinews language edition should have its own accreditation process.

All TWG can do is list some minimum criteria which any project's accreditation process must meet, and those should be subject to regular review. Where I see an area of concern is quorum. Much like the situation we're in with Tom Morris' CheckUser request, we do need to set a minimum participation level in voting for accreditation. We need to avoid disasters where people are given accreditation on a "hope they use it" basis, and then get a backlash over not using it, abusing it, or not professionally representing the project.

Beyond that, we need to expand the involvement of Wikinews with citizen journalism outside the WMF. How that takes place, I just don't know. But, it is what will keep us relevant, and make TWG a worthwhile endeavour. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:48, 23 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I fully concur and have said so loudly. Now, EnWN could be (and I certainly hope should strive to be) a good helping place for all languages. I love and hold modern journalism in high regard and hope to help any citizen journalist anywhere/in any way that I can. But, IMO, each language (project) should, on at least some level, be able to stand on its own two feet as a micro news organization. I blanche at the chutzpah of some who just stroll in the door and 8 minutes later, ask for accreditation and we've no earthly idea that they can/cant put two sentences together inside of a shoebox.....that impacts our credibility in a LARGE WAY. It might be salient for me to point out (I'll try to dig it out and put up a link) an article listed some time back via the Poynter Institute, where the writer listed some 8-odd levels of modern citizen journalism in terms of editorial oversight/standards.......who was at the deepest level....? Level 8....? Why Wikinews was, who else?!  :} --Bddpaux (talk) 20:45, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's all very well to say each language edition should have its own accreditation process, but other languages don't necessarily have the infrastructure for it nor the size to support the creation of the infrastructure. Note that it takes a bigger community to solidly establish infrastructure than to maintain it once established, and it takes a quite stable community to establish or maintain accreditation infrastructure. As I've remarked before, our infrastructure has been formed over many years by a whole lot of Wikinewsies; and we've got the stability. And we certainly want to help other language editions along, which includes sharing the bounty of our established infrastructure and stability. All of which is closely tied in with our especially deep editorial oversight. So while I certainly agree that we ought to be aiming for each language edition having its own accreditation process, at any given time I would expect most of them not to be ready to take that step yet. --Pi zero (talk) 14:16, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Of some relevance: according to the proposed bylaws, memebership in TWG is contingent on one of several criteria being met, one of which is adminship or accreditation in some language edition of Wikinews. --Pi zero (talk) 14:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • We've had absolute disasters far too often when we've extended unearned trust to people claiming a desire to be accredited. That, for me, is where the reluctance to support non-enWN candidates comes up. As-mentioned, meta doesn't work for us, and when looked at in-relation to other projects simply seems to be a 'shopping-for-audience' venue for malcontents; whether to bypass objections on their home project, or to meddle in projects they've no stake in.
We can work through the accreditation of people from other language versions of the project, but only if such people can get a significant number of others from that language to vouch for them. I've already been through the issue in the past, and there can be a good-deal of reluctance to even engage in such debate. Admittedly, I've seen this most-often where the language contributors are in countries where Interior Ministry press credentials are the only 'legitimate' ones. This will be one of the challenges TWG must confront in 2014. Not just convincing other languages that such laws do not make accreditation worthless, but to get relevant government departments to accept that journalism need not be a full-time job. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:58, 1 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I regret to disagree, or agree only conditionally. Some Wikinews are small enough for local accreditation to bring more chaos and potentially undermine the whole process. For example, on Russian wikinews, 90% of created articles are self published as a copy paste from yellow newspapers and the output is that of low quality. I might envision allowing accreditation there only with further review, and review of progress, from experienced contributors from other Wikinews (such as here). Gryllida 08:18, 2 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


A third point makes for a nice round-out on this. :)

Anything we can do to make the project more-accessible, and of more utility, in an educational setting is vital. Our biggest problem there seems to be that students are lazy. Good journalism is bloody hard work, and we've seen evidence a-plenty of that over the last two to three years. We need students to be here throughout the duration of their degree course, moving from newbie contributors through to reviewer-level. We apply more-strict sourcing and verification standards than the majority of mainstream news publications, every student who makes it through Wikinews into the mainstream is a major win for us. It boosts the project's credibility, as well as teaching them vital skills. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:57, 23 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I love having students's awesome! But, we've got to remember to be gentle! Heck, they're young! I was once, too (at least, I think I was. Heck, I'm too old to actually remember if I was ever young!) --Bddpaux (talk) 20:46, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For suitable definition of "gentle". The feedback is focused on the contributor, the editorial oversight is focused on the article. As I develop tools to aid in performing expert tasks, I keep in mind that the three most prominent expert tasks here are (in order of typical chronology, not importance):  writing articles; reviewing articles; and writing review comments. --Pi zero (talk) 14:39, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I tend to agree with Pi zero, we've made subtle changes to have failing reviews less-condemnatory (not-ready vs fail). However, the language of a review can instantly negate that. I thought we'd lost Crtew's classes after the "America" versus "USA" debate (a robust debate, which many would've characterised as an argument). On the surface, that seemed like us being excessively harsh on students; the subsequent feedback was it had been a point of equally vigorous debate in tutorials, and offered an opportunity to make students question how parochial their own worldview was. We have to tread carefully to avoid utterly alienating students, but one of the attractions of pointing them at us is that we will be more-critical. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:07, 1 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Could make sense to create a map of contributors, to which students add themselves. I suspect that could be useful for meeting with fellow experienced Wikinewsies. Gryllida 08:24, 2 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"On Wikipedia, it is acceptable under certain strict conditions to take an image or other media file from a news website to illustrate an article. However, using these images on Wikinews is unacceptable, as Wikinews is a competing news agency. When it comes to images of living subjects, there is considerably less insistence on finding a freely-licensed photo."

This is pretty confusing; on the one hand Wikipedia allows fair use images under certain conditions, use of "however" indicates such images cannot be used on Wikinews as much, then for some unknown reason there is a lax on images related to living subjects. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 10:51, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One of many areas where Wikinews differs from Wikipedia.
What is confusing about it? It's always good to clarify. --Pi zero (talk) 13:36, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I don't think this needs clarification, unless it is to replace the first period with a semicolon. The final sentence, which relates to images of living subjects, is a separate point on images; the proviso of not taking images from a competing news source still applies.
The reason we're lax on images of living people is that the Wikipedia rules do not work on a news archive. Imagine a young politician, and a non-free image is used on news report(s) for them. Twenty years later, a free image is obtained. That's fine for Wikipedia, but would seriously distort any archived articles using the non-free image. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:24, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Actually, since someone has raised it, it probably should be clarified; we lack the POV of being new to WN from WP.
    On Wikinews there is greater latitude for "fair use" images to illustrate a news article than on Wikipedia. However, Wikinews is not able to accept any images sourced from other news sites. To give an example, a picture of the leader of a country at an event from the event's site, or the leader's own website, or a personal blog could be uploaded to Wikinews, but if the image were from a news site or a journalist's news blog it could not be used.
    - Amgine | t
    This seems imho to read rather well. I've tried deploying it on the page, with a couple of tweaks to save words.
    On Wikinews there is greater latitude for "fair use" images to illustrate a news article than on Wikipedia. However, Wikinews cannot accept any images sourced from other news sites. For example, a picture of the leader of a country at an event from the event's site, or the leader's own website, or a personal blog could be uploaded to Wikinews, but if the image were from a news site or a journalist's news blog it could not be used.
    --Pi zero (talk) 15:58, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Just noticed this possible wikilawyering loophole: However, Wikinews cannot accept any images originally sourced from other news sites. (underlined here to show what needs to be added.) - Amgine | t 16:07, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    That's what "sourced" means; someone able to read English and possessed of common sense shouldn't have a problem with it (admittedly, I've noticed that people educated in law often fail both these criteria). Meh. Added. --Pi zero (talk) 16:24, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We seem to have lost some of the point related to retaining images which Wikipedia policy would generally see replaced. It is, technically a breach of WMF policy; but, the policy was not formulated with consideration of our news archives and I lack the will to fight to have it changed. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:14, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think the OP was specifically addressing the Living Persons issue. That is a Wikipedia-only policy, as I understand it, not WMF-wide. But if you have a link to a WMF policy? - Amgine | t 19:18, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for the change in wording Amgine. The confusion that arose from the first one was that "using these images on Wikinews is unacceptable" implies a more restrictive image use policy while "there is considerably less insistence on finding a freely-licensed photo" implies a less restrictive image use policy, so that Wikinews is simultaneously more restrictive and less restrictive than Wikipedia. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 19:33, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're very welcome. I only suggested a wording change; the ideas were there before, just expressed from a Wikinews point of view. Hopefully the community likes the suggestion (and PiZero's improvements to that.) - Amgine | t 19:38, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, if you're still wondering about the living persons policy, there was a resolution recently passed that may or may not have an adverse effect for this site; the resolution can be found here. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 19:46, 7 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

March of the Adjectives

Just some general musings and wonderings about a few bits and baubles: Earlier today, Laura not ready'd this article....Oculus unveils new prototype 'Virtual Reality' headset. I had previously failed it (less eloquently-adorned than Laura's review, I might add)....but she made mention of something that set me to thinking. She commented that the article was too heavily-laden with adjectives like "previously" and "traditionally" which skewed it away from 'neutral'. Now, Laura was better able to put a fine point on what was really at the root of an article smelling of non-neutrality than I was. I will quickly concede that. But sometimes, adjectives are based in reality. March is a month which occurs "previous" to September. "Traditionally", the grass is green and the sky is blue, but if my company can turn the grass purple for 3 hours via a device.....does the use of "traditionally" really lean things away from neutral that much?? I'm just kinda thinking aloud here. I like to say that each article has an ethos all-its-own......a sort-of Zeitgeist unto itself.....and some articles just....well, (as mentioned above) smell funny. But what is some good guidance on when adjectives are or are not our friend? (Stephen King loves the old chestnut: "The adjective is not your friend.") --Bddmagic (talk) 18:16, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm guessing these adjectives were being used in service of some form of vagueness, either of fact or of attribution. Adjectives don't always foster evil non-neutrality, but they are prone to it. Passive voice has that characteristic too, though passive voice is more frought with problems anyway (it's less forceful and less succinct than active voice); the primary grammatical function of passive voice is to omit the subject, which, again, fosters vagueness of fact or attribution. --Pi zero (talk) 18:52, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're looking at the end result of over-exposure to churnalism. Problem is,that's endemic in the tech press. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:06, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure if its possible to write technology-related articles without sounding the way I did, because developments in a particular technological field usually depends on whoever's leading the field. (For example: Google releases a new iteration on its search engine, it will obviously be Google-centred; Microsoft releases Windows 8, it will obviously be Microsoft-centred). I used the word traditionally to mean "Oculus has known about this problem for years and only managed to figure a solution (which it was probably incapable of solving as it waits for the available tech to catch up) it now." TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:14, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In terms of how we define neutralism here, you bring up a few VERY SALIENT points. Some major tech advancements are only being lead by ONE COMPANY or one group of people. Saying as much, isn't being's just stating fact. "Google managed to turn the sky green using a thingamabob they cooked up last week." --isn't's fact. Now, (as Brian nicely pointed out).....the "spirit" of an article can still come across as horrifically non-neutral....and I really sensed that tone (from your first iteration, at least). Interesting discussion here. --Bddpaux (talk) 21:35, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
God, I love the term 'churnalism'. --Bddpaux (talk) 21:35, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I've had a lot of time to think about this article lately, and I don't think it's a newsworthy article worth publishing anymore. My thoughts were this: most tech articles (see the technology section of Google News) report on the latest tech product/gadget, usually from the leading company of that tech market, which causes the articles to be biased towards that company as I noted above. They also tend to exclude competitors and emphasize the benefits of this particular product over past products. If I've learned anything from my interactions with you guys, it's that journalism articles have to be neutral in tone whilst remaining true to Wikinews' inclusion policy and the 5 Ws. The questions were answered thusly: who = Oculus; what = designed "Crystal Cove"; when = the Tuesday Google and I covered it (Wednesday UTC); where = in the company's press release or at the Consumer Electronic Show's demo; and lastly the most important question is why do we care and how = there's these fancy benefits with technological jargon attached to them like "positionial tracking system and OLED technology" that gives it benefits over past products and also paints the company in a positive light. I can't imagine writing about the "why do we care" part and having to explain how it is better than past products and products from other competitors without sounding non-neutral. And yet if we take out the "why do we care that this new product got into the news", we take out the raison d'etre of the article, the reason it's newsworthy. I think it is for this reason that I am considering just not publishing it. But lemme know what you think, if you convince me this article might be worth pursuing, I'll put in the reasonable time and effort to get it published. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 01:19, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That article is no longer fresh. --Pi zero (talk) 01:47, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I've noticed that the {{peer reviewed}} template on the talkpage of the article contains a link to the Wikinews:Content guide policy page under the "Newsworthiness" criteria, yet we already have a page called Wikinews:Newsworthiness. What is this page's relationship to the content guide and the aim of Wikinews' mission, and should we re-point the link to the new page? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 02:36, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We put so much of our effort into actual news production that our documentaiton pages tend to lag behind. Our policies, guidelines, and best practices are scattered all over the site. When I wrote WN:Tips on reviewing articles#Checklist, I combed through most of the site collecting tidbits and writing them into the list with links back to where I'd found them; but even that doesn't have everything. The most up-to-date summary of the main elements of newsworthiness, atm, is at WN:PILLARS (that'd be WN:PILLARS#newsworthy). The WN:Newsworthiness page is really about just one of three primary criteria used for newsworthiness — it deals with relevance. I've been meaning to upgrade that page, at some point in my copious free time. --Pi zero (talk) 03:14, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]