Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals



rethinking the policy on stale articlesEdit

As some of us have noticed, Wikinews has not been very active lately. Ever since we lost Brian and John, the rate at which articles are reviewed has slowed down. It's not unusual to see interesting articles go stale.

Now I understand that Wikinews editors are volunteers, and we can't expect them to be on call at all times. However, the current policy on freshness means this is a time-sensitive matter. Therefore, I'd like to know others' opinions on implementing either of the following changes:

  1. Reduce the freshness requirement when fewer reviewers are active. Once the activity returns to normal levels, the window can be shortened back to two or three days. We can always backdate the article if necessary.
  2. Don't count the time it takes to review an article towards the article's age. For example, if an article is submitted two days after the event and reviewed three days later, the elapsed time since the event should be treated as two days rather than five. The article must have significant content to be considered as it is not a reviewer's job to finish other people's incomplete articles.

I do have two questions, though:

  1. Would it affect Wikinews' credibility if we frequently publish stale articles?
  2. Are there any ways to quickly reach an editor, such as IRC or a Discord server?

--Ixfd64 (talk) 05:26, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

That's an interesting proposition. I don't think reducing the freshness requirement would be a bad idea -- a maximum of maybe five days might be sufficient -- but I'm strongly opposed to not counting the time it takes to review an article towards its age. While it might be fairer to authors, combined with a longer review time, it could lead to articles being published more than a week after the focal event, which I don't think would be acceptable. LivelyRatification (talk) 07:06, 17 May 2022 (UTC)
I've had some time to think on this. Perhaps for, say, a two-month period, a five-day staleness period could be adopted as a trial, and we could reflect on the effect had on articles published/submitted afterwards? I don't think it's a good idea, as I said, to not count the time taken to review an article towards its age, but given the shortage of reviewers we seem to have on hand, a longer staleness period may be wise to try out. I don't think it would effect our credibility all that much if we published stories about things that happened four days ago, even if there's no orginal reporting involved.
As for quickly reaching an editor, I believe we do have IRC, but by my recollection (I haven't used it in a while) it's not terribly active, and we don't have a Discord server. Speaking for myself, the best way to quickly contact me would be a message on my talk page. LivelyRatification (talk) 02:20, 24 May 2022 (UTC)
@Ixfd64: I have looked through the history of WN:Stale, the relevant guideline. The date range of 2-3 days was added in March 2014. I can’t find a specific discussion about this, so I am assuming it was adopted by usage. My opinion on the current state of Wikinews is that we should temporarily suspend the idea that we can somehow match fast-paced news outlets. We are all volunteers and we have limited resources. I think it is worth trying out your proposal because the current range for freshness does not seem to be working for us. As a side note, we have moved from archiving stories when there are more than ten recent stories and instead we now have a limit of twenty unarchived stories. I have occasionally pushed freshness to 4 days during reviews where I think I can justify it. I would suggest a three month trial with a normal limit of FIVE days but occasionally being allowed to push it to SEVEN days. I’ve been pondering a similar change to our time limits for WN:PROD and I think it will fit well, after your proposal has been tested. Feel free to write up a proposal with a week of voting. [24Cr][talk] 19:37, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
YES! to extending the "stale" limit to 5-7 days from the current 2-3 days. Ottawahitech (talk) 19:49, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
I think the "Hey I wrote a great article and they just threw it away!" alienates new contributors (despite the nearly universal friendliness of existing Wikinewsies). I don't think this is the right solution, but I do think you've identified a big chunk of the problem correctly. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:22, 23 June 2022 (UTC)
I agree that "Hey I wrote a great article and they just threw it away!" alienates newbies and old-timers alike. There are also other problems at WN, but where is the correct "watercooler" to discuss this topic? Ottawahitech (talk) 14:18, 23 June 2022 (UTC)

Roe v Wade and access to abortion in the United StatesEdit

I believe that this story has the potential of drawing a whole new segment of readers to wikinews, which I assume everyone here wants.

Roe v Wade has been been considered a legal standard in the United States for over 50 years. However, a decision from the United States Supreme Court is expected soon that may change that. See: Bans off Our Bodies protests occur across United States after leaked Supreme Court draft

I would like to suggest this topic for a prepared story on Wikinews. Any objections? thoughts? Speculation?

Ottawahitech (talk) 14:21, 7 June 2022 (UTC)

No objection at all -- would still need to pass review when the event occurs, but anyone is free to write up a prepared story, keeping the instructions at Wikinews:Story preparation in mind. LivelyRatification (talk) 22:59, 7 June 2022 (UTC)
Thank you for responding @LivelyRatification. I initially came to Wikinews with the intention starting some sort of prepared story, but couldn't figure out how to do it. True, I did not spend a lot of time trying to figure it out, but I was hoping to catch the eye of an experienced newsie, since I do not want to write an article myself.
I see that the newsroom has a section title prepared stories and following the link I come to a category with a link at the top to Wikinews:Story preparation, which has the following section:
1 Previous prepared articles
2 Current preparation
3 Article templates
4 Obituaries
My time is limited, so I went to the section Article templates and chose In the simplest: {{Prepare}}, without stopping to look at anything else. But now I am stuck because the instructions say to add the template to the top of the page. What page?
I hope I am making sense? Ottawahitech (talk) 13:15, 8 June 2022 (UTC)
@Ottawahitech: Well, you'd have to create the page yourself. Say, in this example, it might be Wikinews:Story preparation/US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade decision, and add the {{prepare}} tag to the top of that, and start filling in the prepared story based on information we know now and informed guesses about what the decision will look like. If you don't want to write the article yourself, that's totally fine, but in that case it'll rely on someone else willing to fill it in. If you just want to suggest a story for someone else to write, I'd suggest going to Wikinews:Requested articles. LivelyRatification (talk) 20:14, 8 June 2022 (UTC)
@LivelyRatification, thank you for this, and all the other help you have extended on WN. I don't really want to make any commitments at WN until "stale" is taken care of. I have been visiting WN for years, on and off, and it has always been my experience that many good articles were lost because they could not get reviewed on time. What's more it was impossible for me to learn-on-the-job because reviews were lost together with the several "stale" articles I managed to produce. I hope I am making sense? Ottawahitech (talk) 19:56, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
Completely get that, and I've had similar frustrations in the past. I'm not entirely sure what can be done re: staleness, but given the severe shortage of reviewers we have, I do feel like things can't keep going on like they are. LivelyRatification (talk) 21:17, 14 June 2022 (UTC)

Stale policy proposalEdit

Building off the earlier discussion we had, I'd like to make a proposal for temporarily changing the staleness limit as follows:

From July 1 to September 30, an unpublished article will be considered stale if it is five to seven days older than the event it is reporting on. Please indicate below if you {{support}} introducing this trial or if you {{oppose}} it and want to retain the current staleness rules. LivelyRatification (talk) 22:21, 14 June 2022 (UTC)

This vote will end seven days after it was started. Just to clarify: the proposal will involve temporarily changing the wording of the guidelines at WN:Stale as follows (in bold):
  The focus of a Wikinews article must be fresh when the article is published.

An unpublished article is typically considered stale when it's five to seven days old. There are two exceptions to this: one for reporting on a story where new information about the event comes to light days later, and one for original reporting; we'll discuss these in more detail below.

Just when an article goes stale depends on context; for example, how the story develops after the article is written, and how widely the event has been covered by the mainstream. With the exceptions noted, it's very rare for an article to be published more than seven calendar days (in UTC, the time Wikinews keeps) after what the article is reporting.



  •   Support I don't think things can go on as they are currently, when so many articles are being discarded on the basis of staleness because no reviewer could get to it in time. It understandably discourages people from wanting to write articles, and can often mean that well-written articles with a lot of effort put into them are discarded simply because a reviewer got to it in four days rather than three. It's worth at least trying with a more relaxed staleness rule, and seeing how things go from there. --LivelyRatification (talk) 22:25, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support per my original thread. --Ixfd64 (talk) 22:36, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support - this is a much needed change. [24Cr][talk] 23:42, 14 June 2022 (UTC)
  • Support: a no brainer, since the main page usually has items on it that are well past "stale". Ottawahitech (talk) 15:17, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
  • Oppose for general news. Support for science news because there is significant lag time between the discrete event and publication in professional mainstream sources. Also support for any other subject to which this practical limitation applies. Basically, if the New York Times and Al Jazeera are okay reporting a week after the fact, then we should too, but if they don't, we should stick to three. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:18, 23 June 2022 (UTC)
      Comment That's already de facto policy. If media reports on it late, we do too, just qualify with 'media reports indicated yesterday or today xxx did yyy', even if x did y ages ago. Just on the fence about making general news, especially that which changes OFTEN (stocks, natural disasters w/ changing death tolls, breaking news stories with frequent developments). But WELL AWARE of stale articles. Trust me... JJLiu112 (talk) 15:12, 23 June 2022 (UTC)
      Comment: I noticed that the lag time for science-related news does tend to be longer. Yahoo! News just published an article about the Sgr A* image six weeks after the focal event. --Ixfd64 (talk) 17:50, 24 June 2022 (UTC)


@Darkfrog24: We have to recognise that the New York Times and other major media are large organisations with significant resources and professional journalists. Certainly it is a good idea to try to emulate them as much as possible but realistically we now have barely a dozen active / semi-active people who contribute on a voluntary basis with limited resources. At this point it is difficult to see why we are sticking to guidelines that apply to larger, better-resourced organizations. This proposal would address a small aspect of those guidelines that has resulted in some otherwise-promising articles failing because they were no longer in the tight timescale of 2-3 days. We recently changed a longstanding policy on the minimum length of articles, which resulted in at least 17 more articles being published over three months. I think we should be open to loosening policies and guidelines to be slightly less restrictive and allow this wiki to publish a bit more. [24Cr][talk] 07:06, 24 June 2022 (UTC)