Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Single/2022-11-28

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The Signpost
Single-page Edition
28 November 2022

Disinformation report
Missed and Dissed
Tips and tricks
(Wiki)break stuff
Joker's trick


English Wikipedia editors: "We don't need no stinking banners"

Auditing the fundraising banners

Last month, we reported on discontent with fundraising on Wikipedia. It all came to a head this month, as a widely-participated "Request for Comment" survey rejected the current plans for the fundraising campaign. Luckily for us, given this all happened three days before publication, the closing admin, Joe Roe, provided a thoughtful, nuanced summary of the dispute and decision:

Maryana Iskander, Chief Executive officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, gave a detailed response to this, quoted below:

I'm sure we'll have an update of some sort next month as well. It's a bit inevitable once the fundraising campaign starts. Hopefully, though, it'll be entirely positive. – AC

WMF releases Fundraising Report and audited financial statements for 2021–2022 year

In related news, the Wikimedia Foundation this month published its –

Note that the Wikimedia Foundation's financial year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Fundraising Report

In 2021–2022, the Wikimedia Foundation took $165,232,309 USD from over 13 million individual donations, an increase of more than $10 million over the year prior. $58 million, or 35.1% of the donations total, was brought in by banner campaigns on Wikipedia. The breakdown was as follows:

2021–2022: Donations breakdown.
2021–2022: Donations breakdown.

For comparison, the donations total in 2020–2021 was $154,763,121 raised from over 7.7 million donors (a different way of counting was used this year), with banner campaigns bringing in $57.3 million, or 37% of the total.

As in 2020–2021, the Wikimedia Foundation ran a fundraising campaign in India this financial year (see previous Signpost coverage; note that while the 2021 Indian fundraising campaign was cancelled, the 2020 campaign was not held in the spring but in August, thus falling into the 2020–2021 financial year).

Consolidated Financial Statements

The Financial Statements reported an unusual situation: for the first time in its history, the Wikimedia Foundation reported a negative investment income: –$12 million. Investment income had been positive at +$4.4 million in 2020–2021 and +$5.5 million in 2019–2020. At the time of writing, the Wikimedia Foundation had not responded to questions about the precise circumstances responsible for the negative result.

  • Total support and revenue was $155 million (a decrease by $8 million compared to the year prior, with the negative investment result cancelling out the increase in donations).
  • Total expenses were $146 million (an increase of $34 million, or 30.5%, over the year prior). Some key expenditure items:
    • Salaries and wages rose to $88 million (an increase of $20 million, or 30%, over the year prior).
    • Professional service expenses: $17 million.
    • Awards and grants: $15 million.
    • Other operating expenses: $12 million.
    • Internet hosting: $2.7 million.
  • Net assets at end of year increased by $8 million to $239 million (net assets increased by $51 million in the year prior). Interestingly, the third-quarter (January–March 2022) Tuning Session presentation published by Finance & Administration in May 2022 still forecast a net asset increase of $25.9 million for the year.

For the 2022–2023 financial year, the Annual Plan envisages an increase in both income and expenditure to $175 million, representing a planned increase in revenue by $20 million and a planned increase in expenses by $29 million (20%, more than twice the rate of inflation) compared to the year prior (total expenses in 2021–2022 were $146 million).

According to the minutes of the June 2022 Wikimedia Foundation board meeting, WMF board members and executives looking ahead at the 2022–2023 financial year now underway anticipated "moderate growth in terms of staffing. Next year, the fundraising team will be increasing targets in each of their major streams, with a particular focus in Major Gifts." – AK

Brief notes

The results of the Wikimedia Summit 2022 participant feedback survey are available on Commons.

Reader comments


"The most beautiful story on the Internet"

Could ads turn Wikipedians into Facebook content moderators?

At least Scrooge paid his workers something.

In a well-timed coincidence for this issue, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Op-Ed by Nicholas Agar asked "Could ads turn Wikipedians into Facebook content moderators?". Agar, a professor of ethics, notes that with the wrong policies around content monetization, the Wikimedia Foundation could "turn Wikipedia into just another tech business using its vast store of data to pursue profit". He recommends the Foundation "ask for help, not money"... – B, J

Internet search in Russia

The BBC investigated how well internet search engines were working in Russia. Yandex has 65% of the market in Russia, followed by Google with 35%. The BBC used a virtual private network (VPN) to view search results for both search engines on controversial topics to make it appear that the search requests originated in Russia. They also used the VPN to give the origin as the UK for Google requests. All requests were typed in Russian. For example, they searched for Bucha, the Ukrainian town where hundreds of civilians were killed during the current war. Yandex search results predominantly gave links to sites following the Russian government's viewpoint. "Glimpses of independent reporting only occasionally appeared in Yandex search results with links to Wikipedia articles or YouTube." Google searches originating in Russia were a bit better, and Google searches originating in the UK gave a full range of viewpoints, even with the search requests typed in Russian. – S

Maybe not so altruistic after all

Cash donations preferred from now on

Many have told the tale of the dramatic flameout of Sam Bankman-Fried's cryptocurrency exchange FTX and sister company Alameda Research, following a series of boneheaded moves that require a couple of whiteboards to explain in full detail. Suffice it to say that there was a bunch of money, and now there isn't.

In a Washington Post article titled "The do-gooder movement that shielded Sam Bankman-Fried from scrutiny", Nitasha Tiku claims that his lost fortune may have been built – at least in part – on his connections in the effective altruism (EA) community. Bankman-Fried's net worth was estimated at $15.6 billion in early November. The bankruptcy of his cryptocurrency firms, and the devaluation of his own securities, is expected to leave him with a net worth estimated at jack shit, and one million unpaid creditors. Yowza! Tiku went further to say that there was an "EA group devoted to writing Wikipedia articles about EA"; it's unclear whether this refers to off-wiki coordination, or merely to the existence of a legitimate EA WikiProject on the English Wikipedia. – S, B, JPxG

Toaster hoax

The BBC has published an in-depth article and radio programme about the Alan MacMasters toaster hoax, featuring interviews with the protagonists as well as Heather Ford (see Book review in this issue). "How did this hoaxer get away with it for so long? And how did an eagle-eyed 15-year-old eventually manage to expose his deception?" (See also prior Signpost coverage in August's In the media, titled "Alan MacMasters did not invent the electric toaster".) – B

In brief

Almost as much fun as building an encyclopedia together
Sportsball: Some things never change. But some do: the fans didn't vandalize encyclopedias so much a century ago.
A study summarized by Mongabay suggests people notice seasonal changes in nature, like bird migration, and turn to Wikipedia to understand.

Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.

Reader comments


Lisa Seitz-Gruwell on WMF fundraising in the wake of big banner ad RfC

Much has been said, thought, and shouted about this month's big Request for Comment on the Wikimedia Foundation's proposed banner ads for 2022 – said RfC was closed on the 24th by Joe Roe, citing a "broad, near-unanimous consensus that these fundraising banners should not run on the English Wikipedia in their current form". This interview, carried out a couple days later, is from Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, the WMF's Chief Advancement Officer. Questions were submitted by The Land.

1. The Wikimedia Foundation has indicated some significant changes to its fundraising as a result of a recent Request for Comment. For those who haven't been following – what's changed? How much input are English Wikipedia editors going to have in fundraising banners from now on?

The close of the RfC included some clear direction about some of the messaging that we've used in different fundraising banners. We have been following this RfC over the past two weeks and collecting feedback and specific suggestions about how to change the banners based on some of the comments in the RfC. We created a new page where we are sharing banner messaging for the upcoming English Wikipedia banner campaign alongside volunteers. That page includes five options for banners that were written with ideas from volunteers, and a space for volunteers to suggest other ideas as well.

We will be introducing more direct community input into fundraising messaging. That's a commitment that our CEO Maryana Iskander emphasized in her note to the community on November 25. We don't know what that process looks like yet, however the fundraising team welcomes your help and ideas on the banners.

2. Could you explain what happens inside the WMF when Wikipedians raise concerns about something. For instance, concerns about fundraising messaging have been raised one way or another for some time now. At what point does the WMF notice community concern on an issue, and at what point does it act on it?

There are many people across the Foundation who are constantly reading, discussing and responding to the questions we hear from the communities. For example, Julia Brungs, JBrungs (WMF), Advancement's Community Relations Specialist, is dedicated full-time to engaging our communities around fundraising and can usually be found on talk pages answering questions and sharing the latest updates. With such a global movement, community conversations happen in a variety of different spaces, including on and off-wiki, and determining what the prevailing feeling is amongst a majority of volunteers is not always easy.

There are some changes that staff can make on their own in response to community feedback and do so immediately.  However, there are some requests that have far reaching impacts that require buy-in from others. For example, the changes that we are making to fundraising in response to the RfC may have significant budgetary impacts for the Wikimedia Foundation.  A decision of this magnitude is not one that the fundraising team can or would make by itself. The Board of Trustees have been thoughtful partners as we've made changes to the fundraising approach in response to the RfC, with the understanding that this may require adjustments to the budget.

3. In recent years the Wikimedia Foundation's expenditure has grown significantly, but the amount of fundraised income has grown even faster than expenditure. In some ways, this is a great problem to have. But will there come a point where the Foundation has enough money?

We try to fundraise more than we spend because it is a best practice for nonprofits to have operating reserves. For example, in order to receive the highest rating from nonprofit rating agencies like Charity Navigator, a nonprofit must have a minimum of 12 months of operating expenses held in reserve. Recently, the board adopted a working capital policy that defines how much the Foundation should have in reserves, which they set at 12 to 18 months of operating expenses. If the annual budget grows, we have to in turn grow the reserve in order to stay within that target range which is why we try to raise more than we spend.  

But I want to get to the heart of your question of whether the Foundation has the money it needs. We have a vision to share the sum of all knowledge and a 2030 strategic direction. We have a lot more work to do to come close to achieving these goals, whether that is maintaining and improving our sites so more people can access and participate in knowledge, supporting the growth of knowledge in other languages (many of which have far less content than English Wikipedia), increasing awareness about the Wikimedia projects – the list goes on. As Maryana stated in her response, the Foundation has seen rapid growth over the past several years. We're not going to continue to grow at the rate we have in the past. The emphasis will be on better delivering on these goals with the resources we have.

4. What's the purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment, and how can community members be sure that the money in it will be spent in line with our values?

The Wikimedia Endowment's purpose is “to act as a permanent fund that can support in perpetuity the operations and activities of current and future Wikimedia projects.” If you look at the mission statement of the Wikimedia Foundation the phrase “in perpetuity” is there, meaning we are called upon to build something that ensures we can fulfill the mission forever. Until we founded the Wikimedia Endowment seven years ago, we had very little we could point to that was focused on the long term. Currently, we are in the “Endowment Building Phase,” meaning we are building up the principal of the fund. Last year, we hit our initial fundraising goal and are now considering the plan going forward. Last year, we conducted interviews with donors and community members to get their ideas for more focus for what the Endowment should support. The Community Committee of the Wikimedia Endowment includes community members Phoebe Ayers and Patricio Lorento as trustees, and is developing a proposal for what the endowment should support in the short term and it will be shared in 2023.

5. What are the Wikimedia Foundation's internal policies and expectations about ethical fundraising, and are there any regulatory or professional codes of practice that the Foundation follows? For instance – does the Foundation follow the Association of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethical Standards?

Ethical fundraising shouldn't just be a policy, but part of our overall culture. This year, we conducted a training on the “Culture of Philanthropy,” first for the fundraising team and then as a plenary at our annual all-staff meeting. This is the idea of acknowledging and working for the common good, the same type of intrinsic motivation that I think drives many in our volunteer communities.

Within that overall approach, we follow best practices for ethical fundraising – including those laid out in the AFP policy, such as valuing the privacy of groups impacted by our fundraising, prioritizing mission over personal gain, and staying up to date on various ethical codes in the philanthropic profession. There is one part of the AFP Code that is slightly at odds with how we operate in that we share more data about our overall fundraising revenue and provide more frequent unofficial data than they recommend, in order to be as transparent as possible.  

Further, many staff are members of organizations like the AFP and attend their trainings and conferences. We also have several policies of our own to guide ethics including the Gift Policy which includes a new Anti Harassment Statement, Donor Privacy Policy, the Wikimedia Foundation Code of Conduct, and the Universal Code of Conduct. We train all new fundraising staff on these policies as a part of the onboarding process.

6. How do you see the Wikimedia Foundation's fundraising evolving in future? Are there any challenges on the horizon? In the long term, do you expect fundraising to be decentralised, in line with the Movement Strategy recommendations?

Change is the only constant in our fundraising. We keep evolving our fundraising based on the organization's and the movement's needs and external factors.

Over the years, we have diversified our revenue strategy. Increasingly, people are accessing Wikimedia content in other places besides our sites, including through voice assistants. The potential challenges mean that we need to continue to adapt our fundraising model as we have done over the years, shifting from a primary model of readers seeing banners on the desktop version of Wikipedia, to also engaging on mobile devices, over email, and a monthly giving program, among other things. The Endowment, discussed above, and Wikimedia Enterprise, are also strategies to increase our long term resilience.

Both in the long term and the short term, we expect continued changes in how we raise funds for the movement and where those funds go. When it comes to decentralizing fundraising, we are having conversations with affiliates about that now. In addition, the new funding strategy for movement grants embraces a more participatory decision-making model where volunteer regional committees evaluate and make decisions on grants. There are many other discussions happening that will also have an impact on this question, such as the concept of regional hubs and what that means for the role of affiliates, the Foundation, and new structures in the movement. I don't have answers to these questions yet, and this is something that we will need to decide together alongside the communities.

Reader comments


Privacy on Wikipedia in the cyberpunk future

Ladsgroup has actively edited Wikipedia since 2006. On the Persian Wikipedia, he's a bureaucrat, oversighter and check user. He currently works as a Staff Database Architect for the WMF. As a volunteer he helps build tools for CheckUsers. This article was written in his role as a volunteer and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signpost, the WMF, or of other Wikipedians.

When you edit Wikipedia, it will be public. We all know that. But do you know what it actually entails?

Can others tell if I have multiple accounts (such as sockpuppets)?

Some trusted users called Checkusers are able to see your IP address and user agent. Meaning they will know where you live, maybe where you are studying or where you work. They don't disclose such information and it's subject to a really strong policy. However, that's not the only way you can be identified.

The way you use language is unique to you; it's like a fingerprint. There are bodies of research on that. With simple natural language processing tools, you can extract discussions from Wikipedia and link accounts that have similar linguistic fingerprints.

not socks
Here's an example of two socks in Persian Wikipedia and two users that are not, analysed using a simple NLP system.

What does this mean? It means people will be able to find, guess or confirm their suspicions on other accounts you have. They will be able to link between multiple accounts without needing access to private data that could reveal where you live or work.

Who can analyze my edits?

Wikimedia projects are public: the license means that all information hosted on them can be reused for any purposes whatsoever, and the privacy policy allows for analysis of edits or other information publicly shared for any reason.

That means anyone with resources or knowledge can analyze data trends in your edit history, such as when you edit, what words you use, what articles you have edited. As technology has advanced, tools for analyzing trends in user data have as well, and include things as basic as edit counters, and as complex as anti-abuse machine learning systems, such as ORES and some anti-vandal bots. Academics have begun utilizing public data to develop models for combatting abuse on Wikipedia using machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, and volunteer developers have created systems that utilize natural language processing in order to help identify malicious actors.

As with anything, these technologies can be abused. That's one of the risks of an open project: an oppressive government or a big company can invest in it and download Wikimedia dumps. They can even go further and cross-check it with social media posts. While not likely in most cases, in areas of the world where free speech is limited, one should be conscious of what information you share on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

Beside external entities, volunteers have been building such tools to help Checkusers do their job better, with the potential to limit access to private data. The tool we showed graphs from here is being used in several wikis already but is only made available to Checkusers of that wiki by the developer. The tool doesn't give just a number, it builds plots and graphs to make decision-making easier.

Can we ban using AI tools?

Legally, there's nothing we can do to stop external entities from using this data – it's engraved in our license and privacy policy[1] that it's free to use for whatever purpose people see fit.

Because of this, restrictions on the use of natural language processing or other automated or AI abuse detection systems that do not directly edit Wikimedia projects are not possible. Communities could amend their local policies to prohibit blocks based on such technologies or to prohibit consideration of such analysis when deciding whether or not there is cause to use the CheckUser tool. Local projects cannot, however, prevent use of natural language processing or other tools completely because of the nature of the license and the current privacy policy.


  1. ^ From the Privacy policy: "You should be aware that specific data made public by you or aggregated data that is made public by us can be used by anyone for analysis and to infer further information, such as which country a user is from, political affiliation and gender."

Reader comments


Missed and Dissed

It's hardly controversial to note that the government of a certain country has had a troubling history of being involved with shady things and then lying about it (and that this is hardly a problem unique to that nation). But the fact that this is true in many cases does not necessarily make it true in any given case. Before we continue, I will pose you a question: Bernie Madoff is well-known to have stolen a bunch of stuff in 2008, and someone stole my bicycle in 2008, so do you think it was Bernie Madoff?

More to the point: do you think the United States Department of Homeland Security is dicking around with pages on Wikipedia?

Stephen Harrison answers "no", in his (aptly-titled) Slate article No, Wikipedia Is Not Colluding With DHS. He responds to claims from various online raconteurs on Twitter that the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Wikimedia Foundation colluded to influence content on Wikipedia prior to the 2020 United States elections (said raconteurs overlapping with the much-vaunted recession affair which the Signpost covered previously). Harrison goes into how Wikipedia actually dealt with the 2020 elections, mentioning that all the meetings between the WMF and the DHS were publicly announced at the time, and detailing what volunteers did to help Wikipedia maintain neutrality. See coverage in The Signpost's post-2020 election "Relying on Wikipedia: voters, scientists, and a Canadian border guard". Harrison calls the framing of the events "insulting, especially to the volunteer Wikipedia editors who do the hard work of curating reliable information for the site."

But what was the whole deal of it? Well, the specific claims Harrison addresses from Twitter loudmouths are based on much broader claims (and implications) from The Intercept in their October article "Truth Cops" (which TechDirt ripped the bajeezus out of), featuring a lot of stuff like this:

One has to admit that this sounds pretty disconcerting, but a trained eye can see some cracks in the concrete. First of all, Wikipedia isn't a "tech company", it's an encyclopedia, hosted on a website where all the discussions are public. I sure as hell didn't see User:Winston (Ministry of Truth) poking around at the Village Pump, so the only possible thing this could be referring to is the Wikimedia Foundation, which is a whole different entity, and most importantly, does not concern itself with editing articles here.

This brings us to the second thing, which is the crux of it all – few understand this – the WMF is not in charge of editing articles. It is true that they often "tackle" something, "assign a team" to something, or "investigate" something, but they do not "edit articles" except under extremely limited circumstances, which generally create peculiarly-shaped clouds of wikidrama visible from outer space, of which none have been spied over any American politics articles lately.

Yes, it is true that they put out an enormous report about tackling disinformation during the 2020 election. And it is true that this report contains a bunch of broad gesturing to the effect that they took a bunch of direct actions. But here, you can again read between the lines, and see that they were borrowing a shoulder for the tackle, so to speak: "Security and T&S, once it hit their radars respectively, moved quickly in trying to identify and coordinate resolutions". Coordinate resolutions? That's not editing! They sent a bunch of emails, to volunteer editors, telling them that someone was trying to dick around with Wikipedia, which is already very much against the rules, and the volunteers dealt with it.

I mean, look at this: "T&S needed some time to find an active steward on IRC". What kind of lousy COINTELPRO operation would need to sit around twiddling its thumbs while waiting for some random unpaid hobbyist to tab over to irssi?

Now, why the WMF has such a penchant for exaggerating their role in political editing, and for making their own activities sound creepy – like offering recommendations about a "Content Oversight Committee" to issue binding decisions about "harmful content" – is hard to understand. And, indeed, much has been written about the troubling recent phenomenon where vague, protean categories of harmful information are being increasingly "tackled", "addressed" and "investigated" by vague, protean organizations and consortia. However, in this instance, it would seem that Bernie Madoff did not steal my bicycle.

J, S, AC

Reader comments


Diminishing returns for article quality

Julle began editing the Swedish Wikipedia in 2004. He's authored a book, Wikipedia inifrån (Wikipedia from the Inside), published in 2022, and currently works for the Wikimedia Foundation's Product Department. This text is unrelated to his work, and the opinions expressed are his own.

When Wikipedia took over the world, it wasn't on the basis of article quality. If Wikipedia one day is replaced, it likely won't be because someone does what we do better.

In his widely influential 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma, American scholar of business administration Clayton Christensen investigated how dominant technologies are overtaken by new ones, and how the old organisations rarely managed to retain their positions as their industries shifted to a new paradigm. A key observation in Christensen's book is how the new technology, a product that is a break from tradition rather than a continuous improvement of the existing technology, is typically not better than the one it is replacing, but merely cheaper, simpler, more convenient.[1]

This echoes our experience: while Wikipedia's large language versions have long come out favourably in comparison to traditional printed encyclopedias, this largely happened after we achieved our position as the predominant source of information. In recent years, our reputation has changed for the better in countries like the United States or Sweden, as people belatedly realised that the Wikipedia of 2018 was not the same thing as the Wikipedia of 2004, but this was not necessarily correlated with increased readership in these areas.[2] It seems largely irrelevant to readers' decision to use us as a source of information – for that, we didn't need to be good. We just needed to be good enough, and then other factors – price, easy access – made all the difference.

A graph showing quality expectations/user needs being exceeded by product performance.
Adapted from Clayton Christensen's graph of product performance

To do what Wikipedia does

There have been attempts to do what Wikipedia does but better, like Citizendium or Everipedia. They seem doomed to fail. Not only because some of these endeavours insist that key aspects behind Wikipedia's success, such as the low threshold of entry, are defects to correct. Most importantly, it doesn't matter if they succeed in their ambition or not: one can't dislodge a supremely dominant entity like Wikipedia – entrenched in the fabric of the internet, with superb name recognition, hundreds of thousands of editors – by doing the same thing but slightly better. No product can win by modestly improving what the users are already doing; as human beings, we put a value on something simply because we are already using it.[3] There is no oxygen left to breathe for an English encyclopedia competing in the same niche. The strong competitors to Wikipedia exist in languages where the Wikimedia movement has been obstructed, like Baidu Baike in China.

Anyone wanting to dislodge Wikipedia from its place in the information ecosystem can't have article quality as their main selling point. This isn't just because the Wikipedian system of quality control, chaotic as it seems in theory, sort of works in practice, and our articles are often quite good – but because Wikipedia was good enough for the readers to start using it a long time ago. We have years of continuous editing and improvements beyond that point. It's not that Wikipedia is perfect, merely that we're probably way past the mark where additional quality will be attractive enough to change reader behaviour. Whether this is an indication of Wikipedia’s excellence or a reason for bleak despair as we look at how humans handle information may be in the eye of the beholder.

The rust in our machinery

There are, of course, concerns. Wikipedia was created with the assumption that anyone reading it would also be sitting in front of a keyboard. The conflation of the reader and the writer, the erasure of the strict line between the two roles, depended on the readers having the tools to efficiently contribute. Not only does this seem inherently more difficult on a phone – while certain things, such as patrolling, could arguably be equally easy or easier on a phone if our workflows weren't still primarily built for desktop users, most find adding text and references easier with access to a bigger screen and a physical keyboard – but we have over the years erected barriers ourselves. It is increasingly difficult to write new articles. And so we're at risk, when the constant editor attrition in some wikis outpaces the recruitment of new writers.

Many who attempt are thwarted not by the confusing code or technology, but by the sheer amount of norms and guidelines we have produced over the years. Wikipedia's guidelines have, like gneiss, been formed under external pressure, a reaction to attempts to fool or influence the encyclopedia, or in our own recognition of our shortcomings. As we have grown our concerns have shifted, in what seems to be a general pattern on Wikipedias of a certain size and age: from focusing on making sure we have the information to better control of the information. Other changes seem to be our internal definition of who we are. We gradually move towards stricter interpretation of our policies, like English Wikipedia's recent decision to require more sources to prove notability of Olympic athletes or how we prune the lush garden that is in-universe content related to popular culture, defining what is fancruft to be weeded out. This is where English alternatives to Wikipedia can thrive, rather than in the space we so firmly occupy: the corners we explicitly don't want, like the Fandom wikis, serving another purpose.

Quality and the reader

In their 2014 study, Lehmann et al.[4] mapped reader behaviour to see how it corresponded to our definition of article quality. Readers behave in different ways: they can read an article with focus, they might explore a topic jumping from article to article, or give it a cursory glance. Whether someone would sit down and spend time reading the entire article or just wanted to quickly peek at it had very little to do with our concept of article quality.[4] A common interpretation of this seems to be that Wikipedia, where we often invest time in what interests us rather than based on future pageviews, has a problem in misaligning article quality with the topics our readers are interested in – a pattern we see not just in what our audience chooses to read carefully, but also in relationship to page views.[5]

A different explanation would be that our concept of quality doesn't necessarily coincide with readers' needs. The goal of the encyclopedic article is to arm the reader with the right amount of knowledge. As we try to find the right amount of information to serve, we celebrate ambition and length. This is not necessarily wrong: there seems to be a correlation, albeit weak, between quality, as defined by the Wikipedia community, and reader trust in the article.[6] It is important that we actively fight disinformation in our articles; requiring sources is our best tool for doing so. However, a featured Wikipedia article has most likely long surpassed what would satisfy the reader.

Technology and shifts

Wikipedia grew in a symbiotic relationship with the concept of the search engine, not the least of which is Google. The encyclopedia significantly enhanced the quality of information gained when searching, and the search engines escorted readers to Wikipedia. Later, some of that balance has shifted, as Google now retains readers by serving the information they are looking for already in the search result.[7] Even the limited information in the Google Knowledge Graph, put together from various sources including Wikipedia and Wikidata, is often good enough. But increasingly, new internet users seem to abandon search engines as a way of looking for information.[8][9] They are happy using TikTok: to them, using the platform where they already spend their time is a simpler and more convenient way of looking for information.

We're not a company. We don't exist to bring value to shareholders and our purpose is not to be a tool for enrichment. When we work on our articles, we don't do it to better position ourselves, but to better fulfil our mission. To some degree, we don't have competitors: if someone is providing the world with information, they are merely doing what we want to be done. There is an argument to be made that we should do our thing, and if someone else comes along and does something else, something better, fine – we have served our purpose. But there are values which might make Wikipedia worth defending, even if information would be available elsewhere. Our belief in neutrality, in transparency and being able to show the reader from where we have collected the information. These are principles which deserve to survive technological shifts.

The day Wikipedia is replaced, it will likely be by something completely different that didn't even set out to compete with the Wikimedia wikis. There will be a niche we don't cover where a new initiative can thrive and find their audience, and grow until they – like we did – take up so much room there isn't enough oxygen left for us to breathe.

Article quality is important, as a method to achieve our mission. But article quality will not in itself save us if technology and user patterns leave us behind.


  1. ^ Christensen, Clayton (2016). The Innovator's Dilemma : When new technologies cause great firms to fail. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press. ISBN 978-1-63369-178-0.
  2. ^ Total pageviews, Swedish Wikipedia January 2016 to October 2022. Wikistats. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  3. ^ Gourville, John T. (2006). "Eager Sellers and Stony Buyers: Understanding the Psychology of New-Product Adoption". Harvard Business Review. 84 (6): 98–106. Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  4. ^ a b Lehmann, Janette; Müller-Birn, Claudia; Laniado, David; Lalmas, Mounia; Kaltenbrunner, Andreas (2014). "Reader preferences and behavior on Wikipedia". Proceedings of the 25th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 88–97.
  5. ^ Morten Warncke-Wang; Vivek Ranjan; Loren Terveen & Brent Hecht (2015). "Misalignment Between Supply and Demand of Quality Content in Peer Production Communities". Proceedings of the The 9th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM).
  6. ^ Elmimouni, Houda; Forte, Andrea; Morgan, Jonthan (September 2022). "Why People Trust Wikipedia Articles: Credibility Assessment Strategies Used by Readers". OpenSym '22: Proceedings of the 18th International Symposium on Open Collaboration. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 1–10.
  7. ^ McMahon, Connor; Johnson, Isaac; Hecht, Brent (3 May 2017). "The Substantial Interdependence of Wikipedia and Google: A Case Study on the Relationship Between Peer Production Communities and Information Technologies". Proceedings of the Eleventh International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. pp. 142–151.
  8. ^ Moon, Julia (2022-07-28). "Why I Use Snap and TikTok Instead of Google". Slate. Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  9. ^ Rebollo, Clara (2022-09-14). "Rápido, adictivo y entra por los ojos: TikTok ya es el buscador de la generación Z". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-08.

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Writing the Revolution

Writing the Revolution: Wikipedia and the Survival of Facts in the Digital Age is a new book by Heather Ford, with a foreword by Ethan Zuckerman. It was published by MIT Press on November 15, 2022. Ford is Associate Professor and Head of Discipline for Digital and Social Media, School of Communication, University of Technology Sydney, as well as a former member of the Wikimedia Foundation advisory board.
Andreas Kolbe is a former co-editor-in-chief of The Signpost, and has been a Wikipedia contributor since 2006.

Heather Ford's Writing the Revolution is a timely book. Wikipedia, along with its younger sibling Wikidata, is as influential as it has ever been. Its contents inform the Google Knowledge Graph and are read out by Apple's, Amazon's and Google's voice assistants to millions of people, as definitive answers to users' queries. It's a level of success few people would have predicted fifteen or twenty years ago.

It's also a development worth questioning. While facts can be contested and changed on Wikipedia, this possibility is lost when Wikipedia content is delivered by an electronically generated voice or displayed as incontrovertible fact in a search engine's knowledge panel: You cannot argue with your voice assistant, and Google is famously unresponsive to users wishing to draw the company's attention to errors in its knowledge panels. As Ford says in the first chapter,

Wikipedia is no longer just an encyclopedia. Like Google, Wikipedia constitutes critical knowledge infrastructure. Like electricity grids, telephone and sewerage networks, platforms including Wikipedia and Google provide knowledge infrastructure that millions of people around the world depend on to make decisions in everyday life. Despite their importance, we are usually unaware of the workings of our knowledge infrastructure until it breaks down. When that happens, we get a glimpse not only of how platforms share data between one another but also the attempts of people trying to influence their representations.

Given Wikipedia's near-ubiquity (China being the most notable exception; the country has its own huge, crowdsourced, internet encyclopedias, and Wikipedia is not welcome), it is therefore appropriate to scrutinise how information on Wikipedia is compiled. This applies in particular to current-affairs articles, which, in a departure from the traditional encyclopaedia model, are among the most consulted on Wikipedia, shaping perceptions and thus actually influencing the very events they are reporting on.

Ford focuses her attention on the development over time of a single Wikipedia article, the one on the 2011 Egyptian revolution, from its preparation in the days before the 2011 Egyptian protests even started, through its early Sturm und Drang days on-wiki, and on to the present day.

Retold in meticulous detail, based on both edit histories and interviews with the Wikipedians who shaped the article's contents and development, it becomes a fascinating journey, a microcosm that serves to illustrate the practical operation of Wikipedia's collaborative editing process, the strategies contributors employ to make content "stick", and the functioning and occasional non-functioning of the policies and guidelines supposedly steering and controlling the entire enterprise.

Above all, the story Ford recounts makes clear how much emotion there is in Wikipedia. Writing Wikipedia is not a dry, analytical endeavour designed to arrive at a sober description of consensus reality, but one driven by passion and rewarded by the occasional exultation. As she recounts the actions of Wikipedians like The Egyptian Liberal, Ocaasi, Tariqabjotu, Lihaas, Mohamed Ouda, Amr, Silver seren, Aude and others, it becomes clear that struggle is inherent in the process:

Because of Wikipedia's status not only as an encyclopedia, as one representation among many, but also as the infrastructure for the production and travel of facts, the ways in which decisions are made about which descriptions, explanations, and classifications are selected over others become critical. Wikipedia is authoritative because it seems to reflect what is the consensus truth about the world. How, then, is so-called consensus arrived at? Who (or what) wins in these struggles? What does it take to win? How do battles play out across the chains of circulation in which datafied facts now travel? Does this ultimately represent a people’s history, reflective of our global collective intelligence? Is history now written by algorithms, or do certain groups and actors actually dominate that representation?

These are the questions that the book seeks to answer. Journalists may write the first draft of history, and historians document expert accounts by revisiting those sources after events have occurred. But on Wikipedia, accounts of historic events are being created in ways that are more powerful and more popular than any single authoritative source. Rather than representing global consensus, the facts that are curated and circulated through the web’s most trusted terrains are the result of significant struggles and the constant discarding of alternatives. Some actors and technologies prevail in this struggle, while other knowledges are either actively rejected or never visible from the start.

This is the premise of the book, and it succeeds brilliantly at explaining how Wikipedia works to the general public – and indeed to Wikipedians themselves, who may have become so habituated to Wikipedia's internal processes that they don't consciously perceive them anymore, just like a carpenter who uses a hammer daily generally only has eyes for the structures built, rather than the tool they use to build them.

In the end, Ford argues that our knowledge infrastructure suffers from three key weaknesses: first, Wikipedia is vulnerable to crowds driven by collective emotion; second, algorithms that carry Wikipedia facts to other delivery channels remove the traces of the facts' origins; and, third, knowledge authority is vested in a very small number of platforms, all hosted in the United States.

Ford's Writing the Revolution provides a more clear-eyed explanation of what Wikipedia is, who Wikipedians are, and why it matters, than any other book published to date. It reveals a profoundly human project – full of human talent and human flaws – as well as a writer whose own humanity shines through in the way she relates the stories of the Wikipedians involved.


More about this book has been written elsewhere –

There is also a related article by Heather Ford on The Conversation:

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Galactic dreams, encyclopedic reality

"AI" is a silly buzzword that I try to avoid whenever possible. First of all, it is poorly defined, and second of all, the definition is constantly changing for advertising and political reasons. If you want an example of this, look at this image, which illustrates our own article on "AI": it was generated using a single line of code in Mathematica. Simply put, the "AI effect" is that "AI" is always defined as "using computers to do things computers aren't currently good at", and once they're able to do it, people stop calling it "AI". If we just say the actual thing that most "AI" is – currently, neural networks for the most part – we will find the issue easier to approach. In fact, we have already approached it: the Objective Revision Evaluation Service has been running fine for several years.

With that said, here is some silly stuff that happened with a generative NLP model:

Meta, formerly Facebook, released their "Galactica" project this month, a big model accompanied by a long paper. Said paper boasted some impressive accomplishments, with benchmark performance surpassing current SoTA models like GPT-3, PaLM and Chinchilla – Jesus, those links aren't even blue yet, this field moves fast – on a variety of interesting tasks like equation solving, chemical modeling and general scientific knowledge. This is all very good and very cool. Why is there a bunch of drama over it? Probably some explanation of how it works is appropriate.

While we have made ample use of large language models in the Signpost, including two long articles in this August's issue which turned out pretty darn well, there is a certain art to using them to do actual writing: they are not mysterious pixie dust that magically understands your intentions and synthesizes information from nowhere. For the most part, all they do is predict the next token (i.e. a letter or a word) in a sequence – really, that's it – after having been exposed to vast amounts of text to get an idea of which tokens are likely to come after which other tokens. If you want to get an idea of how this works on a more basic level, I wrote a gigantic technical wall of text at GPT-2. Anyway, the fact that it can form coherent sentences, paragraphs, poems, arguments, and treatises is purely a side effect of text completion (which has some rather interesting implications for human brain architecture, but that is beside the point right now). The important thing to know is that they just figure out what the next thing is going to be. If you type in "The reason Richard Nixon decided to invade Canada is because", the LLM will dutifully start explaining the implications of Canada being invaded by the USA in 1971. it's not going to go look up a bunch of sources and see whether that's true or not. It will just do what you're asking it to, which is to say some stuff.

This would have been a great thing to explain on the demo page, but for some reason it was decided that the best way to showcase this prowess would be to throw a text box up on the Internet, encouraging users to type in whatever and generate large amounts of text, including scientific papers, essays... and Wikipedia articles.

So we made a request for an article about The Signpost in the three days the demo was up. The writing was quite impressive, and indeed was indistinguishable from a human's output. You could learn a lot from something like this! The problem is that we were learning a bunch of nonsense: for example, we apparently started out as a print publication. Unfortunately, we didn't save the damn thing, because we didn't think they were going to take everything down three days after putting it up. The outlaws at Wikipediocracy did, so you can see an archived copy of their own attempt at a Galactica self-portrait, which is full of howlers (compare to their article over here).

Ars Technica later wrote a scathing review of the demo. They note several issues, and a little digging into their sources found a Twitter user who managed to get Galactica to write papers on the benefits of eating crushed glass, and got multiple papers that resembled the basic appearance of valid sources, while containing claims like "Crushed glass is a source of dietary silicon, which is important for bone and connective tissue health", and a generated review paper described all the studies that show feeding pigs crushed glass is great for improving weight gain and reducing mortality. Of course, if there were health benefits of eating crushed glass, this is probably what papers about it would look like, but as it stands, the utility of such text is dubious. The same goes for articles on the "benefits of antisemitism", which mrgreene1977 wisely did not quote from, but one can imagine what kind of tokens would come after what kind of other tokens.

Will Douglas Heaven's article for MIT Technology Review "Why Meta's latest large language model survived only three days online" leads with the statement, "Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense", and things get worse from there. Apparently, the algorithm was prone to backing up its points (like a wiki article about spacefaring Soviet bears) with fake citations, sometimes from real scientists working in the field in question. Lovely! Well worth reading, with far too many great examples in there to quote, and even more if you follow their suggestion to look at Gary Marcus's blog post on it.

In their defense, the Galacticans did note, at the bottom of a long explanation of how much the website rules:

But then, even when attempting to use it correctly, it had problems. The MIT Technology review report links to an attempt by Michael Black, director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, to get Galactica to write on subjects he knew well, and ended up thinking Galactica was dangerous: "Galactica generates text that's grammatical and feels real. This text will slip into real scientific submissions. It will be realistic but wrong or biased. It will be hard to detect. It will influence how people think." He instead suggests that those who want to do science should "stick with Wikipedia".

Perhaps it would be best to give the last, rather spiteful word to Yann LeCun, Meta's chief AI scientist: "Galactica demo is offline for now. It’s no longer possible to have some fun by casually misusing it. Happy?"

What does it mean for us?

Most of the issues and controversies we run into with ML models follow a familiar pattern: some researcher decides that "Wikipedia" is an interesting application for a new model, and creates some bizarre contraption that serves basically no purpose for editors. Nobody wants more geostubs! But this is not a problem with the underlying technology.

The field of machine learning is growing extremely quickly, both in terms of engineering (the implementation of models) and in terms of science (the development of vastly more powerful models). Anyone who has an opinion about these things is simply going to be wrong about anything a few months from now. They will only grow in importance, and I think that any editor who does not try to read as much about it as possible and keep abreast of developments is doing themselves a disservice. Not wanting to be a man of talk and no action, I wrote GPT-2 (while its successor model is more relevant to current developments, it has identical architecture to the old one, and if you read about GPT-2 you will understand GPT-3).

Moreover, we have already been tackling the issue of neural nets on our own terms: the Objective Revision Evaluation Service has been running fine for several years. It seems to me that, if we were to approach these technologies with open minds, it could be possible to resolve some of our most stubborn problems, and bring ourselves into the future with style and aplomb. I mean, anything is possible. For all we know, the Signpost might start putting out print editions.

J, AC, B, S

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The Six Million FP Man

Sometimes, we all reach milestones in our time at Wikipedia. Sometimes you reach 100 featured articles. Sometimes you get elected to ArbCom. Sometimes you hit 600 featured pictures, which, as far as I can tell, is more than anyone else has ever achieved, about 8.2% of all featured pictures, and the result of fifteen years of work.

And sometimes, no one else cares about this fact.[1] So how does one write an article about oneself while not appearing completely vain and self-promotional? Well, one doesn't, but let's do it anyway because it'll be at least a couple years until the next milestone.

Option one: Select some of your favourites

Why not make a gallery of your favourite restorations, showing off how much work you put into these? For example, you could go to your user page and copy over the conveniently pre-formatted list you made, that shows before and after!


It's a good start! But maybe some sort of animation too?

Animation of a small section of an image before and after restoration, with a certain amount of degradation from conversion to GIF.


Option two: How about a history?

You could describe how you got into your field of editing. For example, I got into image restoration through an image that I don't even count as one of my "official" list of featured pictures anymore (I do my official count based on the ones featured on Adam Cuerden, which ignores or gives half-value to anything I didn't work hard enough on, leaves out a lot of my very early works, and definitely ignores anything I just nominated). It's an illustration to the play The Princess by W. S. Gilbert. It's not the biggest restoration, nor the most impressive original, but if you look roughly under the "T" of "THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS" you'll see a very obvious white line that shouldn't be there. I spent hours fixing that in Microsoft Paint. 2007 was a very different time. I got better from there.

By 2009, I was scanning my own books, and doing rather impressive images from Gustave Doré. Would I do it different now? Well, I'd probably fix up the border a bit, but it's not bad. It's also so large that I couldn't upload the original file, because Commons wasn't configured to allow anything as large as a lossless file of that type has to be:

2010 saw the stitching together of the poster of Utopia Limited we saw earlier. 2012 saw this incredibly difficult Battle of Spottsylvania image, which is also about the time I started to get a bit more confident with colour:

In 2016 I went to Wikimania in Esino Lario, met Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, and got introduced to Women in Red. This was the point I realised that there was rather a gender bias in my contributions, and I began work to improve things. It wasn't that I hadn't done images of women before, but they were a sometimes food, and images of women should be more of a main course. Here's a selection of my favourite images of women I brought to featured pictures after joining Women in Red, in no particular order because Wikipedia galleries work best if you space out landscape images with as many portrait orientation ones as possible:

I was originally planning for Ulmar to be my 600th featured picture. However, the vagaries of "Does Featured Picture Candidates have enough participation for things to pass?" said no, which leads us into our next technique of shameless self-promotion dealing with the issue at hand.

Option three: Talk about the thing that pushed you over the top

One could discuss the thing that pushed you over the top, and how it relates to your history in Wikipedia. While I don't talk about it much, I have eight featured articles, my first, from October 2006, was W. S. Gilbert, and that really got me into Wikipedia as a whole.[2]

So, when choosing something significant to my Wikipedia career....

I had been looking for a high-resolution picture of him for, well, over a decade, probably. I stumbled upon the Digital Public Library of America, decided to give it a go, and found this, of all places, in the University of Minnesota library collections. But then, I suppose it's always going to be somewhere a little unexpected if you checked everywhere you expected. I think this is one of my featured pictures where zooming in is necessary to really tell the work done, but having an image of him that can be safely zoomed in to about a foot wide or so is probably going to be very helpful to a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan societies out there.

Oh, and to answer the obvious question, Arthur Sullivan is, if anything, harder to find an image of than Gilbert. I mean, I did, he's Featured Picture number 601, but it wasn't easy to find.

Was kind of odd, though: I found him in a collection I thought I knew very well already. Which just goes to show you, I suppose. Anyway, he will hopefully be joining many more in the next months and years. See you for Number 700!


  1. ^ Editor's note: 🤔
  2. ^ There's a bit of a mess of old account names due to anonymity vs. real names, for a while, shifting over to anonymity after some harassment on here. This was before most of the current policies around that kind of thing were finalised.

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(Wiki)break stuff

Sometimes life gets messy. Here are a few tips on not sweating the small stuff.


Edvard Munch's The Scream painting
Is this you when you log on Wikipedia? If so, you might need a Wikibreak!

Like most people, I happen to have a life. The pandemic years have been a bit more chaotic for me than most, involving a poorly-timed job loss, moving multiple times, unstable employment, etc. This didn't really get in the way of my editing save perhaps not having access to my computer for a few days here and there. However, most recently, I decided to return to studies, which involve a two hour commute a few times a week, during a period of financial strain mostly due to bureaucratic paperwork hellholes that are yet to be resolved, and lots of homework, projects, on top of class time.

It's this last straw that kind of butted against my Wikipedia priorities. While I wanted to write more Tips and Tricks columns (you might have noticed they were missing in the last two issues), and, if push came to shove, I could certainly have done so, the reality was simply that I just didn't have it in me if I wanted to remain sane and dabble in my other more social hobbies. I needed the famous Wikibreak. I still edited, mostly on weekends, but I couldn't have long periods of time with a clear mind, so I just dabbled in mostly mindless stuff, reference cleanup, etc.

But I'm important, I can't not edit!

A man with a very tall hat
The official Grand Gom ceremonial hat. You can tell it is very important because it is a very tall hat.

Imagine my stress at the thought of me, being a Vanguard Editor, or, dare I say, a Grand Gom, the Highest Togneme of the Encyclopedia, with over 407,000 edits, reducing my productivity output? I'm currently the 78th most prolific editor on the English Wikipedia, having recently fallen from 77th, overtaken by Liz. What if [Placeholder Editor], with their mere 402,000 edits, surpasses me, and I tumble down to 79th? What then? What then?

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, or have similar thoughts about your own importance to the community, I would invite you to read our article on Grand Poobahs, and realize that my 407,000 edits as of writing, which sounds like a lot (and it is a lot), is really not that much compared to the 1.17 billion total edits made by the community. Mine amount to roughly 0.036% of all edits ever made. I am a drop in the ocean.

This is not to say that you bring nothing to the table. Vandal fighting, DYKs on the front page, new page patrol, adding missing citations, removing poorly sourced content, creating new articles concerning an underrepresented topic or community, fighting copyright violations... these things all matter. But it helps to remind yourself that the world (or worse, Wikipedia) will not end if you take it slow for a while. Maybe it'll be a little bit less awesome if you're not around, but in the long run, Wikipedia will be better off if you take a break when you need it. On your return, you'll be in a better state of mind all around, but you'll also find yourself less prone to get into silly arguments, you'll be less bite-y, and it'll be easier to assume good faith of your fellow editors.

Recognizing you need a break

The hardest step to take a Wikibreak, at least for certain Wikipediholics, is to recognize that you need one. Common symptoms involve

  1. Having trouble managing work/life/editing balance in general
  2. Having a feeling of dread when you log on Wikipedia
  3. Being uninspired to edit when you normally have dozens of ideas about what you could edit.
  4. Editing until 3AM when you really should be sleeping because you need to get up at 6AM
  5. Find yourself neglecting "real life" activities/chores/priorities because you don't have enough time to do everything.

For me, it was simply recognizing that my long term goals were incompatible with maintaining my regular editing habits and commitments. I didn't "actively" decide I needed a break, I just realized over time that I needed to edit less because I simply didn't have as much free time as usual.

Announcing your Wikibreak

Some people like to announce they're taking a Wikibreak, mostly out of courtesy to others that might wonder why they might be slower than normal in their replies, or aren't around for some discussions that would normally interest them. WP:WIKIBREAK contains several examples of templates one might display on their user/user talk pages, such as:

Some templates offer more insight than others as to the cause of your Wikibreak, but certainly don't feel obliged to divulge more details than you feel comfortable doing so. A generic notice, like: perfectly acceptable!

You can also simply take a Wikibreak and not tell anyone. I didn't announce mine, for example, mostly because I realized over time I needed to pull back, rather than actively making an decision to have a break. That's OK too!

Enforcing the break

Various tools exist to help you maintain discipline during your Wikibreak. Mine was facilitated by some editing habits. I normally edit Wikipedia from my main computer, which consist of a fairly powerful desktop, with a dual 27-inch screen setup, a high end full mechanical keyboard, and a high end mouse. I won't lie, I'm an extremely privileged editor as far as my setup is concerned. However, when in school, in a entirely different city, I only have access to my laptop, a 13-inch screen dinosaur from 2013 that struggles to open a PDF, with a crappy laptop keyboard and crappy external mouse (if I even bother hooking it up), which is a decidedly less optimal editing experience. But I have kept this crappy laptop around for the express purpose of having a miserable editing experience on it.

Having a "desktop = Wikipedia, laptop = School" separation helps me tremendously in my discipline, and I would highly encourage anyone that struggles to separate work/school from hobbies/home life to have physically distinct setups, one for productivity/work, the other for hobbies. I do recognize that this is not something all people can afford, in which case I encourage you to find another "mental switch", like "laptop in the kitchen = work/school, laptop in the bedroom = hobbies" that helps you with this separation. Or even simply working from a different side of the table to create some sort of distinction that your mind can latch on.

For those that can't self-regulate, there is always the WikiBreak Enforcer user script, which prevents you from logging in until a certain date. You can also ask for a block if you'd rather not deal with scripts.

What's next?

There's a saying in the video game industry that a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad. I would argue it is the same with our work on Wikipedia. Don't put yourself in a crunch situation if you can avoid it. We're all volunteers, if you need to take a week or four to yourself, take the time off! We'll still be here when you return.

For me, my involvement on Wikipedia (and the Signpost) will wax and wane with my workload, which will alternate between classes and work placement every two months until June of next year. But for you, I hope that when you next encounter high levels of Wikistress, either in yourself or in a Wikifriend, you'll keep the Wikibreak in mind as one possible way to get on top of things and avoid a Wikiburnout.

To end things, I'll invite you to share your own own Wikibreak story in the comment section! Or if you never took a Wikibreak, maybe you can share a moment where, in hindsight, you wish you had taken one.

Tips and Tricks is a general editing advice column written by experienced editors. If you have suggestions for a topic, or want to submit your own advice, follow these links and let us know (or comment below)!

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Study deems COVID-19 editors smart and cool, questions of clarity and utility for WMF's proposed "Knowledge Integrity Risk Observatory"

A monthly overview of recent academic research about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, also published as the Wikimedia Research Newsletter.

"Wikipedia as a trusted method of information assessment during the COVID-19 crisis"

Reviewed by Piotr Konieczny

This book chapter,[1] unfortunately not yet in open access, provides a good overview of Wikipedia's history and practices, concluding that Wikipedia's coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic is "precise and robust", and that this generated positive coverage of Wikipedia in mainstream media. The author provides an extensive and detailed overview of how Wikipedia volunteers covered the pandemic, and highlights the efforts of the dedicated WikiProject COVID-19 (on English Wikipedia, while also mentioning COVID-19 "portals in several other languages such as French, Spanish, or German"), an offshoot of the larger WikiProject Medicine, as important in creating quality content in this topic area. He also praises Wikipedia editors for their dedication to the fight against fake news and misinformation, and the Wikimedia Foundation's "embrace" of these editors' actions.

One of the most interesting observations made by the author – if somewhat tangential to the main topic – is that Wikipedia "is used [by readers] in ways similar to a news media", which "generates a tension between Wikipedia's original encyclopaedic ambitions and these pressing journalistic tendencies" (an interesting and, in this reviewer's experience, under-researched topic, at least in English – see here for a review of a recent French book on this topic). The author concludes that this, somewhat begrudging, acceptance of current developments by the Wikipedia community has significantly contributed to making its coverage relevant to the general audience, and at the same time, notes that despite reliance on media sources, rather than waiting for scholarly coverage, Wikipedia was still able to main high quality in its coverage, which the author attributes to editors' reliance on "legacy media outlets, like The New York Times and the BBC".

Wikimedia Foundation builds "Knowledge Integrity Risk Observatory" to enable communities to monitor at-risk Wikipedias

Reviewed by Tilman Bayer
"Taxomony of Knowledge Integrity Risks in Wikipedia" (figure 1 in the paper)

A paper titled "A preliminary approach to knowledge integrity risk assessment in Wikipedia projects"[2] by two members of the Wikimedia Foundation's research team provides a "taxonomy of knowledge integrity risks in Wikipedia projects [and an] initial set of indicators to be the core of a Wikipedia Knowledge Integrity Risk Observatory." The goal is to "provide Wikipedia communities with an actionable monitoring system." The paper was presented in August 2021 at an academic workshop on misinformation (part of the ACM's KDD conference), as well as at the Wikimania 2021 community conference the same month.

The taxonomy distinguishes between internal and external risks, each divided into further sub-areas (see figure). "Internal" refers "to issues specific to the Wikimedia ecosystem while [external risks] involve activity from other environments, both online and offline."

Various quantitative indicators of "knowledge integrity risks" are proposed for each area. A remark at the end of the paper clarifies that they are all meant to be calculated at the project level, i.e. to provide information about how much an entire Wikipedia language version is at risk (rather than, say, to identify specific articles or editors that may deserve extra scrutiny).

For example, the following indicators are suggested for the "content verifiability" risk category:

Distribution of articles by number of citations, number of scientific citations and number of citation and verifiability article maintenance templates, distribution of sources by reliability.

The authors emphasize that "the criteria for proposing these indicators are that they should be simple to be easily interpreted by non-technical stakeholders". Some of the proposed metrics are indeed standard in other contexts. But the paper mostly leaves open how they should be interpreted in the context of knowledge integrity risks. For example, the metrics for internal risks in the category "community capacity" include "Number of articles, editors, active editors, editors with elevated user rights (admins, bureaucrats, checkusers, oversighters, rollbackers)". The authors indicate that these are meant to identify a "shortage of patrolling resources." Presumably the idea is to construct risk indicators based on the ratio of these editor numbers to the number of articles or edits (with higher ratios perhaps indicating higher resilience to integrity risks), but the paper doesn't provide explanations.

For various other metrics, the possible interpretations are even less clear. For example, "ratio of articles for deletion; ratio of blocked accounts" are listed in the "Community governance" risk category. But do high ratios indicate a higher risk (because the project is more frequently targeted by misinformation) or a lower risk (because the local community is more effective at deleting and blocking misinformation)? Similarly, would a comparatively low "number of scientific citations" on a project indicate that it is rife for scientific misinformation - or simply that it has fewer and shorter articles about scientific topics?

Throughout the paper, such questions often remain unresolved, raising doubts about how useful these metrics will be in practice. While the authors sometimes cite relevant literature, several of the cited publications do not support or explain a relation between the proposed metric and misinformation risks either. For example, one of the two papers cited for "controversiality" (cf. our review) points out that, contrary to what the Foundation's researchers appear to assume, editor controversies can have a positive effect on article quality ("Clearly, there is a positive role of the conflicts: if they can be resolved in a consensus, the resulting product will better reflect the state of the art"). Similarly, other research has found that "higher political polarization [among editors] was associated with higher article quality."

"Entropy values (𝑆) of the distributions of the number of edits and views by country of the Wikipedia language editions, identified by the ISO 639-1 code, with over 500K articles. The graph includes a linear regression model fit." (Figure 2 from the paper)

An exception is the "community demographics" risk category, where the authors provide the following justification:

"To illustrate the value of the indicators for knowledge integrity risk assessment in Wikipedia, we provide an example on community demographics, in particular, geographical diversity [defined as] the entropy value of the distributions of number of edits and views by country of the language editions with over 500K articles. On the one hand, we observe large entropy values for both edits and views in the Arabic, English and Spanish editions, i.e., global communities. On the other hand, other large language editions like the Italian, Indonesian, Polish, Korean or Vietnamese Wikipedia lack that geographical diversity."

(Assuming that this refers to entropy in the sense of information theory, for example, these values are minimal (0) when all edits or views are concentrated in a single country, and maximized when every country worldwide contributes the exact same number of edits or views.)

Here, the authors "highlight the extraordinarily low entropy of views of the Japanese Wikipedia, which supports one of the main causes attributed to misinformation incidents in this edition" (referring to concerns about historical revisionism in several Japanese Wikipedia articles). However, it remains unclear why a low diversity in views should be more directly associated to such bias problems than a low diversity in edits (where the Japanese Wikipedia appears to be largely on par with Finnish and Korean Wikipedia, and Italian, Polish and Catalan Wikipedia would seem similarly at risk). The paper also includes a plot showing a linear regression fit that indicates a relation between the two measures (entropy of views and edits). But this finding seems somewhat unsurprising if one accepts that reading and editing activity levels may be correlated, and its relevance to knowledge integrity remains unclear.

Lastly, while the paper's introduction highlights "deception techniques such as astroturfing, harmful bots, computational propaganda, sockpuppetry, data voids, etc." as major reasons for a recent rise in misinformation problems on the web, none of these are explicitly reflected in the proposed taxonomy, or captured in the quantitative indicators. (The "content quality" metrics mention the frequency of bot edits, but in the context of Wikipedia research, these usually refer to openly declared, benign bot accounts. The "geopolitics" risk category gives a nod to "political contexts" where "some well resourced interested parties (e.g., corporations, nations) might be interested in externally-coordinated long-term disinformation campaigns in specific projects," but this evidently does not capture many or most non-geopolitical abuses of Wikipedia for PR purposes.)

This omission is rather surprising, considering that problems like paid advocacy and conflict of interest editing have been discussed as major concerns among the editing community for a long time (see e.g. the hundreds of articles published over the years by the Signpost, recently in form of a recurring "Disinformation Report" rubric). They are also among the few content issues where the Wikimedia Foundation has felt compelled to take action in the past, e.g. by changing the Terms of Use and taking legal action against some players.

The paper stresses in its title that the taxonomy is meant to be "preliminary." Indeed, since its publication last year, further work has been done on refining and improving at least the proposed metrics (if not necessarily the taxonomy itself), according to the research project's page on Meta-wiki and associated Phabricator tasks, resulting in a not yet public prototype of the risk observatory (compare screenshot below). Among other changes, the aforementioned entropy of views by country seems to have been replaced by a "Gini index" chart. Also, rather than the relative ratios of blocks mentioned in the paper, the prototype shows absolute counts of globally locked editors over time, still raising several questions on how to interpret these numbers in terms of knowledge risks.

The project appears to be part of the WMF Research team's "knowledge integrity" focus area, announced in February 2019 in one of four "white papers that outline our plans and priorities for the next 5 years" (see also last month's issue about several other efforts in this focus area, which likewise haven't yet resulted in actionable tools for editors apart from one since discontinued prototype). The "observatory" concept may have been inspired by the existing "Wikipedia Diversity Observatory" (cf. our previous coverage).

A screenshot of the (non-public) prototype of the risk observatory (January 2022)

The case of Croatian Wikipedia

While it is not mentioned in the "knowledge integrity risk assessment" paper, the Croatian Wikipedia is probably the most prominent example of a Wikimedia project where knowledge integrity was found to be compromised significantly. Thus it might provide an interesting retroactive test case for the usefulness of the observatory. A "disinformation assessment report"[3] commissioned by a different team at the Wikimedia Foundation (published in June 2021, i.e. around the same time as the paper reviewed above) found "a widespread pattern of manipulative behaviour and abuse of power by an ideologically aligned group of Croatian language Wikipedia (Hr.WP) admins and other volunteer editors", who held "undue de-facto control over the project at least from 2011 to 2020." It's unclear to this reviewer whether that kind of situation would have been reflected in any of the Wikipedia Knowledge Integrity Risk Observatory's proposed indicators. None of them seem to be suitable for distinguishing such a case - where the project's admins reverted or blocked editors who actually tried to uphold core Wikipedia principles - from the (hopefully) more frequent situation where the project's admins uphold and enforce these principles against actors who try to introduce disinformation.

Interestingly though, while the findings of the Croatian Wikipedia disinformation assessment are largely qualitative, it also developed a quantitative indicator "to measure and quantify disinformation". This is based on examining the Wikipedia articles about individuals who the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted of war crimes, counting how many of these articles mention this conviction in the first three sentences. The report's anonymous author found

"...that Croatian and Serbian language Wikipedia, in 62.5% and 39.1% of cases, respectively, avoid informing their visitors in the introductory paragraph that the person they’re reading about is a convicted war criminal who comes from the same ethnic group. All other surveyed Wikipedia languages – Serbo-Croatian, Bosnian, English, French, Spanish, and German – do this consistently and keep the information at the very beginning of an article [...]"

This metric seems much more concretely justified and actionable than any of those captured in the aforementioned observatory - albeit of course rather topic-specific and harder to operationalize (apparently the report's author had to manually inspect each article in the sample.)

Having said this, another finding of the report may lend additional anecdotal support to the "knowledge integrity risk assessment" paper's hypothesis that low edit diversity/entropy (by country) increases knowledge integrity risks:

"Croatian Wikipedia represents the Croatian standard variant of the Serbo-Croatian language. Unlike other pluricentric Wikipedia language projects, such as English, French, German, and Spanish, Serbo-Croatian Wikipedia’s community was split up into Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and the original Serbo-Croatian wikis starting in 2003. The report concludes that this structure enabled local language communities to sort by points of view on each project, often falling along political party lines in the respective regions. The report asserts, furthermore, it deprived the newly-created communities of editorial diversity that normally guides and underpins the traditionally successful process of editorial consensus in other pluricentric language projects."

Consequently, the report's three main recommendations include "unifying community elections for admin and functionary roles across the involved wikis" and ultimately re-merging these wikis "into the original Serbo-Croatian language projects."


Other recent publications

Other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue include the items listed below. Contributions, whether reviewing or summarizing newly published research, are always welcome.

Compiled by Tilman Bayer

Wikipedia "is winning the battle against COVID-19 misinformation"

From the abstract and the "Conclusion" section, in First Monday:[4]

"This paper investigates the editorial framework developed by the Wikipedia community, and identifies three key factors as proving successful in the fight against medical misinformation in a global pandemic — the editors, their sources and the technological affordances of the platform."
"Perhaps most significantly for the flow of misinformation, is that unlike the interconnectivity of other online media platforms, Wikipedia is largely a one-way street. While Facebook, YouTube and Google refer their readers to the site for fact-checking, Wikipedia does not return the favour. Without a commercial agenda, its readers are not directed to other content by an algorithm, nor are they subjected to advertisements or clickbait, hijacking their attention. [...]
The site is winning the battle against COVID-19 misinformation through the combination of an enthusiastic, volunteer army (those nit-picking masses), working within the disciplined schema of rigorous referencing to credible sources, on a platform designed for transparency and efficient editing. This editorial framework, combined with sanctions, expert oversight and more stringent referencing rules, is showing Wikipedia to be a significant platform for health information during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Associations Between Online Instruction in Lateral Reading Strategies and Fact-Checking COVID-19 News Among College Students"

From the abstract, in AERA Open:[5]

"In Fall 2020, college students (N = 221) in an online general education civics course were taught through asynchronous assignments how to use lateral reading strategies to fact-check online information [i.e. "leaving the initial content to investigate sources and verify claims using trusted sources", which here were taken to include Wikipedia]. Students improved from pretest to posttest in the use of lateral reading to fact-check information; lateral reading was predicted by the number of assignments completed and students’ reading comprehension test scores. Students reported greater use, endorsement, and knowledge of Wikipedia at posttest, aligning with the curriculum’s emphasis on using Wikipedia to investigate information sources. Students also reported increased confidence in their ability to fact-check COVID-19 news."

"Wikipedia, Google Trends and Diet: Assessment of Temporal Trends in the Internet Users’ Searches in Italy before and during COVID-19 Pandemic"

From the abstract, in Nutrients:[6]

"We obtained data from Google Trends and Wikipedia in order to assess whether an analysis of Internet searches could provide information on the Internet users’ behaviour/interest in diets. Differences in seasonality, year and before/during COVID-19 pandemic were assessed. From Wikipedia, we extracted the number of times a page is viewed by users, aggregated on monthly and seasonal bases. [...] The Mediterranean diet was the most frequently (33.9%), followed by the pescatarian diet (9.0%). Statistically, significant seasonal differences were found for the Mediterranean, vegetarian, Atkins, Scarsdale, and zone diets and pescetarianism."

"Collective Response to Media Coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Reddit and Wikipedia: Mixed-Methods Analysis"

From the abstract, in the Journal of Medical Internet Research:[7]

"We collected a heterogeneous data set including 227,768 web-based news articles and 13,448 YouTube videos published by mainstream media outlets, 107,898 user posts and 3,829,309 comments on the social media platform Reddit, and 278,456,892 views of COVID-19–related Wikipedia pages. To analyze the relationship between media coverage, epidemic progression, and users’ collective web-based response, we considered a linear regression model that predicts the public response for each country given the amount of news exposure. We also applied topic modelling to the data set [...].

Results: Our results show that public attention, quantified as user activity on Reddit and active searches on Wikipedia pages, is mainly driven by media coverage; meanwhile, this activity declines rapidly while news exposure and COVID-19 incidence remain high."

"War and Pieces: Comparing Perspectives About World War I and II Across Wikipedia Language Communities"

From the abstract, in the Proceedings of the 6th Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature:[8]

"We introduce a methodology for approximating the extent to which narratives of conflict may diverge [...], focusing on articles about World War I and II battles written by Wikipedia’s communities of editors across four language editions. For simplicity, our unit of analysis representing each language communities’ perspectives is based on national entities and their subject-object-relation context, identified using named entity recognition and open-domain information extraction. Using a vector representation of these tuples, we evaluate how similarly different language editions portray how [sic] and how often these entities are mentioned in articles. Our results indicate that (1) language editions tend to reference associated countries more and (2) how much one language edition’s depiction overlaps with all others varies."


  1. ^ Segault, Antonin (2022). "Wikipedia as a trusted method of information assessment during the COVID-19 crisis". COVID-19, Communication and Culture. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781003276517-5. ISBN 9781003276517.
  2. ^ Pablo Aragón and Diego Sáez-Trumper. 2021. A preliminary approach to knowledge integrity risk assessment in Wikipedia projects. In: The Second International MIS2 Workshop: Misinformation and Misbehavior Mining on the Web (MIS2 workshop at KDD 2021), August 15, 2021, Virtual. ACM, New York, NY, USA. Also as updated preprint: Aragón, Pablo; Sáez-Trumper, Diego (2021-06-30). "A preliminary approach to knowledge integrity risk assessment in Wikipedia projects". arXiv:2106.15940 [cs.CY].
  3. ^ "The Case of Croatian Wikipedia: Encyclopaedia of Knowledge, or Encyclopedia for the Nation?" (PDF). 14 June 2021.
  4. ^ Avieson, Bunty (2022-11-07). "Editors, sources and the 'go back' button: Wikipedia's framework for beating misinformation". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v27i11.12754. S2CID 253417029.
  5. ^ Brodsky, Jessica E.; Brooks, Patricia J.; Scimeca, Donna; Galati, Peter; Todorova, Ralitsa; Caulfield, Michael (2021-01-01). "Associations Between Online Instruction in Lateral Reading Strategies and Fact-Checking COVID-19 News Among College Students". AERA Open. 7: 23328584211038937. doi:10.1177/23328584211038937. S2CID 238644473.
  6. ^ Nucci, Daniele; Santangelo, Omar Enzo; Nardi, Mariateresa; Provenzano, Sandro; Gianfredi, Vincenza (November 2021). "Wikipedia, Google Trends and Diet: Assessment of Temporal Trends in the Internet Users' Searches in Italy before and during COVID-19 Pandemic". Nutrients. 13 (11): 3683. doi:10.3390/nu13113683. PMID 34835939.
  7. ^ Gozzi, Nicolò; Tizzani, Michele; Starnini, Michele; Ciulla, Fabio; Paolotti, Daniela; Panisson, André; Perra, Nicola (2020). "Collective Response to Media Coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Reddit and Wikipedia: Mixed-Methods Analysis". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 22 (10): –21597. doi:10.2196/21597. PMC 7553788. PMID 32960775.
  8. ^ Smith, Ana; Lee, Lillian (October 2022). "War and Pieces: Comparing Perspectives About World War I and II Across Wikipedia Language Communities". Proceedings of the 6th Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature. LaTeCHCLfL 2022. Gyeongju, Republic of Korea: International Conference on Computational Linguistics. pp. 94–104.

Reader comments


A great month for featured articles

Video of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) by NASA/Johns Hopkins APL, one of October's featured pictures

This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted in October. Quotes are generally from the articles, but may be abridged or simplified for length.

Hey again! So, this month was one of the worst months for featured pictures in a while: We just did not have the participants to reach quorum on most of our images. It was, however, a great month for featured articles.

Still kind of burnt out from September's Signpost – it's not that there's anything wrong with featured lists as such, but, because they're often on very specific topics, the way the leads are written can make it hard to write summaries that aren't either trivial (often to the point of restating the title of the article) or way too long. Not really sure what to do about that. I guess I could make a joke about it, like that old internet joke which summarised The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother) Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent by simply repeating its full title.

Also, I've been doing this for a bit, but it often gets copyedited out just before publication because I don't think people realise User:MaranoFan signs his name NØ (I believe after the Megan Trainor song he brought to featured article), so I'm just going to say this explicitly: Images have a credit line on them where you can state exactly how you want credited. For everything else, if the user's signature uses a different name than their username (presuming it's not something trivial, like "User:Thejohndoe" vs. "John Doe"), I give the username then the name they sign with in parentheses. So if you see "MaranoFan (NØ)", that's why. Speaking of MaranoFan, he was named Editor of the Week for the week of 6 November due to the quality of his work and for being a great team player, so, go him!

Featured articles

Thirty featured articles were promoted in October.

Ceres, in true colour
Ceres (dwarf planet), nominated by Serendipodous
Ceres is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It was the first asteroid discovered, on 1 January 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi at Palermo Astronomical Observatory in Sicily, and announced as a new planet. Ceres was later classified as an asteroid and then as a dwarf planet – the only one always inside Neptune's orbit. Its surface features are barely visible even with the most powerful telescopes, and little was known of them until the robotic NASA spacecraft Dawn approached Ceres for its orbital mission in 2015. Although Ceres likely lacks an internal ocean of liquid water, brines still flow through the outer mantle and reach the surface, allowing cryovolcanoes such as Ahuna Mons to form roughly every fifty million years. This makes Ceres the closest known cryovolcanic body to the Sun, and the brines provide a potential habitat for microbial life.
American services and supply in the Siegfried Line campaign, nominated by Hawkeye7
American services and supply played a crucial part in the World War II Siegfried Line campaign, which ran from the end of the pursuit of the German armies from Normandy in mid-September 1944 until December 1944, when the American forces were engulfed by the German Ardennes offensive.
Ray Reardon, nominated by BennyOnTheLoose and Rodney Baggins
Raymond Reardon (born 8 October 1932) is a Welsh retired professional snooker player. He turned professional in 1967 aged 35 and dominated the sport in the 1970s, winning the World Snooker Championship six times and more than a dozen other tournaments. Reardon was World Champion in 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978, and runner-up in 1982.
Fallout (video game), nominated by Lazman321
Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is a 1997 role-playing video game developed and published by Interplay Productions. In a mid-22nd century post-apocalyptic and retro-futuristic world, decades after a global nuclear war, Fallout's protagonist, the Vault Dweller, inhabits the underground nuclear shelter Vault 13.
1899 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania, nominated by Wehwalt
An election for the United States Senate was held by the Pennsylvania General Assembly beginning on January 17, 1899, to fill the seat then held by Matthew Quay for a six year term beginning March 4, 1899. Quay was a candidate for re-election, but was damaged by a pending indictment for involvement in financial irregularities with state money; his trial took place during the three months that the legislature attempted to resolve the Senate deadlock, and he was acquitted the day it adjourned, having failed to elect a senator. Quay was appointed to the Senate seat by the governor, but the Senate refused to seat him on the grounds that the governor lacked the constitutional authority to make the selection, and the seat remained vacant until the next meeting of the legislature, in 1901, when Quay was elected.
4th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, nominated by Kges1901
The 4th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the Union Army in the American Civil War. Formed mostly from a militia unit in Norristown in southeastern Pennsylvania, the regiment enlisted at the beginning of the American Civil War in April 1861 for a three-month period of service under the command of Colonel John F. Hartranft. Logistical difficulties bedeviled the regiment, which served as part of the garrison of Washington, D.C. until late June, when it was sent into northern Virginia to join the army of Brigadier General Irvin McDowell. The regiment suffered its only combat casualties in a picket action on June 30 and was sent back to be mustered out on the eve of the First Battle of Bull Run owing to disagreement among the men over remaining with the army after the expiration of their term of service. Its men were denounced as cowards for being members of the only regiment to refuse to fight at the July 21 battle.
Phosphatodraco, nominated by FunkMonk
Phosphatodraco is a genus of azhdarchid pterosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous of what is now Morocco. In 2000, a pterosaur specimen consisting of five cervical (neck) vertebrae was discovered in the Ouled Abdoun Phosphatic Basin. The specimen was made the holotype of the new genus and species Phosphatodraco mauritanicus in 2003. It is one of the only known azhdarchids preserving a relatively complete neck, and was one of the last known pterosaurs.
Objects in the tomb of Tutankhamun, labelled before being removed
Discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, nominated by A. Parrot
The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by excavators led by the Egyptologist Howard Carter. Whereas the tombs of most pharaohs were plundered in ancient times, Tutankhamun's tomb was hidden by debris for most of its existence and not extensively robbed. It thus became the first known largely intact royal burial from ancient Egypt.
Shefali Shah, nominated by Shshshsh (Shahid)
Shefali Shah (born Shefali Shetty on 22 May 1972) is an Indian actress of film, television and theatre. Respected for her acting prowess, she works primarily in independent Hindi films and has received local and foreign accolades for her performances.
"Deja Vu" (Olivia Rodrigo song), nominated by MaranoFan (NØ)
"Deja Vu" is a song by American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo. It was released on April 1, 2021, as the second single from her debut studio album Sour (2021). Rodrigo wrote the song with its producer Dan Nigro, with Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, and St. Vincent receiving writing credits for its interpolation of Swift's 2019 song "Cruel Summer". An incorporation of various pop sub-genres, "Deja Vu" is about heartbreak and explores Rodrigo's anguish about her ex-partner repeating things they did in his new relationship.
John Raymond science fiction magazines, nominated by Mike Christie
Between 1952 and 1954, John Raymond published four digest-size science fiction magazines. Raymond was an American publisher of men's magazines who knew little about science fiction, but the field's rapid growth and a distributor's recommendation prompted him to pursue the genre. Raymond consulted and then hired Lester del Rey to edit the first magazine, Space Science Fiction, which appeared in May 1952. Following a second distributor's suggestion that year, Raymond launched Science Fiction Adventures, which del Rey again edited, but under an alias. In 1953, Raymond gave del Rey two more magazines to edit: Rocket Stories, which targeted a younger audience, and Fantasy Magazine, which published fantasy rather than science fiction.
Electric eel, nominated by Chiswick Chap
The electric eels are a genus, Electrophorus, of neotropical freshwater fish from South America in the family Gymnotidae. They are known for their ability to stun their prey by generating electricity, delivering shocks at up to 860 volts. Their electrical capabilities were first studied in 1775, contributing to the invention in 1800 of the electric battery.
Low Memorial Library, nominated by Epicgenius
The Low Memorial Library is a building at the center of Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan, New York City, United States. The building, located near 116th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, was designed by Charles Follen McKim of the firm McKim, Mead & White. The library was built as part of Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, which was developed in the 1890s according to a master plan by McKim. When Low Library was completed, it was poorly suited for library use, becoming overcrowded from the early 20th century. Low's central location, however, made it a focal point of the university's campus. Following the completion of the much larger Butler Library in 1934, the Low Memorial Library was converted to administrative offices.
"Village Green" (song), nominated by Tkbrett
"Village Green" is a song by the English rock band the Kinks from their sixth studio album, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968). Written and sung by the band's principal songwriter, Ray Davies, the song was first recorded in November 1966 during the sessions for Something Else by the Kinks (1967) but was re-recorded in February 1967. Both the composition and instrumentation of "Village Green" evoke Baroque music, especially its prominently featured harpsichord played by session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. Unlike most of the band's late 1960s recordings, it employs real orchestral instruments, including oboe, cello, viola and piccolo, as arranged by English composer David Whitaker.
Yuzuru Hanyu Olympic seasons, nominated by ErnestKrause, Henni147, and Yolo4A4Lo
Yuzuru Hanyu, a former competitive figure skater from Japan, has participated at the Winter Olympic Games three times, winning two gold medals (in 2014 and 2018) and placing fourth in 2022. In 2014, he became the first Asian men's singles skater to win the Olympics. At nineteen years old, he was also the youngest male skater to win the Olympic title since American Dick Button in 1948. In 2018, Hanyu became the first male single skater in 66 years to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals since Button in 1952.
Prince Octavius of Great Britain, nominated by Unlimitedlead
Prince Octavius of Great Britain (23 February 1779 – 3 May 1783) was the thirteenth child and eighth son of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Six months after the death of his younger brother Prince Alfred, Octavius was inoculated against the smallpox virus. Several days later, he became ill. His subsequent death at the age of four devastated his parents, and in particular his father. King George III had been very fond of his two youngest sons, Alfred and Octavius, and his later bouts of madness involved hallucinations of his two dead sons.
Osbert Parsley, nominated by Amitchell125
Osbert Parsley was an English Renaissance composer and chorister. His career spanned the reigns of Henry VIII and all three of his children. Parsley wrote mainly church music for both the Latin and English rites, as well as instrumental music. His Latin settings are considered to be more fluent and attractive-sounding than those he wrote to be sung in English. His longest composition, Conserva me, domine, was in an elegant polyphonic style. Parsley's other liturgical works include two Morning Services, an Evening Service, and the five-part Lamentations (notable for the difficulty in singing the top notes of the highest part). His instrumental music, nearly all for viols, including six consort pieces, was written in a style that combines both his Latin and English vocal styles. Some of his incomplete instrumental music has survived. Parsley died in Norwich in 1585 and was buried in Norwich Cathedral.
Fort Southerland, nominated by Hog Farm
Fort Southerland is a redoubt built during the American Civil War to protect Camden, Arkansas. Confederate forces built it along with four other redoubts in early 1864 after a Union victory in the Little Rock campaign the previous year.
Securitas depot robbery, nominated by Mujinga
The Securitas depot robbery was a 2006 heist in Tonbridge, Kent, which was the UK's largest cash robbery. It began with a kidnapping on the evening of 21 February and ended in the early hours of 22 February, when seven criminals stole almost £53 million. The gang left behind another £154 million because they did not have the means to transport it.
After doing surveillance and putting an inside man to work at the depot, the gang abducted the manager and his family. The same night, they tricked their way inside the depot and tied up fourteen workers at gunpoint. The criminals stole £52,996,760 in used and unused Bank of England sterling banknotes. Most of the getaway vehicles were found in the following week, one containing £1.3 million in stolen notes. In raids by Kent Police, £9 million was recovered in Welling and £8 million in Southborough; by 2007, 36 people had been arrested in relation to the crime. However, a decade later, £32 million had not been recovered, and several suspects were still on the run.
The Random Years, nominated by Aoba47
The Random Years is an American sitcom created by Michael Lisbe and Nate Reger that aired for four episodes on the United Paramount Network (UPN) in March 2002. The Random Years was created alongside As If as mid-season replacements for the show Roswell, but both received the lowest ratings of any original program aired that season on network television, and UPN canceled the series after four of its seven filmed episodes aired.
1973–74 Gillingham F.C. season, nominated by ChrisTheDude
During the 1973–74 English football season, Gillingham F.C. competed in the Football League Fourth Division, the fourth tier of the English football league system. It was the 42nd season in which Gillingham competed in the Football League, and the 24th since the club was voted back into the league in 1950. In their final game of the season on 1 May, first-placed Gillingham lost to second-placed Peterborough United, who overtook them to win the championship of the division, they nonetheless advanced to the Third Division for the season after.
Katana Zero, nominated by TheJoebro64
Katana Zero is a 2019 platform game created by the indie developer Justin Stander. Set in a dystopian metropolis, the neo-noir storyline follows Subject Zero, a katana-wielding assassin with amnesia who can slow down time and predict the future. Zero unravels his past while completing assassination contracts.
2022 Masters (snooker), nominated by HurricaneHiggins and Lee Vilenski
The 2022 Masters (officially the 2022 Cazoo Masters') was a professional non-ranking snooker tournament that took place between 9 and 16 January 2022 at Alexandra Palace in London, England. It was won by Neil Robertson.
2021 British Open, nominated by Lee Vilenski
The 2021 British Open (officially the 2021 British Open) was a professional snooker event played from 16 to 22 August 2021 at the Morningside Arena, Leicester, England. It was won by Mark Williams.
Farseer trilogy, nominated by Olivaw-Daneel and Vanamonde93
The Farseer trilogy is a series of fantasy novels by American author Robin Hobb, published from 1995 to 1997. Set in and around the fictional realm of the Six Duchies, it tells the story of FitzChivalry Farseer (known as Fitz), an illegitimate son of a prince who is trained as an assassin. Political machinations within the royal family threaten his life, and the kingdom is beset by naval raids. Fitz possesses two forms of magic: the telepathic Skill that runs in the royal line, and the socially despised Wit that enables bonding with animals. The series follows his life as he seeks to restore stability to the kingdom.
Al-Muti, nominated by Cplakidas (Constantine)
Abū ʾl-Qāsim al-Faḍl ibn al-Muqtadir better known by his regnal name of al-Mutīʿ li-ʾllāh, was the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad from 946 to 974, ruling under the tutelage of the Buyid emirs. His reign represented the nadir of the Abbasid caliphate's power and authority. In previous decades, the secular authority of the caliphs had shrunk to Iraq, and even there had been curtailed by powerful warlords; with the Buyid conquest of Baghdad, it was now abolished entirely. The very fact of his subordination and powerlessness helped restore some stability to the caliphal institution: in stark contrast to his short-lived and violently deposed predecessors, al-Muti enjoyed a long and relatively unchallenged tenure. During his reign, the rise of Shi'a regimes across the Middle East directly challenged Sunni and Abbasid predominance, with the expanding Fatimid Caliphate posing an ideological and political challenge to the Abbasids. During al-Muti's reign, the Fatimids conquered Egypt and started to expand into the Levant, threatening Baghdad itself.
Galton Bridge, nominated by HJ Mitchell
The Galton Bridge is a cast-iron bridge in Smethwick, near Birmingham, England, built by Thomas Telford to carry a road across the new main line of the Birmingham Canal, which was built in a deep cutting. The bridge is 70 ft (21 m) above the canal, making it reputedly the highest single-span arch bridge in the world when it was built, 26 ft (7.9 m) wide, and 150 ft (46 m) long. The Galton Bridge is in cast iron, forged at the nearby Horseley Ironworks, with masonry abutments. The design includes decorative lamp-posts and X-shaped bracing in the spandrels.
Eunice Newton Foote, nominated by SusunW
Eunice Newton Foote (July 17, 1819 – September 30, 1888) was an American scientist, inventor, and women's rights campaigner. She was the first scientist to conclude that certain gases warmed when exposed to sunlight, and that rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels would change atmospheric temperature and could impact climate. Born in Connecticut, Foote was raised in New York at the center of social and political movements of her day, such as the abolition of slavery, anti-alcohol activism, and women's rights. Foote died in 1888 and for almost a hundred years her contributions were unknown, before being rediscovered by women academics in the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, new interest in Foote arose when it was realized that her work predated discoveries made by John Tyndall, who had been recognized by scientists as the first person to experimentally show the mechanism of the greenhouse effect involving infrared radiation. Detailed examination of her work by modern scientists has confirmed that three years before Tyndall published his paper in 1859, Foote discovered that water vapor and CO2 absorb heat from sunlight. Furthermore, her view that variances in the atmospheric levels of water vapor and CO2 would result in climate change, preceded Tyndall's 1861 publication by five years.
Duckport Canal nominated by Hog Farm
An unsuccessful military venture by Union forces during the Vicksburg campaign of the American Civil War, the Duckport Canal was ordered built in late March 1863 by Major General Ulysses S. Grant. It stretched from the Mississippi River near Duckport, Louisiana, to New Carthage, Louisiana, and utilized a series of swampy bayous for much of its path. It was intended to provide a water-based supply route for a southward movement against the Confederate-held city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, as high water levels made overland travel difficult. The day after it was completed on April 12, the levee separating the canal and the Mississippi was breached, and water flowed into the canal but trees in the bayous and falling water levels hampered its use and the project was abandoned on May 4. Grant instead moved men and supplies through the overland route, which had been made more accessible by the same falling water levels that doomed the canal. After a lengthy siege, Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, marking a turning point in the war.
HMS Aigle (1801) nominated by Ykraps
HMS Aigle was a 36-gun, fifth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. Ordered on 15 September 1799 and built at Bucklers Hard shipyard, she was launched 23 September 1801. Much of Aigle's career as a frigate was spent trying to keep the English Channel free of enemy warships and merchant vessels, but notable events included: her crew's involvement in the Easton Massacre when she visited Portland in April 1803 to press recruits, which resulted in a murder trial; action at the Battle of Basque Roads and in the Walcheren Campaign in 1809; and providing naval support during the invasion and occupation of the city of Genoa in 1811. After two refits, In 1852, she became a coal hulk and receiving ship before being used as a target for torpedoes and sold for breaking in 1870.
Aliens (film), nominated by Darkwarriorblake
Aliens is a 1986 science fiction action film written and directed by James Cameron. It is the sequel to the 1979 science fiction horror film Alien, and the second film in the Alien franchise. The film is set in the far future; Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley, the sole survivor of an alien attack on her ship. When communications are lost with a human colony on the moon where her crew first saw the alien creatures, Ripley agrees to return to the site with a unit of Colonial Marines to investigate. Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, and Carrie Henn feature in supporting roles.

Featured pictures

Twelve featured pictures were promoted in October, including the images at the top and bottom of this article.

Featured topics

One featured topic, by PresN was promoted in October.

Featured lists

Ten featured lists were promoted in October.

The Angkor region (Angkor Wat pictured) is one of the World Heritage Sites in Cambodia
List of World Heritage Sites in Cambodia and List of World Heritage Sites in Thailand, nominated by Tone
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates World Heritage Sites of outstanding universal value to cultural or natural heritage which have been nominated by signatories to the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The lists for them are always full of beautiful images, and the summaries on here are always basically what I just said.
List of Bullfrog Productions games, nominated by PresN
Bullfrog Productions was a British video game developer located in Guildford, England. It was founded in 1987 by Peter Molyneux and Les Edgar as a successor to their software company Taurus Impact Systems, with Molyneux as the studio's chief game designer. They are perhaps best known for the Populous and Dungeon Keeper series of video games.
Coldplay videography, nominated by GustavoCza
British rock band Coldplay have released 65 music videos, four video albums and six films, appearing on multiple television shows throughout their career as well. They were formed in London by Chris Martin (lead vocals, piano), Jonny Buckland (guitar), Guy Berryman (bass guitar), Will Champion (drums, percussion) and Phil Harvey (creative direction).
List of accolades received by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, nominated by Chompy Ace
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a 2015 American epic space opera film produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. It received five nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, where John Williams received the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Member states of the International Labour Organization, nominated by Goldsztajn
The International Labour Organization (ILO), a tripartite specialized agency of the United Nations that sets international standards related to work, has 187 member states, as of August 2022.
List of Billboard number-one R&B songs of 1955 and List of Billboard number-one R&B songs of 1956, nominated by ChrisTheDude
List of Billboard Latin Pop Airplay number ones of 1998, nominated by Magiciandude (Erick)
List of Philippine submissions for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, nominated by Pseud 14
And here's why I kind of hate writing about featured lists. These four lists are the kind that are impossible to summarise well, as the interesting facts are in the details. One can talk about, for example, how rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry had a lengthy run at number one on all three rhythm and blues charts with "Maybellene" in 1955, but that hardly summarises the whole year, let alone dealing with every Phillipine film submitted for consisderation at any Academy Award ceremony. And you can't really just define them as the titles kind of define themselves. By all means read (or, at least, skim) them, though. They're interesting, just hard to summarise.

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A tribute to Michael Gäbler

Michael Gäbler was a prolific contributor on Commons, who is now deceased.

I found a draft of a Wikimedia Foundation blog post from 2013 that doesn't appear to have ever reached publication. It feels right to resurrect it now. The original is here and appears to have been written by Alice Debois-Frogé and Matthew Roth for the former Wikimedia Blog.

Kolob Canyon photo by Michael Gäbler
In the Gäbler family, religion, photography and love for travel have passed from father to son for generations.
Like his grandfather and father before him, Michael Gabler is a pastor and he has the same passion for travel and photography that they did. He was born and raised in Tamil Nadu, in South India, and lived there until the age of 7, when his family returned to Germany. Together with his wife of 38 years, he has traveled through Europe, Asia and North America, pursuing his passion for capturing his travels through the lens of a camera.
In August, 1997, Gäbler traveled with his wife to the U.S. and visited the Kolob Canyons. This part of Zion National Park is accessed by a park road about 20 miles south of Cedar City, Utah, off Interstate 15. The Kolob Canyons are part of the Colorado Plateau region of the Zion National Park and are well-known for their colorful beauty and diverse landscape.
While driving through the canyons, he stopped at a vista point, his Olympus OM-4 in hand. There, he “stood before a vast green valley with towering red mountains.” In the foreground he saw a dead silver-colored tree beside flowering bushes. Among various photos Gäbler took of the deep-red Navajo Formation, the image above would become the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day for July 4th, 2013.
"In my profession as a Lutheran pastor, I often experience the simultaneity of life and death. It is my professional duty to help others, to endure this juxtaposition of life and death and accept it in faith. The simultaneity of the present and past lives in this picture fascinates me." And there, right in front of him was a dead, silver-colored tree beside flowering bushes, surrounded with million of years-old indestructible crimson formation and wildlife.
After his retirement, Gäbler decided to freely share his images on Wikimedia Commons and his knowledge on Wikipedia, where he started editing in 2004 His photo of the Kolob Canyons is the 77th of his images to be recognized by the Wikimedia community as a Featured picture, a designation given to the finest images in the database.
Though Gäbler shoots with a Nikon D300 now, he has kept his slides in dark boxes in an archive room in his house, where he is digitizing them with a scanner. He is pleased that the colors of his slides, like those in the Kolob Canyons photo here, have not changed in decades.

Michael was not particularly active on the English Wikipedia, but has taken many photos which illustrate our articles. Here are some of them:

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The relevance of legal certainty to the English Wikipedia

An anonymous editor gave their thoughts on how they believe "the administration of this free encyclopedia is flawed, and how it may be fixed". See revision 842176683 for attribution. This was written in 2018, and found again on a spelunking expedition in the Signpost annals.

The German philosopher of law Gustav Radbruch is widely credited with popularising and emphasising the concept of legal certainty (from the German Rechtssicherheit). This concept means that everyone who is subject to a certain legal code must be able to know which actions of his are legal (under that code) and which are not. In my opinion, on our encyclopedia, this concept is grossly violated, and I hereby intend to show some of the problems that I perceive to occur, and to offer some ideas on how to solve them.

Quite regularly, an administrator of this encyclopedia may encounter a user that he finds, for whatever reason, unsympathetic. We all know that some people we just can't stand, be they politicians, lawyers, civil servants, chief executives or teachers, just to name a few. Now in the real world, this does not really have any consequences, because we (in many cases possibly quite fortunately) do not have the power to inflict any serious damage to these people. But in the online world, where whole human beings, valuable, special and equipped with their own unique emotional worlds, are disguised as mere non-impressive text-strings with an underscore, this situation changes dramatically. Here, an administrative clique that does not have any substantial legal training in any of its facets (neutrality, the suppression of personal preference, the evaluation of evidence, the reading skills required to understand complex legal codes) or any substantial emotional fortification, decides on practically everything, in particular on user bans, the final version of articles and many more things. Isn't it strange, one asks, that admins basically never get blocked? Is this kind of immunity really implied by the rules of Wikipedia? Why, further, may administrators institute arbitrary blocks against people they themselves have a problem with? Have we not created a clique of overly powerful, nonconstructive superusers who, by aggressively having their way, shoo away large chunks of the Wikipedia community who, in real life, expect from their fellow humans a just and fair treatment and therefore are unable to deal with the realities of day-to-day Wikipedia work?

I have compiled a list of suggestions that may improve the situation as described.

  • It is crucial that administrators be elected only for a certain term duration. There is a reason why this is done in real politics.
  • Users that have been blocked should, by and large, be able to participate in the elections of the administrators, so that administrators cannot simply block users whom they worry might vote against their nomination.
  • One could think about making user groups, so that for each user group, there is one responsible admin. These usergroups would be formed randomly and have a fixed size (eg. 50 users), and only the users in this group vote for the admin responsible for them.
  • There should be no immunity for admins. Admins should be held to the same standards as any other user. In particular, administrators must not form "alliances" that serve the purpose of bullying down a perceived outgroup while at the same time ignoring any misbehaviour that occur in their ranks.
  • There should be a committee that reviews admin misbehaviour. Whatever is in place, it's not working. It is a statistical impossibility that admins are just so much nicer than the average person that they never get blocked. This committee should have the power to reverse malicious admin decisions, as well as de-admin administrators that have misbehaved. There are several such committees, but in my opinion, they do not operate effectively, since they don't monitor the admins, but rather only act on request. They also may be unknown to many users.
  • Administrators should, under all circumstances, be made to follow the guidelines precisely, word for word, so that certainty of law becomes available.
  • The value of free speech, which is a cornerstone of the ethics behind the Wikipedia project, should be upheld in the strongest possible fashion.

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Musical deaths, murders, Princess Di's nominative determinism, and sports

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga, YttriumShrew, SSSB and anonymous user.

Rain drop, drop top (October 30 to November 5)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Takeoff (rapper) 3,156,575 Another addition to the list of murdered hip hop musicians, as one third of Migos was shot dead at age 28 outside a Houston bowling alley. (Police reports indicate Takeoff was not the intended victim of the shot that killed him).
2 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2,642,554 Cricket may not make sense to some people, but its popularity is evident from the continued high views of this page due to #4.
3 Aaron Carter 1,820,734 Another death of a relatively young musician, namely, the brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. Aaron had followed him as a singer. He was found drowned in his bathtub at the age of 34.
4 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 1,465,153 The pool stages for this tournament are now done and dusted. In Group 1, New Zealand topped the table, becoming the first team to qualify for the semifinals, and were followed by England, who overtook Australia after defeating Sri Lanka in the group's final match. In a crowded Group 2, India qualified after South Africa were knocked out by the Netherlands, and were joined by Pakistan after their defeat of Bangladesh. The groups have been marked by several upsets courtesy of Ireland, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands.
6 Charles Cullen 1,372,687 The latest true crime flick to hit Netflix is The Good Nurse, a well-reviewed drama starring Eddie Redmayne (pictured) as this murderous nurse, and Jessica Chastain as the colleague who turned him in.
7 Migos 1,312,960 #1's three-man rap group, who in 2017 scored a chart-topper with "Bad and Boujee".
8 Jeffrey Dahmer 1,297,686 Mama they're in love with a criminal
And this kind of love is not logical...
9 Quavo 1,215,376 Another member of Migos, #7. He and his nephew Takeoff, #1, had released an album less than a month ago. Quavo witnessed Takeoff's fatal shooting.
10 Elon Musk 1,112,744 Musk's takeover of Twitter keeps him in the news. In an effort to make the company profitable, he conducted mass layoffs, and users have been asked to pay $8 a month for premium services.

Is this the feeling I need to walk with? (November 6 to 12)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 Aaron Carter 4,200,862 Aaron Carter started singing as a child, at 10 he was already releasing an album thanks to his older brother (#10) being a Backstreet Boy. Carter would serve as an opening act for both them and Britney Spears. In the last few years he showed the same derailed path of many former child stars (the "Personal Life" section here includes subsections on Legal issues, Health and Controversies, along with the fact he opened an OnlyFans account to sell naked pictures!). He died at 34, being found lifeless in a bathtub. He left behind one son and six studio albums. (The last one was originally scheduled for release on his birthday in December. At his death, the producers suddenly released it – supposedly as an homage – without first asking for permission of Carter's management first).
2 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 3,087,853 This week saw the semi-finals (although not technically the final, which I am watching, and which I am holding back on commenting on until next week). The first saw Pakistan comfortably defeat New Zealand, and the second saw England breeze past India. This set up a final between England and Pakistan, inspiring a lot of comparisons to the 1992 Cricket World Cup, mostly from hopeful Pakistan fans. My team was knocked out, but the Black Ferns did win, so I can't complain too much.
3 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 2,168,881 The last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie of the year and Phase 4 – only a Disney+ special left! – returns to the Afrofuturism of Wakanda as it is attacked by mermen led by Namor. The unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman looms hard over Wakanda Forever. The script was changed to try to compensate for the lack of main character T'Challa by giving plots to just about everyone, leading to a bloated running time. Still, the emotional tributes and the expected action, cool visuals, and jokes earned a warm response from reviewers and audiences. It should be making lots of money at the box office.
4 John Fetterman 1,770,289 The lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania briefly became Democrats' favorite politician after winning Pennsylvania's open Senate seat. Fetterman ran a campaign perhaps defined most by his prolific use of memes, with policies such as universal healthcare, the decriminalisation of cannabis, and raising the minimum wage. He almost didn't survive the campaign after suffering a stroke in May, which significantly impaired his speech processing,. This led to an ugly debate by Republicans over his fitness for office.
5 2022 United States elections 1,638,777 The fancy name for the midterms, which people presumably went to as a summary page for all the elections taking place.
6 Ron DeSantis 1,452,290 Florida governor won reelection by a significant margin, and has Donald Trump worried that the Republican Party might prefer DeSantis run for president in 2024.
7 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 1,213,300 I'm not exactly sure why this article has been getting much lower viewership than the article about the general event (#2). I would guess it's from people looking up past results, but I'm really not sure.
8 Mohamed Al-Fayed 1,094,593 Season 5 of The Crown is here. Given that it features the divorce of the current Charles III and Lady Di, the person who viewers sought the most was her next in-law, an Egyptian businessman played in the show by Salim Daw.
9 2022 FIFA World Cup 1,089,960 No matter if it's in a questionable location that even forced the usual mid-year scheduling to be delayed to November-December, football's greatest event opens on the 21st, with teams already having issued the uniforms and squads that will appear in Qatar.
10 Nick Carter (singer) 974,178 #1's career was kickstarted by his older brother being one of the Backstreet Boys. Nick released a mourning statement that acknowledged he was heartbroken in spite of a tumultuous relationship with Aaron due to his brother's drug addiction and mental illness. He cried at a London concert that featured a tribute the day after Aaron's death.

Arabian football 'neath Arabian moons (November 13 to 19)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 2022 FIFA World Cup 2,061,296 So... we're really doing this, are we? The biggest football (soccer to a small number of you) tournament – and the biggest tournament in the world – starts on November 20. Normally, the World Cup would be in June-July but as one journalist would put it: "you could fry an egg on [his] head". But the biggest talking point is off the pitch. Not only Qatar's abysmal human rights record, but also the fact they allegedly got the World Cup after bribing officials.
2 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 2,006,318 Marvel's return to afrofuturism was well-received and made half a billion dollars worldwide. In the meantime, star Letitia Wright is trying to recover her reputation.
3 Mohamed Al-Fayed 1,323,833 Of all the characters in season 5 of The Crown, these two seem to have inspired the most interest, perhaps as they are much less well known than the series' other characters. #3 is an Egyptian billionaire (played by Salim Daw), and #4 is his son (played by Khalid Abdalla), who was in a relationship with Diana, Princess of Wales at the time of their deaths in a car crash.
4 Dodi Fayed 1,148,453
5 Sam Bankman-Fried 1,038,577 The cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which had been worth billions of dollars, suddenly collapsed after a news article about some shady stuff they were doing sparked an investor panic and run on the bank. This inspired a lot of views for its founder and now-ex-CEO. The arena of the Miami Heat will be forced to change their name, and the bets are on if something like this will also happen with the Lakers' one.
6 ICC Men's T20 World Cup 973,287 The Barmy Army rejoiced as England won the final, defeating Pakistan fairly comfortably, featuring brilliant bowling from Sam Curran and masterful control from Ben Stokes. Pakistan had hoped for a '92 repeat, but ended up disappointed.
7 Deaths in 2022 939,040 I see it in your eyes, take one look and die
The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be
The Ace of Spades! The Ace of Spades!
8 Christina Applegate 915,477 A former child star with plenty of comedies to her name, including her breakout role in Married... with Children, Applegate is "in" due to both her latest work, as Netflix released the final season of Dead to Me, and a recognition of her career with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Its unveiling was Applegate's first public appearance since she revealed a multiple sclerosis diagnosis last year.
9 FIFA World Cup 849,195 #1 marks the 23rd edition of football's greatest tournament, the second in Asia after 2002.
10 Elizabeth Holmes 828,044 Ten months after the fraudster who promised a clinical revolution with Theranos was found guilty, she has been sentenced to 11.25 years in prison. And because there always seem to be complications, Holmes is pregnant.

Had we but world enough and time... (November 20 to 26)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 2022 FIFA World Cup 9,405,304 After a delay, to the chagrin of those who dislike football or call it soccer, the most popular sport in the world is dominating. The group stage of the tournament has had it all, lopsided massacres (England 6-2 Iran, France 4-1 Australia, Spain 7-0 Costa Rica - all three defeated teams won round 2, because this game is unpredictable), hilarious upsets (Saudi Arabia and Japan defeating Argentina and Germany!), pretty goals, and unfortunately, more boring 0-0 draws than one would ever want.
2 FIFA World Cup 3,960,859
3 Jason David Frank 2,346,767 Tommy Oliver, one of the longest-running members of the Power Rangers, was found dead at just 49. It also marks the fourth time a Red Ranger, who is usually the leader, ended up in something shocking, as the original one was arrested for fraud, another killed his roommate with a katana and a third was convicted for domestic assault before killing himself.
4 Qatar 2,004,830 Back to the World Cup: the current hosts, filled with oil money but whose national team is clearly not ready for prime time; the next edition, spread all across North America and bloated from 32 to 48 teams; the Portuguese wunderkind who became the first player to score goals in five editions; and the last edition, whose host country is currently banned by FIFA for what they have done to Ukraine.
5 2026 FIFA World Cup 1,920,068
6 Cristiano Ronaldo 1.773.080
7 2018 FIFA World Cup 1.618.719
8 Wednesday (TV series) 1.298.420 Let's celebrate that Jeffrey Dahmer is off this list, and the room for "imbalanced people on Netflix" is filled by a fictional and comedic case, Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega. Christina Ricci, who revived the role in the 90s, has a cameo.
9 List of FIFA World Cup finals 1,254,460 All bets are on for who will enter the 22nd of those one week before Christmas.
10 Enner Valencia 1,210,321 The leading goalscorer of #1 so far is this Ecuadorian who scored both goals against the hosts (#4) and the one who tied the game with the Netherlands. He also scored thrice in 2014, making an impressive 6 goals in 5 World Cup games!


  • These lists exclude the Wikipedia main page, non-article pages (such as redlinks), and anomalous entries (such as DDoS attacks or likely automated views). Since mobile view data became available to the Report in October 2014, we exclude articles that have almost no mobile views (5–6% or less) or almost all mobile views (94–95% or more) because they are very likely to be automated views based on our experience and research of the issue. Please feel free to discuss any removal on the Top 25 Report talk page if you wish.

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Five, ten, and fifteen years ago

Five years ago: November 2017

In November 2017, Wikipedia's search boxes got a much needed upgrade, and we reported on Brianboulton reaching his 100th featured article. However, our big story was found in News and Notes, 24 November 2017, by Bri.

KDS4444 [...] was granted OTRS access as part of the volunteer response team in September 2015. OTRS is the ticketing system across all Wikimedia projects and is used, among other things, by companies and individuals who ask for changes to be made in their articles without violating the conflict of interest guideline. It was alleged at the Administrators' noticeboard (AN) that KDS4444 had used his OTRS access to identify candidates for paid editing work, then email them with offers in the 300 dollar range to make edits on their articles. KDS4444 had his OTRS access revoked on 21 October and was community banned from English Wikipedia on November 17. At the AN discussion some editors wanted to use less drastic remedies on ENWP for an editor who had contributed over 150 articles. Others harshly criticized his actions "actively soliciting for paid work" in a position of trust as "completely unconscionable" and "[in] defiance of community norms".

Ten years ago: November 2012

Hurricane Sandy

We had four issues in November 2012. In them, we reported on an editor trying to block mention of climate change as a possible cause of Hurricane Sandy's ferocity; and on TimedMediaHandler going live, which gave us a lot of the basic tools that are used for videos to this day. However, there was also a judgement by the German courts that made paid editing all the more dangerous. From News and Notes, 12 November 2012, by Gnom, Sandstein, Jan eissfeldt, and Tony1:

Last week, media outlets reported a ruling by a German court on the problem of businesses using Wikipedia for marketing purposes. The issue goes beyond the direct management of marketing-related edits by Wikipedians; it involves cross-monitoring and interacting among market competitors themselves on Wikipedia. A company that sells dietary supplements made from frankincense had taken a competitor to court. The recently published judgment by the Higher Regional Court of Munich, in dealing with the German Wikipedia article on frankincense products was handed down in May and is based on European Union competition law.
In the judgment, the court first found that editing Wikipedia is "commercial practice" under the German Unfair Competition Act (UWG). The court held that when a company edits a Wikipedia article, the resulting text falsely creates the impression that the edit has no business-related purpose. By implication, the judges found that the average reader of Wikipedia articles expects to find objective and neutral information. The judgment pointed to Wikipedia's mission to provide neutral accounts of third-party research and reliable sources, with an accurate depiction of disputes where necessary.
The company in question had argued it had made its conflict of interest as a market competitor explicit through a comment on the article's talk page. However, the court struck down this argument, saying the average consumer who uses Wikipedia does not read the discussion pages. Significantly, the court did not distinguish between problematic and acceptable contributions. The judgment was explicitly based on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, valid throughout the European Union.

Fifteen years ago: November 2007

We needed this illustration featured like we needed a hole in our heads. But featured it anyway. I'm being sassy because it's one of my earliest featured pictures, and also one of the relatively few former featured pictures I have.

There were four issues in November 2007, and we'll be jumping around them a bit. First off, the In the news for 12 November details Wikipedia slowly starting to block paid editing:

Why the idea of paid entries annoys Wikipedia – There has been controversy in the past with people being paid to create entries on Wikipedia for corporate entities; a notable incident involved Microsoft paying a blogger to edit technical articles. This article ponders the question, "Why is it so bad to pay someone to write something on Wikipedia?" For example, MyWikiBiz, a service that offered to write Wikipedia articles for businesses, was stopped in its tracks by Jimbo Wales and the changing conflict of interest policy. Despite its apparent similarities with Wikipedia's own reward board, Wales' opinion is that it is "antithetical", and even though people are probably doing similar editing surreptitiously, it is not behaviour that should be encouraged or sanctioned. However, he admits that "It's all tricky, you know".
One of the 20 illustrations that would result from the $20k Philip Greenspun illustration project

... whereas News and notes for the week before ... went in a different direction:

The Foundation announced the acceptance of a $20,000 grant, earmarked for the process of creating copyleft illustrations for use within Wikipedia and elsewhere. The grant was given by entrepreneur Philip Greenspun. The project, coordinated by Brianna Laugher (Pfctdayelise) and Cary Bass (Bastique), will involve a list of needed illustrations, to be compiled on the Meta-Wiki, followed by a period in which users can sign up for an illustration, and upon completion and acceptance, earn the amount offered for that illustration (most will be around US$40 per illustration, with some variation). The grant marks the first foray into paid content creation for the Foundation.

In a 2009 retrospective on that last project, Pfctdayelise would call its outcome – a mere 20 illustrations – "disappointing but not disastrous", and, after describing the various difficulties it had encountered, was left "wondering if the idea of paying volunteers is just way more trouble than it’s worth."

Also in November 2007, there was commentary about a French lawsuit that sought to hold Wikipedia liable for damages because of misinformation entered into someone's article which was then removed. (Nice try?)

But, if I'm honest, what's really getting to me is realising that the featured content sections are starting to include images and articles I was responsible for around this time – Thespis (opera) and the illustration of trepanning that's illustrating this section. I feel old.

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Joker's trick

In the light of long-standing hoaxes being discovered recently – the claim that Alan MacMaster invented the electric toaster, say, or the Chinese woman who created an elaborate fake history of Mediæval Russia, or whatever one we found to report on in this issue by the time this get published (as it happens, the toaster again) – I present to you...

After File:Johannes Moreelse - Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher - 705 - Mauritshuis.jpg and File:Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg

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