User talk:Jimbo Wales

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Hancock's half hour[edit]

Hi Jimmy Wales, I heard on the internet something to do with "Web giants slammed for failing to tackle self-harm online as Wikipedia snubs government summit".

I was not quite sure what that meant but apparently it is something to do with a tabloid newspaper in the UK?

Anyway I wondered if you wanted to comment. The original story is here and it totally fails to link Wikipedia to anyone self-harming. MPS1992 (talk) 02:51, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

About that closure image, it is totally fake. Sincerely, Masum Reza 03:44, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Worth noting: The Sun was deprecated as a source on Wikipedia in a 2019 RfC. From the closer's statement: "There exists a broad consensus ... that the Sun is quite unreliable as a source for a variety of reasons including outright fabrication ... More or less, it is a flag-bearer of sensationalist tabloid-journalism." As usual, this article misses the mark in several aspects. Wikipedia is not comparable to Facebook and co. For starters, it's an encyclopedia, not a social network. Day-to-day moderation is done by volunteers, not professionals, and its owner, the Wikimedia Foundation, will only intervene rarely in exceptional circumstances. Although Wikipedia is not censored, it isn't offensive just for the sake of being offensive; any descriptions will be neutral, not glorifying or advocating, and only as detailed as necessary in order to be informative. If these is content that violates these policies, it can be taken down in seconds by anyone who deems it necessary. There is no indication that our current policies are failing in this regard or otherwise inadequate. – Teratix 10:53, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
The story is not in the same league as "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" and other Sun classics, but says "ministers were left fuming with Wikipedia for snubbing an invite to attend the major Whitehall summit for the second time this year. It comes despite concerns their site breaches ethical codes by including detailed descriptions of suicide." I had a look at Suicide by hanging and couldn't find anything against Wikipedia guidelines or likely to encourage suicide. An article like this would be monitored for WP:NOTHOWTO problems. Knowing how the British government works, it would probably try to get Wikipedia to sign up to a deal where a quango had control over what could or could not be published on Wikipedia. Suggestions like this are traditionally rejected by Wikipedia; it was a demand of this kind that led to Wikipedia being taken offline in Turkey.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 11:35, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Can anybody tell me more about the Samaritans (charity) group, which is presumably the quango mentioned in the Sun? I'd be interested in knowing what they want Wikipedia to do and who they have contacted. If everything is as appears on the surface, then we shouldn't reject those folks without listening to them. But my guess is that they have been in contact with us already and something reasonable was said or done. Smallbones(smalltalk) 15:18, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I would just leave this link to WikiBooks' Suicide topic but it would be negligent to omit mention of white supremacist and self-described rapist Nathan Larson (politician)'s work on both WikiBooks and Wikiversity to include content from his now defunct SuicideWiki. Bitter Oil (talk) 15:24, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
This article says "In a move which raises questions about government attempts to bypass consultative scrutiny, the health secretary Matt Hancock has announced the appointment of the Samaritans as the private regulator to define and evaluate online harms, despite the government's white paper on online harms, and its regulatory structure, still being open for consultation... Reports indicate that the social media companies in attendance have been compelled to contribute several hundreds of thousands of pounds in research funding to the Samaritans, the suicide-prevention charity. These funds will enable them to develop an online-harms equivalent of its well-known guidelines for the media on the reporting of suicide. The eating disorder charity Beat will be tapped in a similar role for pro-anorexia and -bulimia material. Social media companies, in turn, will be expected to adopt the ensuing codes in their terms of service as part of their “duty of care” to users." It's easy to see why Wikipedia would be reluctant to go down this road, because a) it is not a social media site and b) material that meets the WP:FIVEPILLARS and is legal under US law will not be removed simply because a desk jockey asks for it to be removed. --♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 18:05, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
The UK is not welcome to come here and tell us what to censor, even if they ask nicely. Their "Samaritans" are not chosen for "independence" but for lack of independence -- it is obvious that any two censors would disagree about what to ban, since there are so many facetious and common-sense statements to be made about suicide and foolish actions tantamount to suicide. With the EU preparing draconian copyright censorship to crack down on all discussions about news -- in general -- the nations subject to them are no longer going to be comfortable with a very broad range of the content on Wikipedia. Meanwhile, given the Assange prosecution, it seems like Wikipedia censors will be too busy trying to keep up with American censorship to deal with foreign quasi-non-NGOs. If the British want to have a say in Wikipedia, first they have to tell their EU representatives to arrange to kowtow before Xi Jinping the emperor and leading philosopher of the world, humbly beg that most independent of all organizations, the Great Firewall, to include their criteria, and then, when the U.S. is finished giving up its traditions and submits to Chinese monitoring of its social communications, they can get their way. Call it a long view. Wnt (talk) 21:14, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
This situation is similar to what happened with the Russian government in 2015. A court banned the Russian language Wikipedia article about charas (a form of cannabis) and it led to the whole of the Russian language Wikipedia being blocked because the HTTPS protocol meant that an individual page could not be banned.[1] If a desk jockey in Britain decided that a page about suicide on the English language Wikipedia had to go, it could easily lead to a similar situation. Suicide prevention is a hot political issue in Britain at the moment. The front page of today's Daily Mirror is a call for a ban on the "sick series" 13 Reasons Why.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 05:25, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Russia demanded far less there -- the censorship of ru:Charas, which by my glance at Google Translate did not happen. The article is editable but seems to have been mostly ignored since the Russians relented the same day as they started the ban. [2] Russia has a truly terrible record on certain freedom of speech issues like freedom of religion and "gay propaganda" and opposition to Putin, but they seem to have been around the block enough to realize that censorship is not a "genuine" goal in itself, even when they impose it - AFAICT it is used with cynical self-awareness as an excuse they use to drag gays into the police station or attack competitors to Putin and Kyrill. When they saw they can't control Wikipedia's reaction, then when it comes to making a decision whether to block or allow the site, they're still allowing it, because they're not naive enough to think that blocking it really contributes to some social good. That said, the progress of Internet censorship in Russia at the legal level seems about two years ahead of the comparable plan in Britain - they implemented their ban on "extremism" in 2013 - I'm not sure when Britain did the same thing, though I see from internet censorship in the United Kingdom that they began giving orders against specific extremists speaking in 2014. So Russia has already been blocking some demonstration cases for promoting "self-harm" ... but not Wikipedia.
The Sun, by contrast, is skipping straight forward to a demand for total domination. They want Wikipedia to be "the online encyclopedia that only our quasi-non-NGO can edit but maybe you can propose changes". They don't have an article to hold up, and they aren't even bothering looking for a pretext (or making one; it's still free to sign up for a new account). There is no limit on the list of changes they would demand.
Judging by what I've seen from suicide prevention efforts, I'm not expecting any demands would make sense -- I mean, I walked into an American community college building recently that had a huge sign about 'suicide prevention' in a depressing little side-alley near some elevators, and it occurred to me that making mostly disabled students ponder suicide while they sit waiting for an elevator probably wasn't a genius intervention. And most of what I ever hear about on this topic is similarly random activity meant to make people feel good about themselves ... people who work printing posters, I mean.
Whatever suicide-related information we can give on Wikipedia can only have a net beneficial result. I don't know if Britain would ban telling people that water hemlock is a terrible way to do yourself in, or telling people that Dignity in Dying is an organization on the other side of the issue there, or mentioning the Dumb Ways to Die public safety video produced in Australia that the Russians censored. I mean, no one on earth can predict how a censor would rule on anything, which is why the British are pushing to have one quasi-NGO do it, so they don't argue with themself. Wnt (talk) 11:55, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
The British government already has a quango, the Internet Watch Foundation, known for its role in the 2008 Virgin Killer incident. What Matt Hancock is now proposing is a new quango for regulating content in the areas of suicide, anorexia and bulimia. He has been under pressure to do this after cases like this and this. But where does Wikipedia fit in? It does not allow the posting of material glorifying or encouraging self harm, and would remove it straight away.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 12:14, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Surely some can (and will) argue that telling how to join a group that promotes a right to euthanasia like Dignity in Dying would do so. More likely they would object to random bits of data like that according to our article 200 people have tried to kill themselves from Humber Bridge and only 5 survived, or its inclusion in a list of suicide bridges, or the photo we have in the article which lets readers see that it is still undefiled by a 'suicide barrier' in a 2013 image even though the article says they were discussed in 2009. (It is very popular (per the suicide bridge article) to cite one study that showed that putting those barriers on one bridge didn't cause an increase in suicides on another near it. But assuming that people are little robots who will go to the nearest bridge as the crow flies to do their suicide seems childishly simple as a way of allocating large amounts of money on things that make the world a little uglier and more depressing. Who counts the suicides that causes?)
The core philosophical issue here is that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. We have a terribly outdated Age of Reason mindset that you can just give people knowledge for any purpose for them to do with as they please and we should have faith in the ability of the uncontrolled human mind to commune with, if not the Creator, then at least some higher level of sense. By contrast, Britain embodies a new model, the electronic publishing/licensing model, where knowledge is an upgrade installed into a specific prole for a reason, just as if it were a brain implant or a clearance for a classified network or a genetic modification to make a child capable of swimming through the sewers and chewing off any debris from the walls. The writings of an "extremist" are not to be read by just anyone on a whim; they are to be read by a registered Student of a registered Program teaching for a state-approved Purpose in a hierarchy of approval that stretches all the way up to the Beast of Revelations. Similarly statistics on bridge suicides would be distributed to those with a "need to know", as part of some domestic spy critical infrastructure monitoring program. And so Wikipedia is very much not with their program, and fundamentally cannot be. Wnt (talk) 13:33, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights say that European citizens have the right to freedom of expression, *but* "The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary." So if a European desk jockey says that the Wikipedia article suicide bridge or Dignitas (Swiss non-profit organisation) fails these guidelines, it would have to go. Final Exit is an example of a book that ran into this problem, and now social media companies are under pressure to remove material relating to suicide. However, I would like to ask Matt Hancock if he has found anything on Wikipedia that fails his proposed guidelines.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 14:23, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
The article wouldn't have to go, no more than charas did. The desk jockey is another question. Wnt (talk) 14:35, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
The Peaceful Pill Handbook, The Complete Manual of Suicide, Suicide methods, hopefully this doesn't give Matt Hancock any ideas...--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 14:43, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I was surprised to see the news story and I've checked in with both WMUK and the WMF and we don't know anything about any invitation. They are both following up but as I know Matt Hancock socially (only a little bit) and have found him to be quite friendly, I was surprised to see this and so I'm keen to get to the bottom of it and straighten things out.
Quite separately from this, I have thought for a long time that we should, as a community, have more robust and more widely used templates placed on our own editorial judgment in places where directing people to help could be a humanitarian kindness. We should absolutely never let some kind of juvenile instinct of "you can't tell us what to do" stand in the way of doing something that we should do. Our goals should always be much loftier than "we aren't breaking the law".--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:23, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Any robust letter would not have been sent before the 30th [3] given the bank holiday weekend we may have to wait a bit.©Geni (talk) 08:35, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, sure, but London's a small town in a way, so I hope to make positive contact before then.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:57, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
A less standoffish approach to external links would generally be a good thing for Wikipedia, and there is no harm (and a small chance of good) in linking to relevant help resources. It is vastly less objectionable than removing any sort of content. Nonetheless, if Wikipedia were to feature specific organizations under some agreement, how would that be distinguished from advertising? Would it be as appropriate, say, to use special templates to link to military recruiting sites from the ISIS article? Wnt (talk) 14:42, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't think a template that has some reassuring or encouraging wording -- written by someone more familiar with such wording than me -- and a link to List of suicide crisis lines would really be perceived as advertising. (Although I do despair at the idea of a potentially suicidal person dialling 111 in the UK and then having to wait "on hold" for, if I remember rightly, more than an hour in some cases.[citation needed] The battery on my ageing cordless landline would pass away in much less than an hour.)
Thank you to Jimmy and everyone else who has responded on this topic in such detail. I was originally merely curious as to what was going on, but a number of the responses have given me a much deeper insight into the way governments respond to serious issues in ways that perhaps aren't totally wise.
I hope no-one who wasn't already aware, objects to the section title being a UK cultural reference. MPS1992 (talk) 17:06, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't think there are any legitimate concerns about a link to helpful resources could be perceived as an advertisement. We could think of this more broadly if it helps: there are issues like Identity theft where I think it is very likely that many of our readers aren't just doing academic research on the topic, but are actively in the middle of a problem in their own lives. It strikes me that it would be good to have a prominent (template at the top) link to a constructive "how to" on best practices if you're a victim of identity theft. There are many ways to go about this, all with their own pros and cons, of course.
Let me give an analogy that may be helpful here. As far as I am aware (but I can't find an exact MoS or policy page at the moment), in articles about medicines, we typically do not give dosage information. The rationale for this is that getting it wrong (or it being vandalized) could have real-world disastrous implications for people. This is true even though typical recommended dosage information is readily available from fixed reliable sources that can't be edited. That is to say, we already quite rightly take into account the human impact of some information on our readers. I think we are right to do so. On particular topics such as self-harm/suicide we might similarly choose as a matter of ethics to be particularly careful.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:17, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia's sense of detachment, emphasized in "NOTHOWTO", has some advantages. If we prominently feature how-to advice from a selected site for 'identity theft' victims (i.e. persons bullied by big banks in an attempt to cow the general public into doing their security checks for them, and paying for it), do we provide similar advice links for people with diabetes, whose car has a check engine light flashing, who have been charged with DUI or child pornography? How do editors decide a dispute about which site gives the best advice or which people deserve advice or which countries advice should be applicable to? This could become a redefinition of Wikipedia. Wnt (talk) 15:26, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't think this seems difficult at all. I don't think this could become, or should become, any sort of redefinition of Wikipedia. A classic means of shutting down a reasonable idea is to say that any move in a particular direction inevitably means we have to move to some ridiculous place. "If gay marriage is legalized, then the next thing you know people will be wanting to marry animals!" is not a very respectable argument.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:29, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I think a small template on relevant articles, linking to relevant organizations, would be a truly excellent idea. We're not censoring anything, and if such a template helped one single person, then it would be worthwhile. I would be happy to work on such a template if there is agreement it would be a positive idea. Black Kite (talk) 14:23, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
    I think that can be a good idea, at least when initiated by an independent editor rather than as part of some handshake agreement with a power-hungry organization. No special departure from policy is really needed: for example, if you look up Crisis hotline you'll see one of the many too-large not-very-useful sidebars that sprout like weeds around the project, and it starts off with a heading on "altruistic suicide". Arguably, this is not a very logical progression of content - we can certainly organize that box in a way that deals with suicide in, say, chronological order, beginning with suicide prevention before moving on to epidemiology and methods and finally social consequences, aftermath, and politics. Its final format might well resemble what you have in mind, namely, starting prominently with an article that lists available help options. Wnt (talk) 15:26, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Wnt, I'd like to ask you to majorly tone down the rhetoric. "handshake agreement with a power-hungry organization" - what the hell are you talking about?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:29, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm just going by the original Sun article: "The Samaritans, being able to be the arbiter of what is damaging content that needs taken down so all tech companies can follow the new rules that have been set out..." I don't know how to have "positive contact" with something like that, and I can't understand why anyone would want to. Wnt (talk) 15:53, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
Don't trust the Sun newspaper blindly, would be my advice.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:49, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
This was a decent rejoinder -- indeed, even after this much time I haven't seen as much quality news coverage as I'd prefer, and Daily Mail might not fare better here, but The Independent says much the same thing. In these articles 'suicide' seems to be getting expanded to 'self-harm' like 'eating disorders' or 'anti-vaxxer' content -- but really, it appears the details are pending some upcoming White Paper. In the meanwhile I should note that Samaritans not only promotes Ofcom censorship, but literally claims responsibility for a clause that has direct relevance to Wikipedia: When reporting suicide, to prevent simulative acts care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used, while taking into account the media’s right to report legal proceedings. I mean, given their druthers they would literally come after our article on Socrates. Wnt (talk) 22:08, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
"A small template on relevant articles, linking to relevant organizations" isn't as easy as it looks. There is one in this news article but it only works for people in the UK. Getting it to work for every country that reads the English language Wikipedia would be a bit of a nightmare.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 17:26, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
As I think was mentioned above, linking to a list of relevant organizations -- such as List of suicide crisis lines or this one -- would be entirely practical. (As a more general point, it would be nice if charities and collectors-of-links were not so frequently parochial.) MPS1992 (talk) 19:55, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
Here is a strange story: some girl in Malaysia posted a comment "Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L" and at a moment when "D" led the results she killed herself. One of the linked articles says that Malaysian police may be considering charging people who voted D for "abetting" the suicide. It is relevant here, yet even so I would dismiss any call to action. No one would necessarily know "D/L" was related to suicide (rather than, say, abortion). If this were recognized and stopped, suicidal people would come up with some even more obscure way to get a poll set up by which they could kill themselves and blame somebody else for it from beyond the grave. Nonetheless, it is some kind of weird legal risk for Wikipedia, if a COI editor threatens to kill himself if we vote to delete his company's article. Wnt (talk) 19:07, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
There have been several cases in the UK where a coroner criticized the role of social media in a teenager's suicide, but it was usually sites like Facebook and Instagram. I've yet to see any case where a coroner criticized Wikipedia. This is because Wikipedia is not an "anything goes" social media site and the material should have encyclopedic relevance.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 04:31, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Notability of academics[edit]

Hi Jimbo, this is my first time posting here in about 14 years, and I would not do so unless I believed in my heart that there is a major problem with Wikipedia's notability guidelines in regards to academics/professors. You're probably aware of some recent high-profile article deletion discussions for academic biographies. I believe the root cause for most of the concerns is that, over time, our notability guidelines regarding them have been relaxed to the point that a significant number of editors feel that it is not necessary to provide proof of independent coverage of an academic. Wikipedia:Notability (academics)#Criteria has a set of certain conditions that demonstrate notability, such as being awarded certain honors, named chairs at institutions, etc. While these on the surface are legitimate, the problem comes from the wording of that section, which indicates that there is no need for independent coverage. Apparent consensus on that talk page (shown as of now in the RfC I've linked below) is that self-published sources, like university faculty profiles, press releases from award grantors like the NAS, and others which are closely-tied to the subject are accepted as proof of notability. This RfC, which should be a very straight-forward expression of Wikipedia values, is at present failing miserably.

Wikipedia talk:Notability (academics)#RfC about independent sources for academic notability to decide the following question:

Current wording: Academics/professors meeting any one of the following conditions, as substantiated through reliable sources, are notable.
Proposed wording: Academics/professors meeting one or more of the following conditions, as substantiated using multiple published, reliable, secondary sources which are independent of the subject and each other, are notable.

Shall the wording in the section Wikipedia:Notability (academics)#Criteria be changed to the proposed wording above?

I'm an old Wikipedian, and I remember that for as long as we've been around, that to determine notability meant we had to prove that the world had taken note of a topic, and that third-party or independent sources (news, media, books, etc.) are what we accept for that. Some of our foundational policies like WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, WP:Verifiability#Notability, and WP:No original research#Using sources have stated this basic principle for almost our entire lifetime.

Early in our project, we felt a certain "inferiority complex", and we made overtures towards academia in order to get them involved and for our work to be respected. A whole generation of scholars has now grown up referencing Wikipedia in school. They've gotten involved in the project, greatly expanding our knowledge areas. Unfortunately, I feel, that the tide has changed. Academics now value Wikipedia as part of their social and professional network. Having your own article on Wikipedia is seen as an achievement, and for some, as seen in the social media backlash outside Wikipedia and within Wikipedia at that RfC, almost a right. I hold onto hope that something changes and that we can keep applying a fair standard of notability/inclusion across all of our subject areas, and that this one segment doesn't continue to unduly influence our guidelines for their own benefit. I'm sorry if this post isn't well-received, but it is heart-felt. -- Netoholic @ 21:54, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

With me, it is very well received. This is a very difficult topic and your position, which I partly share, is a respectable one.
One of the things I have always thought we should do is ask ourselves "is this a biography?" One of the sound rationales for WP:BLP1E is that when a person has come into the news for a single event (often, but not always, for something that happened to them rather than for something they did) we don't actually have enough information to write a real biography - and there is not much hope that we ever will.
Academics, though, are a different case. It strikes me that it would be strange and excessively "pop culture-y" if we insisted that we find news coverage of their hobbies and family life before covering them. Some academics become public intellectuals to such a degree that such information does appear in mainstream media profiles. But many very important ones do not ever reach the mainstream media, nor should we expect them to, nor should we find that their encyclopedic notability depends on courting popular press.
We also have the well-known and I think real problem of gender imbalance in our coverage of academics, and that this is in part driven by a deeper problem within academia itself. That, too, is a complicated problem for us.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:07, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
We have many fine editors (Randykitty and David Eppstein come to mind) who are perfectly capable of applying the varying indices and whatnot, measures that are used inside academia as well, which can be said to prove or disprove academic notability (I myself am somewhat skeptical of their value, but that's another matter). As for secondary vs. reliable sources--if a university website, for instance, has information on this or that professor and their work, sure it's not an independent secondary source, but we should not assume that therefore the information is not reliable. One of my friends occupies a named chair, not one that necessarily confers notability on him, but still, and it is hard to imagine that a university would not check that kind of information. In other words, we should trust the website of a trustworthy institution. Of course a claim can be inflated--but again, that's a different matter, one of judgment. We should not expect secondary sources to verify that "Dr. X occupies the Drmies chair of applied linguistics at so and so university"; if we find that in the local paper, you can bet they got it off the website too. I do agree that it's become fashionable for professors (and non-professors in academia) to "have" a Wikipedia article, and some of those are just resumes, but I believe the current processes work well enough. Drmies (talk) 14:15, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
I don't even think this is about mainstream media or minor biographical details at all. Academia itself has its own media (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, etc.), journals, book reviews, and much more. The problem I think is more about access to those resources, which can often be behind subscriptions and paywalls, making it difficult for the average editor to access. This barrier, I think, makes people presume that we must use sources which are closely-tied to the subject just because they are often the most easily accessible. Efforts like WP:The Wikipedia Library help some, by giving editors access to those resources, but overall I don't think these difficulties are worth granting an exception to this particular set of biographies. It will make it harder for us to justify requiring independent sourcing for other topic areas. -- Netoholic @ 16:42, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
The fact those sources are behind paywalls is partially the point of NPROF. All the subject-specific notability guidelines are designed to lay out criteria that, should it be shown that a topic meets those, then we allow the topic to have a standalone article to have the time to be developed by the open wiki, to get behind the paywall and get those sources, and only face prospect of deletion if someone else can reasonably show that there are no other sources, specifically those that are independent and secondary, coming for that topic. We do require that support for that criteria be proven through a reliable source, and in most cases, we do prefer an independent source, but an independent source in not required at this stage, particular in the case of academics. We've never demanded independent sources be had for a topic that meets a subject-specific criteria, and part of developing said criteria is to make sure that meeting the criteria is reasonable assurance of existing or future independent, secondary sources. That's the whole crux of this issue, is that trying to apply the "requires independent sources" to articles in development, particularly for academics, is too soon. (The only guideline otherwise different here is NCORP which, due to blatant self-promotion/SEOing of WP, we do absolutely require independent sources to show why an organization is notable). --Masem (t) 13:50, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
@Masem: You said "We've never demanded independent sources be had for a topic that meets a subject-specific criteria. I wanted to find this out for myself, so I surveyed the main policies, WP:Notability, and the subject-specific notability guidelines. I found that almost all of them do, in fact, require "independent sources" for the purpose of determining notbility. As they should, because to know if something has been 'noted' by the world, we cannot rely on the subject to tell us so. As you pointed out, this is very true for WP:NCORP where there has been blatant promotion. To think that academics are immune to this tendency as well, is naive. As has been shown, we are now vulnerable to self-promotion by academics - led by Wikipedians that are themselves part of academia and have a strong potential for conflict of interest. We would never tolerate members of any other particular topic area advocating for looser inclusion guidelines for their own community. -- Netoholic @ 17:01, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
Each of the cases you have document do not say that an independent source is necessary to show that a criteria is met; it is expected that each criteria has been carefully selected so that independent sourcing is nearly a certainty, but it doesn't have to be there to claim notability by any of the criteria. Now we absolutely do prefer that independent sources be used to justify the criteria over a dependent source, and certainly in the areas of businesses, we are much more strict due to WP-as-SEO treatment. Academic institutions are not in that game. --Masem (t) 18:37, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
  • On the gender imbalance in academia, I don't know the statistics, but it seems safe to assume that males predominate in academia, as they do in other institutions like the US Senate (25% female), or CEO's of fortune 500. With U.S. senators it's easy to see that we can't write more than 25% of the bios on women. But, even if "it's a great time for women in science as far as visibility is concerned. Stories of powerful women in STEM fields are trending in virtually every cultural sphere,"[4] what could Wikipedia actually do, except perhaps on the margins, given the state of the world, that it's not doing? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:31, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I'm not sure how that imbalance works out in my field, but what can Wikipedia do, you ask? Well, write articles: Wikipedia:WikiProject Women in Red. Drmies (talk) 14:45, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
      • Note the preface and the question "it's not doing?", writing articles is what it does already, and does not address the world's imbalance. The answer may be there is nothing else Wikipedia can do, it just has to accept the world's imbalance. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:52, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
        • Surely the job of an encyclopedia is to reflect the imbalances of the real world rather than trying to change them, so I'd say of course the encyclopedia has to accept the world's imbalances (however much, as individuals, we might deplore and try to change them). The encyclopedia's imbalances, certainly, we should fix those, but that's surely the limit of the remit of an encyclopedia. Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 09:26, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
          • Re 'what could Wikipedia actually do': we also need more Wikipedians pushing scientific newsletters and local papers to publish more interviews and biographies of their communities. We know what the requirements for reliable course are, so where we see them missing it needs to be more common to go to journalists and request that they be created. T.Shafee(Evo&Evo)talk 14:05, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
          • This is precisely what WPWIR does do. Systemic bias by demography exists within Wikipedia and of course we only write and work on articles that we're interested in, and so biases in authorship leads to bias in content. At least as far as my interest in WPWIR goes, it's only designed to tackle the bias by Wikipedia editors, not bias in reliable sources. And from my experience on Wikipedia it's readily apparent that articles on women-related topics are scrutinised far more heavily than those on men-related topics (with the same level of notability/coverage). (And there are plenty of other biases as well, I would say most notably with geographic topics.) As Alanscottwalker says, we have to "accept the world's imbalance", yes, but not exacerbate it through biases of our own. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 15:12, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
            • @Bilorv: I agree. We might have to "accept the world's imbalance", but we don't have to be any more biased than the least biased available sources. We can fight systemic bias just by living up to the standards that we claim to value. XOR'easter (talk) 16:29, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
            • "demography exists within Wikipedia and of course we only write and work on articles that we're interested in, and so biases in authorship leads to bias in content" But why would whatever Wikipedian's are personally mean they are not interested in writing articles on women? Can't they be interested in writing articles on women, regardless of what the Wikipedian is personally? Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:47, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
              • This is indeed the question that won't be answered. Despite clear evidence that many male editors get involved in WP:WIR and other women-focused projects, there is no evidence that male editors, on the whole, specifically avoid writing about women. Yet, some people will forever continue to stoke the sexist claim that "male editors = male articles". Compare the coverage on any two pairs of articles that have a male and female counterpart (father/mother, boy/girl, masculism/feminism), the male article is often the one that is the least-developed. Editors working on male-focused articles are eyed with suspicion, editors working on female-focused articles are celebrated. -- Netoholic @ 00:04, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
                • Thanks for concisely confirming that this is all just a misogynist crusade on your part. (And anyone worried that Netoholic might be making reasonable arguments in good faith should take a look at their recent activity: we've got a half-dozen attempts to delete articles on notable female scientists, a half-dozen RfCs to oppose gender-neutral wording, the creation of Wikipedia:WikiProject Men (because apparently one isn't enough), this jaw-dropper, etc.) -- (talk) 12:59, 10 May 2019 (UTC)— Preceding unsigned comment added by Joel B. Lewis (talkcontribs)
                  • This IP coward proves my points. Anyone even giving the vaguest hint of supporting the improvement of men's articles is on a "misogynist crusade". Creating a top-level WikiProject Men is too many, yet there are at least 17 WikiProjects devoted to women. -- Netoholic @ 14:23, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
                    • Sorry, that was me -- I must have been logged out in my other browser. --JBL (talk) 20:34, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                  I think arguing that the verb "manned" isn't "gendered" is more of a jaw-dropper. Schazjmd (talk) 14:16, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
              • @Alanscottwalker: I didn't say anything of the sort. Some individual male editors (such as myself) are of course interested in writing articles on women. It's just that as an aggregate, bias will accumulate in content if there's bias within authorship. Would you deny that you edit primarily in areas you find interesting? I know I do. So of course demography of editors matters. @Netoholic: That's not relevant to the topic of discussion, which is about the number of biographies of men and women (82% to 18% according to WP:WPWIR's tally). And masculism is not the male counterpart of feminism, because feminism is about gender equality, not about women only. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 23:05, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
                • Bilorv: What is the 'ideal' or 'correct' proportion of biographies for men and women on Wikipedia? -- Netoholic @ 23:09, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
                  • Ideal? Well, obviously 50% (once we discount non-binary people) but that requires living in a gender equal world. But as I say above, in the current world we should be reflecting reliable sources with due proportion and unless you wish to tell me that fewer than 1 in 5 people mentioned in reliable sources are female, then "higher than 18%" is a pretty obvious answer. Obviously historical limitations on what women could do, such as in Ancient Greece, will raise the proportion of male notable figures, but the incredibly high exponential rise in world population over time (population was under half a billion in 1500), and much larger body of existing information from more recent times, means that the majority of notable figures are currently alive or lived recently. So 18-82 is not an accurate representation. Once we get to 33-67 we'll need to start talking more seriously about what the true proportion should be. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 11:41, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                    • Bilorv: Based on the world as it is, and historically, and considering all the potentially notable biographical subjects with which we could work with, how do you know we haven't already achieved the correct proportion? Why do you state "'higher than 18%' is a pretty obvious answer" - if it is so obvious, surely there must be some objective measure that demonstrates that it is so. Let's even just take the 21st century, when I think you would agree that the opportunities for women to achieve notability are at their greatest level, is the ideal proportion still "obviously 50%" considering that there will always be many women that choose to raise families instead of seek high-level careers? How do we know that we haven't already reached the proper level? How do we know that "33-67" isn't biased unfairly towards women in an incorrect proportion to men based on the potential pool of notable subjects? When can Wikipedia celebrate achieving the most correct proportion of coverage that we can about women? -- Netoholic @ 12:16, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                      • Where's your evidence that women would choose to raise children more frequently than men would in an equal society? This misogynistic stereotype underpins your whole argument. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 15:35, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                        • Bilorv: Are we talking about a hypothetical "equal society", or does Wikipedia merely report on the society we actually have? I notice you took the easy route by making a strawman and calling me names, rather than answer the very direct request for evidence to support your claims. A case in point would be a 2015 study called A Paper Ceiling which specifically looked at the overall coverage of men and women in approximately 2,000 English-language newspapers and online news sites. As analyzed by a Harvard journalism website, the study found that the ratio of women to men mentioned was about 1:5. Per the analysis "Inequities in media coverage are due largely to social realities and everyday societal inequalities". This 20% ratio seems very close to the currently-stated 18% biography total... and if you account for known historic differences, it might be an indicator that at 18% we've already exceeded the true proportion of notable subjects and there is incredibly little Wikipedia can do further. -- Netoholic @ 16:18, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                    • "historical limitations on what women could do" are by no means restricted to "Ancient Greece". In Britain professional football did not allow women until 1977 (from way back), hence no women footballers could be notable. Category:British footballers has over 30,000 members, only some 500 female. 18% is higher than the female %s in most easy-to-measure contemporary work categories like members of legislatures, top 100 company boards, members of national academies and the like. I don't say 18% is target achieved, but there needs to be a reality check about what a feasible target might be, which of course nobody actually knows. For many years to come, it is likely to be comfortably under 25%. Johnbod (talk) 14:28, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                      • Sportspeople don't make up the majority of notable people. Gender disparities are more exacerbated at higher levels than lower levels so it's not accurate to look at top 100 company boards. There are also plenty of areas where more women are famous (e.g. compare Category:American female models with Category:American male models). Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 15:35, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
                        • Areas where more women are notable are actually rather few, and often not generating high article counts. The weight of the numbers is clear, but some just refuse to see it. Btw, we have figures for all living people as a % of all biographies; does anyone have them to hand? On the models (rather fewer than I would have expected), note that the female head cat seems to be treated as non-diffusing, but the male one as diffusing - see the "by state" cats. So the real male total is higher than the main cat has. Johnbod (talk) 15:56, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

@Bilorv: I did not say, you said anything. If it's true that whatever a wikipedian is personally, they may be interested in writing about a woman, it also seems true that whatever a wikipedian is personally, they may be interested in writing about a man. (A few examples that fit your categorization from 'the real world', that I can think of off the top of my head, are Ida Tarbell biographer of business magnates, Harriet Munroe biographer of John Wellborn Root, Debby Applegate biographer of Henry Ward Beecher.) What connection do you make between the "aggregate" and the personal demographic belonging of a woman or a man? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:59, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

  • You're again naming specific examples when I said nothing about individuals. I answered the question you asked already: "as an aggregate, bias will accumulate in content if there's bias within authorship. Would you deny that you edit primarily in areas you find interesting? I know I do." The claim is hardly contentious: Wikipedia editors edit topics they find interesting. People tend to find things interesting if they can relate to people involved or share similarities with their situation. This overall leads to bias. It's not the fault or responsibility of any individual person. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 15:35, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
    • It is incontrovertible that individuals make up the aggregate. Is it your contention that women will write about women and men will write about men? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:41, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
      • Not my contention at all. I'm saying women are biased towards writing about women and the same for men. Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 16:36, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
        • And is that not a sweeping statement based on stereotype? Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:04, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
          • No, because it doesn't assert a reason for the bias (which I would say is a result of social conditioning). Bilorv (he/him) (talk) 18:04, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I personally feel that we should have a notability "low bar" for academics. Full professors should be automatically "in," much like state legislators — to get to that academic level, one must do significant publication and there is apt to be adequate available sourcing for a rudimentary encyclopedic biography for such individuals. Wikipedia is not paper, blah blah blah, cost of a relaxed standard is nil. It would end a lot of fighting, I think, being a simple rule. As of now, holders of named professorships are automatically in. I'd go further, if it was up to me. Carrite (talk) 03:07, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I kinda lean in this direction (all full profs notable) but before I'd like to know if we have the resources to handle the influx of new articles. I don't really agree that this would end a lot of fighting. What's the old saying "The reason academic infighting is so bitter is that the stakes are so low"? So how may new articles could there be under a new "full full professor coverage" rule? Based on a quora answer and some back-of-the-envelope calculations, I'd say there are 150,000 to 500,000 full profs in the US. And say 3 or 4 times as many total in the world (guesswork). In any case a lot of potential articles, most with somewhat reasonable sources, about folks we wouldn't mind having as contributors. It's enough that I'd want to go slow in relaxing the standards. Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:41, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
      • Agreed this is an issue, though the US to global uplift should be higher. Also, as discussed at various times on the actual WP:PROF talk page, "full professor" in the sense you mean it is mainly a US concept, with a world of difficulty in translating it globally. In the UK such people are most often called "Senior Lecturer", though this is changing somewhat. At at least one place they are called "Student" for historical reasons. So it's not a way to reduce arguments at all. The last thing we need is potentially a million articles that mostly repeat the prof's faculty page, hardly get read, and never get updated. WP:NOTDIR. Johnbod (talk) 15:04, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Just for clarity sake and information, holders of named professorships are not automatic currently, the further limitations in that named chair criteria are "major institution of higher education and research", which in past discussions for the US has been generally described as Carnegie Classification, R-1 "Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:05, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
    • I don't see that value add Wikipedia provides in this proposal. With no independent sources, we would quite literally be just a copy of their faculty/professional profiles - one that would require maintenance and vandalism patrol, so this certainly is not a "nil" cost proposal. The set of academic biographies that actually hold encyclopedic value are just those that are cited and cross-referenced authors whose work contributes to our scientific/philosophical/etc. articles. -- Netoholic @ 17:26, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
  • This does strike me fairly central to the issue: "Academia itself has its own media (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, etc.), journals, book reviews, and much more. The problem I think is more about access to those resources, which can often be behind subscriptions and paywalls, making it difficult for the average editor to access". But the current notability guideline for academics isn't really addressing this, just trying to skirt around it. A second and closely related problem is that the GNG hasn't quite served us well. It was a nice idea, but it's led to WP (the English one anyway) being utterly overrun by pop-culture trivia.

    That problem in a nutshell is that virtually anyone and anything connected to the entertainment industry can have an article here, because the cannibalistic/incestuous entertainment press writes tons and tons of "in depth" (detailed) but ultimately ephemeral and trivial coverage of, well, itself and its corporate owners and their lackeys. Some actor with a few TV or movie credits will have all sorts of obsessive profiles and interviews and reviews and yadda yadda, but ultimately isn't actually notable in any sense that an encyclopedia should care about. Finding some work in your chosen field isn't an indicator of lasting notability, just basic competence and employability. It's akin to giving every 7-11 cashier an article here if they last 1+ years on the job. A partial solution to the issue would be declaring the entertainment press non-WP:INDY for WP:N purposes, in regard to any entertainment-industry topic. An actor/band/TV pilot/video game character/whatever isn't notable without some kind of non-trivial coverage in multiple reliable sources outside the industry writing about itself for mutually self-promotional purposes. (Virtually all of these publications – most of which are owned by the same media corporations anyway – get the bulk of their income from entertainment industry advertising dollars, so they have a direct fiduciary interest in pumping out coverage of every album, director, sports team, sci-fi novel, comics character, and so on, that they can get around to writing about.)

    For academics, go the opposite direction, in a sense, and look at frequency of citation in genuinely reputable journals, and various other factors, but more specific, more objective, that the current standards we're kinda-sorta using. I don't think any notability guideline is so dubiously labeled a guideline as that one, because it's setup as an alternative to, not an application of, the broader notability standards. That makes it a WP:CONLEVEL problem, and it's the reason it's constantly subject to dispute and to hotly fought-over revision attempts that never seem to go anywhere (not due to lack of merits in the revision proposals, but due to desperate WP:FILIBUSTERing out of fear that any change will lead to mass deletion of academic bios). Its going to continue being a recurrent conflict until we rejigger the larger notability determination rubric to make more sense for an actual encyclopedia instead of for something more like a social networking and blog site. It's like WP is turning into "MySpace 2", and cutting off its own nose out of internal spite in the process. Something has to change.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:06, 12 May 2019 (UTC)

  • I would think clarification would be a good matter, this is an unenforceable and very subjective bar. Just today it was used [[5]] and the policy is unclear as to what bar is needed. Hell in a Bucket (talk) 22:06, 12 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Simply put: There are no magic criteria for "notability" and Wikipedia has acknowledged this by having "areas of limited general interest" have "notability standards" greatly discrepant from the encyclopedia in general. (e.g. "porn stars" and "Pokémon figures" and the like.) I posit that no "notability standards for academics" can possibly avoid the same problems. Even "well-known within their specific field of expertise" would be tough to define, but I know that "holding the title of Professor" is a can of worms - with the huge influx of new schools and a vast increase in the number of those titled "Professor" making this a pretty useless criterion. An estimate of 1.5 million or more is justifiable - making roughly 1% of all employed US citizens "notable" with that criterion. Further, "number of citations" has lowered in value as new papers appear to "cite" increasing numbers of prior papers! It makes some sense to me to count only "mentions of the person as known in their field excluding multi-author papers and being the primary person writing the paper. Can anyone come up with criteria which would not make a million or more US individuals alone be auto-eligible for articles? Collect (talk) 14:32, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Implicit in Carrite's comment to get to that academic level, one must do significant publication (and as discussed by Alanscottwalker) is that the domain of discussion here is "professors at research universities"; the number of those is much smaller. I agree with you about the lack of a magic right answer, and I am somewhat skeptical that going largely by job title is a good idea (though now that the terrible, pointy proposal of Netoholic has been rejected, I plan on returning to being mostly apathetic about these questions). --JBL (talk) 15:33, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Oh, also, excluding multi-author papers would rule out essentially all work in most scientific fields; even in mathematics, where single-author papers were the majority not that long ago, co-authorship is now the norm and multi-author papers are increasingly common. (Here is some 15-year old research on the subject.) My impression is that deletion discussions with the current WP:NPROF exhibit awareness of this phenomenon. -JBL (talk) 15:37, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
      • Just noting here that @Collect:'s estimate of 1.5 million "professors" in the US is the *total* "college or university faculty" members according to Quora )(based on Bureau of Labor Statistics). Restricting it to just faulty members at research universities (R1, R2, and R3) would be about 10% of that, restricting it further to just officially titled "Full Professors" would be 15%-35% of the last number or about 22,000-60,000. (yeah, check my math) in the US. What does that imply for research "professors" in the world? Total guesswork - multiply by 5. Smallbones(smalltalk) 16:03, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
        • The U.S. population is about 5% of the world population, so you should multiply the figure by 20, not by 5. --Jayron32 18:00, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
          • Only if you believe that research is happening at equal intensity everywhere. --JBL (talk) 18:12, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
            • Yeah, it looks like US new doctoral degrees p147 and 148 and [6] is around 25% of the OECD total. Research professors are probably more concentrated than that. How about as a % of Nobel prizes? This can give you an idea. It looks like over 50% Americans since 1950. I'm sorry if I seem chauvinist, but research universities are highly concentrated in the US, and to a lesser extent in the UK and the rest of Europe. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:46, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Noting the claim that there are only a small number of "Professors" in the US I decided to review the source I used. The AAUP counts well over 350,000 "full-time salaried faculty" in the US. Over 1.1 million others are not "full-time faculty" which is where most of the "less than full Professors" dwell. counts "post-secondary teachers" in its figures. The "22,000 to 60,000" estimate is clearly way off on the low side. The figure of 250,000 to 300,000 is likely close to reality -- of whom only a small number are actually notable using common sense. That is, in my opinion, "Professor" does not "confer nobility" on anyone, nor notability. And therefore it is not, in itself, a "sufficient reason" for a Wikipedia article. Better? Collect (talk) 21:01, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
    • You're redoing the calculation Smallbones made but without applying the correct filters. Full-time salaried faculty includes tenure-track faculty (many if not most of whom have titles like "assistant professor" and "associate professor", i.e., they are not in the set described), non-tenure track full-time academic employees (full-time lecturers, etc.) without a professorial title (ditto), and full professors at non-research institutions. There is no way that 70% of "full-time salaried faculty" are "full professors at research universities" (as implied by your estimate). [I continue to have no strong feelings about your conclusion; but your calculation is much less plausible than Smallbones's.] --JBL (talk) 21:17, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
    • Here's the latest Report on the Status of the Profession from AAUP -- as you can see, there are fewer than 200,000 full time faculty (any rank) at doctoral universities (Table B). If I'm reading Table 9 correctly (not guaranteed), 33.1% of full-time faculty at doctoral universities are full professors, which would make the group under discussion here around 56,000 people. --JBL (talk) 21:25, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
  • cmt - Hat tip-->merrua, Hacker News (thread):

    "[...]the deletionists where more often the 'majority' culture and male, which resulted in a feedback loop for the nonminority and female. New minority turn up, have a bad experience and leaves. I think it was studied let me see if I can find the paper. I know the results were replicated with comment bots. Update, not the ones I was thinking of but a good read. HBS Cases: How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't)

    --Hodgdon's secret garden (talk) 01:26, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
Another hat tip-->Harvard Business School "Cases": "How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn’t)" - On HB school's Karim R. Lakhani's examination (link) of a "case" where colleague Andrew McAfee "edits" ah the Wikipedia.

LINK - "McAfee began to feel that the debate might be about something more than just the article. ['...P]olicies had become for them a way to keep out articles they just personally didn't like.' [...] Lakhani believes[...]rules seemed to be used in an exclusionary way. [... Edited: (How's what follows, as combined with the foregoing, for a tautology! Ahem.)] An ongoing tension within Wikipedia is characterized as the inclusionists versus the exclusionists [sic. ... ]The inclusionists argue that one of Wikipedia's core values is that it should be open to all ideas, that truth emerges from a variety of directions. Better to include than exclude. The exclusionists see Wikipedia's utilitarianism diminished if too much froth clouds the valuable information inside."

--Hodgdon's secret garden (talk) 09:23, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
  • For most of us. policies are not determined in the abstract, but in awareness of their significance for the content and nature of the encyclopedia. The GNG would leave researchers under-represented if used in the ordinary way. Those who want to see them covered therefore support a special rule. But there is also another factor--the demonstration of significant discussion by secondary independent sources would make it possible to use the detailed discussions in some of the citing papers as evidence, and would have the effect of making notability depend on the amount of effort people with access to the still mostly non-open access literature could put into it, not the merits of the individual. With enough work, I could show every assistant professor in a major research university notable--or at least I could have done so when I still had the necessary access. In practice, I'd do the few that personally interested me, and so would the other people here in the area, and we'd have remarkably erratic coverage corresponding neither to the profession's or the public's view of what is important. We need to have rules that permit the majority of ordinary WPedians, not just the experts with special access, to participate in article writing and discussions. There are those who think the wording of a guideline that nobody outside WP really understands more important than common sense and more important than our mission of providing an encycopedia that will be of value to the general public. Jimbo, I don't think that's your view. I think you had in mind a practical result, not a game of juggling regulations. DGG ( talk ) 22:14, 15 May 2019 (UTC)


meta:Wikimedia servers says that about 9% of Wikimedia Foundation data centers' energy comes from renewable sources, with the rest split evenly between coal, gas and nuclear power (34%, 28%, and 28%, respectively).

Facebook and Google both invest hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy to match their datacenter electricity usage and bringing additional renewable energy sources to the power grid for the rest of society to use. In fact, all of Facebook's new datacenters are powered by 100% renewable energy. Google has purchased carbon offsets to cover for the remainder of their operations, and has been carbon-neutral for over ten years.

  1. What is the WMF doing to reduce their carbon footprint?
    1. What leverage does the WMF hold over whether their datacenter providers (CyprusOne and Equinix) choose to switch to renewable energy sources?
    2. If the WMF's datacenter providers prove to be reluctant to switch to renewable energy sources, is the WMF willing to move away from their services? (e.g. the WMF building their own datacenters)
  2. What is the WMF doing to advance renewable energy other than WMF-internal operations?

The trees we saved by destroying the paper encyclopedia industry is certainly a commendable achievement, but what is next?

Σσς(Sigma) 09:54, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

Wikimedia Sustainability Initiative Logo.svgThis user supports the Sustainability Initiative to reduce the foundation's environmental impact.

Jimmy, Would you like this userbox on your user page?

This is obviously a concern for many readers, editors, and employees - the whole world really. The WMF does need to get ahead of this. There is a Sustainability Initiative described on Meta. Some of the people involved there are @EBjune (WMF) and Lgruwell-WMF:. @Faidon Liambotis (WMF): has edited the m:Wikimedia_servers#Energy_use page deleting then reinserting the current info on energy use. Perhaps he's had the time to get a bit more info on this. (more in a few minutes). Smallbones(smalltalk) 13:37, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
The goals of the sustainability initiative are (quoting):
  1. renewable energy for the Wikimedia servers
  2. remote participation at Wikimania and other Wikimedia events
  3. a sustainable investment strategy for the Wikimedia endowment
For 1) I think we need to get some data first. Perhaps we can figure a way to move the servers to places where there is surplus geothermal or hydro power that's hard to send to places with higher demand, e.g. Iceland, Quebec and upper New York State, eastern Washington State. Maybe the WMF could even invest in a small bit of wind powered electricity generation. (This is all off the top of my head)
For 2), this would seem to be a good idea even if it weren't related to sustainability, but we might want to start slowly while committing to improvements each year. Perhaps next year, Wikimania could do something like a series of TED talks (short, factual, inspiring, well rehearsed) and stream those live.
For 3) we'd have to realize that this is using our endowment to make a political statement. Political statement and investment management are not always a good mix - political activists might be loathe ever to quit trying to make their statement, even when the rhetorical value has decreased. It should, in theory, cost something - perhaps not much - to make political statements with investments. So we should be very careful with this method and figure out a) what is the exact political statement we want to make, b) when would we stop making that statement, and c)do we really have the backing of editors, readers, the WMF and its employees to make this statement?
The cost *can be worth it.* The 1970s-1980s campaign to stop university endowments from investing in companies that invested in apartheid South Africa might be one example where this type of political statement has worked. The direct effect of our endowment not investing in company xyz would likely to be pretty small however - pure symbolic. Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:30, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm very supportive that our data centers should be carbon neutral. I am not personally close enough to the decision making process to know off the top of my head where we stand on that and why we aren't already doing it, but I will check in with the board and see (and advocate for this). In the meantime, I also think purchasing carbon offsets would not be a bad idea, if bought from the highest quality providers. (My understanding is there there are a lot of questions about quality in this area.)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:34, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
In terms of wikipedia's climate footprint the servers are pretty marginal compared to the computers the editors are using. I suspect if you look at the people driving somewhere to get photos isn't that great.©Geni (talk) 14:35, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Assange charges[edit]

Wikipedia editors need to know if the doctrines espoused in these indictments against Assange would, as written, be applicable against editors who repost information from Wikileaks or international newspapers that have cited it. Wnt (talk) 02:58, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Also, it seems that the publishing of any classified info, like the Pentagon Papers, would result in arrests in 2019. So much for the bullshit that Assange was special because he was trying to figure out a password...nope, the only thing special is the tightening of the fist of the now more powerful than the elected government, Military Industrial Complex. Ya gotta be a real brainwashed zero to accept this one. Nocturnalnow (talk) 20:37, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, there is going to be a very strong body of legal opinion that says that this is as unconstitutional as it was in the Nixon era. Hopefully, WMF will be part of that body of legal opinion; but first we need a ruling by WMF counsel to determine whether Wikipedia contributors are (or justifiably feel) affected. Wnt (talk) 00:00, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
WMF legal counsel do not issue "rulings" so I would recommend not waiting for that. Nor should they, they aren't a court.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:13, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes, but perhaps a "legal opinion". That would be a reasonable expectation for our counsel. However, I say don't worry about it. In a country where "you can make anything a crime under the current laws", each person has to decide whether to just A: avoid that country and its laws like the plague, or B: deal with and/or in that country and watch what you say, who you associate with, and what you read, or, C: finally, say what you feel, hang out with whoever you want, and read whatever you want, and take your chances. I think we have all made either 1 of the latter 2 choices, or a combination thereof, so, it does not matter what our counsel says. So. I'd say to not even bother them with this most recent nasty bully tantrum. Nocturnalnow (talk) 18:46, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
I'll admit that I misspoke. A phrase like "DOJ ruling" is often used, but if prosecutors are the Law, defense attorneys are a quaint relic of a bygone era. Even if I only meant a 'ruling' by the WMF attorneys about what WP:Office actions are going to be imposed. (If editors get to know that) Wnt (talk) 21:46, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Sporadic draftifying[edit]

Hi Jimbo. Yesterday, the editor Kzl55 has draftified this article on the premise of socking. However, when you check the block log of article's creator, it is clean. Yesterday, he also draftified this page on the same premise, even though an administrator kept in an AfD 2 months ago with a comment that suggested clean editing. I was confused about what to do if there's a discrepancy between the edit summary and the logs. As a proponent of greater diversity for coverage of Africa-related pages, I thought you may be interested. (talk) 17:01, 24 May 2019 (UTC)