Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Single/2023-04-26

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Signpost
Single-page Edition
26 April 2023



Staff departures at Wikimedia Foundation, Jimbo hands in the bits, and graphs' zeppelin burns

Jimmy Wales speaking at Wikimania 2019

Jimbo abdicates advanced permissions after arbitration case request

Jimmy Wales has given up all the remaining advanced permissions (administrator, checkuser and oversight) he has held on the English Wikipedia, after his conduct towards Bradv on the latter's talk page was declared to be an unfounded accusation. Wales requested his permissions be removed in the course of an arbitration case request brought against him by former arbitrator AmandaNP.

For the technically minded:

Wales retains the Founder flag as a courtesy; however, its permissions have been modified so he is no longer able to grant advanced permissions to himself or others.

What was the reason for the arbitration request? Wales had left the following message on the talk page of Bradv, a former arbitrator who had been inactive on Wikipedia for over half a year:

I have what seems to me a credible report that you have been recommending to people that they use WikiExperts. Is this true?

The report I have is that you contacted someone through Whatsapp to recommend WikiExperts, who then charged someone $15,000 for an article in Wikipedia. I am asking you because if so, then you definitely should not be an admin in English Wikipedia. If it is a lie, then fine. But please tell me the truth.

Over the next few hours, multiple checkusers, oversighters and stewards piled into Bradv's talk page telling Wales that he was out of order. Moreover, what seemed to Wales like a "credible report" on which to base such an egregious implication seemed to ArbCom nothing of the kind. Arbitrator GeneralNotability, for example, opined:

I would consider this report about as credible as a paid editing firm slapping a picture of you on the top of their website and saying "endorsed by Jimbo Wales himself!"

GeneralNotability later expanded on this in the case request:

I won't fault the person who was conned here (since they're clearly not familiar with Wikipedia), but anyone who knows bradv can tell you that the person claiming to be him in these messages...clearly wasn't. The person was using unusual wording that suggests to me that they're not a native speaker, either - and anyone who's worked with Brad can tell you that he's quite well-spoken. The person also made a number of nonsensical policy claims that Brad would know better than to make. Beyond that, there's the sheer nonsensicality of the conversation. Summary of the relevant bits:

The mark received an unsolicited contact from not-Brad saying "I'm an administrator and your article failed our notability review." They then gave the standard paid editor nonsense about needing a "verified editor" to get one's article published (referring them to Wiki Experts in the process). Later on, we get to my personal favorite part - he says that someone else has "claimed" the article in question already (so he can't edit it) and he needs to find an "arbitrator" to get it back. This is all steering them toward the Wiki Experts person (who's pretty clearly either the same person or a confederate), who is helpfully saying "of course we can help you, but it will cost (lots of money)." Page gets deleted or marked as UPE or something, lots of stalling ensues, mark requests a refund and doesn't get it, etc., etc. They also tell the victim that they've talked to 20+ arbitrators to get the page returned to them (news to me, would the secret extra arbs please raise a hand) and most of the arbs would charge $4k but they found one who will do it for $2k.

The second persona in the con is a new one for me, but this is nothing we haven't seen a thousand times before, and anyone who's done work dealing with paid editing could have told Jimbo in a heartbeat that this is an obvious scam. Jimbo should have known better. If he wants to take a hard line on paid editing, there are a lot of people around here (me included) who are familiar with the tricks and would be happy to work with him and the Foundation to come up with better ways to respond.

And speaking as one of the people in that area, since people brought it up: yes, it is normal to ask people whether they're COI/paid. This is almost exclusively done based on their behavior on-wiki - obvious promotional tone, writing articles exclusively related to a certain person or company, etc. We don't go off of claims from paid editing groups or unsolicited contacts that people forward to the paid-en-wp que for exactly this reason: they lie to look good. Half of these companies have a list of "their" articles on their website, and closer investigation usually indicates that the articles have no editors in common, no scent of paid editing, and were probably chosen just for name recognition among potential clients.

Helpfully, ArbCom also received screenshots from an editor who visited WikiExperts and asked to make a page; they claimed a half-dozen other admins as their editors too. I will not share their names, lest they be subjected to unfounded accusations as well, because the point is clear without those - these folks claim admins as their own in order to look good before they extort their clients.

For further coverage of this story, see this Signpost issue's Arbitration report and the Opinion piece by Smallbones. AK

Over 7% of Wikimedia Foundation staff have left since January 1

The WMF Talent & Culture Tuning Session deck for the January–March 2022 quarter was the last such deck published. It showed that during the nine-month period from July 2021 to March 2022, WMF staff increased by about a hundred, from 472 to 570. Today, the WMF indicates a headcount of "more than 700".

The Signpost has learned from tips, and confirmed with its own research, that over 7% of the WMF staff has separated since the beginning of the year. As of our writing deadline, the Foundation has made no official statement about the matter that we are aware of, other than a message from the Movement Communications Director in this issue's piece on the WMF's annual planning process, stating that planned expense reductions "for the coming few years ... have also included looking at vacant/unfilled roles and about a 5% reduction in occupied roles."

Tips informed us that this process was not always managed in a way that resulted in smooth handoff of duties from staff members who are no longer employed, and has resulted in some disruption to the community of Wikipedians. An off-wiki blog post by community member Legoktm has some more information on the process of discovery and the impacts from his perspective.

The Signpost staff have observed that WMF employees are routinely assigned accounts on Meta-Wiki when they onboard, and the accounts are globally locked when their employment terminates (voluntarily or otherwise)—though this is not a formal policy as far as we know. The locking is often accompanied in the global account log with a message like "no longer employed at WMF". The various public account data and logs can be inspected manually (or with semi-automated tools) to robustly infer information on WMF staffing. These inferences were made well in advance of any messaging from the Foundation. Every organisation experiences churn; however, since the beginning of 2023, The Signpost has noted the loss of several Senior Program Managers and Directors, which may be unusual.

For historical context, the WMF's headcount has grown significantly over the past two years. It stood at 472 at the end of June 2021, according to this Tuning Session slide. By end of March 2022, it had grown to 570 (with 240 new hires and 142 people leaving in that nine-month period). Since then, the Wikimedia Foundation has not published any quarterly Tuning Session slides with updated data. However, according to the recently published 2023–2024 draft Annual Plan, the WMF's total headcount on 31 December 2022 was 711, with almost half of all staff now based outside of the United States. It presents the following information:

At a glance on 31 December 2022
Our total headcount 711 711 total Foundation staff on 31 December 2022.
Countries 57 Located across 57 countries and all continents except Antarctica.
Growth in headcount 10% Headcount has grown by 10% in the past 12 months (Dec 2021 – Dec 2022). This is down from 15% in the last quarter, and is down from 30% in the prior fiscal year.
Non-US Workers 49% 49% of workers are located outside the US.
Tenure in years 3.8 Staff members stay for an average of about 3.8 years.

The draft also takes the proactive step of disclosing two executives' salaries: CEO Maryana Iskander (US$453,000) and Chief Product and Technology Officer Selena Deckelmann (US$420,000). Both figures represent base compensation. – B, AK

Project-level quality assessments

When Wikipedia was launched, each WikiProject was expected to assess the quality of articles independently. The assumption was that different projects would have different views on what an article ought to look like. However, over time most projects have converged on the overall quality guidelines at Wikipedia:Content assessment. Under these, an article is assessed in terms of completeness, organization, prose quality, sourcing and so on, regardless of which WikiProject's purview it falls under.

Recently a proposal was approved (and has been implemented) to support general quality assessments that can be shared by all the projects that have adopted an article. {{WikiProject banner shell}} has a new |class= parameter, and {{WPBannerMeta}} lets project banners "inherit" this assessment for the purpose of assigning categories like Category: C-class Ruritania articles. Individual projects can still continue to assign their own quality ratings. WikiProject Highways is one example; it has opted out, and assigned its own "Future" quality rating.

The change will make it easier to update standard quality ratings and reflect the changes across all the projects that have adopted the article, apart from projects that still have unique approaches to assessing quality. – A

Wikipedia gains an official presence on Mastodon ... without the Wikimedia Foundation's involvement

Logo of Mastodon

In late 2022 the federated social network Mastodon rose in popularity, following the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk. Numerous Twitter presences for Wikimedia entities also saw the establishment of Mastodon counterparts. (Including this little newspaper – follow for announcements of new Signpost issues.)

Not, however, the official @Wikipedia Twitter account, which is managed by the Wikimedia Foundation's Communications department. A November 2022 Phabricator ticket suggesting to mirror it on Mastodon went nowhere, with WMF staff stating on December 19 that "At this time, we have no plans to create an account for the Foundation or Wikipedia. This is mainly because our observations show us that Mastodon is not yet reaching a large audience." After some feedback on the Wikimedia-l mailing list, the Communications department modified this stance somewhat, explaining on January 5 that "We want to be thoughtful and thorough in how we approach these questions and that takes time. We’re exploring with Foundation teams and we also have an upcoming meeting with the Communications Committee – this is on the agenda. [...] We’ll update folks on the social media talk page [...]". However, a March 31 "Organic social media strategy update" on that page made no mention of Mastodon or the fediverse.

This situation changed on April 12, with the creation of the Mastodon account, which has since already gained around 9000 followers. According to a documentation page on Meta-wiki, it is community-run, with the goal "to promote Wikipedia and free content on the Fediverse in a bottom-up manner." It has already been verified as official via a code change on the project portal website. Ironically, this happened just a few days before the @Wikipedia Twitter account lost its verification badge, among many other "legacy" verified accounts. On April 18, this new @Wikipedia account on Mastodon was also welcomed by the official Mastodon Twitter account, which at the same time expressed excitement "to see [Wikipedia and Wikimedia] begin building integration with the free Mastodon identity verification into the Wikimedia platform."

Two Wikimedians currently have access to the new account according to its Meta-wiki page: Legoktm and Annierau. The latter is known for her wildly successful Depths of Wikipedia social media feeds (whose Twitter version in fact has a higher follower count than the official Wikipedia Twitter account: 773.3K vs. 642.4K). The new account is hosted on "Wikis World", a "Mastodon social media server for wiki enthusiasts" launched half a year ago by Legoktm and Taavi. – H

Graph extension disabled

An error message displayed in an article about asteroids, showing "graphs are currently unavailable due to technical issues"

The Graph extension is used widely on Wikipedia to display charts and graphs of all sorts, as well as on sister projects, and even on non-Wikimedia sites – it's included in MediaWiki, so there are about 884 public sites using it.

All of this should be said in the past tense. There are no graphs now.

The Graph extension is based on Vega, a quite capable framework that allows graphs to do all sorts of things normal wikitext markup can't, like JavaScript effects when you hover over something, the ability to highlight different datasets, draw complicated shapes, obtain data from external sites (like in {{Graph:PageViews}}) and indeed execute arbitrary XSS attacks. Wait, huh???

Yeah, that is not so great. Per T334940 on Phabricator, we have had this sitting around for quite some time and nobody noticed. But now we have. So the graphs are gone. The implications, aside from breaking our PageViews graph, have been felt across many projects. C-Kobold says on Phabricator that "in the German Wikipedia, ALL Wikipedia pages about the major German political parties (CDU, SPD, CSU, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP, Die LINKE) have broken diagrams that were supposed to show the number of members over the years".

So far, the incident is being addressed on Phabricator and at the Village pump (technical). A snazzy error message (shown here) has been created in the interim, although it's anybody's guess how inter this particular im is going to be. TheDJ notes that this extension has been "thoroughly unmaintained for over 6 years"; CX Zoom points out that updates for Vega were requested at 2023's Community Wishlist Survey.

On April 21, Seddon (WMF) said in the VPT thread: "My hope is we can maybe restore some functionality in the next week or so". – J

Brief notes

Article for Improvement: Sankebetsu brown bear incident of 1915, "the most brutal bear attack in Japanese history".

Reader comments


Contested truth claims in Wikipedia

More fines for Wikimedia Foundation in Russia

Placeholder alt text
Roskomnadzor and Wikipedia do not exactly see eye to eye

The Wikimedia Foundation has received another two fines in Russia.

On 6 April, as reported by Reuters and others, the WMF was fined –

800,000 roubles ($9,900). Russian news agencies in the courtroom said Wikimedia had been charged with failing to remove materials related to a song by the alternative rock band Psychea, or Psyshit, which has been officially designated "extremist".

And on 13 April, as reported by Associated Press and others, the WMF was fined –

2 million rubles ($24,464) for not removing a Wikipedia article titled “Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia region,” a reference to one of four Ukrainian provinces that Russia annexed last September., a site critical of Russia's government, says:

Roskomnadzor, the federal service that supervises communications in Russia, recently ordered the deletion of 133 Wikipedia pages, claiming the website was anti-Russian and "fake news" for publishing articles containing facts about the war in Ukraine. Now, government and judiciary officials are discussing a possible ban on the online encyclopedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the supervisory organization of Wikipedia, has battled courts in Russia over claims of discrediting the army and feykov (fake news) since June 2022 ... it has amassed a total of R10 million (USD $123,305) in fines to date.

Isvestia reported that Wikipedia could be the latest non-Russian site to be blocked in the country, and there's little domestic alternative. According to Isvestia, experts estimate Russian versions of online encyclopedias like Runiversalis, Bolshaya Rossyskaya Entsiklopedia (The Great Russian Encyclopedia), and Znanie (Knowledge) will only begin to compete with Wikipedia in a few years.

Pakistani news outlet UrduPoint quotes Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying:

You know that in various formats, on different forums and at different levels, the point of view has been repeatedly expressed that we need to create an equivalent of Wikipedia, and that would contain verified and accurate information, objective information, because we know that there are a lot of distortions on Wikipedia.

Once such an alternative exists, Peskov said, it would make sense to talk about banning Wikipedia.

The idea of a single world encyclopedia that is available to read everywhere and universally accepted as a reasonable compromise between the world's competing truth claims has both attractive and unattractive sides. What is attractive about it is that it would break up information silos, where people on one side of the earth don't even know what news is reported to people on the other side, and how it is reported. However, there is also an obvious downside involved in having such a global reference source – over the years, it might easily become too monopolistic and monolithic.

But whatever one may think of the idea, it seems unlikely to be realised anytime soon. Not least because some governments are unwilling to accept anything less than complete suppression of some viewpoints. – AK

Slate covers Holocaust arbitration case

Stephen Harrison in Slate writes about the ongoing arbitration case on World War II and the history of Jews in Poland (see previous Signpost coverage: 1, 2). Commenting on the historical context, Harrison says:

It is hard to convey the sheer magnitude of the underlying historical tragedies at issue—From 1941 to 1945, Nazi Germany murdered some 6 million Jews. Roughly half of these victims had resided in Poland, which claimed prewar Europe's largest Jewish population. The Auschwitz complex of concentration and extermination camps was located in Poland, as were others.

The suffering of Poland's non-Jewish population was also extraordinary, even by the standards of World War II. Poland was the only nation to be attacked simultaneously by the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, both of whom rejected Poland’s right to exist as a sovereign nation and set about eliminating the country’s political, cultural, and military elites. More than 2 million non-Jewish Poles are estimated to have perished during the war, which left the country in ruins.

Polish Jews and the broader nation of Poland were thus victims of previously unimaginable horrors, and acknowledging one tragedy, and the suffering of one population, shouldn't detract from the other. But the historical record remains subject to intense political scrutiny, unresolved wounds, and understandable sensitivities.

Harrison notes that there are competing historical narratives. According to the one promoted by Poland's current right-wing government, World War II marked "a period when the nation achieved the peak of moral virtue", exemplified by its steadfast refusal to collaborate with the Germans. Scholars like Jan Grabowski – whose paper in The Journal of Holocaust Research, co-written with Shira Klein (User:Chapmansh), sparked the current arbitration case – would like to see greater acknowledgment of the fact that Poland saw some of the same antisemitism that existed elsewhere in Europe and that there were cases of Polish involvement in Jewish suffering.

Looking at how Wikipedia deals with this topic area, Harrison revisits the 2019 story of the "fake Nazi death camp" as one example of misinformation raised by Grabowski and Klein that lasted for more than a decade in Wikipedia before being corrected in 2019 (see previous Signpost coverage). He also explains that addressing such cases is made more difficult by the fact that Wikipedia's arbitration committee is not permitted to rule on content but can only decide conduct disputes.

Harrison argues that there is something "deeply unsatisfying" about this dichotomy, but he sees no easy solution. He quotes Chapmansh and Piotrus – both university teachers who have worked with Wikipedia in the classroom, though they are on opposite sides in this case – as saying that it would be good to have more academics contributing to Wikipedia. Harrison is sceptical, however:

Could experts really save Wikipedia? On the one hand, there is a lot to be said for greater collaboration between scholars and Wikipedia; after all, Wiki pages often have far more reach and page views than traditional scholarly papers. But some Wikipedians are understandably cautious about handing the site over to an exclusive club of specialists. Previous experiments have flopped, such as Nupedia – the predecessor to Wikipedia – which required volunteer contributors with appropriate subject matter expertise for every article. That project was shut down in 2003 after producing only 21 articles during its inaugural year.

Contentious issues, moreover, don't cease being contentious when experts are called in, and there are other ways that involving experts in Wikipedia's adjudicative process could backfire in future cases. Consider the two other topics that, along with the Holocaust in Poland, Wikipedia has placed in its highest category of concern: India–Pakistan and Israel–Palestine. If the precedent is established to invite experts into an ArbCom trial, each side would enlist its own champion advocate in Court TV fashion. The volunteer arbitrators would have to decide who won the battle of experts, despite having no formal qualifications to do so.

More fundamentally, looping in experts at a content trial would undercut the ethos of Wikipedia. The spirit of the site is that volunteer editors curate information by following certain policies, such as using reliable sources. So long as those policies are followed, it's not supposed to make a difference whether experts are actually involved in the article-making process.

Harrison reports that some issues in Wikipedia's coverage identified by Graboswki and Klein have since been addressed, due to an injection of new blood in the topic area, although he says this can be a hit-and-miss process given the prevalence of battleground behaviour and cases of entrenched editors being hostile to newcomers.

At the end of his article, Harrison notes that some of the editors at the centre of the controversy are vigorously defending their actions in the court of public opinion. He comments on how engaging with such emotive subject matter can be a risky affair, linking to a press report on how Grabowski himself was taken to court in Poland over some of his academic writing and noting that some of the editors with whom Grabowski and Klein disagree are reporting sustained off-wiki harassment.

Their situation serves as a stark reminder that the boundary between "real" life and Wikipedia activity can be perilously thin, and that engaging with this painful history poses risks for everyone involved.


Top scoops

Try to top these scoops!

Twitter X'd, Wikipedia scoops Musk

A poop emoji as shown on Twitter

Elon Musk has changed Twitter's name to X Corp. as well as the corporation's state of registration. Twitter, a Delaware corporation owned by Musk, was merged into X Corp, which is owned by a Nevada holding company X Holdings Corp., which is owned by Musk. Twitter is gone. Only X Corp. and X Holdings Corp. remain.

Twitter first revealed the move in a court document dated April 4, but the document was apparently not noticed by the media until Slate published the story on April 10 at 20:29 UTC (4:29 PM New York time). Slate reported that Twitter responded to a question about the deal, but only with a poop emoji. Wikipedia first published the news five-and-a-half hours after Slate at 2:01 UTC, April 11. A non-notable, unreliable crypto blog, CoinGape cited Wikipedia as one of their sources at about 5:00 UTC April 11. Musk's first mention of the news seems to have been a single letter Tweet at 7:03 UTC, April 11, "X". For further details see "not news". – S

Who is to blame for wrong Vatican flags – Wikipedia? Britannica? NASA? the Vatican itself?

Currently displayed flag, after corrections in 2022
The allegedly wrong flag in an exhibit in the Vatican Museum, which includes moon rocks and the explanation "This flag of your state was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11"

A bogus version of the flag of Vatican City has appeared throughout the world according to Wikipedia had the wrong Vatican City flag for years. Now incorrect flags are everywhere from the Catholic News Agency. The CNA article says that a Wikipedian added a red disk at the base of the Papal tiara in 2017 which lasted as the main Wikipedia illustration of the flag through 2022. It quotes Father William Becker, of the St. Columbanus Parish in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, who wrote a book on Vatican flags. According to Becker, after the adoption of the current flag in 1929, it was used in diverging versions for years, and even today, due to what he gently criticizes as a failure by the Holy See to "make some design specifications more available" online (a gap that he created his own website to fill), "a flagmaker is likely to go to a source like Wikipedia, and it may vary in its accuracy." The official Vatican City website does give an illustration without a red disk, albeit as a somewhat grainy JPG image.

Father Becker and CNA credit a March 22 Reddit post for bringing the issue to their attention. It was also covered by Depths of Wikipedia, who put the issue in the context of past "citogenesis" incidents, while pointing out that Encyclopedia Britannica includes the red disk in their version of the flag, too. But @depthsofwiki should have scrolled down to Britannica's "Vatican City" article which has a white-disked flag – E.B. gives an unexplained split decision.

However, the Reddit discussion, which started this red hat-ring business, also uncovered that NASA had sent a red disk flag to the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969, which was put on display in the Vatican Museum. And a later reply to @depthsofwiki shows Pope John Paul II sitting next to a red disk flag on a 1998 state visit to Italy. So who's to blame? – S, H

Alleged U.S. government influence

American writer and past Democratic candidate for Governor of California, Michael Shellenberger, alleges undue influence by parts of the U.S. government on media and tech companies, including the Wikimedia Foundation.

An article in The Washington Examiner cites claims made by Michael Shellenberger on the Joe Rogan Experience that the Wikimedia Foundation and various newspapers and tech companies took part in a "tabletop exercise" conducted by the Aspen Institute in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential elections. The exercise, described as essentially a Zoom call, allegedly looked at how best to mitigate any upcoming, Russian-inspired controversy concerning Hunter Biden. The article says the exercise took place in June 2020, about four months before the Hunter Biden laptop story broke in The New York Post, but about half a year after the FBI had taken possession of Biden's abandoned laptop.

Shellenberger characterizes this as the Aspen Institute "training, or brainwashing, all these journalists [...] to say if something is leaked, we should not cover it in the way that journalists have traditionally covered it." He views it as one of the ways parts of the U.S. government exercise undue influence on media and tech companies, including the Wikimedia Foundation – based on the fact that the Aspen Institute has received government funding, although the Examiner article points out that the non-profit is also "funded by donors such as the Carnegie Corporation, the Gates Foundation, [and] the Ford Foundation".

Despite the Examiner characterizing it as a "startling finding", the (apparently) same tabletop exercise had already been covered in an October 2020 Wired article (published about a week before the New York Post's laptop story broke). Its author Garrett Graff described himself as having co-organized the exercise together with Vivian Schiller, centering it around a fictitious leaks website releasing "doctored documents, appearing to allege that perhaps we don’t know the full truth about Hunter Biden’s role with the [Ukrainian energy] company" Burisma (motivated by concerns about how the media had handled the Podesta emails leak in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election).

Later in October 2020, the Wikimedia Foundation had published a post titled "How Wikipedia is preparing for the 2020 U.S. Election" which among other things mentioned how "specific members of [its 'Disinformation task force'] are regularly meeting with representatives from major technology companies and U.S. government agencies to share insights and discuss ways they are addressing potential disinformation issues in relation to the election." – AK, H

In brief

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

Reader comments


Remembering David "DGG" Goodman

David Goodman at the first-ever Wiki-Picnic or "Wiknic" at Central Park in 2007. His cap represents the Professional Staff Congress, the trade union of the City University of New York.

David Goodman, user:DGG, passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of Thursday April 6, 2023. His wife Esther and daughter Eve report that he was in good health and spirit hours before his passing of sudden heart failure. His friends at Wikimedia New York City knew David as an event host, Wikipedia trainer, and ideological advocate for universal access to knowledge and library resources. Online, many Wikimedia editors knew David as a member of the Arbitration Committee, for development of the Articles for deletion review process, and for his position statements on social and ethical issues in the Wikimedia Movement.

Having just retired as an academic librarian and looking for something new, David registered his Wikipedia account on September 4, 2006, making 320,869 edits to the wikis, with his last edit days before his passing. The first record of his joining an in-person wiki event is August 2007 at the inaugural Wiknic in Manhattan's Central Park, and he was part of the subsequent November 2007 meeting in his Brooklyn neighborhood when local planning began. In January 2009 David co-founded Wikimedia New York City (Wiki NYC) and until only recently, David's home address was the headquarters for the organization, even hosting some key meetings refreshed by a tradition of siphon seltzer bottles. In July 2009 he coordinated Wikipedia at the Library as the first formal Wiki NYC outreach and education campaign, and possibly the first edit-a-thon geared toward the general public anywhere. Following that precedent, the Wiki NYC strategic direction has been to seek and sustain library partnerships. This soon developed into university partnerships in the Wikipedia Education Program and to comparable educational events at community centers and nonprofit organizations. David himself served as a trainer for hundreds of in-person Wiki NYC events and he encouraged others in the chapter to hold about 1,000 in-person events to date. In all planning, David advocated matching New York City's cultural and language diversity to Wikimedia Movement goals for outreach.

From 2015 to 2018, and again in 2020, David was thrice elected to serve on the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee. In his campaign statements in 2018 and 2019, David described his own interests and accomplishments during his term as being stricter in expecting that all Wikipedia editors uphold standards of civility; redesigning Wikipedia's arbitration process to be simpler and more accessible to editors rather than administrators; and issuing rulings that Wikipedia editors could reasonably apply to resolve conflict and advance Wikipedia's editorial process.

He encouraged more direct Wikimedia community enforcement of the Wikimedia Terms of Use to counter conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia. Outside of ArbCom but complementary to his activities there, David was a prolific evaluator in the AfD process. Records show that he took positions on keeping or deleting Wikipedia articles through over 27,000 edits, and socially he was known for evaluating companies, products, brands, CEOs, and self-named philanthropists. As article evaluation is always a community process in Wikipedia, everyone who regularly participated in these discussions encountered David in the slate of reviews. Additionally, every public relations or communications company who sent paid editors to post promotional content on Wikipedia faced David's judgment, where he practiced endless patience for those who could submit content in compliance with Wikipedia's notability guidelines, and fair dismissal for everyone else. Whenever more community comment was needed, David was a regular poster to Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents.

In addition to routine in-person training around New York City, David was a co-founder of WikiConference North America, first held in New York City in 2014. That annual event series continues to present, as documented on Meta-Wiki. Beyond the ongoing impact of hosting networks of Wikipedia volunteers annually, the conference also established the Wikimedia New York City Friendly space policies which David co-initiated, and which he taught many times to Wikipedia editors online and offline. David's talks at Wikimedia conferences included "New Editors", "Paid Editing Moderated Discussion" (covered in media), "Reimagining the article submission process", "Promotionalism vs. Notability" and "Why Consensus Fails".

On the English Wikipedia itself, David's most edited articles were open access, ebook, printing press, Johannes Gutenberg, and phage therapy. These editorial contributions reflect a professional life close to his own personal interests. David was born May 23, 1943 in Philadelphia. After David moved to New York City in his youth, he met Esther, and both attended the local Midwood High School and Brooklyn College. They were together at Berkeley in the 1960s, and involved in opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War. David was influenced by the anti-war Free Speech Movement while at Berkeley, as part of the emerging New Left, distinguished from his father's "Old Left" experience associated with The Militant. The couple married when they returned to New York in 1971. He received a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, a master of library science degree from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. In his early career, he practiced information science with various universities, while from mid-career he was at Princeton University as Chemistry Librarian, then Biology Librarian, and finally as Research Librarian and Biological Sciences Bibliographer. From 2002 until his retirement in 2006, he taught as a professor in the Master's program at the Palmer School of Library and Information Science, Long Island University, then immediately launched his wiki-career. Esther and David shared a lifelong passion for literature, intellectual debate, and Jewish secularism. Although he was a great lover of public libraries, his own home had at least as much space for books as anything else. Somehow, though he continuously gave them away and passed them around, visitors to his home noted that the total number of books never diminished.

Editors are leaving their condolences and memories on his talk page. Additionally, some of his friends and colleagues remember him below:

David believed in and worked to foster a people-centered Wikipedia, profoundly humanist and inclusionist in the broadest sense. Ardently fair-minded and dedicated to hearing everyone out and bringing everyone in, his mentorship was a gift passed down and, in the best wiki-fashion, imitated among "Wikibrarians" in our city and far beyond.

David and Esther's Brooklyn Brownstone residence, as well as being Wikimedia New York City's legal address for most of its history, was also our spiritual home. From the overflowing shelves of books to the fresh seltzer to the enduring conversations to the abundant nosh, their place was a locus of sustenance and nourishment for our community.

— Wikimedia New York City
No one was more knowledgeable about Wikipedia’s notability policy and more fair in its implementation than David Goodman.

With a PhD (and post-doctoral work) in molecular biology he pursued a career as a librarian of one of the largest university libraries in the world. His unusual archiving and sorting of his talk page is a testament to his vast knowledge of the minutiae of the excruciatingly and unnecessarily complex meta pages of Wikipedia. As neither an inclusionist nor a deletionist, he strove towards order in the chaos of conflicting criteria for notability and deletion, and was a beacon for improvement of the NPP and AfD processes. His user page should be compulsory reading for anyone aspiring to adminship or NPP.

I am proud and privileged to have worked closely with David. As his guest for a stay in the US, we worked hard, often until late at night, to achieve some sense in the new page processing systems Wikipedia now has, and discussing at length what’s right and wrong about Wikipedia and its owners. I am extremely saddened at his sudden passing and my condolences go to his family who gave me such a warm séjour in their home.
— Chris, Kudpung
When I was new to Wikimedia New York City, User:DGG was so welcoming and helpful as a Wikipedian, librarian, and educator. David so clearly had a passion for maintaining the encyclopedia and the policies necessary to keep it going. He helped dozens if not hundreds or thousands of Wikipedians on-Wiki to navigate the system, with kindness, and I'll never forget his guidance and perspective.
— Dorothy, Hexatekin
I first met David years ago at WikiConNA, where we chatted for hours about the finer points of AfC, in the way that only us nerdy Wikipedians can. David was a very caring and dedicated individual, who put great effort into Wikipedia. He was nigh a saint for his willingness to help COI editors, and for his incredible patience. We have truly lost one of our best.
— CaptainEek
The first time I encountered DGG, I was apologizing and embarrassed. It was more than 10 years ago, and I was teaching a class about Wikipedia. I had groups of students create and improve articles and made the rookie mistake of having them take their article up to Good Article level. I didn't yet understand that the Good Article nomination process was famously backlogged, often taking months for a review, and utterly incompatible with a class schedule. Everything was going well, with some quick, constructive reviews for most of the groups, but in the final days of the semester one group still did not have a review. Just when it looked like someone was going to review it, David noticed some close paraphrasing and tagged the article accordingly. The students were understandably stressed and, to my utter horror, one of them lost their temper and directed a colorful outburst his way (and towards Wikipedia in general). I hurried to address the situation, talked to the student and their group, and then reached out to David to apologize profusely, prepared to try to do damage control. Not only was he not upset; he was downright friendly and encouraging. He typed out some advice about close paraphrasing, said if any of the students have questions they can contact him, and suggested we chat sometime about some Wikipedia-related interests I had put on my user page. A year later, we met in person at Wikiconference USA (my first time meeting any Wikimedians). I reminded him of our interaction and apologized again. He just smirked, and we had the first of what would be many conversations about students, deletion, notability, and paid editing. I moved to New York shortly thereafter, where David was a mainstay at local Wikimedia events.
In 2023, it's easy to get the impression that the internet is a terrible place filled with harassment, hate speech, censorship, manipulation, and exploitation. Once in a while, it's important to remember someone who worked tirelessly, in relative obscurity, for a common good -- someone who dedicated a huge amount of time toiling behind the scenes of Wikipedia to improve a resource millions of people use every day. David approached Wikipedia in a way that few do these days. For anyone here, it's easy to get lost in the pedantry and procedural minutiae of policies, guidelines, and other formal rules. David had limited use for all that, instead approaching Wikipedia through a set of evolving philosophical principles and best practices based on years of experience, wisdom, collaboration, and compromise. If you found yourself in a disagreement with him, you could count on a patient conversation explaining why he thought what he thought and why it was in the best interest of Wikipedia. You might not be persuaded every time, but it was impossible to form the impression that he was anything but reasonable or well-intentioned. We argued a few times over the years, including in areas known for wikidrama, and I was always impressed by his restraint. He was reliable for patient communication and never inflaming conflict. This is some of the highest praise I can give.
I'll mention one other conversation that sticks in my memory. At one of the Wiknics we had a few years ago (a wiki-themed picnic), David was telling me and someone else about his early involvement with Wikipedia. He said that in his professional career, he developed a reputation among some colleagues for being "difficult" and didn't like it. He tried to learn why that was, and when he found himself involved with Wikipedia he saw it as an opportunity to start over in a way. He went on to talk about his approach to the interpersonal dimension of Wikipedia. It was one of those moments where someone you regard as having a specific superpower reveals it as a hard-earned skill that had to be developed. In that conversation he passed on a pearl of wisdom that I've since tried to relay to a number of people: For any discussion where there was some disagreement, he said he would try hard to limit himself to just two comments. That way he put a lot of thought into those two comments, and didn't get sucked into an extended back-and-forth, which doesn't really help anyone. I would add that his strategy also lent gravity to his opinions, and was a small part of what made him such an influential personality in our project.
To his family, I'm so sorry for your loss. David was one of my favorite Wikipedians. This is a massive loss for Wikipedia, for its readers, and for its editing community, but I'm grateful for the time you shared him with us.
— Rhododendrites talk
David. One of the most respected people who accepted me as a 16 year old for my adminship and as a member of Wikimedia New York City for so many years. A lot of what I learned in outreach and Wikipedia editing, I learned from David in the mid-2000s. He could and would chat with anyone who reached out to him. He was incredibly intelligent, but he took no fools. To quote Roger Grimsby, he could spot a phony from 3 paces and identify him in 3 seconds. He had that kind of intelligence. I don't know if there's a bigger loss for the Wikimedia community in a whole in 9 years. Once you had his respect, he'd defend you fiercely, something we do not always have in this community. For lack of a better term, he was the patriarch of Wikimedia New York City and almost everyone who knew him valued his opinion on anything, from basic edit disputes to the Wikimedia Foundation drama of the week. While his passing was too soon, we know for real that his legacy will live on forever in the Wikimedia Foundation and the causes he cherished outside of us. We're gonna miss you man.
— Mitch32(won't you be my neighbor?)
David, to me, *was* Wikipedia. For most of Wikipedia's existence, David was there, working on its construction, operations, resolving conflicts, and guiding its future. His work was not limited to its inner workings. Together with other early community builders, David created an in-person Wikipedia community that works together to educate and build something important and useful for the world. I remember him telling me fondly how glad he was to have so successfully guided and supported newer generations of Wikipedia leaders and organizers. He saw a brighter future for the open access/commons movement.
— Mozucat (talk)
What Mitchazenia said. In addition to incorporating by reference my comments on his talk page, I cannot not hear his careful voice in the things written by him on his userpage. I hope we have a recording of it somewhere—it was a voice that could not only make you listen but make you feel you should have.

I remember the last time we actually talked ... right around the beginning of the pandemic three years and change ago. Due to cell problems in my area, I was outside the house and had to go to a church parking lot on high ground to call. The reason for our conversation was the oversight flag, which I still had at that time despite minimal use of it over the last years before it. David explained why it was time — we really hadn't needed it so much anymore with RevDel now available to every admin — and within an hour I returned home and informed ArbCom of our conversation, and that I was surrendering it. Thanks to David, that decision (completely necessary in any event) was utterly painless.

— Daniel Case (talk)
DGG's passing is a great loss to the Wikipedia community and all those who knew him. My deepest condolences to the family. DGG's legacy will live on through the countless contributions he made to Wikipedia and the impact he had on those he touched. His great work and helpful nature impacted many, many people. He was a mentor and a source of inspiration for me. DGG had a profound impact on me, as he instilled in me a belief in the value of the Wikipedia community. His wise counsel and guidance, which he provided on numerous occasions, taught me the importance of remaining focused and composed in difficult situations. I will always be grateful for his kind advice and support, and will never forget the lessons he taught me. Truly, David Goodman was a kind and compassionate person, and his loss is deeply felt. He touched the lives of many and made a lasting impact through his work and his character. He will be missed greatly by all who knew him, and his memory will continue to inspire and uplift those who were fortunate enough to have crossed paths with him.
— RV (talk)
This is very sad news indeed. Before joining the Wikimedia Foundation staff, he and his wonderful wife warmly welcomed me into their home to stay while attending the Wikipedia Day celebrations in New York in 2018. We had many wonderful philosophical conversations about education, free knowledge, and family. He changed my mind a bit, and I changed his a bit too. I'm saddened not only for the loss for our community, but for the loss of a uniquely dynamic person on this planet.
— JKoerner (WMF) aka Jackie Koerner(talk)

Reader comments


Holocaust in Poland, Jimbo in the hot seat, and a desysopping

World War II and the history of Jews in Poland

The case for World War II and the history of Jews in Poland, which you may remember from previous Signpost coverage (and current Signpost RfCs), was accepted 13 March. New parties were added to the case as recently as 24 March.

The relevant timeline for the case is:

  • Evidence phase 1 closed 9 April 2023
  • Evidence phase 2: 17 April 2023 – 27 April 2023 (target date according to clerks)
  • Analysis closes 27 April 2023 (target date)
  • Proposed decision to be posted by 11 May 2023 (target date)

Its scope is to be the conduct of named parties in the topic areas of World War II history of Poland, and the history of the Jews in Poland, broadly construed.

According to case clerk Dreamy Jazz when asked by The Signpost, a break between Evidence phase 1 and 2 was added because "the arbitrators wanted to have an opportunity to review submissions and then ask questions to get clarification or further details which would be provided in phase 2. The break was added for convenience, so that the evidence can be read and everyone can get up to speed before the questions are asked for phase 2."

D-bachmann D-sysop

Former administrator Dbachmann was de-sysoped by the Arbitration Committee on 5 April.

Mr. Wales Goes To Arbcom

Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests#Paid editing recruitment allegation was initiated on 11 April by former Committee member AmandaNP. Involved parties were another former Committee member, Bradv, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimbo Wales. Wales voluntarily gave up his advanced permissions on English Wikipedia, and the case was rejected by the Arbitration Committee as resolved (see also "Jimmy Wales gives up his advanced permissions" in this issue's News and notes, and an Opinion piece).

Reader comments


What Jimbo's question revealed about scamming

This opinion piece begins with a very controversial event. Jimmy Wales asked former ArbCom member Bradv if he was working with a paid editing group. ArbCom has declared that there was no basis for this question, that the evidence behind Wales's question was seriously flawed. The Signpost requested an interview with Bradv, but he declined and said that his statement on his usertalk page should be included in full. It is included below.S

The last two weeks might have felt like the end of an era on Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales's seat on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees was never under threat, and he retains his symbolic "founder's flag". But following a request for arbitration filed against him, he resigned all his administrative and technical functions on Wikipedia. The only real power he will retain other than his Board seat is influence from the trust most Wikipedians have almost always placed in him. No administrator or Arbitration committee can take that power away. It's developed over more than 22 years, largely as the result of his practice of responding to almost any question – albeit sometimes with a long delay – on his talk page. But even that power has waned, over the years, as he has spent less time on Wikipedia. For example, the monthly pageviews for his talkpage (since 2015, when these numbers were first recorded) illustrate some of this decline in his interest and influence.

Pageviews for User talk:Jimbo Wales were over 30,000 per month in 2015, and fell to less than 5,000 in 2023 [7]

But something else happened as well. Seemingly unnoticed by the parties in this dispute, they agreed on a much bigger problem.

The controversy

The immediate cause of the controversy around Wales was a message he left on the talk page of a former ArbCom member, Bradv, about an undeclared paid-editing company named WikiExperts.

Wales wrote:

I have what seems to me a credible report that you have been recommending to people that they use WikiExperts. Is this true? If it is a lie, then fine. But please tell me the truth.
— Jimbo Wales

The report Wales based his inquiry on turned out to be a lot less credible than he stated. But speaking in general terms, it's common practice – indeed, a recommended procedure – to ask a suspected undisclosed paid editor (UPE) about your suspicions in order to clear up any possible misunderstandings.

Many editors will ask via the standard (if overly long) {{Uw-coi}} template:

Information icon Hello,

We welcome your contributions, but if you have an external relationship with the people, places or things you have written about on Wikipedia, you may have a conflict of interest (COI)....

In addition, you are required by the Wikimedia Foundation's terms of use to disclose your employer, client, and affiliation ... See Wikipedia:Paid-contribution disclosure.

Also, editing for the purpose of advertising, publicising, or promoting anyone or anything is not permitted. Thank you.

But this case was different.

Wales was very direct in his question. It was labeled "casting aspersions" and severely criticized. What made matters worse is that Wales's actions are closely watched by other editors, with his words carrying a lot of weight. Bradv shouldn't have been expected to answer the question; he had been missing from Wikipedia for more than eight months since leaving his post at ArbCom.

I have investigated the "credible accusation", as has ArbCom. I did uncover an indication that somebody using Bradv’s name was repeatedly pushing their company’s paid editing service on an article subject whose article was in danger of deletion. The use of Bradv’s username was most likely a scam – something like the extortion documented in the 8-year-old Orangemoody case. ArbCom concluded that it was an "obvious Joe job".

Wales apologized for his tone, but still maintained that the question about a former arb working for a UPE firm was important to address. "I don't think keeping these matters hushed benefits anyone other than the ultimate scammers," he wrote: "I would like us to think about how we might better get the word out to potential victims of these scams, so that the business model of the scammers dries up as much as possible."

Several leaders in the fight against UPE responded rapidly to Wales. Bradv, a former ArbCom member, had been one of them, and they couldn't imagine him working for a UPE firm. According to one current arbitrator, the editors standing against Wales included "2 stewards (1 of whom is also an enwiki checkuser and former ombud), 5 enwiki checkusers (not counting the steward), and an editor who is among the foremost in combating UPE on enwiki (and who has worked collaboratively with the Foundation on fighting paid editing firms like this)".

They also thought that a UPE firm was scamming new Wikipedia editors and its other customers – that Bradv was a victim of a Joe job. Somebody must have been impersonating him. Indeed, UPE firms commonly lie to Wikipedia editors and their other customers, and impersonate Wikipedia admins and other editors, so that Wales and his "credible" source had made the rookie mistake of believing UPE lies.

It might have been all downhill from there. Related discussions began on User talk:Jimbo Wales, and on the village pump, and a request for arbitration was filed. The next morning, Wales requested that his remaining administrative and technical tools be removed.

Assume good faith

Though he was giving up tools that he hadn't used for years, the situation must have been difficult for Wales. He founded Wikipedia more than 22 years ago, and was the ultimate arbiter of editors' conduct for several years. To the outside world, it might have still seemed that he was the embodiment of Wikipedia. He was the inspiration for many editors, and one of the most level-headed of us around. A lot of cheap shots were aimed at him during this time, but for the most part he's kept going, preaching the gospel of "assume good faith" and "imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge in their own language." I, for one, encourage Jimmy to keep the faith and stay with us. We will still need his guidance.

In an interview for this column, Wales told The Signpost "We need to remember such old fashioned essentials as 'Assume Good Faith'. I include myself in that, of course." He believes his recent mistake was making an intemperate remark and he hopes it might be forgiven. He also assumes that those who called him out on the mistake were acting in good faith.

"When I realized my mistake I did what I think was the honorable thing to do: a mea culpa."

What really makes Wikipedia work well is kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and behaving honorably. It is my belief that people will make mistakes - we're human after all - and that there's a right way to deal with mistakes - not through defensiveness or combativeness, but humility and thoughtfulness.
— Jimbo Wales

Bradv returned to editing Wikipedia on April 18, and soon responded to the general situation on his own talk page.

I have spent the last several hours reading through the conversation on my talk page and elsewhere over the past few days. While much of what needed to be said has been said already, I thought I would write down a few thoughts of my own, and perhaps reiterate the wise words of others.

First of all, thank you to all those who came to my defence. Not only is it heart-warming to see this level of support from the community, you have all made excellent points that ultimately raise awareness of issues involved paid editing, off-wiki communication, and administrator competence.

Obviously, the allegations made by Jimbo Wales are entirely untrue and without merit. I don't really feel the need to respond to them, but I would be remiss in posting a message here without including this point.

Sadly, the practice of conning potential article subjects for outrageous sums of money is all too common. Jimbo makes the point that we need to do a better job of communicating the risks involved in hiring paid editors, and on this point I wholeheartedly agree. In my time as an arbitrator I encountered several instances of people paying for articles and then emailing ArbCom when they ultimately got ripped off. The point I always want to make to these people, and the one we should be shouting from the rooftops, is that you do not need to pay to have an article written about you. If you or the things you've done really are worthy of an article, we will write it for free.

Not only do we need to communicate these risks to our readers, it seems we also need to do a better job of communicating that to our editors. Any one who wants to be active in the area of combatting undisclosed paid editing needs to watch out for scams, including blackmail, extortion, and obvious joe jobs. This includes the most basic steps of checking someone's contributions before accusing them of impropriety. And if the evidence is unclear, getting a second opinion from someone else experienced in this area of editing before publicizing allegations, especially those involving off-wiki conduct, is imperative.

While I have not received an apology from Jimbo for anything beyond the "tone" of his inquiry, I do not require one. I don't believe the initial query was made out of malice. Rather, Jimbo has been disconnected from the community for quite some time, and does not have a full appreciation of the depth of knowledge and experience that the editing community has in dealing with issues like these. I am pleased that Jimbo has recognized this and resigned many of his advanced user rights, instead entrusting them solely to those trusted by the community.

Lastly, as a former arb I can't help but point out that the laying down of these tools was done under a cloud, and should not be restored without community consensus. (Seriously, I tried to not include this point, but it really needs to be said.)

— User:Bradv

How the scam works

The mystery of this situation is why so many of the participants didn't seem to understand that they almost all agreed on one thing.[1] Wikipedia is deluged by a scam where paid editing services extort their marks out of outrageous sums, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Their marks include customers that they attract by false advertising, plus those they get by scamming new Wikipedia editors by preying on those who have had their drafts deleted, plus those they extort whose drafts the scammers have deleted themselves. Our temple of knowledge is being polluted by the worst type of money-chaser, by people who will do anything for a buck. This has been going on since before the Orangemoody scandal of 2015, which was widely documented at the time.

While I was writing this, a "reputation management company" calling itself "Reputn Agency" sent out a press release announcing the "launch of its groundbreaking new service: Negative Wikipedia Page Improvement," which is "designed to help individuals and businesses transform their negative Wikipedia content into more balanced, accurate, and positive representations of their public image". I won't link to this content, since I don't want to advertise their business. I'm not accusing them of extortion, but they are clearly advertising a business that openly violates Wikipedia's rules. Their website has a FAQ section including these two questions:

Do You Pay Wikipedia Editors/Reviewers/Admins?

Most of our works are in-house and within the guidelines of Wikipedia. We do 100s edits everyday motivated only by the desire to improve Wikipedia. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes we have to compensate certain people to get things done.

Do Editors Have To Disclose That They Are Paid?

As per the policy, yes! But once a qualified paid editor disclose their identity, any changes they make are likely to be deleted or disputed. Hence, there is no incentive to disclose that information. However this is decided on case by case [sic].

— Reputn Agency

Their potential customers should be informed that all paid editors, including paid administrators, are required to declare their status as part of the Terms of Use, not "case by case." The paid editor's employer, client, and people with other relevant affiliations also must be declared.

The scam begins when paid editing companies look for promotional articles or drafts which are in the process of being deleted or rejected. They then send emails to the article editor/subject saying that they can save the article by getting around Wikipedia rules – but it will cost them, often in advance. The scammers can be patient, just like the vultures they are, until the articles are eventually deleted or rejected. Many of the discouraged article subjects will then take up the scammer's offer, but that will be a mistake. The scammer can't deliver on their promise that the article won't be deleted again. In many cases it's not even worth the effort to try. They'll just take the money and disappear.

Is the editor who wrote the article to blame for trying to work around Wikipedia's rules? Of course, if they've been able to understand all of Wikipedia's inscrutable and inconsistently-enforced rules on the matter, they share some blame. But they are being played by the scammers, con artists, who actively seek the opportunity that Wikipedia so readily provides. Con artists look for people who are willing to skirt the rules, and wheedle them into full-on rule breaking, taking advantage of their optimism or their discouragement as needed. And who among us doesn't sometimes want to skirt the rules, or just step a bit over the line? Nobody is ever 100% honest 100% of the time.[2]

The above description is just about the plain old white-bread scam. The extortion begins when the jackals get tired of waiting for their payday, and move to speed it along by voting in deletion discussions, ripping the article up with unhelpful edits, or by rejecting a draft article by themselves. It reminds me of the old cartoon where two vultures are sitting on a branch and one says "Patience my ass. I'm going to go kill something." No editor deserves that type of treatment from Wikipedians. No editors should be swindled out of thousands of dollars to try to reverse such treatment.

What can we do about it?

We need to understand that eight years of extortion on Wikipedia is much too long. We need to understand that nobody deserves to be scammed. The UPE firms carry the most blame for the scam, but we have created the environment where the scam thrives. The whole Wikipedia community will bear some of the responsibility for the scam until we eradicate the scammers.

We need to warn the targeted victims. I posted a scam warning in 2017 after discussing this grift with two victims. They were both taken in, with emails similar to those apparently used in the Orangemoody scam two years earlier. That warning page now gets about 100 page views per day. It needs to get more exposure, especially to new editors who don't know their way around our back pages. We need to put it in the right places where new editors will see it. Can you post this message at the top of your talk page?

If you are an admin or somebody who thinks that your name is being used without your permission to promote paid editing, please consider putting the following at the top of your user page.

This editor does not accept paid editing work. If somebody claims that he/she is me and is soliciting paid editing work, then they are impersonating me, and likely scamming you. Please forward the evidence to

Individual editors can make a difference, and The Signpost can do its part. But we need a bigger, more organized effort to get the word out to the mainstream press. The Wikimedia Foundation is the usual place where the movement as a whole communicates with the mainstream press. They should do more. Working with the victims of the scam with patience and understanding is not only the right thing to do, but is the key to getting good information on the scammers. The WMF and checkusers can help by keeping track of the network of paid editors who have used this scam. Keeping this paid editing scam hidden from our editors and readers only perpetuates the scam.

We should also understand how much we usually agree on, despite all the mistakes we all make in the heat of editing. We should all understand the power of assuming good faith and the powers of an apology and of forgiveness.

  1. ^ [1][2][3][4][5][6]
  2. ^ How many times do you lie in a day? Don't lie to yourself on this! Scientific American, based on self-reporting recorded in diaries, says that Americans lie on average two times a day.

Reader comments


Wikipedia as an anchor of truth

Wikipedia has been criticized as being inherently unreliable, and we ourselves warn users not to rely uncritically on the information in Wikipedia; it is ironic to see it now used as an anchor of truth in a seething sea of disinformation. AI models are prone to hallucinating, that is, giving false answers with confidence and corroborative detail to things that simply are untrue. Can using Wikipedia help to at least spot these mistakes, and are the new search engine AIs using them in ways that will actually help prevent hallucination?

DuckAssist and Wikipedia

Following in the footsteps of Bing, the Internet search engine DuckDuckGo has rolled out DuckAssist, a new feature that generates natural language responses to search queries. When a user asks DuckDuckGo a question, DuckAssist can pop up and use neural networks to create an instant answer, a concise summary of answers found on the Web.

A problem plaguing large language model-based answerbots and other chatbots are so-called hallucinations, a term of art used by AI researchers for answers, confidently presented and full of corroborative detail giving seemingly authoritative verisimilitude to what otherwise might appear as an unconvincing answer – but that are, nevertheless, cut from whole cloth. Using another term of art, they are pure and unadulterated bullshit.

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, explained in a company blog post how DuckAssist uses sourcing to Wikipedia and other sources to get around this problem.[1]

Keeping AI agents honest

The problem of keeping AI agents honest is far from solved. The somewhat glib reference to Wikipedia is not particularly reassuring. Experience has shown that even AI models trained on the so-called "Wizard of Wikipedia", a large dataset with conversations directly grounded with knowledge retrieved from Wikipedia,[2] are not immune to making things up.[3] A more promising approach may be to train models to distinguish fact-based statements from plausible-sounding made-up statements. A system intended for deployment could then be made to include an "is that so?" component for monitoring generated statements, and insisting on revision until the result passes muster. Another potentially useful application of such a system could be to flag dubious claims in Wikipedia articles, whether introduced by an honest mistake or inserted as a hoax. (Editor's note: this has been attempted, with some success, here.)


  1. ^ Weinberg, Gabriel (March 8, 2023). "DuckDuckGo launches DuckAssist: a new feature that generates natural language answers to search queries using Wikipedia". DuckDuckGo. Retrieved March 9, 2023.
  2. ^ Emily Dinan; Stephen Roller; Kurt Shuster; Angela Fan; Michael Auli; Jason Weston (28 September 2018). "Wizard of Wikipedia: Knowledge-Powered Conversational Agents". ICLR 2019 (International Conference on Learning Representations). Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  3. ^ Dziri, Nouha; Milton, Sivan; Yu, Mo; Zaiane, Osmar; Reddy, Siva (July 2022). "On the Origin of Hallucinations in Conversational Models: Is it the Datasets or the Models?" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies. Association for Computational Linguistics. doi:10.18653/v1/2022.naacl-main.38. S2CID 250242329. Retrieved 11 April 2023.

Reader comments


Signpost statistics from 2005 to 2022

Our last Special report on The Signpost itself appeared in 2020. In this article, we will look again at some statistics on The Signpost. More precisely: article statistics by year, TOP 20 categories of articles, TOP 20 article authors, and the home wikis of article authors.

The data is current as of 2023-01-16.

Signpost article statistics by year

While number of issues went quite a bit down after 2016, the number of articles in each issue went up substantially, partially making up for this. We hit an average of 16.2 articles an issue in 2022, which does a lot to justify the move to biweekly this year.

Article statistics by year
Year Issues Articles Articles per issue Unique authors
2005 51 412 8.1 35
2006 52 425 8.2 52
2007 52 431 8.3 70
2008 46 398 8.7 75
2009 52 400 7.7 111
2010 52 350 6.7 91
2011 52 355 6.8 92
2012 53 340 6.4 80
2013 50 319 6.4 70
2014 51 280 5.5 99
2015 51 335 6.6 115
2016 30 212 7.1 63
2017 12 110 9.2 57
2018 13 162 12.5 55
2019 12 141 11.8 67
2020 12 149 12.4 70
2021 11 103 9.4 57
2022 11 178 16.2 71

TOP 20 titles of Signpost articles

The Signpost has a number of defined titles for regular features and irregular items, and a looser set of titles for special columns. Here are the top 20 article titles that have appeared.

Note that some of these are related. For example, if "Featured content" was combined with its predecessor, "Features and admins", it would be in first place. "In the news" and "In the media" are also arguably the same, and would jump to third (fourth if you boost "Featured content" as well) if combined.

TOP 20 Categories of articles
Rank Count Percentage Categories
#1 588 11.53% News and notes
#2 489 9.59% Arbitration report
#3 407 7.98% Technology report
#4 325 6.37% WikiProject report
#5 307 6.02% Featured content
#6 304 5.96% Features and admins
#7 299 5.86% In the news
#8 217 4.25% Traffic report
#9 199 3.90% In the media
#10 132 2.59% Recent research
#11 130 2.55% Discussion report
#12 103 2.02% From the editor
#13 94 1.84% WikiWorld
#14 88 1.73% Op-ed
#15 86 1.69% Special report
#16 65 1.27% Dispatches
#17 55 1.08% Gallery
#18 39 0.76% Humour
#19 37 0.73% In focus
#20 36 0.71% Interview

TOP 20 article authors

These are the top 20 contributors mentioned in a byline.

TOP 20 article authors
Rank Count Ratio Authors
#1 471 6.35% Ral315
#2 356 4.80% Michael Snow
#3 240 3.24% Tony1
#4 239 3.22% HaeB
#5 190 2.56% Jarry1250
#6 185 2.50% Mabeenot
#7 156 2.10% The ed17
#8–9 142 1.92% GamalielSmallbones (tie)
#10 136 1.83% Bri
#11 131 1.77% Ragesoss
#12 119 1.61% Serendipodous
#13 112 1.51% Jayen466
#14 105 1.42% Pine
#15 102 1.38% Flcelloguy
#16–17 101 1.36% Adam CuerdenDavid.Mestel (tie)
#18 99 1.34% seresin
#19 96 1.30% Greg Williams
#20 94 1.27% Phoebe

"Home" wikis of article authors

The assignment of the user to the "home" Wikipedia was based on the indication in the "home wiki" (image flag) for users with unified login, then on the indicator of the "new account" (image flag), otherwise set to "UNDEFINED"; from the page Special:CentralAuth.

"Home" wiki table of article authors
Rank Count Ratio "Home" Wikipedia
#1 565 72.07%
#2 61 7.78% UNDEFINED
#3 26 3.32%
#4 17 2.17%
#5 13 1.66%
#6–7 8 1.02%,
#8 7 0.89%
#9–10 5 0.64%,
#11–13 4 0.51%,
#14–19 3 0.38%,,,,,
#20–27 2 0.26%,,,,,,,
#28–53 1 0.13%,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Reader comments


Collective planning with the Wikimedia Foundation

Mayur Paul is Movement Communications Director at the Wikimedia Foundation.
A major crossroads road sign in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia

This is part one of a two-part Signpost series to summarise the Wikimedia Foundation's annual planning process, priorities and next steps. The Wikimedia Foundation has released a draft of its annual plan to outline our goals for the next fiscal year (July 2023–June 2024).

In a planning process that asks us to look ahead, we must consider the changing world around us, what it needs from us, and how we must adapt to it. External trends show that social platforms continue to displace traditional search engines, and that artificial intelligence threatens even more disruption to the digital world.

Last month, we hosted a conversation with nearly 100 community members to learn more about the opportunities, challenges and experiments with new conversational AI tools happening on the Wikimedia projects, and will make this a regular series so that we can continue learning from each other on how we can respond to these rapidly evolving technologies.

To achieve our vision of the sum of all human knowledge, the Wikimedia Foundation will continue to anchor its annual plan in the movement strategy as we did last year. Our priorities will connect the Foundation's work even more deeply with the Movement Strategy Recommendations in order to make more progress towards the 2030 Strategic Direction. We remain driven to do this through collaborative planning with others in the movement who are also implementing the recommendations.

A focus on Product, Technology and Communities

As Foundation CEO Maryana Iskander has noted in past communications, this year the Foundation is increasing its focus on Product and Technology, emphasising our unique role as a platform for people and communities collaborating on a massive scale. Chief Product and Technology Officer Selena Deckelmann shared draft objectives on Meta in February, (also on Diff blog), and lots of conversations have been underway on the talkpage since.

This isn't meant to be a list of things we're definitely going to do — there's plenty of room for your questions and suggestions. The purpose of this list is to highlight the most necessary and important categories of technical work across the movement. We want to share this as early as possible, but because these are works-in-progress please be aware they may change[…].
— Selena Deckelmann (on Meta)

This week the Product & Technology department published part 2 of this process – the draft Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which would guide all of the technical work for the next year. Selena has also shared some reflections from her listening tour. A more comprehensive, and detailed (but still work-in-progress) document, this is open for comments on the talk page about how best to prioritise, monitor, and measure what work is done.

A period of slower, more stable growth

As Maryana shared in January (Meta Wiki link and previous coverage in The Signpost), given the revenue gap from our December fundraising campaign as well as an uncertain global economic outlook, the Foundation is projected to have a reduced budget and slower growth than in past years.

The RfC raised a much wider range of issues than just fundraising banners. While anticipated revenue shortfalls made this a difficult period for the Foundation, I believe we tried to hear these broader concerns, many of which are shared across communities beyond English Wikipedia.

One concern was about the very rapid budget growth of the Foundation, which has stabilized in the last year. Given the revenue gap from this year's English campaign, we are reviewing and lowering our expenditure for the current year. And I anticipate we will have a reduced budget and certainly slower growth next year. We will have more information by April on future financial projections.

I communicated previously that I have started frank conversations with the Board of Trustees and Foundation staff about what roles the Foundation should grow (like support for technology) and what activities we should hand over to others or stop altogether. Looking ahead, the size of our budget should be driven by what the Foundation should be doing and can actually do well. The 2030 movement strategy provided guidance (and motivated much of our historic growth), but was short on specifics. I await the Movement Charter to provide further clarity, but believe the Foundation may need to make some decisions sooner.

— Maryana Iskander (on Meta)

We will reduce our expenses for next fiscal year, through both non-personnel and personnel expenses to make sure we have a more sustainable trajectory in expenses for the coming few years. These expense reductions prioritised non-staffing costs but have also included looking at vacant/unfilled roles and about a 5% reduction in occupied roles.

This year’s Annual Plan will attempt to provide more clarity on multi-year strategic issues that do not have quick fixes, and more granular information on how the Foundation operates.

Collective planning

Wikimedians have the opportunity to reflect on the Foundation’s annual plan draft on-wiki until 19 May and in various live conversations. Multiple languages are supported in the calls and on-wiki.

We want people to share their plans and intentions for the coming year with the Foundation and one another, as well as to learn more and offer suggestions about the Foundation’s annual plan.

Details here

This collaboration will inform the final content of the Wikimedia Foundation annual plan for our next fiscal year.

Reader comments


In which we described the featured articles in rhyme again

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

We didn't have a huge number of featured pictures this issue, but I think I found a clever and unique way to lay them out. Also, poetry again! Why? Because, while it does, by necessity, simplify subjects, that's actually a good thing when you have thirty-some featured articles and lists to summarise. It does have a risk of trivialising things, but being sensitive should help with that, and if I get articles on the Holocaust or the like, well, the "summarise it in poetry" thing isn't a death pact.

We've used basically the same format for these since the Signpost was weekly. It was intended for the short weekly issues with five to nine articles to summarise; but this issue has twenty featured articles and eighteen featured lists in this issue. Something has to change, and there's probably going to need to be some playing around until we get there.


Featured articles

Twenty featured articles were promoted this period.

Ignace Tonené.
Apparently, the British librarian's vocation
Just won't be inclusive of image rotation.
I suspect sometime soon this here image we'll see
Restored and rotated and on FPC.
Ignace Tonené, nominated by CT55555
Tonené was an Ojibwe chief and prospector
He got Canada's government to be his community's investor.
His discoveries when acting as prospector bold,
Caused the nineteen-oh-six era rush to find gold.
Paint Drying, nominated by LunaEatsTuna
It is what it sounds like. In Britain, you see,
Ev'ry film must be rated by BBFC.
They charge by the minute (but watch them all too),
So, to protest that charge, there's ten hours to view.
Constantine III (Western Roman emperor), nominated by Gog the Mild
When promised, if he surrendered, they'd let him stay whole,
He did, but they didn't: they put his head on a pole.
Airport Central railway station, nominated by Steelkamp
Flying from Australia? Perth Airport is found
By taking a railway to go underground.
Edgar, King of England, nominated by Dudley Miles
The father of Æthelred the Unready,
His rule of England was really quite steady.
After seeing his sons' reigns, all the wise sages
Ranked his reign with all the most golden of ages.
Illusion of Kate Moss, nominated by Premeditated Chaos (PMC)
At McQueen's Widows of Culloden, what was talked about the most
Was Kate Moss in a crystal (an effect called Pepper's Ghost).
From A History of British Fishes:
 The Owl and the Pussycat might put down their gullet
 This here illustration of the thicklip grey mullet.
 "What's the connection?" Is that what I hear?
 Why, they both were created by old Edward Lear!
A History of British Fishes, nominated by Jimfbleak
"History" as in "Natural History". The phrasing has changed.
But wishes for guides to fishes just does not seem all that strange.
Ken "Snakehips" Johnson, nominated by SchroCat
Black British music does not oft get its due:
Featured articles on it? Appallingly few.
In the thirties and forties, Johnson brought swing
Over to Britain, where he reigned as king.
Siege of Bukhara, nominated by AirshipJungleman29
In Khwarazmian old Ghengis Khan
A stately pleasure domeThe Siege of Bukhara achieved.
    And all folk who Bukhara filled
    Found themselves enslaved or killed.
You'd think they'd be quite peeved.
Badge Man:
 I sort of see it, I guess, but if you ask me,
 In context? Paradolia of the bottom of a tree.
Badge Man, nominated by HAL333
Who killed JFK? Well, some say the job
Was planned and committed by a photograph's blob.
Constantine (son of Theophilos), nominated by Unlimitedlead
He was raised to co-emperor alongside his dad,
From infancy all of that power he had.
He died by sixteen, and it's of some concern
That he died after falling in the palace cistern.
Don't drink the water in Blachernae, lest the slaughter
Create a new market for Constantine-flavoured water.
Bennerley Viaduct, nominated by HJ Mitchell
They wanted to destroy it, but it was made a bit too strong:
They couldn't afford to take apart the ironwork, and so,
It survived to be historic, but repair funds were not there.
A group stepped in to work on it, but everything went wrong
It was feared that on the list of lost history it would go
But finally, quite recently it at last got its repair.
Tomb of Philippe Pot:
 Limestone, gold, paint, and lead,
 A tomb for French mediaeval dead.
Tomb of Philippe Pot, nominated by Ceoil
Burgundian warrior, Philippe Pot
To look poor in death... would rather not.
"State of Grace" (song), nominated by Ippantekina
Taylor Swift wrote "State of Grace",
Lost rights to the recordings, then,
To put the buyer in his place,
Recorded all her songs again.
Wilfred Arthur, nominated by Ian Rose
Wilfred Stanley Arthur, Australian flying ace,
Known to friends as "Woof".
(This poem is free verse.)
Science Fiction Adventures:
 Rayguns and aliens, and, for the rubes,
 A big healthy serving of feminine boobs.
Science Fiction Adventures (1956 magazine), nominated by Mike Christie
It's just what it sounds like: it's some sci-fi fun.
So go get your spacesuit and grab your raygun.
Government of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), nominated by Unlimitedlead and PericlesofAthens
Before Alexander the Great's father, there's few records, and, so,
The answers to most questions is, "Well, um... We don't know."
Battle of the Great Plains, nominated by Gog the Mild
Carthage versus Romans, North Africa the scene,
Scipio tricked the Poenī through subterfuge quite keen
Plans to attack Utica he made where they would see 'em
Then he snuck up on the camps, and he then burned right up the reed 'un.
Freedom (concert), nominated by Pseud 14
Regine Velasquez, at the concert, sang whatever thing she pleased,
She wanted her fans to feel connection during the time of the disease.
John Manners (cricketer), nominated by AssociateAffiliate (a.k.a. StickyWicket)[1]
We call him a cricketer, which some folk might annoy:
He was also commander of His Majesty's Ship, Viceroy .
As cricketer, sure, he was considered first-rate
But he also had a Distinguished Service Cross on his plate.

Featured pictures

Four featured pictures were promoted this period, including the two at the top of the article and two at the bottom


Featured lists

Eighteen featured lists were promoted this period.

To these featured lists, I would like to be reverent,
But a lot of the titles are just too self-evident.
That doesn't lessen achievements, but it does lessen text
So I'll explain more obscure ones then take a long rest.
I hope with this content you are quite content,
See you next issue (when it's finally sent).
Denters was spotted singing by J. Timberlake
And, O! All the music she went on to make!
Esmée Denters discography, nominated by Sebbirrrr
Dutch singer Esmée Denters has released one studio album, three extended plays (EP) and twenty singles (including three as featured artist). Denters rose to prominence after posting song covers on YouTube, which gained the attention of American singer Justin Timberlake who signed her to his record label Tennman Records in 2007.
List of accolades received by 24 Oras, nominated by Chompy Ace
24 Oras is a Philippine news broadcasting show.
List of basal asterid families, nominated by Dank
This is a division of flowering plants, including blueberries, dogwood, kiwifruit, and American pitcher plants.
List of British armies in World War II, nominated by EnigmaMcmxc
Kind of like how if you divide a pile into two, you can still call the results piles, if you divide up an army, you can still call the smaller divisions armies. And they do. This is a list of all the field armies the British Army was divided into, including some that never really existed and were instead used to deceive German intelligence.
List of UEFA European Championship winning managers, nominated by NapHit
These are the winners of the European championship for association football (soccer to you Americans).
These sites are quite pretty, so be of them a see-er,
And look at World Heritage Sites within South Korea.
List of World Heritage Sites in South Korea and List of World Heritage Sites in Malaysia, nominated by Tone
We've talked about these a lot, but in case you're new, they're a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization scheme to mark places that are of such cultural or natural importance that the world should take note and help protect them. Tone has been doing a great job working through the countries of the world for years now and listing off the World Heritage sites within them (hence why we've talked about them a lot).
List of dasyuromorphs, nominated by PresN
An order of mammals consisting of most of the Australian carnivorous marsupials, such as quolls, dunnarts, the numbat, the Tasmanian devil, and the thylacine.
74th Primetime Emmy Awards, nominated by RunningTiger123
Basshunter videography, nominated by Eurohunter
Basshunter is a Swedish singer, record producer and DJ.
List of accolades received by Toy Story 4, nominated by Chompy Ace
List of basal eudicot families, nominated by Dank
Another group of flowering plants including buttercups, poppies, barberries, and plane trees (or sycamores).
List of international goals scored by Ellen White, nominated by Idiosincrático
Ellen White is an English former professional footballer who played for both England and Great Britain between 2010 and 2022, and scored 58 international goals during that time.
List of The Sopranos episodes, nominated by Newtothisedit
List of accolades received by Top Gun: Maverick, nominated by Chompy Ace
List of Hot R&B Singles number ones of 1963, nominated by ChrisTheDude
List of Lebanon international footballers born outside Lebanon, nominated by Nehme1499
Registered historic parks and gardens in Monmouthshire, nominated by KJP1
I don't consider this obscure, but then, I lived near there, so for the international audience, Monmouthshire is a county in southeast Wales.

Reader comments


April Fools' through the ages, part two

Like many things on Wikipedia, as the website grew, the anarchic fun of the early days started to fade away. Hence, we are starting in 2011, when things were still fun and chaotic. To wit: in 2009 (not even during April Fools' Day, but on a random day in August), a "LOLKeats" was made to explain a poem by John Keats, added to the article, and nominated as a featured picture candidate, with the claim that the articles it's in are "Ode on Indolence – Limited time offer". This wasn't considered disruptive, or worthy of a block: it was all harmless fun. Nowadays, I can't imagine it going over so well as the reversion text being merely "I have to admit I laughed, but lolcat go byebye:)".

I do think Wikipedia has lost some of its fun. That's not a good thing, but it was inevitable. Those early days were collaborative and wild with a heady sense of purpose. We were building the encyclopedia. You could take a famous figure and make them a featured article from very little. I don't think we can ever get those days fully back, and that's the nature of success.

Also, afraid we're going to need a part three. On the upside, this series can be linked to for years to come.


By far the best joke this year was the choice for Today's Featured Article:

An 18th century drawing of Cock Lane

Fanny scratching in 18th-century London's Cock Lane was so notorious that interested bystanders often blocked the street. It became the focus of a religious controversy between Methodists and orthodox Anglicans, and was reported on by celebrities of the period such as Samuel Johnson. Charles Dickens referred to the phenomenon in several of his books, including Nicholas Nickleby and A Tale of Two Cities, and other Victorian authors also alluded to it in their work. One enterprising resident diverted the crowds that gathered in Cock Lane by allowing them to converse with a ghost he claimed was haunting his home, to which he charged an entrance fee. Fanny scratching eventually resulted in several prosecutions, and the pillorying of a father. (more...)

Recently featured: Sir Richard WilliamsCaptain Scarlet and the MysteronsBattle of Towton

I don't think "Did you know?" was as on-fire as it usually was, but there were some good ones, including:


After last year, even pigeon photography as today's featured article feels somewhat of a letdown, though the idea of using time-delayed cameras as a sort of early drone photography is fascinating.

In more random places, A request to write e. e. cummings' article entirely in lowercase is great literary humour. Our article on vandalism was nominated for deletion as obvious vandalism. Snow was was also nominated for deletion, but kept per WP:SNOW. There's also this... interesting choice of newspaper for Wikipedia:WikiProject Conservatism's newsfeed.

A few good "Did you know?" entries, including:

Kjærlighetskarusellen, or The Carousel of Love

The Signpost didn't get into the act that much: The WikiProject report opens thusly:

Snake handling service held in Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky

...but it then immediately drops the conceit. Honestly, the most interesting thing isn't even an intentional fool, it's the first article in the featured content report:

  • George Went Hensley (nom) by Mark Arsten and Astynax. George Went Hensley (c. 1880 – 1955) was an American Pentecostal minister credited with popularizing the practice of snake handling in the Southeastern United States. A native of rural Appalachia, Hensley experienced a religious conversion around 1910: he came to believe that the New Testament commanded all Christians to handle venomous snakes. In 1955, he was bitten by a snake and became violently ill. Refusing to seek medical attention, he died the following day.


The picture of the day for April 1, 2013. I've honestly eyed that one for restoration over and over, not realising it was already a featured picture.

That's a quote from our coverage on how some people objected to their serious encyclopedia having any sense of fun to it. And I think it's a good response. We need fun, we need socialisation, we need rewards, or Wikipedia is just a job. 2013 was a pretty good year, despite the naysayers. The featured article for today, in particular, was one of the more unique main pages:

The Indonesian film named simply ? was nominated by Crisco 1492, and we actually have an interview with him about his work. Meanwhile, featured lists had the Foot in Mouth award, and we also got the usual fun at Did You Know; highlights below.

Postcard showing a Polish girl about to get a soaking


The picture of the day was a map used to hunt snark, and the featured article was Disco Demolition Night, an infamously ill-fated sports promotion at the end of the disco era.

The 2013 request for comment we quoted a bit of had a dampening effect in some ways. The list of pranks for 2014 is far shorter and tamer than previous years.

However, The Signpost meanwhile started to get into the spirit. I've recently started writing featured content reports in rhyme. This was inspired by the 2 April 2014 featured content, which, not only described everything in rhyme, but also invented stories based on the featured pictures:

The Story of the Family who Couldn't Wear Clothes

These illustrations from Urania's Mirror were restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden

It's honestly one of my favourites ever. Have a read. "Did you know?" also had its usual fun, of which a sampling:

Illustration of a cat with an incendiary device strapped to its back
Emblem of Society of Science, Letters and Art


A drum! A drum! Macbeth has come! ...We really need to stop catering to his fetishes.

It's weird looking back at old featured content reports. The layouts before featured pictures became a gallery are odd. But there's a lot of interesting jokes in this one. Including pointing out the plagiarism within classical art.

News and notes, meanwhile, had a lot of fun with 'New edits-by-mail option will "revolutionize" Wikipedia and its editor base':

Today's featured article, invisible rail, for the first time in years, wasn't a joke, really, or, if it was, gave the joke away so instantaneously that it failed. In article space, Upside-down cake was flipped. Once again, Did you know ruled the main page's celebrations:

From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes (2013)

Wikivoyage, meanwhile, taught us the way to travel... through time. A sample:

And we'll finish this series next issue. I know: it'll be May by then. But... well, let's just say there's a lot going on in my life that would pull this column's mood down a lot if I went into it.

Reader comments


The law of hats

This essay was originally created by Widefox as Wikipedia:Law of hats.
The Hatter – a note on a hat is not to be confused with a hatnote.

Laws of hats

  • 0th law: Every article evolves until it gains a hatnote.[note 1][note 2][3][4]
  • 1st law: Disambiguation scales with articles.[note 3][note 4]
  • 2nd law: Every disambiguation page evolves until it gains a hatnote.[note 5]
  • 3rd law: Disambiguation disambiguation is needed.[note 6][note 7]
  1. ^ Put another way: "Survival of the hattest."
  2. ^ "Articles which cannot so expand are merged into ones which can." or Hatnote extinction
  3. ^ is based on the number of combinations of n items . This assumes the factors: 1. reduction due to the coefficient of ambiguous titles , 2. plus additional contributions due to WP:DABMENTIONs which scales with the average size of articles times their ambiguous coefficient , giving: , i.e.
  4. ^ Disambiguation scales are not to be confused with fish scales
  5. ^ Widefox's law or "Did you mean A, B, C?, but before that, did you mean X, Y, Z?, repeat." When iterated due to hatnotes on all dabs, leads readers progressively further from the term they input, which already wasn't enough, without ever converging on an article."
  6. ^ That event is notable which leads to a new article - see 0th, plus Disambiguation (disambiguation)[disambiguation needed].
  7. ^ As of 2017, disambiguation disambiguation does not exist, but the redlink here is acceptable as it has possibilities, as any redirect would have. The redlink should be retained, based on the precautionary principle (see The Disambiguation Singularity)


Allowed, considering:

More notes
  1. ^ As of 2017, Wikipedia is 16, so that's currently at
  2. ^ See Carbon emission trading for tips of how to offset edits on paper, rather than actually doing it
  3. ^ See also entries may suffice per "Did you mean A, B, C?, but during that, did you mean X, Y, Z?, repeat"
  4. ^ Typos, plurals, foreign languages may be of use. If a reader doesn't know which article, that will no doubt assist in finding other dab pages before the dab page they were first at. Job done.

Current research

The Disambiguation Singularity

Artist's impression of an article near The Disambiguation Singularity

The Disambiguation Singularity – a term used cautiously, as it is ambiguous – singularity may refer to:

"Arts and entertainment" problem

Evolution time-series prediction (when we can only access "Arts and entertainment")

The "Arts and entertainment" problem is disambiguation page section overloading – research on the scaling of dab pages is ongoing. Current assumptions are a solution to the NP-hard problem of popular culture overloading or "Arts and entertainment" disambiguation page section overloading, which may refer to:

  • The Use of previously unambiguous terms for the titles of notable new popular culture, thereby overloading the previously unambiguous terms.
    • Remakes thereof, or remakes of remakes etc
  • Some numerical solutions do not converge on the number of hatnotes required to successfully disambiguate those topics.
  • A practical consideration is that due to the unfortunate coincidence of Arts and entertainment being listed at the top of dab pages, but with exponential growth, they must at some point expand at a rate faster than readers can scroll, thus preventing access to all but Arts and entertainment.[6] As only primary topics would be accessible, disambiguation may attain The Disambiguation Singularity.

See also

People wearing hats in Human evolution – main image used in the article, coincidence?

Further reading

Reader comments


Long live machine, the future supreme

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga, TheJoebro64, Max BuddyRoo, and SSSB.

Some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck
Some people think AI can solve them
Lord, heavens above
I'm only human after all...

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine (March 19 to 25)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 ChatGPT 1.774.068 Took long enough, but the chatbot that can't leave the news took first place in our list. Among the developments of last week were a bug that allowed some users to see the titles of other users' conversations and the unveiling of AIs from other companies like Google's Bard and Baidu's Ernie Bot.
2 Kitty O'Neil 1.651.543 Google homaged this deaf daredevil who worked as a stunt double and once rode a rocket car.
3 John Wick: Chapter 4 1.516.732 One of the few things deadlier than COVID-19 is John Wick, who is back to slaughter lots of people seeking revenge and redemption. Reviewers praised how Keanu Reeves' "Baba Yaga" delivers many impressive action sequences, even if the underlying plot is not something that justifies a runtime nearing 3 hours (with a post-credits scene, no less), and it already opened to over $100 million worldwide. The franchise even has a spin-off on the way, Ballerina with Ana de Armas.
4 Lance Reddick 1.355.687 The above is also one of the last appearances of Lance Reddick (the concierge of a hotel ran by a seemingly omnipresent assassin guild), who died the week before the film's release at the age of 60. Other posthumous roles for him are Zeus in Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Hellboy in a video game.
5 Nowruz 1.212.975 March 21 is in the Northern Hemisphere both the beginning of Spring and the Persian New Year.
6 Mario Molina 1.130.115 Molina was a Mexican chemist who helped discover the threat that CFCs posed to the ozone layer. He's on this list because he was honored with a Google Doodle on March 19, which would have been his 80th birthday.
7 Deaths in 2023 963.873 Calling all angels
I need you near to the ground
I miss you dearly
Can you hear me on your cloud?
8 Shazam! Fury of the Gods 801.068 The last movie of the DC Extended Universe before a continuity rehaul (the upcoming The Flash seems to be outright a Flashpoint adaptation to restart things) has the return of Zachary Levi as the character once known as Captain Marvel (the one who now takes the name even has a movie later this year) as he tries saving the world from the daughters of Atlas. Reception has been divisive given the movie is not as tightly-written and fun as its 2019 predecessor, the box office has been underwhelming, and now there's even some blame on Dwayne Johnson for trying to keep his Black Adam away from Shazam even if the characters are archenemies getting powers from the same power source in the comics.
9 World Baseball Classic 791.999 The premier baseball tournament between nations, as the Baseball World Cup ended in 2011 and the Olympic tournament only returns since 2008 in countries that care about this sport. The championship's fifth edition just ended, won by Japan.
10 The Last of Us (TV series) 745.202 The first season may have wrapped up on March 12, but people are still talking about the adaptation of Naughty Dog's 2013 video game. It's been renewed for a second season, set to begin filming later this year, which will presumably adapt the events of 2020's The Last of Us Part II.

We're functioning automatic, and we are dancing mechanic (March 26 to April 1)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 ChatGPT 2.102.375
"A.I....What's the A stand for?"
"...What's the I-"
"Ooohhhhhhhhh what was the A again?"
2 Indian Premier League 1.766.586 Technically this and #5 enter the >94% mobile views threshold for exclusion. But it's the newly started latest season of India's favorite sport, the traffic must be legit.
3 John Wick: Chapter 4 1.730.723 The Outline wrote in 2019: "Few will remember the majority of the doomed attempts to hack together cinematic franchises from whatever tired intellectual property was at hand. [But a] notable exception is the nascent John Wick universe, which is building a rich, intricate world from a simple but brilliant pitch: It's Keanu Reeves and he has both a gun and a knife."

In 2023, that statement remains truer than ever: while DC and Marvel's recent outings have received lukewarm reviews and lackluster box office returns, John Wick: Chapter 4 has become the highest-rated John Wick film on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic and has topped the box office for the second weekend in a row. And with both a spin-off film and prequel TV series in the works, John Wick appears to be here to stay.

4 Paul O'Grady 1.396.109 This British "national treasure" died this week, at the age 67. O'Grady first achieved notability as his drag persona: Lily Savage: Savage by name and savage by nature – becoming mainstream and starting to appear as the character in a variety of shows, before choosing to diversify with the character taking a backseat as he started to present several TV and radio shows in the years. O'Grady continued to present and perform until his death. And even after death, they continue to show repeats of his most famous performances.
5 2023 Indian Premier League 1.378.520 India started getting its cricket fix on Friday, and it'll will last until May. But we might not let this article back if it's mostly mobile views again.
6 2023 Covenant School shooting 1.201.214 Another American mass school shooting, this time in Nashville, Tennessee. Seven people died: the perpetrator (more on him later), three children (all aged nine), a teacher, a custodian and the school's head. The perpetrator has been identified as a Aiden Hale, a 28-year old suffering from an undisclosed, possibly relevant emotional disorder. As usual, this has restoked America's biggest division (or possibly second-biggest after abortion?) with thousands marching on the Tennessee state capitol, with some children holding signs saying "I'm nine". Tennessee lawmakers have reacted, but by allowing private schools to hire police to help prevent shootings – but recently this strategy didn't work at all: Robb Elementary School shooting.

Let's be realistic, nothing major will happen: American lawmakers have failed to act after the Virginia Tech shooting, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. So we will just have go get used to the list – List of school shootings in the United States (2000–present) – getting bigger and bigger as children get murdered in their classrooms.

7 WrestleMania 39 906.571 WWE's premier event always gets much attention, and this year was held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
8 Deaths in 2023 903.176 We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settled around us...
9 Keanu Reeves 873.008 The star of #3. He kills so many people as John Wick, Neo, etc. that an antimicrobial was named after him.
10 Humza Yousaf 808.420 The new First Minister of Scotland (A bit like a Governor for our American readers). Yousaf has been a member of the Member of the Scottish Parliament since 2011, and served in the cabinet since 2018. Yousaf has big shoes to fill with his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon, having held the role for nine years and becoming a household name in the process – even for those living in England.

Acting like a robot, its metal brain corrodes (April 2 to 8)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 WrestleMania 39 2.309.241 The premier WWE event always tops this report when it happens. This year it was held at SoFi Stadium, with 15 fights across two nights. It is also the last event before the company was acquired by Endeavor, uniting the staged wrestling and the real one of UFC under the same banner.
2 ChatGPT 1.957.207 Down from the top spot, the chatbot that warrants extensive discussions on artificial intelligence.
3 The Super Mario Bros. Movie 1.198.274 It's-a me, a-Mario! Letsa go!

In 1993, the Super Mario Bros movie was released, and it was terrible. (There's a subset of people who have somehow gaslit themselves into thinking it's good, which I will never understand.) Now, in 2023, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has been released, and while critical reviews have been mixed, audiences are eating it up. This second shot at a Super Mario adaptation—produced by Illumination (of Despicable Me fame) with direct involvement from Nintendo and led by a star-studded cast including Chris Pratt as Mario—had the biggest opening for an animated film ever, 1-Upping Frozen 2.

4 Kim Mulkey 1.149.615 March Madness came to a close, and the women's tournament got attention through the coach of the victorious LSU Tigers.
5 Deaths in 2023 914.314 It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep, there's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray...
6 John Wick: Chapter 4 781.261 The 4th John Wick movie came out, still with Keanu Reeves as the title character, receiving immensely positive reviews from critics.
7 Brooke Shields 619.430 Hulu released the two part documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, about this actress who became a sex symbol while still a teenager (the title is Pretty Baby after a movie where she played a 12-year-old prostitute), took a break to attend Princeton, and has been steadily working ever since.
8 Dan Hurley 614.143 And for more March Madness, the coach of the victorious UConn Huskies. The team included his son Andrew, and he also has a father and brother named Bob in the basketball business.
9 Good Friday 598.601 The holiday where the Messiah was tortured and executed, chronicled in horrifying detail in The Passion of the Christ.
10 Ryuichi Sakamoto 584.716 A Japanese musician who died at 71, leaving behind a career pioneering in electronic music and with many film forays (along with scores that included an Academy Award for The Last Emperor, he played an IJA captain who falls in love with David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence).

There must be someone a robot, a Terminator? (April 9 to 15)

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes/about
1 ChatGPT 1.699.710
2 Jon Rahm 1.478.958 This Spanish golfer won the Masters Tournament and returned to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.
3 The Super Mario Bros. Movie 1.273.498 Oh yeah, Mario time! Nintendo's mascot had a second chance in theaters 30 years after one disastrous live-action adaptation with a cartoon that's fun for both children and those whose fandom dates back to when games were in cartridges. Reviewers were not as enamoured given the movie's plot is as basic as most Super Mario games (maybe a sequel adapting one of the RPGs can improve on that? and let's just say I'd have liked the post-credits scene better if it was a character that wasn't shown in a previous scene!). But audiences love Mario and Luigi so much the movie made half a billion in just two weeks, already becoming the highest-grossing video game movie ever.
4 Beef (TV series) 1.118.414 In spite of the nice steak to the left, this Netflix show is named after a feud, namely of Steven Yeun and Ali Wong holding a nasty grudge on each other after almost having a car accident.
5 Deaths in 2023 960.953 I'm going down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth...
6 Millie Bobby Brown 735.737 The once and future Eleven announced her engagement to Jake Bongiovi. (son of the guy I just quoted above)
7 Boston Marathon bombing 694.427 April 15 marked 10 years since two brothers bombed the finish line of the Boston Marathon, citing a motive of revenge for American military action in Afghainstan and Iraq. Three people died and 281 injuried in the bombing. One brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died on April 19, 2013, due to multiple injuries following a shoot-out with police. The second brother remains on death row.
8 Israel Adesanya 619.508 This Nigerian-New Zealand fighter held his middleweight championship belt after winning at UFC 287.
9 Succession (TV series) 616.572 This TV series is ending soon, with an episode of the final season coming out this week, to critical acclaim, as it temporarily became the top episode of all time on IMDB.
10 B. R. Ambedkar 596.930 India celebrated the architect of their constitution (who is dubbed The Greatest Indian when a certain someone is excluded) on his birth anniversary, unveiling a 175-ft statue in Hyderabad.

Most edited articles

Tornado outbreak of March 31 – April 1, 2023, #4 most edited article March 9 – April 9

For the March 9 – April 9 period, per this this database report.

Title Revisions Commentary
Deaths in 2023 1837 Everyone with a page that dies enters the list, hence the constant updates.
Municipal history of Quebec 1221 One user is painstakingly fine-tuning how the cities of the most French of the Canadian provinces came to be.
The Eras Tour 1141 Taylor Swift is back on the road (giving a chance to play live the three new albums she recorded during the pandemic), and her fans were up to describe the tour developments.
Tornado outbreak of March 31 – April 1, 2023 1059 134 tornadoes struck across two day in a area ranging from Arkansas to Delaware, causing millions in damages.
2023 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament 1049 The latest edition of March Madness, won by the University of Connecticut.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie 879 Nintendo's mascot hit theaters following the footsteps of his once rival Sonic the Hedgehog, with a cartoon fun for both children and those who met the plumber back when games were still on cartridges, and as a result already made hundreds of millions of dollars in a single weekend.
2023 Covenant School shooting 874 Yet another case of a disturbed person breaking armed into a school and killing children. Always sad to see those articles being created.
WrestleMania 39 797 WWE's biggest event.
Indictment of Donald Trump 794 The former president who was so nice he was impeached twice, has now been indicted for his involvement in paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, facing 34 felony charges of falsifying business records in the first degree, making him the first US President to be indicted, although this has been argued as the equivalent of getting Al Capone on taxes. Besides that, a trial is expected in December, with there being trouble and finding an unbiased jury, so we will have to wait for future updates. All of this makes the 2016 slogan "lock her up" all the more ironic.
2023 Indian Premier League 773 India loves cricket, and the national tournament just started.
World Baseball Classic 771 While the 2023 MLB season doesn't start baseball's best are playing in this tournament between nations – held in Tokyo, Taiwan, and two American cities – won by Japan.
2023 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament 763 More March Madness. Caitlin Clark of Iowa was wrecking the box scores and setting up records, but in the final she was stopped by Angel Reese of LSU.
Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank 730 The bank that nearly half the Silicon Valley startups relied on collapsed on March 10, marking the second largest bank failure after Washington Mutual in 2008. Two other technology-related banks also failed during the week, albeit those had cryptocurrency rather than economic problems to blame.
2023 Miami Open – Men's singles 693 The second part of the "Sunshine Double" after the Indian Wells Masters in California, held at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium. The men's tournament was won by Daniil Medvedev, who lost the Indian Wells final, while the women's had Petra Kvitová preventing Elena Rybakina from winning both in a row.
2023 Miami Open – Women's singles 667
Tornadoes of 2023 652 The year is only 25% complete and has already been busy for storm watchers, and 80 of the 422 confirmed tornadoes in the United States in 2023 happened in March.
Legalism (Chinese philosophy) 631 One user is cleaning up this article on a Chinese philosophy school of thought.
Cyclone Freddy 618 Taking five weeks to dissipate, this is the longest-lasting tropical cyclone (a term that also applies to hurricanes, typhoons, etc.) on record, starting in Australia and travelling the whole Indian Ocean before making landfall and causing damage in Africa.
Tornado outbreak of March 24–27, 2023 588 31 tornadoes hit the Southeast United States.
List of stage names 583 One user is cleaning this rather large list.


  • 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.

Reader comments

If articles have been updated, you may need to refresh the single-page edition.
  1. ^
    Sticky Wicket
    Isn't cricket
    But, if we take the expression and silly it,
    He is AssociateAffiliate.
  2. ^ Also, pronounce "Korea" as "Cor-ree-er" so the rhyme works. Or pronounce "see-er" as "see-a". Either way.
  3. ^ Magioladitis' law March 9, 2012 Hypothesis: "Due to expansion of Wikipedia all pages will end up having a hatnote to a dab page. At least all pages without parentheses in their title." User:Magioladitis
  4. ^ Similar to Zawinski's law of software envelopment "Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can."
  5. ^ Put a ring on it (disambiguation)
  6. ^ Howto articles could be written about that, but similarly would not be reachable.
  7. ^ The Selfish Gene