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Update: Scheduled shutdown of Wikidata descriptions on EnWiki

Background: Some time ago some Foundation staff thought Wikidata item-descriptions could be used as convenient short-descriptions for Wikipedia articles. They began displaying them in several locations on our articles or as descriptor/links to the articles. Several concerns arose when the community noticed and examined the practice, resulting in consensus against using Wikidata on/for our articles in this fashion. (Link to one of several discussions.) Several editors and I discussed collaborative resolution with staff. The Foundation created a new feature allowing us to create and manage these descriptions locally (see WikiProject Short descriptions). The Foundation wanted to avoid suddenly blanking all descriptions, so Wikidata descriptions continued to appear when no local description is present. The Foundation agreed to shut complete the shutoff of Wikidata descriptions once we had created approximately 2 million local descriptions.[1]

I am happy to announce there are now 2,250,000 mainspace pages with short descriptions - approximately 1,939,000 articles, approximately 312,000 disambiguation pages, plus thousands of other assorted pages in and out of mainspace (portals, help pages, drafts, redirects, project pages etc).

Almost two months ago I created Phabricator task T248457 for the WMF to implement the agreed shut-off. The task appears to have slipped through the cracks unnoticed/forgotten. Ping DannyH (WMF) who gave the original shutoff commitment (or any Liaison or other staff) to get the ball rolling on this. I am eager to celebrate successful collaboration and resolution on this issue. Thanx. Alsee (talk) 13:39, 15 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

In case it is unclear from the above, the WMF committed to disabling short description Wikidata fallbacks: the WMF plan is to switch from a Wikidata-fallback to full enwiki control when there are 2 million non-blank short descriptions on enwiki (quoting DannyH (WMF) from the discussion linked above). They have not done so yet, even though en.WP has exceeded that criterion by over 10%. – Jonesey95 (talk) 16:53, 15 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Alsee, Thank you for the update. —¿philoserf? (talk) 17:12, 15 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
It's worth reminding DannyH (WMF) of his statement at the time: "the WMF plan is to switch from a Wikidata-fallback to full enwiki control when there are 2 million non-blank short descriptions on enwiki". Nevertheless, we are going to have to wait for somebody to triage phab:T248457 and then get it assigned and finally get it implemented. There's no timescale for that, nor is there any likelihood that anyone other than DannyH will feel under any obligation to do the job. I can only suggest that everyone who thinks that it's important for staff to respect their promises to the community, should post on that phabricator thread to urge some progress on implementation. --RexxS (talk) 00:05, 16 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • It would be good to see enwp control. We have a large number of editors working and we can do this. Wikidata is a super fine project, there is no doubt on it. However several things continue to disturb me: example, one Wikipedia article has an IMDb or Twitter external link or some other article value being called from Wikidata. Now you go to Wikidata, and find they are linking back (imported from/Reference) to English Wikipedia. This is confusing and make things circular (note: this particular topic is not in scope in this discussion, and we may discuss somewhere else if you want). Coming back to short descriptions, if we really need short descriptions, we should do it following our own guidelines and thoughts, and not from another project, specially where generic item descriptions are mass-created using QuickStatements and other tools. Regards. --Titodutta (talk) 00:49, 16 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    @Titodutta: one of the first features I implemented in Module:WikidataIB was to filter out values that were unsourced or referenced only to Wikipedia, That facility has been available for four years now, so there's no excuse for having the feedback loops you describe. If you let me know whenever you find those sort of problems, I'll fix them. --RexxS (talk) 01:20, 16 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    • I did not prepare a list. I'll create one on the go now. Anyway, a couple of (not the best) examples I can find now: Jan_Schmid external links "FIS Nordic combined skier ID" is on Wikidata, Wikidata says it is imported from English Wikipedia. Similarly "EL" section Official website at WePay. It might be a good idea to directly link, than going to Wikidata and learn it was imported from Wikipedia. --Titodutta (talk) 02:04, 16 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
      Okay - that shows up because Zyxw used #property which doesn't filter. I can fix it by using a Wikidata call, but are you sure you need references for an identifier? An identifier will link to the entry in the relevant database, so following it will verify the id almost always. I don't usually worry about sources for images and their captions for the same reason. Anyway, I'll have a look at any list you want me to. --RexxS (talk) 02:35, 16 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
      First, this is unrelated to the WMF so perhaps discussion should move elsewhere. The last Wikidata RFC was a long time ago, a lot of issues are unresolved, and I would welcome some clarity. If anyone gets the ball rolling on that, please ping me with the location. RexxS: On a personal note I've noticed some of your comments elsewhere to the Foundation, particularly in relation to Wikidata descriptions, and I wanted to express my appreciation. Back to the immediate topic, it sounds like you're considering a "fix" of filtering out values that are sourced from Wikipedia. In this case, I don't think that was the concern. If you recheck Titodutta's comment they didn't want the value gone. They were suggesting that the info should be "directly link"ed from Wikipedia, rather than coming through Wikidata. See my diff. I want to know whether or not the community wants edits like that applied broadly. I think it's an improvement, I believe(?) that is what Titodutta was suggesting, but we're in consensus-limbo on it. Alsee (talk) 11:11, 17 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Ping Whatamidoing (WMF). The Foundation agreed that this would be done once we hit two million descriptions. There has been no effective response on phabricator T248457 since March 25, and DannyH (WMF) hasn't responded to the ping three weeks ago. Can you help get a response on this? Thanx. Alsee (talk) 23:13, 4 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

We don't appear to be having much luck with this do we. Any ideas for next steps?©Geni (talk) 16:38, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Given that Danny is active, and his line manager is probably Katherine Maher, probably suck it up. And stop adding short descriptions. Unless someone can get her attention on Twitter. I do not think she is paying any attention to what is happening on Wikiprojects. I am not going to resign an admin bit over it.--Ymblanter (talk) 18:12, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
And do not forget to take it with the candidates on the Board elections which are going to happen next year. Some of you (not me) may even try to check with the candidates from affiliates.--Ymblanter (talk) 18:15, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
One option is to effectively shut off Wikidata descriptions from our end. Right now there is a filter in place to prevent us from setting a description that is blank or only punctuation. We could modify ((short description)) to check if the value is blank, and then fill in some non-blank value of our choosing. (Perhaps "No description yet.") Then we can do a bot run to make sure ((short description)) is present on every article.
Another option (and we can proceed with both options simultaneously) is to draft a message to Executive Director Katherine Maher and submit it as a formal consensus message from the EnWiki community. My concept would be to start by expressing serious community concern at the poor relationship, poor alignment, and poor level of partnership between the Foundation and the community. I'd suggest phrasing it like 'perhaps you are unaware of these systemic problems', as I suspect staff aren't reporting these issues up to the Director. Then we briefly lay out the Short Description case, that Wikidata descriptions were deployed without consulting the community, that there was a commitment to shut off Wikidata descriptions once we created 2 million descriptions, and then lay out how long the Phab task has been ignored, how long the manager who made the agreement has been non-responsive, and how long the liaison has been non-responsive. (Note: The liaison was only pinged 6 days ago, which is not good but also not badly excessive yet. However those figure will presumably be higher if/when we deliver the message.) Then I would close by requesting her help improving Foundation-engagement, and that we have other specific concerns we hope to be able to bring to her attention. I tend to procrastinate, but I'd be willing to draft it and open the proposal if there's support for this route. (Ping me for quickest action.) I have other specific issues that I want raise for consensus-discussion, but I think we should start with this one simple item. Asking the Director to follow through on an existing Foundation-commitment should be comparatively easy, and it will hopefully establish the path for trying to resolve other issues. Alsee (talk) 20:45, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I pinged DannyH on 16 May in this very thread as he's the one responsible for keeping the promise he made, so he has no excuse for not having enough time. I can't help but wonder whether we could take the unusual step of discussing the issue on Jimbo's talk page first and asking for his help and advice. That would at least make sure that we try all of the avenues available to us before starting a formal complaint to the CEO. It would also perhaps raise the profile of the problems we've encountered because of the number of talk page watchers there. I almost made that very post there today, but I thought it would be reasonable to leave it a few days yet, just in case we do get a reply from WAID as she was only pinged a few days ago. --RexxS (talk) 23:45, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Following up about Status Labs abuses

Hi WMF! Back in January, we held a discussion, WP:TOUSL, which was closed with overwhelming near-unanimous community support. Copying the proposal:

The January 27 Signpost "From the editor" column describes the several years-long and ongoing paid advocacy abuse by Status Labs (formerly Wiki-PR), including their community ban from the English Wikipedia, their global ban imposed by the Foundation, a cease-and-desist letter sent in 2013, and six recent and ongoing paid advocacy abuses reported by the Wall Street Journal last month. Foundation officials told the Signpost that they would only take further action if the English Wikipedia community requests such "through its usual governing processes." Accordingly, this RFC asks the Wikimedia Foundation to enforce the Terms of Use against Status Labs violations, such as by reporting infringement of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, seeking civil penalties for those violations, and any other actions which the Foundation's attorneys believe will most likely halt the ongoing abuses. 07:30, 27 January 2020 (UTC)

I believe this discussion was shared with the WMF board, so I was wondering whether anyone from the legal department might be able to give us an update. No worries if there are sensitive aspects that shouldn't be discussed publicly, but I think many of us in the community would appreciate having at least an acknowledgement of receipt and some reassurance that the suggestion is being given serious consideration. And to the extent it's possible/desirable, I'm sure many editors would love to help out with whatever's needed to move this forward.

Courtesy pinging proposer EllenCT, closer Jmabel, and Signpost author Smallbones. I'm not sure who to ping on the WMF side, but hopefully someone else will. ((u|Sdkb))talk 19:09, 22 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Hi all. I want to confirm from the Foundation legal team that this is noted and we're still working on it. This is a particularly hard topic to give details on publicly, both given legal privilege and not wanting to give away too much before we do anything publicly. What I can say is that we finished an initial investigation and we're working on some legal research at the moment. I'm hoping to have another update sometime around end of June. -Jrogers (WMF) (talk) 02:13, 28 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Great, thank you Jacob for the work and for this update.--Ymblanter (talk) 07:00, 28 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

WMF Board Authorises UCOC and related actions - Community Discussion


With the announcement today (22nd May) by the WMF Board of several significant T&S-related changes, please consider taking a look and participating at the Village Pump Discussion to discuss a Community reaction(s).

Had I thought a little more, this should probably have been posted here with the links going here, but VPP probably will get a better view of this aspect.

Nosebagbear (talk) 22:37, 22 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Death of George Floyd blackout?

There is a proposal elsewhere on the VPP for a blackout in support of the protests over the Death of George Floyd. Is this something consistent with WMF movement goals? WOuld WMF be interested in taking a position? Has WMF already taken a position? --Deep fried okra (schalte ein) 07:16, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I believe that it would be much more productive for all of us to work together to improve the quality and depth of our coverage of the current George Floyd protest movement, and the long history of the struggles of oppressed people all over the world, and also the horrific reality of how the coronavirus pandemic is playing out in vulnerable, powerless communities worldwide. Better content should be our constant goal. Making our content unavailable or difficult to access in the midst of a deep and profound worldwide crisis, though well-intentioned, is the wrong step at this moment. That's my opinion, at least, although I have deep respect for those who propose and support this. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:25, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Deepfriedokra, what Cullen328 said. Guy (help!) 08:16, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Probably best for the discussion about whether this is a good idea to remain consolidated here. But to answer the question, I think the WMF would probably do it if the community wanted to do it, and definitely wouldn't if the community don't. The Land (talk) 08:31, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

The complete discussion has now been moved from Village pump (policy) to Village pump (proposals) — GhostInTheMachine talk to me 10:11, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

@Deepfriedokra:, @JzG:, @GhostInTheMachine: One thing I'm doing to try to help the situation is to improve the article on Qualified immunity and have created the Ending Qualified Immunity Act. Please contribute to the articles :) John Cummings (talk) 15:05, 4 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I very much doubt this legislation will ever pass, if it does, it will certainly go up to the Supreme Court. --qedk (t c) 15:07, 4 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
John Cummings, seriously, dude, I admire your optimism. Mitch McConnell has pretty much said that all he's going to do is rubber stamp Federalist Society judicial nominees right up to January 2021. He said it a long time ago, and he's held to it. The graveyard of legislation. Guy (help!) 15:27, 4 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Branding event - 16 June

The rebranding team has Announced naming convention proposal discussions starting 16 June. Two proposals will centered on Wikipedia, one will be a Wiki/Wikipedia hybrid, plus an open response area to suggest other naming proposals. A live presentation is planned on 16 June at 15:00 UTC, via youtube. There will be two weeks of feedback to help remove, refine and recombine elements from the proposals into a single, synthesized proposal.

Note: The community-initiated RFC[2] "Is it acceptable for the Foundation to use the name Wikipedia to refer to itself?" has over 90% opposition. There seems to be some question by staff whether this RFC has any relevance to the upcoming proposals.

Anyone is welcome to steal or adapt my question during the live discussion: Given the overwhelming level of opposition to a Wikipedia-based re-branding, it is easy to foresee this may become an issue in the next Board of Trustees election. Has your risk analysis considered the cost and impact of a rebranding rollback by the new Board of Trustees? Alsee (talk) 16:47, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Lol at "next Board of Trustees election". You really think "as soon as practicable" translates as something other than "when you pry it from my cold dead fingers"? ‑ Iridescent 17:01, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Now we only have three community trustees, and only two of them are eligible to run again, and only because they have given themselves a third term earlier. I am not sure either of them wants to run again though.--Ymblanter (talk) 17:18, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
But whether or not they want to run again is moot because they quietly cancelled the election and voted to keep themselves in office…17:56, 5 June 2020 (UTC)
To be fair, they abstained from voting, but, yes, the term is effectively extended by a year. However, the resolution does not say that they are prohibited from running for the third term (after this one year).--Ymblanter (talk) 18:05, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Not surprising that they cited COVID-19 as justification for this democratic backsliding. Doesn’t make as much sense as, say, postponing the Olympics, simply because this is a website and the Board election might actually see increased turnout due to people being stuck at home. The WMF has a lot of money[citation needed], and I'm sure they would be able to put together a Board election if they weren't so busy stomping on the community per usual. Of course, China recently tried to ban Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square massacre memorial vigil for a similar reason — so if this Wikimedia→Wikipedia renaming goes through, then there's only one thing left to say...pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 22:04, 6 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Concerning the "community feedback", I think we should go there and remind them that the community discussion already happened,. and the result was an overwhelming no.--Ymblanter (talk) 17:20, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Ymblanter, Ha! Fair point. Guy (help!) 22:07, 6 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

New cross-Wikimedia API portal

During a Wikimedia Technical Talk today, a new API portal was announced to be coming to Wikimedia projects, with a planned launch for WMF Q1 this year (WMF Q1 starts in July) after a beta period also starting in Q1. Notably, the APIs available through this portal will be subject to enforced rate limiting.

Evan Prodromou from the WMF has said that the new portal is not planned to replace existing APIs, but to add additional options for interaction with the various Wikimedia sites, and that community participation will be sought. Registration will not be required, but the implication seems to be (although I may be wrong) that anonymous users will have strict rate limits imposed upon them, to encourage people to authenticate using oAuth with the APIs.

The full talk is here, and the slides are available for download on Commons. Naypta ☺ | ✉ talk page | 18:04, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

SUMMARY: This is about how independent web-app developers retrieve data from the Foundation servers. IMO it is unlikely to be a subject of community-business. Alsee (talk) 13:13, 7 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Alsee: I think it's of community importance to note, because the way that our content is used ought to be relevant to us. Plenty of developers are also involved in the community, myself included. Naypta ☺ | ✉ talk page | 13:46, 7 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
For those of us too lazy to examine the details, can someone work out what the incentive would be to use a rate-limited API if the current API is going to be unchanged? I think rate limiting is an obvious requirement but am wondering if there is a plain-speaking translation of the plan. Johnuniq (talk) 00:06, 8 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Johnuniq current APIs are basically focused in two directions. One set of APIs are basically aimed as individual users, such as making an edit or retrieving an article or a Wikidata-value. At the opposite end there are APIs that let big companies suck down vast bulk data from us. (Note: The Foundation wants to start charging for those APIs.) This project is aimed at the "middle", new APIs were APP developers would get a free personal key so their APPs can get free access for sizable-but-not-unlimited access. They want to redesign the API to be easier to use, all packaged up in a single connection to a single server. (The current APIs require multiple connections to get different things from different places.) I think they are adding new functionality intended for APP developers or other midsize users, but I didn't follow it closely enough to be able to say what would be new. Alsee (talk) 21:12, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks. Johnuniq (talk) 00:18, 11 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]