1. “… the email response team particularly concerns itself with one kind of newbie: the article subject who suddenly realises thei biography on Wikipedia is (a) shit or (b) being abused by someone for nefarious purposes.”

    And may I say THANK YOU. So many times I do press and the person interviewing me asks “By the way, what can we do about our crappy Wikipedia articles?”

    My standard answer is: “If there’s a serious problem, email [email protected] – an experienced volunteer WILL review it. I can’t promise a particular outcome, but it WILL be taken seriously. Tell your colleagues!”

    Does that work for you lot? I may make a blog post to this effect.


    • It’s easy to underestimate the extent to which people simply don’t understand Wikipedia. They don’t understand that anyone can edit, or if they do they don’t understand /why/ anyone can edit. The important rules are simple, the simple rules are important. In an ideal world it would not be necessary to teach people how to deal with fools who revert removal of badly-sourced material from their article, but of course the world is not ideal.

      The weakness of a wiki is that your working always shows. We get to see people learning the rules the hard way (by breaking them and being corrected). Back-channels hopefully remove some of the clueless newbie errors that people might otherwise make, and move them to a position of understanding without the often unhelpful input of the peanut gallery. The move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence is the vital first step, and that is what I am trying to do with this reply and the people I discuss it with.

      You don’t need to know everything about Wikipedia in order to fix a bad bio, but you do need to know enough about it to get your edits to stick. I know I am excessively verbose, which is why I encouraged others on OTRS to review the text as well; the aim is to cover the important points, to move the resolution back to Wikipedia and off backchannels (due to issues of scale) and hopefully to do this in a way that will avoid bad publicity for the individual concerned.

      There is something technical we need to do, though. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_%28technical%29/Archive_83#Deletion_logs for a recurring issue.


      • Mmmm. My one-liner is for cases where the bio is really quite bad and the subject doesn’t have the time/resources/patience to embark upon engaging with Wikipedia. Where they don’t like actually famous but unsavoury incidents being documented, or just don’t get Wikipedia, your form letter looks about right; where there’s something really problematic, that’s a different matter, and I think assuring them we take these things seriously (and we do) would be excellent PR. If feasible.

        I agree on collapsing the deletion notices, at least for anons. That would help a lot.

        I may write something up and email it to you and Scott MacDonald for review before posting, so I don’t make your lives crappier.


        • I agree, and if there is something big and wrong I will of course fix it first; the long version goes after that. So: I fixed that; it might come back with better sources, here’s why and also what you can do about that.

          OTRS is absolutely the right first point of contact for anyone who has a bad problem with a biography.


  2. And I didn’t think my post was intrinsically very persuasive … it was a rambling email I sent someone a year ago, slightly rewritten and posted as-was. Though it does seem to have resonated strongly. (The discussions on internal-l are interesting too, and that the n00b-hostility of en:wp is being discussed on wikitech-l as a reason some devs are unmotivated to fix some stuff. That’s the point at which the other two-thirds of Wikimedia has to tell the big one-third that this has seriously got to be dealt with.)


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