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- 1 From the Editors: New retention standards
- 2 How WikiLaw can support Wikisource
- 3 English administrator confirmations for September 2019
- 4 International administrative discussions
- 5 Wikisource track at Wikimania 2019
From the Editors: New retention standards
Wikisource:News strives to bring excellence to print with every new edition. Still, it is easy to get side tracked and get distracted.
After restarting the publication last spring, MJL has said they will be keeping it running for as long as they are able to. That being the case, MJL is apologizing for the lack of updates, "I've recently kind of gotten myself really distracted with some English Wikipedia stuff." They further explained, "I barely had any contributions to Wikisource for the month of August. That isn't a good look for someone who has headed up the project newsletter. However, I'm committing myself to reverting to my previous levels of engagement with Wikisource starting with this very issue of Wikisource:News." They went on to explain, "To hopefully make up for that, I put a lot of work into this latest issue. It covers all the story beats that I always wanted originally for this project when I first started out. It's just good and worth a read this time around."
In addition to the statement, MJL also announced that Wikisource:News would be officially becoming a by-monthly publication in an effort to ensure the newsletter's long-term success. Interested parties are encouraged to support Wikisource:News by contributing their time as well or to add their names to the subscribution list.
How WikiLaw can support Wikisource
English Wikisource is the home of several law related WikiProjects. While the goals for each of these projects vary; in general, they seek to improve transcription processes for statutes, legislation, court cases, memoranda, or legal opinions whenever possible. It is the first of these items that presents the greatest challenge for Wikisource contributors. Unlike the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, legal codes change quite often with their use as a reference work greatly diminishing over time. Just like a physical compilation of a given legal code, the book becomes outdated the moment a new law is passed.
Now this is where the promise of WikiLaw (3) steps in. Instead of treating statutes as a transcriber would any other text within Wikisource's library, WikiLaw uses the capabilities of an ever changing database to compile legal text. Normally, for works hosted on Wikisource, transcription works through a page-by-page approach. However, the promise of WikiLaw is to be free of that constraint by treating statutes as a needing to be updated section-by-section instead. The end goal of course would be for Wikisource to retrieve these sections from WikiLaw to automatically compile a readable legal text for the library.
Not everything needs to be moved directly from Wikisource to WikiLaw. Court opinions are a particularly good fit as they are on Wikisource. The physical text never changes, so they are easily transcribed using the proofreading process. One may ask how WikiLaw would function without hosting case law then? The simple answer is cross-referencing.
Very little would need to change on Wikisource for how court opinions and memoranda are presented. Case law transcription projects would simply include, using interwiki links, a persistent link when citing statutes. The added benefit to this persistent link is that, though the statute may change, the citation would always point to the text of the statute as it was at the time. Most legal researchers are forced into very inconvenient processes in the hopes of understanding historical court opinions (generally rummaging through physical copies of books at legal libraries). In the future, their first point of reference may simply be Wikisource, the free library that anyone can improve.
Additionally, entries in the WikiLaw database would not be without references back to Wikisource. A given section would likely need a row for easily seeing which court cases have interpreted it. While this is the case for most physical versions of statutes, WikiLaw could simply give a convenient link to Wikisource; so readers would be able to read the court opinion for themselves. Of course, a short summary detailing the relevant effect ideally would be provided in lieu of having to read the entire court case; as this is the case for most compilations of statutes. Regardless, this builds a two-step cycle where pointers to WikiLaw are paid in kind with relevant cross-references back to Wikisource transcription projects and increasing the value of both.
To the left is a depiction of WikiLaw (3). This example section entry for the possible WikiLaw database shows only a fraction of the possibilities. In particular, the entry should contain a minimum of (1) the text, (2) the component chapter, (3) the overarching legal code [for citations], and (4) the source for the entry.for
The importance of maintaining a relational dataset for legal codes cannot be understated enough. Were sections ever to be compiled on Wikisource as intended an algorithm would need to be able to read the metadata for the section to understand what goes in what particular order. If a section has the been repealed, then it could be understood that it is not necessary to import that section unless another section erroneously references it.
Like most Wikimedia projects, verifiability remains a crucial aspect of Wikisource. While it once was considered sufficient for transcription projects to simply display a link to its source within the header, this practice has gradually been deprecated in favor of the proofreading process. While this is can be great method for transcribing pretty much any other work in the library, it is a needlessly time consuming process for individual legal sections. Wikidata-style references could be used instead on WikiLaw to greater effectiveness while also providing the same level of verifiability that proofreading has.
While the use cases for a project such as WikiLaw are near endless, chief among them concerning Wikisource will likely be the construction of entire legal codes on Wikisource using WikiLaw data. Piece by piece, the data being built on WikiLaw can be called forth via API into a text form on Wikisource. From there, legal codes can be categorized and sorted like any other work on the project. Annotations could be configured to user preference and with each individual section linking back to its entry in the WikiLaw database for verification and improvement from any interested contributor.
The proper end goal of WikiLaw should not be to replace Wikisource. WikiLaw can, and always should, be a free legal repository within the greater free digital library. That is not to say WikiLaw is meant to be a child project of Wikisource. To put it simply, WikiLaw is an interlingual project like Commons and Wikidata. Not discussed here has been the capability of WikiLaw hosting translated statutes side-by-side native language versions much in the way it would historical editions.
Instead, WikiLaw should seek to have a similar relationship to Wikisource that the latter has with Wikipedia. While equals, Wikisource provides sourcing to give Wikipedia greater historiciocity. WikiLaw, in turn, will be able to transform Wikisource into even greater legal research resource through locally relevant knowledge.
English administrator confirmations for September 2019
Five administrators are having their confirmation discussions in September 2019:
- Beleg Tâl (talk • contribs)
- Ineuw (talk • contribs)
- Jusjih (talk • contribs)
- Yann (talk • contribs)
- Zhaladshar (talk • contribs) — Bureaucrat reconfirmation as well
The first three are active highly valued contributors who are very likely to be reconfirmed. The last three (which still includes Jusjih), consist of the three remaining admins of the original five-person admincorps. Though his activity is not as it once was, Yann occasionally pops up around the site a few times a year and thus is also more likely than not to be reconfirmed.
In the case of Zhaladshar, he is the closest thing to a founder that English Wikisource has. He was the first user, admin, and bureaucrat on the site and kept the whole thing active in its early days. However in 2019, Zhaladshar has not edited the English language project for almost two years. During his last reconfirmation in 2018, the official vote count was two in favor and one (Jusjih) weakly against for this reason. As Zhaladshar is also a bureaucrat, his confirmation discussions have the unique ability to remove the bureaucrat role but separately letting Zhaladshar keep his administrative rights. It remains to be seen whether the community will return its historic founder and if so in what role.
A previous version of this story claimed Zhaladshar was still active on Multilingual Wikisource. That was actually Zyephyrus (talk • contribs). Zhaladshar's last edit there was in 2008. 06:48, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
International administrative discussions
Having recently had his administrative rights automatically removed, last month Mahir256 (talk • contribs) put himself up for reconfirmation on Bengali Wikisource (permalink). The discussion ended with unanimous support in favor of re-adding Mahir as an admin. In total, the project has a total of four administrators including local English Wikisource sysop Hrishikes (talk • contribs). Mahir256's admin rights were restored but set to expire on 23 August 2020.
Bengali Wikisource was recently represented at the best practices discussion at wikimania this year. Wikisource:News reached out to Mahir for comment on what he sees as the best future for his wiki. "I'd say that the biggest challenge for all of us at bnwikisource is contributor and readership retention; we try as much as we can to increase the growth of and traffic to our collection, not just by promotions elsewhere but by also encouraging authors to donate works; in any case, though, only time can really tell if these efforts have paid off."
According to the statistics website wikiscan.org, bnwikisource has since 2016 been relying heavily on automated editing tools. Mahir256, in much the same way many admins may relate to, finds it rewarding to clean things up; "I've personally found a number of other matters also worth surmounting, such as the conversion of previously mass-imported texts to use scans, metadata improvement for previously mass-imported scans, and (if possible) rescanning volumes to repair them if necessary, since those ultimately lead to a cleaner collection, which in my opinion is just as important as having a larger collection."
This story was updated on 05:51, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
An administrative mix up on Basque Wikisource has left the project without any admins (permalink). Users voted in 2018 to make Theklan (talk • contribs), KRLS (talk • contribs), and Xabier Cañas (talk • contribs) administrators presumably for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this access was only granted until 10:50, 5 June 2019. The request to restore previous administrative permissions is still ongoing at meta and has not been closed yet by the Stewards.
Smaller Wikisource wikis should generally be encouraged to draft their administrative retention policy before conducting admin elections. Whether the local community chooses to have administrator and bureaucrat positions for life or if they choose to have temporary only appointments with continuous oversight from the Stewards; it should be made clear in advance to avoid such issues.
𐰇𐱅𐰚𐰤 (talk • contribs) has put in their third request to become an admin on Turkish Wikisource (permalink). While previous dicussions were closed unimously with five in favor to make 𐰇𐱅𐰚𐰤 an admin, this will likely not be the case with the latest request. Citing conduct that occurred on Turkish Wikipedia, Thecatcherintherye (talk • contribs) cast a vote to oppose. It is unknown what effect, if any, this will have on 𐰇𐱅𐰚𐰤's confirmation.
Wikisource track at Wikimania 2019
Wikimania was in full swing last August, and Wikisource was given an active presence this year with the Wikisource track. Special thanks goes out to Slowking4 (talk • contribs) for helping both keep English Wikisource in the conversation and for compiling resources about the track. Slowking and VIGNERON (talk • contribs) were the official co-leaders of the track.
2019 in review
The Wikisource Year in Review 2019 session was given by the co-leaders, Satdeep Gill (talk • contribs), and Balaji J. Panelists gave community highlights and explained the amazing progress that has been made throughout the year.
Satdeep Gill explained that for Punjabi speakers, users have started switching from translating Wikipedia articles to transcribing texts in Wikisource using the native text. Rather than detracting from Punjabi Wikipedia's success, these texts were used to support the development of Wikipedia articles. Additionally, Gill shared the success the local Wikisource had in partnering with local institutions. A private school in Punjab made the decision to hire a local Wikimedian in Residence in order to engage students with transcribing texts. While most students use the Latin script, transcribing texts for gives students experience using the native Gurmukhi script. The partnership is the likely the first of its kind in the Wikimedia movement and came about through the hard work of the local Wikisource contributors.
Also mentioned are the two newest approved additions to the lingual Wikisources; Hindi Wikisource and Neapolitan Wikisource. The latter wiki was only just created on 14 August having received langcom approval last November. Hindi Wikisource was approved March this year, and its deployment is being tracked at phab:T218155. This brings the total amount of Wikisources to about seventy in theory.
Best practices discussion
The different language communities also got together and shared best practices. According to the notes taken by VIGNERON and Björg, the two main speakers were Bodhisattwa (talk • contribs) for Bengali Wikisource and Ankry (talk • contribs) for Polish Wikisource. Participants and speakers shared user scripts, tools, and anything else found to be helpful for contributing to Wikisource. Readers can view full the session summary on Wikimania's wiki.
Wikisource: Challenges and Opportunities
By far and away one of the most unexpected takeaways came out of the shared panel titled Wiktionary & Wikisource in EduWiki Initiatives: Challenges and Opportunities which was part of the Education track. Member of the WMF Board of Trustees Esh77 (talk • contribs) asked the panel what they most needed to help build their communities. Both of the panelists representing Wikisource communities, safi-iren (talk • contribs) and Satdeep Gill; cited the lack of a VisualEditor as detrimental to their communities growth.
While this was a concern shared by the Wiktionary communities, Gill and Irina articulated much higher levels of frustration. According to Gill, "We need a complete overhaul of Wikisource; but if you talk about any one thing, I think it is VisualEditor for Wikisource... It's supposed to work better than the Source Editor, but it works [expletive]..." when compared to the standard wikitext editor. Irena also strongly stated her own support for a VisualEditor, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes... it's incredibly difficult to work with only one tool."
VisualEditor was first made available to English-language Wikipedia in 2012 as a way to promote editing without needing to learn complex syntax. By the April 2013, it was beta feature available to all Wikimedia projects; the only exceptions being Wiktionary and Wikisource.. It currently a
In his exchange with Esh77, Satdeep Gill surmised, "We can do it, but as a movement do we want to invest in Wikisource? That's the question. I don't see that commitment yet."
Some of the discussions that should be mentioned include:
- Building Locally Relevant Knowledge with Wikisource
- A general annotation service
- Using transcribed content for community building
- Subtitling the Chaos Communication Congress
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