Wikizine Opinion – Year: 2011 Week: 39 Number: 129 BIS

Wikimedia News

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  • Editorial
    • Wikizine
    • In the mean time on foundation-l…
    • Wikinews: Criticism and fork
    • Song of the week
  • Personal perspective: The cows of Jimmy Walker
  • In the news
  • Time machine
    • 10 years ago
    • 5 years ago
  • From Wikipedia

Editorial by Milos


As you can see, there are two regular and one irregular editions of Wikizine. Wikizine News should stay more or less like Wikizine always was: plain news for Wikimedia community. Breaking News or Tech Flash are for irregular editions for important news and they existed before, as well.
Wikizine Opinion or Talk Edition or Weekend Edition (we still want to get your input about the name of this edition!) should be for longer reading, over weekends.
You can see that there are five main parts of this edition: “Editorial”, “Personal perspective”, “In the news”, “Time machine” and “From Wikipedia”.
Of those, “Time machine” debuts in this edition. It’s about events in and around the Wikimedia community ten and five years ago. We should remind ourselves of past events and still modern ideas.
Thanks to Walter, Wikizine got its gopher [1] site [2]. Gopher existed before the web and it was a non-graphical hypertext protocol. Just ~150 gopher sites left on the Internet by now. I was very happy when I realized that. My only objection is that we have to find a way to have the whole site in pure gopher menus and text, as some of the pages are in HTML, which is a shame! You know, we are geeks, at last :)
[2] gopher://

In the meantime on foundation-l…

Like with any good soap opera, after years of discussions about nudity on Wikimedia projects and filtering it, you didn’t miss anything! If you join now, you would see the same people, the same relations between them, the same intrigues, but in brand new packaging. But, most importantly, something which you can’t do with soap operas, YOU can raise a pro or contra argument a year old and people would discuss it seriously and with the same passion as it was at the beginning! Once again, Wikimedia community proved that it’s as vital as it was years ago.
On my Gmail account I have 43 foundation-l threads for the period of 17-23 September. Of those:

  • 21 about image filter and similar, including another of Larry Sanger’s self-promotional tweets
  • 3 about forking Wikinews
  • 3 about friendly organizations
  • 4 chapter-related
  • 3 WMF and tech related
  • 2 related to languages
  • 3 posts by internal bulletins (Wikipedia Signpost and Wikizine)
  • 4 miscellaneous

Wikinews: criticism and fork

Wikinews was featured on foundation-l for the first time this month when it was complained that the English Wikinews project has a “codified bias toward non-Western articles” [1].
From a personal perspective, I can say that the English Wikinews, unlike the English Wikipedia, has a significant number of native English speakers who are not willing to accept non-English sources for anything: news source or proof that a Wikinewsie is good enough editor to become accredited journalist. A couple of years ago, I had a hard time trying to convince them to give accreditation to one Serbian and one Polish Wikinewsie. But, fortunately, the core of editors are sane enough.
Last week The Open Globe [2][3], a Wikinews fork, was created. That triggered long discussions about Wikipedia’s sister projects and their ability to be self-sustainable.

In 2007 I made a deal with Beta News Agency [4], the main privately-owned news agency from Serbia, to give to Wikinews short news for free. The deal is, actually, that we’ve got everything from Beta’s site under CC-BY 2.5 license. As you can see, besides Serbian, there are news services in English [5], Hungarian [6], Romani [7] and Albanian [8]. Four existing and one non-existing edition are able to get high quality news, mostly from Serbia.
A bot is running on Serbian Wikinews and adding news from Beta. Because of that, Serbian Wikinews has almost as many articles as all other Wikinews editions [9].
However, the bot on Serbian Wikinews is not running presently, actually. For about two weeks there has been a problem with harvesting and I have to fix it. I’ll do that, but the problem is the fact that one substantial part of one project depends only on the free time and willingness of one volunteer.
For four years I was trying to find just one more person interested in developing and maintaining the bot, but I didn’t find anyone. With two persons, we could maintain not just Serbian Wikinews, but other Wikinews editions, as well.

News is not news two days after it has been published. Only those who research a specific event read old news. Thus, one task is to “fix” encyclopedic article, the other is to do that with news.
Because of that Wikinews is not attractive to trolls, but it isn’t attractive to regular editors of Wikipedia, either.
The main problem with Wikinews is the lack of the fulfillment which Wikipedia offers: What did I do? Wrote an article which was popular for two days, one week?
Writing news requires another kind of motivation. Relevant encyclopedias shape cultures. Relevant news outlets shape public opinion. As our contemporary society is based on short-term goals, there is much more competition in writing news than in writing encyclopedias. The threshold for making a news outlet relevant is insanely high.
But, it is possible to change things!

  • While waiting for one WMF programmer devoted to Wikinews (there are a lot of programmers devoted to Wikipedia), if one volunteer programmer would be interested in programming bots for Wikinews, we could use the bot not just for the English Wikinews additionally, but for other Wikinews editions as well.
  • WMF should employ at least one person to deal with Wikinews. Many persons are employed to deal with Wikipedia.
  • WMF should promote Wikinews and the other sister projects. There are other projects beside Wikipedia and Commons in the Wikimedia family.


Song of the week

The song of the week is [1]. Lyrics could be found, for example, here [2].

Personal perspective

Joan Goma [1] wrote the text for this edition of Wikizine’s Personal opinion. Joan Goma is the president of Associació Amical Viquipèdia [2][3], an organization which wants to be recognizes as the Wikimedia chapter for Catalonia [4].


The cows of Jimmy Walker

In a far away country there was a town known as English where people engaged in the milk business. This is a very tricky business because you have to care for the cows, giving them food, milking them and sell the milk. The amount of milk that the cows gave never matched completely with the one needed by the population and this generated problems. To solve them they had tried all kinds of organizational systems. In a quarter of the town, if you had two cows then the district council took up the cows and they manage them taking in mind the needs of the population and not the selfishness of the owner. But then nobody had much interest on looking after them and they died.

In another quarter they let you have the cows but they took away the milk from you, this way the cows were cared of because there was that one who was interested on maintaining them and then the council decided how the milk was distributed according to the needs of the population and not based on who was richer. Then the owners of the cows had almost no income die of hunger or boredom, then no one will take care of the cows and the cows died. In another quarter they allow you to kept the cows and milk then you sell a cow and buy a bull have more and more cows and more and more milk then the price of milk falls so that you could neither feed the cows nor pay the salaries of the employees who looked after the cows and the cows eventually also died. [1]

One day a farmer named Jimmy Walker, with several crosses and genetic experiments, he obtained a new race of cattle. They were cows that give an infinite amount of milk and that did not eat any fodder. Those cows were very nice and many people liked to look after them, liked them so much that they were willing to do it for free. Jimmy started his farm with a new business model. He distributed the milk for free. At first nobody believed that this may work. Some said some cattle cared for by unpaid volunteers may not give good milk in any way. To take care of cows should be well prepared and very responsible. Others said that carers are volunteers, that cares for one day that they presented by his nickname instead of their real name and we do not know if they are really responsible for taking care of the cows. Others said that what costs nothing is worth nothing.

But Jimmy went ahead and the milk turned out to be better every day to the extent that many farmers folded because they could not compete with the milk of high quality and for free delivered by Jimmy. The business expanded. First milk was distributed only to the English town, and then he opened farms in other villages, opened in a town known as German, and in another known as Catalan. The people from Catalan town were quick to raise cows and started right away, [2] others did take a couple of months but the business also did well and soon was extended to more and more towns to virtually all world. [3]

On growing the first problem arose. Although the cows did not eat and caregivers did it for free, distribute milk cost money. At first Jimmy did not mind paying it out of his pocket but there was a moment that could not. Then he decided to set up a non-profit foundation. To find a way the foundation have income to pay the costs of transporting milk at the beginning he thought that maybe he could put ads on milk bottles. But then those that looked after the cows told him that they did not agree with this that, if he made this, they no longer wanted to continue caring for the cows for free.

Then he remembered a day walking around Prague had seen that some musicians played for free and the people who wanted giving them money. He thought that, as it was only necessary to pay the transport of the milk, perhaps there would be enough of maintaining the milk for free and without advertisements and asking those drinking the milk that give what they want. Said and done and the system worked.

The system worked so well that the foundation, with the money raised not only paid transport costs but also hired people to make technical improvements in the stables and to manage the storage and transport of milk, donations and legal requirements of handling money.

Some of those that looked after the cows were not very happy that others get paid while they worked for free. So Jimmy set up elections so that a few members of the Board of Directors of the foundation were chosen by carers of the cows. Thus, as the work of the foundation was necessary for delivering of the milk and improve the cow stables caregivers agreed to continue caring for them for free.

To encourage carers of cows foundation began to organize annual meetings called cow-mania and began to create local chapters of caregivers of cows. Encouraging carers to create associations and allowing them to use the brand of milk to promote its drink and to encourage more people to look after the cows.

Seeing that everything worked so well a new economic theory appeared. It was named cow-economics. The cow-economics consisted in obtaining a race of animals that they grew up without eating, like Jimmy’s cows, and they should be very friendly then encouraging a community to take care of the animals for free. At the beginning of each business a small company paid the expenses of distributing the products obtained from animals and of organizing festivals and competitions to keep happy the community of caregivers. The products were given away for private consumption but they put advertising on packaging, they asked for donations and charged fees for uses for profit.

The cow-economic companies began to populate the economic system. Companies spent a lot of resources to studying the psychology of the caretakers of animals and build very user-friendly stables. Emerged a lot of companies like cow-how (engaged in the wool obtained from sheep), face-cow (who worked in chicken eggs) and so on, all of them with many benefits.
Suddenly the business of Jimmy began to see signs of crisis. The number of cattle keepers had stopped growing and began to fall. The amount of milk consumed also began to stop growing and it seems that also began to fall.

Faced with these threats Jimmy Walker tried to strengthen the chapters letting them raise the money from donations. The chapters were organized not by town but they were organized by race. There were many races on the basis of skin colour. There were races of people with different shades ranging from white to black. In the case of the English people they did not have a single chapter, but they were divided into several chapters according to the colour of the skin of the caregivers. In the case of the Catalan town they asked to have a chapter for all the people of the town because they were a small town and they feel comfortable working altogether.

The Catalan people was a very strange people who didn’t liked to discriminate people by skin colour and therefore they do not see anything good in being separated on the basis of skin colour. But their request was denied. They told them that they had to join the people of their same race, although they were of different towns because at the time of collecting donations and distributing the milk it was done according to race and not according to the town where the people lived and the laws on taxes and tax deductions were based on race and not the town …

The truth is that there were cases where town agreed with a single race. Then they could have a chapter. There were also cases of very large villages where the village had many races that only lived in this place then those villages could have several chapters. The problems were in the small towns where people was of the same races than people living in neighbour villages that were much larger. They could not have a chapter. But since these were small towns that do not matter to anyone (except to themselves) the problem stayed unsolved.
Several problems arose. Some chapters raise the money but not paid to the foundation what had agreed to contribute to the maintenance of the common expenses of distribution of milk. Others had the money in the bank and did not use them for anything.

Others used it but not explained where they spent or what results they obtain. Although the primary law of this country was “presuppose good faith”, seeing that there was always a very bad caretaker of cows non-compliant with the law that might thought that there were some kind of incompetence in handling of money or even corruption.
Moreover, sometimes there were problems among caregivers of cows and the chapters and or the foundation. The chapters were associations of people where not all partners were cattle keepers neither all of cattle keepers were associated. The foundation, although carers of cows appointed a few members of its governing body, had gone ahead with several initiatives which had upset carers of cows.

Another problem arose because not all races had the same economic level. The white races were very wealthy and were used to give money to non-profit activities. But the black was very poor and did not have the habit of making donations. The money collected was going mainly to the chapters of the white races and almost none to the chapters of the black races. In some cases such as in the Spanish town most of the caregivers, were quite dark but recently had created a chapter of white people that would raise the most of the money.
From here the story takes three finals. Choose what you like.

Final 1

(Centralization and decline)
Seeing all this chaos Jimmy turned to his leadership in establishing a system where money collected by the bodies of different races had to pledge for transparently managing the money and for transferring a large extent to the foundation and chapters in need in accordance with established rules. The Foundation will control and monitor the entire system.
The chapters fiercely opposed to it but as the foundation had the upper hand in controlling the distribution of milk, they had to accept it.

Then the foundation was tried to copy what the cow-economic companies did: Manage the community of caregivers making activities to attract more and redesign the stalls of cows so that they were more user friendly.
But the milk business is not as fun as wool or eggs. In addition, the foundation did not have as much money as companies engaged in this business because it could not place ads. Neither could count on much help from the chapters that were quite annoying. With a centralized structure with few resources could not encompass the diversity of races and towns with as much efficiency as other companies did.

Gradually caregivers were leaving the business. Some because they were bored, others because they sympathized with the chapters that were annoying for the affair of the money, others were simply move on to other business more fun without such problems, others assembled their own farms of cows aside. Of course there was a small core remained of irreducible who continued for a long time. They included the Catalan town; their only interest was providing their town a great deal of high quality milk.

As the cows gave infinite milk, the foundation could continue distributing milk for a long time. But nothing was ever as before again.

Final 2

(The chapters assault the foundation. General rush)
Seeing that Jimmy was proposed that the foundation overseeing the management of the money by the chapters, that not all chapters will be allowed to collect directly, and even proposed that the foundation appoint members in Chapters Board.
The chapters were quick to react against this approach. They set up a council of chapters to join forces with to face the foundation. With this organization they planned the assault of the foundation.
There were two members of the Board of the foundation that were traditionally chosen by the chapters. On the first occasion of renewing these charges ensured that the two new members of the Board agreed with its approach.

There were three more chosen by the community of caregivers of cows.
The community of caregivers of cows was totally disorganized, most had no idea what was going on. The only keepers of cattle that were organized and were informed they were the affiliated to chapters. Only 10% followed somehow what was discussed and they where basically the people’s from the English town. The other towns were far away and were not aware of these discussions.
In the next election, the council of chapters orchestrated a good campaign. They promoted the presentation of three good candidates related to their postulates and asked the chapters to put all their influence to promote the vote for these candidates.

The result was a success. The 3 new members were those who promoted the chapters. With 5 members of the Board they had majority and were able to change the rules of the game to their taste.
The first thing that they did was change the way of appointing members of the Board. They increased the number of members appointed by chapters and lower the appointment of experts in various fields and those named by the community of caregivers of cows. This will ensure that they could continue controlling the foundation for ever more.

Then they left the foundation limited to the activities of distribution of milk and improvement of stalls. All that was raising money, promoting the consumption of milk and attract new carers of cows was in the hands of the chapters.
In each town the outcome was very different.
There were towns with only one race that had a good understanding between the chapter and the community of caregivers of cows, in these cases, besides if they were white and could raise a lot of money had very good cards in the game. For the German town things went very well.
Other towns had people of many races.

In the case of the English town the majority they were of white race. There were not many problems between the chapters and the community of caregivers. They saw many discussions and many caregivers left the business. But as its farm was very big it continued giving milk.
In the case of the Spanish town there are many races but the skin colour of the majority was rather dark. Only whites they have good funding. In the community of caregivers, there were many critics of the chapters and the foundation. They were devoted to discuss among themselves. They fill pages and pages of discussion and were becoming less dedicated to caring for cows.

Worst of all was for small towns. In small towns there were not enough people in any race to have its own chapter. All chapters were in bigger towns. They were left without money to promote that the people take care of their cows. Many towns were abandoned and are now ghost towns where nobody lives there. In some cases such as the Catalan people were riding back to the chapter of the Foundation and the Council of Chapters and they raise funds on their own to promote the business of milk for his people.

Final 3

(The French Revolution. Communities in power)
The keepers of cattle were beginning to see those tings were going wrong. They were not organized. Each town was living without much contact to the other and few people where involved in the tasks of organizing the farm. Most limited their activity to care a little cow and nothing more. Only when something happened that attracted much attention a few of them went out and make hear their voice.
But Jimmy remembered that the original spirit of the project included the caregivers of the cows that had to decide how best to organize the farm, therefore suggested to organize the keepers of cattle so that they could help to fix the problem.

The first step was to go for new blood. Those that is usually limited to caring for the cows and not saying anything more. Off course, there were many and not all were constant carers. Many were limited to go to the farm care for a cow during one day and never return. He thought that a reasonable approach would be bringing together all keepers of cattle that had the right to vote to choose the members of the board of the foundation. These were the ones that had helped to look after the cows for a long period and still continued doing it recently.
To go up to meet and talk to each other had to organize them by town. No matter the skin colour of each one. Said and done. In each town created a Council composed of all caregivers eligible to vote. The Council appointed representatives who took care of the relations with other towns.

The representatives of the town stayed alert of the affairs of the various farms and the distribution of milk and made a summary report to the Council. Every 3 months they sent this report to each member of the Council to keep them up to date. Also organized discussions among Council members when there were important issues and collected the outcome. The representatives of each town were gathered together to form a General Council of Cattle Carers.
The Council of each town allocated trusted caretakers of cows the task of supervising the chapters that were in the town, also ensured that the chapters of the richest races handed the money to the poorer chapters to get the best for the whole of the town.

The General Council ensured that all chapters handed the money to the foundation for the distribution of milk, to improve the stable, and to support activities to attract carers in the towns where there was no chapter .
Once organized caregivers, and once checked that everyone was involved (not just the same as always that in many cases had already been organized into chapters) then Jimmy changed the status of the foundation increasing the number of members of board elected by the communities so that caregivers so that they were majority. In this way the system was stabilized.

The case of small towns that previously could not have a chapter they discuss the matter with the Council of its town. Some decided to agree with chapters of neighbouring villages, others like the case of the Catalan town, decided to create its own chapter and were able to promote the business of milk in her town as everyone else. In the end most people were having a chapter that promoted the business of milk, either own or a neighbouring village who had come to an agreement.

With the house tidy, take care of cows was more fun than ever. In addition, the foundation could concentrate on making a much better stable. This gave a whole new air. The global milk market grew slowly and sooner or later they would cover all the demand.

In order to grow since they were enthusiastic about the subject, on the one hand they revived some businesses that had already begun and that they had not succeeded. Business of cheese, yoghurt etc. that did not work because they needed different facilities that the business of milk. They were focused on research and develop these infrastructures.
They also began to start new business ideas as the business of honey. At first this business was small but gradually grew and reached beyond the milk business.


[1] This is a summary. In fact they tried many more systems of organization. You can find a more expansive collection here:
[2] Although it has nothing to do and it is a pure coincidence, something similar happened with Wikipedia:
[3] Jimmy Walker became famous. Even the diplomatic cables of the United States made some a follow-up of its movements. As can be seen thanks to Wikileaks. By mistake they attribute him the foundation of Wikipedia but obviously should say cow-pedia:

In the news

Time machine

10 years ago

5 years ago

From Wikipedia

  • [WikiProject Cannabis] – WikiProject Cannabis is dedicated to improving Wikipedia’s coverage of cannabis, including articles relating to hemp and marijuana legislation, effects, policies, trends, activists, organizations, culture, and other aspects of the plant.
  • [Caral] – Caral was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca province, Peru, some 200 km north of Lima. Caral is the most ancient city of the Americas, and is a well-studied site of the Caral civilization or Norte Chico civilization. Caral was inhabited between roughly 2600 BC and 2000 BC, enclosing an area of more than 60 hectares. Caral was described by its excavators as the oldest urban center in the Americas, a claim that was later challenged as other ancient sites were found nearby. Accommodating more than 3,000 inhabitants, it is the best studied and one of the largest Norte Chico sites known.
  • [Loveland frog] – The Loveland Frog (otherwise known as the Loveland Lizard) is said to be a humanoid creature with the face of a frog and is described as standing roughly 4 feet (1.2 m) tall with green leathery skin. It walks upright and has webbed hands and feet, and was allegedly first spotted in Loveland, Ohio. It is generally considered a cryptid—a creature rumored or reported to be living, but with no confirmable proof.
  • [Argan oil] – Argan oil is an oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree, endemic to Morocco, that is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties. The tree, a relic species from the Tertiary age, is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions of southwestern Morocco.
  • [Clathrate gun hypothesis] – The clathrate gun hypothesis is the popular name given to the hypothesis that rises in sea temperatures (and/or falls in sea level) can trigger the sudden release of methane from methane clathrate compounds buried in seabeds and permafrost which, because the methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas, leads to further temperature rise and further methane clathrate destabilization – in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun.
  • [Fan death] – Fan death is a widely held belief prevailing in South Korea that an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of those inside. Fans sold in Korea are equipped with a timer switch that turns them off after a set number of minutes, which users are frequently urged to set when going to sleep with a fan on.
  • [Turritopsis nutricula] – Turritopsis nutricula, the potentially immortal jellyfish, is a hydrozoan whose medusa, or jellyfish, form can revert to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature. It is the only known case of a metazoan capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage.
  • [Prora] – Prora is a beach resort on the island of Rügen, Germany, known especially for its colossal Nazi-planned touristic structures. The massive building complex was built between 1936 and 1939 as a Kraft durch Freude (KdF) project. The eight buildings are identical, and while they were planned as a holiday locale, they were never used for this purpose. The complex has a formal heritage listing as a particularly striking example of Third Reich architecture.
  • [Victoria Woodhull] – Victoria Claflin Woodhull (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927) was a 19th century American who was described by Gilded Age newspapers as a leader of the American woman’s suffrage movement. She is most famous for her sensational 1872 campaign to run as the first female candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
  • [Marsupial reproductive system] – Marsupials’ reproductive systems differ markedly from those of placental mammals (Placentalia). Females have two lateral vaginas, which lead to separate uteri but both open externally through the same orifice. A third canal, the median vagina, is used for birth. This canal can be transitory or permanent. The males generally have a two-pronged penis, which corresponds to the females’ two vaginas. The penis is used only for discharging semen into females, and there is instead a urogenital sac used to store waste before expulsion.
  • [Literaturwurst] – Literaturwurst (Literature Sausage) is an Artist’s book, made by the Swiss-German artist Dieter Roth between 1961 and 1974. Each book was made using traditional sausage recipes, but replacing the sausage meat with a book or magazine. The cover of the edition was then pasted onto the skin of the sausage and signed and dated.
  • [1% rule] – In Internet culture, the 1% rule or the 90–9–1 principle (sometimes also presented as 89:10:1 ratio) reflects a theory that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. This term is often used to refer to participation inequality in the context of the Internet.

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