Time to retire In The News?

Good, bad, biased, paid or what-have-you. There's an endless supply.
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ChaosMeRee
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Time to retire In The News?

Post by ChaosMeRee » Mon Dec 18, 2023 1:36 pm

Is it time to retire Wikipedia's "In The News" section?

Let's answer that question with respect to the section's four stated purposes, it's current content, and the content recently nominated.

At time of writing, the ITN panel looks like this....
* Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (pictured) becomes Emir of Kuwait after the death of his half-brother, Nawaf.

* The COP28 climate change summit ends with a call to transition away from the use of fossil fuels.

* Donald Tusk becomes Prime Minister of Poland in the aftermath of the October parliamentary election.

* Baldur's Gate 3 wins game of the year at The Game Awards.

* At least 17 people are killed as Cyclone Michaung makes landfall in India.
The four stated purposes of ITN are as follows....
1. To help readers find and quickly access content they are likely to be searching for because an item is in the news.

2. To showcase quality Wikipedia content on current events.

3. To point readers to subjects they might not have been looking for but nonetheless may interest them.

4. To emphasize Wikipedia as a dynamic resource.
Purpose 1 is clearly not being met. The newest item, the Emir entry, is already two days out of date. It was all over Western news media by mid morning on Saturday. So if this is the most urgent thing you are looking up on Wikipedia, that must have been one hell of a hangover. The oldest item, the Indian cyclone, apparently made landfall on December 5th, and had dissipated by the following day. So if you're urgently looking that up, you most have been in a coma, or ironically only just got your WiFi back after a cyclone.

Purpose 2 is clearly not being met. The biography of the new Emir devotes only one line to the news of their succession...
Mishal became the Emir of Kuwait following the death of the previous emir, his half-brother Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on 16 December 2023 at the age of 86, following hospitalisation in November for a medical emergency.[14][15]
Rather obviously, there is nothing there you couldn't have found in the news reports very quickly (first paragraph quickly). And the fact the two given references are from the "Public Television Company of Armenia" and whatever the fuck WION is (some hick town US radio station?), hardly screams quality.

Clicking the COP28 link tells us that Wikipedia apparently still can't decide whether this page should be titled under its full name (2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference) or what Wikipedia seems to admit it is "more commonly known as".

Randomly picking a sentence in the article.....
On 3 December 2023, The Guardian revealed that COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber had dismissed demands for a fossil fuel phaseout, denying its basis in science and claiming it would prevent economic development.[83] The following day, Al-Jaber held a press conference in which he stated he "respects science", thinks a phaseout of fossil fuel use is inevitable and claimed his comments were taken out of context.[84]
....shows that Wikipedia's idea of quality contents is the bland recording of events, devoid of context. For example, did anyone independent of this news story dig deeper to determine who is telling the truth? And if nobody did, why is it being included in an encyclopedia article?

Criteria 3 is difficult to assess due to its inherent subjectivity. But it seems to be uncontroversial to state there is nothing in that list that would realistically make an average person sit up and go, wow, I did not know that, let me look further.

Heads of state change on a pretty regular basis (there are nearly 200 of them after all), such things probably don't rise beyond meh in most cases, and certainly when it is as mundane as a natural death natural succession in a minor monarchy.

The on!y reason there is an entry like this on the panel pretty much all the time, is because Wikipedia quite bizarrely assumes it is inherently interesting when it happens. The fact that changes in lesser or brown nations are usually not included because editors can't be bothered to update the affected articles, rather busts that myth (or shows Wikipedia is structurally incapable of ever meeting it).

Donald Tusk was an interesting case, given it seemed to buck the trend of EU Member State voters veering ever-rightward due to immigration and the general decline of Western civilization. So seeing Poland not just veer back into the mainstream but elect a former EU President rather than a Euroskeptic, is quite remarkable. Even if only an outlier for local reasons that don't signpost a potential return to political stability in EU national parliaments.

But since none of that is signposted in the entry, it feels unlikely that someone who wasn't already aware of that context, which presumably includes all Americans, would be minded to click through and learn something about the world beyond their shithole country. For any American readers, this news was akin to Texas electing a senator who thinks Trump is a lunatic but that guns are cool, government should be small and taxes low. Quite interesting, no?

COP is now a staple feature of world events. You either are aware of it and very interested, or you're a redneck. So a link on the front page of Wikipedia probably isn't of much use to you.

As is well known, the presence of items about video games and cyclones on the section, is more about the known biases of Wikipedia editors, than any evident interest in such things in the average reader. The video game article peaked at 120,000 views in a day. The much hyped Legend of Zelda peaked at 146,000 views when released, despite not being linked on the ITN panel. It would seem unlikely an ITN listing for the "Game of the Year" provided anything other than a convenience link to the already very interested readers.

Criteria 4 is just bizarre. I don't even really know what it means. If it is trying to say ITN shows Wikipedia is a live enyclopedia, I would argue the number of people who don't already know this, is vanishingly small. And if anything, the content exposed through ITN seems to show Wikipedia isn't nearly as dynamic as it wishes it was.

Obviously the ITN panel also covers "Ongoing" and "Recent deaths", but I can't see how providing a single bare link meets any of the criteria, except perhaps 1. But is it really quicker to find and click it, than simply Google "Gaza war" and click the Wikipedia link? And someone surely has to be very bored to want to click the name of someone they have never heard of just because they have died at some point in the last month. The oldest "Recent death" is Andre Braugher, and he died on December 11th. Anyone who didn't know but is interested, has already learned about it via more traditional means, surely?

Not that I really had to check, but clicking on that biography and heading for the Death section, revealed this....
Braugher died from lung cancer at the age of 61 on December 11, 2023, having been diagnosed with it a few months prior.[1][2][26][27] He was previously a smoker, but had quit in 2010.[4] Following his death, many of his co-stars expressed gratitude for his warmth, kindness, and talent as an actor.[9]
It's been over a week. Does that tiny section convince anyone that Wikipedia is all about being a dynamic resource, efficiently pointing you to quality content and informing you about things you perhaps didn't already know but are interested in? It doesn't even wikilink to "lung cancer", so if you wanted to know for example if having only a few months to live after a diagnosis is normal, you're going to have to find out the manual way.

Or does it, ironically, merely prove Wikipedia is a moderately efficient means of noting what was in the news on any given day, if it happens to intersect with the set "things Wikipedia editors are interested in". And as anyone knows, Wikipedia editors are incredibly interested in American popular culture.

A sitcom based in New York City and feeds directly into the themes of wokeness? Holy cow, that's like catnip to them. Which only makes it even more glaring that even here, Wikipedia can barely do more than the minimum, even with the incentive of knowing that any edit they make here is effectively in the "shop window" as it were.

Last but not least, a big reason why ITN is so shit at serving its purpose, is because there is very little content being nominated. And stuff that is, often ends up tangled in a web of bureaucracy or is rejected for manifestly stupid reasons, or reasons Wikipedia will never fix.

At time of writing, the nominations date back to December 11th, but the vast majority are "Recent deaths" (22 out of 30). Of the eight non-RDs, three are the already accepted entries of Donald Tusk, COP28 and the Emir of Kuwait.

The status of the five remaining are very informative to the loss of focus on the four stated purposes of ITN....

* A December 13th terror attack on a Pakistani police station killing 23 is likely not going to be posted due to it being deemed too uninteresting. An alternative suggestion to list the article on the wider insurgency as an "ongoing", was rejected for being only one of several long running conflicts around the world. A final suggestion to provide a link to "List of ongoing armed conflicts" to help readers find information about this and similar attacks, just petered out for being in the wrong venue.

* A December 15th collision on the Beijing subway was rejected narrowly, since although this was an unusually high number of casualties on one of the world's busiest metros, it was deemed to have been an unremarkable accident and nobody died.

* A December 15th incident where several grenades were detonated by a councillor in a Ukranian village council meeting injuring 26, was rejected for the simple fact the Wikipedia article on the incident is merely a stub, perhaps suffering from a lack of interest in it from the actual news wires.

* The December 16th news that Mathew Perry has been determined to have died after chugging on Ket, was rejected because the Death of Perry wasn't posted on the panel as a full item, merely a duly noted Recent Death. The fact that it might potentially be interesting to readers that Perry eventually succumbed to his demons perhaps in part due to the fact Ket is widely available in the US and Wikipedia has lots of informative related articles, was rejected out of hand, or for being not "notable".

* The December 18th news that a referendum in Chile has seen a proposed new constitution rejected, is currently not being considered because the article doesn't clearly explain the matter.

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by ericbarbour » Mon Dec 18, 2023 10:02 pm

If you think THAT's bad, check out Wikinews sometime. ALWAYS weeks or months out of date.

I'm still amazed that it continues to exist. Run by complete raving lunatics IMO.

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by CarlsJunior » Tue Dec 19, 2023 2:54 pm

ericbarbour wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2023 10:02 pm
I'm still amazed that it continues to exist. Run by complete raving lunatics IMO.
1) Wikipedia is run by, and written, by raving lunatics doing their own thing. Could it just be as simple as that?

2) Nobody really reads Wikipedia any more; unless you are an Indian Cricket fan, soccer fan, or you are interested in celebrities and movies.

3) It is sort of "amazing that Wikipedia continues to exist."

How could a giant social network-wiki, that any lunatic can participate in, be reasoned and reasonable?

So much for user generated Wiki ushering in a new Age of Reason.

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by gnngl » Tue Dec 19, 2023 3:48 pm

CarlsJunior wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2023 2:54 pm
2) Nobody really reads Wikipedia any more; unless you are an Indian Cricket fan, soccer fan, or you are interested in celebrities and movies.

That's a lot of people

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by CarlsJunior » Tue Dec 19, 2023 7:08 pm

gnngl wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2023 3:48 pm
CarlsJunior wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2023 2:54 pm
2) Nobody really reads Wikipedia any more; unless you are an Indian Cricket fan, soccer fan, or you are interested in celebrities and movies.

That's a lot of people
As a serious reference work.. nobody really reads it.. Wikipedia is just noise. Wingnuts are busy fighting wars on Wikipedia thinking they are actually accomplishing something.

Yeah, for now you get Wikipedia on the top of Google searches but big business is moving away to their own automated "chat bots."

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by ChaosMeRee » Tue Dec 19, 2023 7:15 pm

Wikinews is defunct, in large part because Wikipedia was addicted to creating content based entirely on news reports ('cos Google).

If the state of ITN is anything go by, it can't even do that anymore.

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by RetroidHooman » Wed Jan 10, 2024 12:27 am

It makes no sense to me that Wikipedia should even be covering current events at all. Even ignoring the issue that such articles are ground zero for the political bias problem on Wikipedia, covering news doesn't seem to be in line with its aim of functioning as an encyclopedia.

Which raises another question: Who is that section made for? I doubt there are many people going to Wikipedia as their news source.

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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by Bbb23sucks » Wed Jan 10, 2024 12:30 am

RetroidHooman wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2024 12:27 am
It makes no sense to me that Wikipedia should even be covering current events at all. Even ignoring the issue that such articles are ground zero for the political bias problem on Wikipedia, covering news doesn't seem to be in line with its aim of functioning as an encyclopedia.

Which raises another question: Who is that section made for? I doubt there are many people going to Wikipedia as their news source.
Yeah this is something I was thinking about in my ideas for an alternative online encyclopedia. I'm think that articles can only be in mainspace (they could always be drafted of course) at least three months after the event happened. In addition, they must be more thoroughly reviewed and be more vague and trust sources less (considering news sources often get information wrong/publish false stories/spread propaganda at first).
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Re: Time to retire In The News?

Post by Dr Mario » Sat Feb 17, 2024 4:17 am

ericbarbour wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2023 10:02 pm
If you think THAT's bad, check out Wikinews sometime. ALWAYS weeks or months out of date.

I'm still amazed that it continues to exist. Run by complete raving lunatics IMO.
Currently according to Wiki news Queen of Denmark is set to abdicate on January 14. January 14 was now more than month ago.

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