Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/December 2011

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Comments from Marcus Zerbini

I am a new user, so forgive me if my comments are going over 'old ground'. I have 2 suggestions.

  • When a contributor starts a new page or topic there should be a moratorium period preventing free-for-all editing, this will allow them to work unhindered. [min 2 weeks] Perhaps on new pages there can be something like a countdown clock for everyone to see and understand what is going on.
  • There should be a 'cherished page' option for the author(s). A little button somewhere on the page which will take any interested reader to the version the initiating contributor feels most closely resembles their best effort, or perhaps a page only the initiating author(s) can edit [although still subject to custodian oversight]. When you attract truly competent contributors, it is more likely than not their contributions will gradually be downgraded by successive edits, perhaps resulting in their efforts being worn away altogether.

The way things seem to run at the moment has me wondering if the Sistine Chapel was a Wiki project. It would make perfect sense why the thing took so long and explain Michelangelo's foul temper. --Marcus Zerbini 11:38, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

First, let me welcome you to Wikiversity. Welcome! :)
Second, while contributors can ask for anything on a paticular page, the wiki terms are on every editing screen, and they should be aware of them. This includes the ability of any contributor to rewrite or re-layout the page, at any time.
If a contributor wants to labor relatively unhindered, it might be better for them to collect their pages underneath their user page. That way, they can take as long as they need, and when they feel they are ready they can post their contribution into the main space. If they chose to start in the main space, they have to understand that other interested contributors might be tempted to join them. It's the spirit of collaboration that makes a wiki powerful and work.
As far as "cherished page" goes, there has been some discussion about how to get something like this done, although with a different name/purpose. The effort is mostly seen as a defense against vandals.
The problem with cherished pages would be -- who gets the ability to nominate such a page? The original contributor? Someone subsequent? All of them? How can we determine, if we are not subject matter experts, who is "truly competent" and who is a quack? And why would we believe that it's more likely that the content will be gradually downgraded?
As for the Sistine Chapel, if it were run as a wiki, would obviously look quite different then it does today. Would such a project be better or worse? Hard to say. But, knowing Michelangelo, I'm thinking instead of writing other software, he'd have invented a whole different kind of computer system. :) Historybuff 16:14, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Should the Wikipedia Refdesk be moved to Wikiversity?

Some time ago I was thinking that online courses here might benefit from being linked with the Wikipedia Refdesk,[1] and while the topic has been little discussed here[2] I'm not the only one to perceive this connection.[3]

The main reason to actually transfer the discussion is that Wikipedia suffers from excessive regulation, and the Refdesk is outside of what it generally accepts. While it has traditionally had some exemption from Wikipedia's dysfunctions, this is not reliable. At the moment w:Wikipedia talk:Reference desk is dominated by threads about whether it is acceptable to make off-the-cuff comments about possible answers to a question and whether it is "ethically" acceptable to give out so-called "medical advice" about the amount of vitamins in asparagus, or various other vitamin-related information. There is an overly restrictive w:Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines/Medical advice policy over there, which is being enthusiastically overextended by certain deletionists on the scene. To be clear, I propose that during the transfer, such policies - based on "ethics" not on law, and what kind of ethics I can scarcely begin to speculate - would be left behind. I'm sorely tempted to propose Stalinistic remedies for any deletionists pursuing the matter at this end.

There is also a lot left undone with the Refdesk, which has generated a huge archive of answered and unanswered questions, but which doesn't index them except as hits in a text search. At some point, I'd love to see somebody sort it all out into a list of questions, answered and unanswered, providing edited-down versions of the answers for quick reference. Somebody more willing to do a whole lot of work, that is. ;) I think that the practice of archiving questions could end, and there could be a better way to keep all the discussions clearly ongoing as new perspectives become available. Ultimately, I can picture it becoming a resource that natural language software search queries could access in order to be able to answer people's questions directly. But I don't dare even propose the first tiny step on Wikipedia, because if we had a content-sorted list of questions the first thing that would happen would be deletionists chopping out big parts of the archive. It needs to be copied away to someplace safe first.

For Wikiversity, it should be very beneficial to have centralized forums for answering questions (even linking back to the current Wikipedia Refdesk). I think that there should be an easy way that a person following a course at Wikiversity can post a new topic to the Refdesk (a variation on the current "post a new topic" button) such that the course and page the question is about is directly and automatically referenced from the posted question. Courses should use the old index of Refdesk questions and these new tags to provide links back to those which are relevant from course pages. People interested in developing the course should be encouraged to answer those questions, both to solve individual confusion and as leads indicating where course content is confusing or incomplete.

Practically, transferring the Refdesk to Wikiversity would have two main steps: (1) copying everything at Wikipedia out, and perhaps beginning to form better indexes; (2) supplanting Wikipedia as for the forum for direct discussion. The first of these steps is entirely up to Wikiversity, but the second requires agreement at their end in order to get a larger mass of posters and to keep the links between projects well-connected.

Do people think this is a good idea? And does Wikiversity have the volunteer and other resources to do it effectively? Wnt 20:50, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Wikiversity has a Wikipedia-style reference desk here at Wikiversity:Help desk -- but it is much quieter and less developed. I think Wikiversity would benefit the most from building a completely new help desk system from the ground up instead of copying stuff over from Wikipedia. The emphasis here is building learning communities around learning resources, and some of the ideas in the early days of this project involved making multiple help desks for multiple topics. Might be an interesting idea to explore further. --HappyCamper 21:25, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the idea is sound, and innovative, in principle. The practice of projects leveraging relevant talent/experience and resources from each other is surely how the Wikimedia family should be taking advantage of its wide ranging nature. Your question: "And does Wikiversity have the volunteer and other resources to do it effectively?" is important, and probably would need to be answered in the negative, right now, because of the disparity in the sizes of the 2 projects, and the likely demand (especially if this resource were for not just en:wp). But why not ask a different question: "Is this an opportunity to demonstrate how projects can share people and resources in an effective way, to build robust and universally accessible resources, avoid duplication of effort, and maximise cross project participation?". That's worth asking whether or not this could be made to work immediately. Begoon - talk 02:58, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I know we had discussions about this years ago here but I can't find it. I remember talking about funnelling all general questions to the help desk and then use that page to answer all questions. Over time, presumably traffic would pick up, so at that point it would make sense to have multiple help desks for specific subjects. This is similar to the trajectory of Wikipedia's reference desk. I used to archive all the pages myself before the bot took over. On Wikiversity we could probably accommodate different styles of reference desks. I know we had a brainstorming session but other projects became of interest so discussions kind of died down. This might actually be a project worth revisiting. --HappyCamper 04:08, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
IIRC, there were a lot of objections on the WP end to moving it over here due in part to concerns about the management and the presence of "banned people" on WV, and in part because WP:RD was seen as a valuable institution on WP. I'm pretty sure the talk page looked about the same then as it does now. --SB_Johnny talk 21:38, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

RecentChangesCamp 2012

Just a reminder RecentChangesCamp 2012 is coming up soon! :D Please consider attending. :) It is a great opportunity to network with your fellow Wikiversity contributors. :) Invite all your wiki friends. :) You may be eligible to apply for a a WMF Participation grant or a WM AU grant if you're from Australia or New Zealand. If you're considering coming from over seas and you're female, you may also be interested in the ADA Camp, which could help better justify the last minute trip to Australia. :D We'd love to see you at RecentChangesCamp. :D --LauraHale 10:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

diffraction grating

--Brij bhushan singh 11:15, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

From the Wikipedia article on diffraction: "Richard Feynman[1] said that
"no-one has ever been able to define the difference between interference and diffraction satisfactorily. It is just a question of usage, and there is no specific, important physical difference between them."

He suggested that when there are only a few sources, say two, we call it interference, as in Young's slits, but with a large number of sources, the process is labelled diffraction."

Perhaps this will help: no obstacles - waves may interfere constructively or destructively, diffraction does not occur. When there are obstacles, it doesn't matter how many, diffraction occurs as does interference.


  1. R. Feynman, Lectures in Physics, Vol, 1, 1963, Addison Wesley Publishing Company Reading, Mass

Marshallsumter 16:39, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

User talk page edit notice

No big thing, this, but does anyone else feel that the Editnotice for User talk pages has slightly odd wording?

  • Please remember to sign and timestamp your thoughts about User:xxxxxxxx by using...

When I am posting on a user talk page, only occasionally will I be posting "thoughts about" the User - more often I will be asking or answering a question, leaving a message for information, or continuing an existing discussion. Would this be any better?

  • Please remember to sign and timestamp your messages for User:xxxxxxxx by using...

Or, in case anyone wants to "see" my pedantry and "raise" me a "but what if it's not to User:xxxxxxxx, but just a discussion between 2 or more third parties on his talk page", then:

  • This is the User talk page of User:xxxxxxxx. Please remember to sign and timestamp any messages you leave here by using...

Or, if you think this whole thing is too fussy, then never mind - I only mention it because it seems slightly "grating" when I see it - but maybe it bothers nobody else, in which case, just ignore me. Begoon - talk 01:44, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

I agree, that has bugged me actually, and I have thought of alternatives, but I haven't found a new wording that I feel comfortable yet. --HappyCamper 01:50, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
OK, I remember why I didn't change it earlier. The page that needs editing is here, but it involves a variable that I don't know what to replace with that holds universally. --HappyCamper 01:57, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Being bold, let's experiment with the changes I just added. --HappyCamper 02:05, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

I think simple is good, and what you changed looks fine to me.

I use something like:

in my wiki (I use CSS styling but I've "converted" it here to work with {{mbox}} (view original)).
But mine is too wordy - I like your new "simple" version better. Begoon - talk 02:11, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

The Saylor Foundation

So, this echoes the discussion a few sections up about Kahn Academy, but I am actually a staffer at a non-profit called The Saylor Foundation. We work to provide free online education and currently offer some 241 courses (about 83% complete overall). While our courses do draw on a variety of resources with varying copyright and licenses, some of our courses would be well-suited to implementation here on Wikiversity. If you look at our Content Matrix you can see that some courses such as Introduction to Statistics are compiled from 100% openly licensed material. We're interested in perhaps adapting one or more courses for Wikiversity, but even with my serviceable wiki skills I don't really understand the setup here at Wikiversity well enough to go about working on it on my own. If the community or individuals are interested, we would be willing to work on this with your help! At the least, maybe there's a place here where some links to Saylor could be provided for learners who might be looking for resources beyond the great work that's been done here. Any comments/feedback about this idea would be really appreciated! MyNameWasTaken 22:19, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

I think simply adding content in a way that makes the most sense to you first is best. As your learning project grows, its pages will naturally require renaming and moving to accommodate all sorts of changes. Come to think of it, many featured projects started off that way. Good source of inspiration! --HappyCamper 04:50, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks HappyCamper, you're right that I should just get something started. I've started work in my Sandbox on adopting one of our courses for starters. Feel free to have a peek, links are on my user page under projects. MyNameWasTaken 19:54, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Open Call for 2012 Wikimedia Fellowship Applicants

Wikimedia Foundation RGB logo with text.svg

I apologize that you are receiving this message in English. Please help translate it.

  • Do you want to help attract new contributors to Wikimedia projects?
  • Do you want to improve retention of our existing editors?
  • Do you want to strengthen our community by diversifying its base and increasing the overall number of excellent participants around the world?

The Wikimedia Foundation is seeking Community Fellows and project ideas for the Community Fellowship Program. A Fellowship is a temporary position at the Wikimedia Foundation in order to work on a specific project or set of projects. Submissions for 2012 are encouraged to focus on the theme of improving editor retention and increasing participation in Wikimedia projects. If interested, please submit a project idea or apply to be a fellow by January 15, 2012. Please visit for more information.


--Siko Bouterse, Head of Community Fellowships, Wikimedia Foundation 12:56, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Distributed via Global message delivery. (Wrong page? Fix here.)

Wikiversity and Wikipedia Ambassadors program

Hi, WMF is just starting its Education Pilot Program in Brazil (most discussions in Portuguese, for the moment, but feel free to ask something on its discussion page) and I am helping with the Wikipedia Ambassadors Program here in Brazil, besides Wikimedia Brazil has other additional plans to expand its educational activities. Wikimedia Brazil volunteers are discussing about using Wikiversity in Portuguese and other WMF projects as well, for instance, Wikinews for journalist students, together with this program already started with a focus on Wikipedia. I've seen a discussion here at the Colloquium about the Ambassadors Program from one year ago with a lot of similar ideas to the Brazilian discussion (some notes on that here). That said, I'd like to know if, after this discussion I've pointed out, was there some progress on the use of Wikiversity together with the Ambassadors Program? If so, may you, please, show me how was it? Thanks! --Everton137 01:11, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi Everton, I'm not aware of of an active ambassadors program currently on Wikiversity, but I could be wrong! --HappyCamper 01:48, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Hi, HapppyCamper, it doesn't necessarily need to be active, but just to have used Wikiversity together with Ambassadors program sometime. :) --Everton137 01:58, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Everton, I am an ambassador with the US Program and have never encountered anything referring to Wikiversity, although as HappyCamper said, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist... MyNameWasTaken 20:01, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
OK, thanks, MyNameWasTaken. I guess it wasn't used, since nobody answered positively until now. In case you discover this is wrong, please, let me know. --Everton137 10:03, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

Unblock requests

User talk:Abd and User talk:Ottava Rima have outstanding unblock requests. Community input could be helpful in resolving these requests. User talk:Poetlister is another outstanding unblock request. Please feel free to discuss here or on the respective talk pages. Sincerely, James -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:11, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

  • Symbol support vote.svg Support unblocking Abd. Marshallsumter 16:30, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support unblocking Poetlister. Marshallsumter 16:30, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose unblocking Ottava Rima, I have read this user's comments concerning the block, Abd, and SB Johnny on the user's talk page. These comments do not seem like AGF. I suggest that custodial responsibility also be removed. Marshallsumter 16:30, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose unblocking all three. Poetlister is globally banned, so we simply can't unblock him. Ottava Rima and Abd are banned at Wikipedia and both misused sysop privileges. Plus, there's an awesome lack of drama now they're not editing. --Claritas 02:09, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Different influences on language instruction

Hi everybody! I'm a student of level III; I'm learning French and English linguistics in the University of Dschang in Cameroon(Central Africa). I've been asked to discuss the contributions of linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and ethnolinguistics to language instruction and I would like you to help me by suggesting-I'm not asking you to treat my homework but only that you help me- some directions or elements (courses,websites, books...) that I will help me in my essay. I do rely on your help.

May I suggest the following: in the search block for Wikiversity and then the one for Wikipedia, enter the words "language instruction" with the quotes and read through each response to see which ones may be helpful. Repeat this with "linquistics", "psycholinguistics", "sociolinguistics" and "ethnolinguistics", without the quotes, and compare with the responses to the earlier two. Doing the same thing on Wikibooks may be fruitful. Hope this helps. Marshallsumter 17:53, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps shorter next time: WV:Search, ----Erkan Yilmaz uses the Wikiversity:Chat + 21:39, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Wikimania 2012

So, Wikimania 2012 is taking place July 12–15. I hope to go and would like to meet up with wikiversitans there and promote Wikiversity amongst the broader Wikimedia community. Is anyone else planning to go? Perhaps we could start a discussion here: Wikiversity at Wikimania 2012.Leutha 17:49, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Sounds fun. I'm definitely going to keep my eye on this! --HappyCamper 05:45, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
I will definitely be there. I go to Georgetown where its being hosted as well as living and working nearby too! MyNameWasTaken 08:35, 3 January 2012 (UTC)