Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/November 2008

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Deletion request

Crochet.david 12:09, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

YesY Done The Jade Knight (d'viser) 12:28, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Languages with gender

why do so many languages exist redundant imformation about gender which make them very difficult to learn -- 09:17, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

You mean to ask why so many languages use grammatical gender? The Jade Knight (d'viser) 11:07, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Because natural human languages are evolved rather than designed. This w:origin of language ensured that it would have features that convey information important to the reproductive success of the species, such as information about gender. Further redundancy is an important feature of successful communication. You may find w:Grammar#Development of grammars interesting. WAS 4.250 12:05, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

link to wikiversity instead of wikibooks

A sysop can change in {{No license}} the link b:Wikibooks:Image copyright tags to Wikiversity:License tags. Crochet.david 09:08, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Fixed, but there's still a link to b:Wikibooks:Media that should have a local link instead. --SB_Johnny talk 09:50, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
For now, I changed that link to Wikiversity:Media and redirected this to Wikiversity:Uploading files. Hope that helps, but feel free to adapt/change of course. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 22:10, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Global notifications

There is a new system for cross wiki news annoucements called meta:Global notifications. These messages are posted locally at User:WikimediaNotifier/notifications so you can watchlist the page. --mikeu talk 18:19, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

This has already proven helpful and interesting since this was posted and I started watching, e.g., in future Image: will become File: - fabulous (more logical)! Smiley.svg -- Jtneill - Talk - c 22:03, 5 November 2008 (UTC)



Folks, I went and created a new award called the Merita. Please feel free to develop versions for each department. Geoff Plourde 19:10, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

I do not understand the nature of wikiversity awards such as the variety of barnstars. they almost seem like awards one give oneself? (insert them into your page).-- 01:27, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
No, they are usually given by someone who notices that another person had done good work. The award and some comments are then included in the talk page and the person receiving might then move the award to their user page. --mikeu talk 12:30, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I've created a general award for everyone who works hard. --darkYin yang.svglama 16:07, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Course Structures?

Sometimes I just don't understand wv culture very much. I was browsing around the physics/astronomy school and I see that nearly half that page is filled with completely undefined courses, that are organized much like a degreed program. I have also seen similar structures in many schools/and portals.

I completely fail to see the purpose of this. Wikiversity is not and could not easily become an accredited learning center. In an accrediated learning center, courses are usually parrallel courses with similar subjects brought up in increasing complexity. This is to prove increasing competence and expertise. But I don't see the point of proving expertise, when anyone, with any expertise, can edit anything. I question the purpose, usefulness and Especially the practicality of such work.

  • Advanced courses are rarely defined because most of the time, an editor who has learned introductory material (either wv or in real life) is much more interested in becoming a course instructor, or in participating to interesting projects.
  • Even if I am wrong, the specialization becomes maddening. consider "Introductery to USA History" nice useful course, a novice like myself who knows little could learn alot and cover alot of ground in that course. Once more specialized, how many people want to study the obscure presidencies of Garfield, Author, Cleveland, and Harrison. Sorry, There is little contemporary interest but perhaps it is an important course in an extensive Masters program.
  • Lastly people fill out huge lists of these detailed advanced courses which few people will want to take, when the basic courses are completely undefined.

Sometimes I just don't understand wv culture ;). I do think the community needs to eventually decide why it teaches courses (instead of 'projects'), who ought to teach them (should you have to prove competence?), who ought to take them (should you have to prove competence?. ie prerequisties), which ones are useful to define, and how to organize them in schools and portals that don't create mass clutter.

If people here really intend to seek some kind of accreditated program , we need to reevaluate expertise. You can't have a volunteer to be a teacher and design a course with no expertise and no real teaching credentials and then become accreditated. And if you're not accrediated, yet you give out some kind of diploma...What are you a then, a diploma mill? w:Diploma_mill

no, I personally think we are like Wikipedia, is a source of learning where the whole world of information is laid at your keypad. Information and instruction isn't locked up in imaginery courses PHYS 981 "Relativity" with 19 prerequisite courses. It is freely given exchange where a student and a teacher can collabate to the best of their ability to explore the material. This collaboration then is basically a project (putting it this way, isn't every good project basically a very efficient kind of course?)

Look at it this way, If one can learn about relativity from wikipedia without a dozen 'prerequisites; why can't you teach it to people without a dozen prerequistites and IF we can teach it this way, Why define this imaginery list of prerequisites (especially on the often visited schools and portals)? it clutters things up.

IMHO of course.--Jolie 18:21, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

I suppose we should do a better job of making clear the history of Wikiversity. Much of the structure of Wikiversity was created by people who imagined Wikiversity as some kind of online university. The Wikimedia Foundation explicitly rejected that idea, but there will always be people coming to Wikiversity who still think along the lines of: have classes, have certified teachers, get accreditation, give grades, etc. --JWSchmidt 20:02, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, much of that structure is a holdover from the early formulation of wv. Even the name sounds like Wiki-University and tends to give the impression that the main focus is advanced material. I agree that the astronomy related topic and school pages need reworking. Anyone taking a glance at the list at Topic:Astronomy would likely think we were limiting the scope of the subject to a program of in depth courses. I have tried in the past to make changes to those pages, but they were slowly undone over time. I suspect that the listings have probably turned away some folks that were interested in more introductory material. One of my first impressions after visiting wv was that the course listings "preimposes a structure for the future growth of what will be covered rather than just letting it happen naturaly." I still tend to feel that way. My philosophy has been that the school, topic and other organizing pages should be created when there are a number of people who have a need to collaborate on a group of pages about a subject. I've been watching the school and topic pages for a long time, and I've seen a number of people make suggestions and I've offered to help with reworking the pages. Few have stayed around to do that, and even fewer have ventured into creating mainspace pages. So I have tended to ignore the organizing pages as not really worth my time until there is more activity to sustain the effort. Personally, I prefer a more bottom up approach of working on mainspace content first, and then creating organizing pages when there is enough material where editors find a need to collaborate. --mikeu talk 20:26, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Interesting Perspective. I have always thought of them as a Learning Projects instead of courses. The mentality behind that is, I as a degree student somewhere in the world can come here and look/start a learning project even about a real life course. As the project matures it can then be seen as a course to those who catch it at a later stage. This way there is absolutely nothing stoping me from using my lecture notes to create a learning resource. Hoping that some one is learning or teaching the same thing, then we can collaborate. Atleast that is what we generally expect to be the natural course of events. As to whether it happens, that is a nother matter all together. People tend to be shy of editing a well structured learning project ( out of low self esteem maybe? ). I preffer to think that we are all learners in here ;-).--Thuvack | talk | Blog 13:49, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Make the cleaning as it indicate

Sysop can make the cleaning as the template saying in each image in this category. Crochet.david 22:34, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Opinions wanted on "global-temperate seasons" for the Bloom Clock

I'm hoping to have time this winter to work on comparisons between different regions to make a first stab at making "global seasons" for the Bloom Clock, but have a somewhat silly issue I could use some input on. The global seasons are one of the main goals of the bloom clock... it would take some time to find the diffs, but part of the motivation for collecting the data was to have a "geographically neutral language" for describing bloom times in Wikipedia articles, Wikibooks chapters, and other resources that describe plants (the problem is that when you cite a flora that says something blooms in March in, e.g., South Carolina, it's probably not blooming in March in Halifax of Moscow, let alone Melbourne). The rough draft compiles the monthly data we have from various regions (which uses categories), and divides the year into 12 seasons (early/mid/late summer/winter/etc.).

The problem is this: When I first started working on it last winter, I tied the Southeast Pennsylvania data to go with "the majority of the month", so December is late fall (since 2/3 of the month is technically Autumn), March is late winter, etc. The problem is that this seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, and I wanted to see if other people found it counter-intuitive as well. So here's the question (for a straw poll): Should the global-temperate seasons be toggled back a month? Here's the options:

Keep as is: The current system has March as late winter, June as late spring, September as late summer, and December as late fall.

Change back by a month: This would have March as early spring, June as early summer, September as early fall, and December as early winter.

  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Might just be because my mind tends to think in terms of the academic year, but this seems more intuitive to me. --SB_Johnny talk 15:05, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support It does seem more intuitive. --Jomegat 01:14, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support I've always thought the current calendar was silly. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 10:44, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Please share your thoughts on it... part of the issue is that I also want to set up the fruit-and-seed clock, and possibly a "local produce" clock (so that culinary students and localvores can know what's locally in-season). --SB_Johnny talk 15:05, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I'd go with the "early/mid/late" and drop the month names entirely - from where I'm sitting right now, I can see Lake Mead, where "early spring" is in February, and the Spring Mountains 10,000 feet higher, where the same "early spring" is May or even June, and there are species that live across that entire elevation range. I don't really want to do mental gymnastics about how "March in Pennsylvania" matches up with the 6,000-7,000 foot elevation band in Kyle Canyon or whatever. Stan Shebs 20:52, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Heya Stan. The month names are added as part of the data collection process (the month logged in the specific region where it was seen), the numbers in turn are crunched by comparing categories using DynamicPageList, a MediaWiki extension we have enabled on Wikiversity. For example, note the large number of categories on BCP/Taraxacum officinale, and see an example comparison page here (hit the edit button to see how easily the comparison pages are generated). That way you could indeed log separately from both the valley and the peaks, and get a good sense after the comparison about how the 2 regions relate to one another phenologically. --SB_Johnny talk 09:56, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Oh, I understand now. Never mind! :-) Stan Shebs 14:07, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Does A photo have to have GNU free licensing?

as you all know I am working on some astronomy notes. One need I had was to convey in an introductery article the beauty of the night sky, without a scope, and some of things to look for. A talented astrophotography Kathy Herburn took a very nice picture of the milky way that I thought was both gorgeous and would do the job very well. Her work is widely shared as a astronomy photo of the day (APOD) and is highlighted in her web page.

So, thinking the licensing thing would be no big deal I sent her an email asking her permission to use the work with the GNU free licensing information. She suprised the heck of me by very politely declined, saying she could not agree to it.

So I'm wondering. Is GFDL licensing a REQUIREMENT of photo uploads? Are they other licensing agreements that are easier to agree to. Mind you I have not a clue, why she won't agree to GNU free licensing; theories range from an agreement that is too confusing to figure out (that was MY PERSONAL take on the gibberish) to possible fear that the photo might be used somewhere she didn't like (Could a submitted uploaded photo be legally sent somewhere the user finds objectionable??).

It almost sounds like IF I asked to do an article here WITHOUT mentioning a Licensing agreement, she would have said yes. is it possible to have photos here without a licensing agreement.

Otherwise, I would love a good contribution to the skywatching portion of the atronomy notes; Its important that the sight is observable with the unaided eye! possiblities include

  • Photos of planetary conjugations (two or more planets next to each other and the moon)
  • Meteor showers
  • Mikly Way
  • Star trails

--Jolie 18:40, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

All document need a licence. The text in the page here are under GFDL. For the photo, the owner of the photo need to choice a licence from the list on this page. If the photo is undre GFDL or a Creative Common licence (as CC-by-sa) , it is highly advisable to upload it in wikimedia Commons. Note that a copyrighted photo can be deleted.Crochet.david 19:01, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
One possible thought. The picture was an image that Kerry Hepburn in trying to sell. (I don't blame her, its beautiful). In looking through some of the licenses, I read alot about giving permission to alter it and distribute.
Perhaps Kerry fears that by giving Wikiversity the image someone will make a minor alteration 'alter' and then sell the resulting work 'distribute' with no approval or cutback to Kerry.
Now I can't see any reasonable explanation why wikimedia, might want to allow people's artistic works to be vandalized and sold to the detriment of their authors. So are there any permissable licenses, where wikiversity is free to transmit the photo, but not 'alter it'?--Jolie 19:44, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it's the CC-nd (nd for no-derivate work), but unauthorized on wikiversity.Crochet.david 20:11, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
This isn't a Wikiversity restriction. There was a WMF resolution awhile ago related to fair use that also made it a requirement that any license used must allow certain freedoms which include the freedom to alter the work and redistribute it. So CC-ND licensed works aren't allowed because it doesn't allow derivatives to be made. Most of the images probably also couldn't be used under fair use terms because there is the possibility for anyone to take similar pictures and provide them freely under a copyleft license which does allow derived works to be made. --darkYin yang.svglama 21:18, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
If she's selling the image for bread-and-butter reasons, it's perfectly understandable that she wouldn't want to use one of our licenses. However, perhaps you could ask her to release a smaller version under a compatible license (the file description would link to her site). Quite a few people contribute to commons using a similar system (I've even had one company ask to buy one of my images for use on a commercial website). --SB_Johnny talk 12:37, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Reading list template

JWS made a useful suggestion on his blog that probationary custodians should at least be asked to read the Wikiversity policy pages. I like this idea, and visualised a template which could be substituted to a candidate's page, with cross, ticks, etc. as policy reading is completed. Such a template might also be suitable more generically, as a way of demonstrating and recording task completion. I think maybe Robert Elliott has played with this. Will go hunting, but feel free to make suggestions, and then perhaps we could craft a list of "essential" or "recommended" reading for custodians. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 05:32, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Not a bad idea, frankly. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 09:11, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm finding the current donate banner kind of aggressive - I think its gone just a tad too far. What about others? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 00:31, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Massive discussion on the Foundation list. How the hell does wikiversity make life easier? Geoff Plourde 00:47, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I added an option to Gadgets to hide it. – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 03:16, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
That's great, Mike - how do we use it? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 03:25, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Go to Special:Preferences and the Gadgets tab, click it on, and then Save. However, for me that gives a message "Your password is invalid or too short. It must have at least 1 character and be different from your username." and it doesn't save the change. I can change my password to be more complex (it's not my user name Smiley.svg) and that might fix, but I've never had that message before. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 03:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, it is kind of lame. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 06:38, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I just went to my watchlist on commons: and it had a message saying "Watchlist options: Registered users may remove the fundraiser notice by enabling "Suppress display of the fundraiser banner." in the Gadgets tab of their Preferences.". How can we fix the gadget and do something similar on WV? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 10:14, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

It's already up and running. Go to Special:Preferences, click the gadgets tab, and the fist gadget is labeled "To suppress display of the fundraiser banner." Select that, save your preferences, and then purge your cache. --SB_Johnny talk 11:04, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I get the message "Your password is invalid or too short. It must have at least 1 character and be different from your username." on trying to save the preference - but I didn't get that for the same account/password on commons. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 12:14, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
That's weird. Probably best thing to do is just change your password... whatever's going on there is something the devs would need to change. One guess: if Wikiversity is your "home wiki" (under SUL), it might be that you only get that kind of warning on your home wiki (that's just a guess though). --SB_Johnny talk 12:31, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Further weird is that I tried a much longer password - same problem. But then about half an hour later, the donate banner disappeared and on looking in my prefs/gadgets the box was now ticked. All's well that ends well - geez, and I was about to write out a 3.5 million to check to get rid of the bloody thing. Smiley.svg -- Jtneill - Talk - c 13:20, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Wiki service courses

one rather intriguing course proposal is Wikipedia service-learning courses. It has seen some new interest lately. It is one of the few proposals where I could imagine where this community defines coursework that would actually offer a legitamite accreditation.

the idea that a wikimedian would define coursework and a test that proof student competence is not a new one and there are all kinds of proposals, quizes and suggestions. Indeed from the very start (it seems) wikiversity participants have been trying to figure out if they can allow this site to offer accreditated material.

I have been attentive to the many proposals but feel that in most cases this will never happen. I feel there are three big problems with offering accrediated coursework here;

  • In a environment free to everyone to write, how does an instructor prove his competence, create authority, and prevent the incompetent from altering his carefully researched plan? The course agenda needs written, and things must be said with authority. The entire wiki project is about minimizing authority and harnessing the entire community to collaborate; but the lecture is the basis of accrediated learning, the entire that a master shares and guides his knowledge.
  • The come and explore, seach and contribute model lends itself very poorly to structured coursework. Classes usually begin at a certan time, lastt for a set time and require a rigourous attendance, and participation. While perhaps wikiversity could use a little more attendance, penalizing interested people for coming late, getting side-tracked with a favorite project and creating a enforced set in stone agenda is against the whole vision of a wiki (and by the way ,I still see courses where authors have created penalties for missing lectures, and cut off dates of when to begin and when they can end a course; I urge them to reconsider this kind of edits; IMHO its incivil).
  • Lastly, lecturing just really doesn't fit very well into a learning by doing model. In fact one of the problems with the site is that there are few enough people here with such diverse interest, that one's writings inevitable become a seldom read lecture. Learning by doing, means that if you define it, there are people interested in Doing it. Learning by doing also means that if you write it there are people interesting in discussing it and offering their own viewpoints. We have too many discussions regarding ethics and policy and not enough on content.

I write this rather exhaustive critique to point out that the suggested course Wikipedia service-learning courses seems a clear exception to my three reservations regarding accreditation.

  • An instructor / facilitator can easily prove his competence in writing and utililizing wiki technology
  • The course lends itself to the kind of come and explore model
  • Lastly, editing is the one thing in wikiversity you DO alot of.

BUT here's the problem; I know the adage to BE_BOLD. but the very nature of an accrediated course is that the instructor has proven authority and competence. I do not have it. Someone must make the call on what constitutes solid skills on wiki technology; someone with more than one month (however intensive) experience here.

to the many people who have proposed future accreditations; this is your 'low lying' fruit IMHO. this is the one course that I think really could work. So, wikiversity community what do you think?

(and I might quickly add that the proposed courses are really about utilizing wiki technology and constitute so much more than just skills at defining wikipedia)--JoliePA 15:22, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

I have been doing alot of browsing and think that there is a need to succinctly define and list active courses. We need to foster within wikiversity what a course can and cannot be. much of the comments regarding good courses have been restated. Several wikiversity participants have spent literally years thinking about what would be a good wikiversity course and am really would appreciate their input.--JoliePA 17:20, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I like this course as well, i think it can create a kind of momentum, beneficial to Wikiversity and the Wikimedia Foundation.--Daanschr 12:32, 18 November 2008 (UTC)


In one of my courses, I intend to list a number of recommended text books and sites where they can be bought. By doing this, will I break the rule against advertising? --Ohara 19:22, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

IMO, so long as you're not using affiliate links, you're okay, though use free resources wherever possible. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 21:07, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Topic:Historical Christian theology

I've been babysitting this topic, and it's seen a lot of activity lately, but I have no idea what to make of all of it—it appears to be a summary of important people, events, and concepts in the History of Christianity—an overwhelmingly large premise, IMO, and the sort of stuff more suited to Wikipedia. So far I've just watched it grow (worked on by IP's, possibly as part of some external course), but I'm wondering what we can do with it. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 21:15, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Just a simple header of two sentences could easily bring it within the scope of Wikiversity. Something like, this is the curriculum for a course on historical theology.--Daanschr 08:18, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
While a header is probably a good idea, its content isn't really the curriculum for a course on historical theology. Its content is pretty much an omniumgatherum of all sorts of things relating to Christian history. The Jade Knight (d'viser) 09:42, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

It's still under construction, and this line: "Dr Partee asks us to expand on the items in RED" [1], suggests that it may be a collaborative seminary project, possibly referring to this Dr. Partee. It might be worth keeping an eye on it and seeing what kind of project we've got at the end of the semester. Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 23:01, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Template help

For the MediaWiki-wizards, why doesn't the example work properly on {{100%done}}? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:12, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Unless I don't understand what you're trying to do, it works fine. Perhaps clear the cache? – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 03:19, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for taking a look, Mike. The mystery for me is why the example doesn't display with a border and on the right? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 03:28, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, it's a mystery to me too. – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 22:00, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Some changes to the wiki parser awhile back effect how things are interpreted at times depending on their placement relative to other elements. I think in this case it was due to being on the same line as other text. I have fixed the problem for you. --darkYin yang.svglama 16:42, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

InstaView on Wikiversity

Hello! I noticed that the preview in Wikiversity takes currently quite long. I came across Live Preview a Javascript-based preview tool that does not require server connection in each preview. There is an instruction, for install it on other wikis. I set up an script that adjusts the variables for Wikiversity. It seems to work. In order to make it working for any other user that uses monobook skin, the user has just to copy the contents of my monobook.js page into his own monobook.js page.

Could some experienced users check, that this procedure robust and not harmful? Then I can recommend this to other wikiversity users. --tomaschwutz 17:54, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, it is not robust; you can see the faults described on the page you linked. However it is not at all harmful to use it. I removed &dontcountme=s from your monobook, since that is deprecated. – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 21:58, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Mike for the check. I found out about wikEd in the meantime and switched to this one. It also works with Wikiversity. --tomaschwutz 21:16, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Please protect Moulton's page indefinitely, delete needed

Discussion moved to WV:CR