Submissions:2018/Workshop on countering the Balkanization of the body politic

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Due to limited space, WikiConference North America 2018 unfortunately could not accommodate this submission in its program this year.
Please check out our Unconference for opportunities to present and share there.

Workshop on countering the Balkanization of the body politic
Theme (optional)

This would involve all the themes in different ways:

  • Editor Recruitment & Retention by encouraging the 98% of submissions to Wikinews (at least en.wikinews) to move to meta:WikiSocial.
  • Relationship Building & Support by helping the nascent v:KKFI Nonprofit News grow to become a prototype in an effort to grow n:Wikinews into millions of local editions and by involving organizations like the Center for Conflict Engagement at the University of Denver in helping to structure this system so it is more likely to help build understanding and help diffuse rather than amplify conflict.
  • Harassment, Civility, & Safety by appropriate consideration of these issues in attempting to move submissions from Wiknews to WikiSocial.
  • Inclusion & Diversity by structuring WikiSocial to trying to match people with different perspectives while monitoring and intervening as needed to label questionable comments and potentially divisive and encouraging people with differing perspectives to moderate their response.
  • Tech & Tools by developing artificial intelligence and perhaps other tools to make it easier to identify the submissions to Wikinews that are not likely to get published to move to WikiSocial and by modifying the Mediawiki software version used by Wikinews so that standard notes can be supplied and displayed optionally. This note-display option would be “on” by default when drafting an article but “off” by default for routine display. This would make Wikinews more inviting for people with experience in other Wikimedia projects and would be more attractive to people who want to see those notes. I've subscribed for years to w:Le Monde-Diplomatique for years in part because it's the only newspaper format publication that routinely cites its sources.
Academic Peer Review option

Yes, but only if it does not get in the way of a peer review for someone who needs that for funding. (I do not need it for funding. I value the commentary.)

Type of submission

Workshop to generate small group discussions of the issues raised by an effort to provide a safe and welcoming response to everyone who tries to post something to Wikinews in a way that will facilitate conflict resolution, reduce political corruption, and help people everywhere exercise more control over their lives.

DavidMCEddy (talk) 23:41, 14 August 2018 (UTC) (aka Spencer Graves)
E-mail address

Wikimedia username


Affiliation(s) (optional)

I'm on the Board of, and the founder of


The Wikimedia foundation is ideally placed to counter the Balkanization (also called segmentation and even microsegmentation) of the body politic to benefit elites. This problem has become particularly acute in the age of Facebook, where “The potential for abuse is vast. An ad could falsely accuse a [political] candidate of the worst malfeasance forty-eight hours before election day, and the victim would have no way of knowing it even happened. Ads could stoke ethnic or gender hatred ... . Facebook ads ... are affordable and easy.”[1] By contrast, on controversial Wikipedia articles, "the two sides actually engaged each other and negotiated a version of the article that both can more or less live with. This is a rare sight indeed in today’s polarized political atmosphere, where most online forums are echo chambers for one side or the other.”[2] This can help build bridges over the walls created by media that must of necessity please advertisers and other elites. An important place to start on this is Wikinews: As of 2018-08-13 Wikinews in all language editions had published 240,000 articles from 3.6 million submissions, roughly one article for each 15 submissions. The English language Wikinews had published 21,000 articles from 2.7 million submissions, averaging 130 submissions for each article published. More recent data indicates that the English language Wikinews currently receives roughly 50 submissions per day and publishes 1. The roughly 49 articles each day that are not published represent an opportunity to grow Wikinews into millions of local editions. The introductory portion of this workshop will discuss three things to provide a foundation for reducing the frustrations that many of those 49 authors may feel, increase their retention, and publish more honest news, thereby improving citizen participation in civil society, reducing political corruption and building bridges rather than the walls created by media controlled to please elites: (1) Research into the reasons articles are not published and frustrations experienced by the authors. (2) Development of a companion effort to develop v:Kansas City Nonprofit News, being a regular news broadcast on a listener-sponsored radio station, w:KKFI. (3) Referring some of the authors of Wikinews submissions to meta:WikiSocial, where artificial intelligence software could attempt to match people with related concerns. If the verbiage suggests conflict, then an appropriate intervention designed to diffuse the conflict might be introduced before matching people on opposing sides; such interventions might be designed and monitored by organizations like the Center for Conflict Engagement at the University of Denver. More detail on these ideas is available in v:Everyone's favorite news site and the companion lightning talk on this subject at Wikimania 2018 at Cape Town, July 18.


1. Vaidhyanathan, Siva (2018) Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (pp. 215-216). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. {{cite Q|Q56027099}}

2. Peter Binkley, “Wikipedia Grows Up”, Feliciter 52 (2006), no. 2, 59–61

Length of presentation

Prefer 50 min.: 15 min. presentation, 15 min. small group discussions, 15 min. report backs, 5 min. wrap up. Will accept 5 minutes, like I had in Cape Town, though I will have more to discuss by October.

Special requests

Flip charts with markers?

Preferred room size

Difficult to say. Wikinews officially has 20 administrators, 9 of whom are bureaucrats. I plan to try to contact all 20 to invite them to comment and participate.

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?

I gave a lightning talk on this subject at Wikimania 2018 at Cape Town, July 18. Someone in the audience there suggested I apply to discuss this at WikiConference North America.

If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?

Sure. Should I do anything different from what I did in uploading my slides from my lightning talk in Cape Town?

Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?

Yes. I applied to talk about this in Montreal and was rejected. I still went.

Interested attendees

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  1. RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 01:53, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Add your username here.