Wikipedia:Education noticeboard

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Course coordinator currently involved in an ArbCom case relating to a course they are teaching

There will likely be an ArbCom case (Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case#Holocaust in Poland) relating to User:Chapmansh. To rehash the drama, Chapmansh/Shira Klein recently published an article in an academic journal [1] accusing several Wikipedia editors of coordinating offsite to distort facts relating to the Holocaust. This has prompted ArbCom to propose a case in which Chapmansh may be made a party. Needless to say, this is going to be a big case especially given that it involves Icewhiz.

The reason why I'm posting this to the education notice board is because User:Chapmansh is teaching the course Wikipedia:Wiki Ed/Chapman University/Jewish Life from Napoleon to Hitler (Spring 2023). In past iterations of this course,[2] students have edited in the Holocaust topic area.

I would say that if Chapmansh coordinates editing offsite in the Holocaust topic area during this ArbCom case it will probably not be an enjoyable experience for the student editors. Regardless of whether there is a conflict of interest, the students will probably be under a microscope the entire time given how many people are involved in this case. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 16:58, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oy. Well, at least given that the class clearly includes a lot of historical scope prior to the Holocaust, we could presumably direct Klein and her students to stick to the non-Holocaust stuff, at least for this semester? signed, Rosguill talk 17:07, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Rosguill: That's what I would imagine is the best choice here onwiki (as well as to avoid Poland). I'll ping User:Brianda (Wiki Ed) who is the Wiki Ed expert assigned to that course. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 17:21, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pardon me for butting in, I saw this mentioned at WP:ARC and thought I could help by clarifying a few things. The topic area of the Arbcom case, and the journal article, is not "Holocaust", but "Holocaust in Poland". In Wikispeak, that's part of WP:APL. WP:APL has, since May 2020, been covered by (what we now call) WP:ARBECR, which means that non-extended-confirmed editors can't edit in that topic area. If you look at the "past iterations of this course" link by Chess above, none of the students listed are extended-confirmed, and none of them edited in the WP:APL topic area--all those articles are outside of WP:APL. In sum: apparently WikiEd students already stay out of the topic area, and have for a couple years. Levivich (talk) 17:58, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Levivich: That's true, though keep in mind offwiki coordination by Klein has come up during the ArbCom case. There's nothing wrong with student editors contributing to our coverage of the Holocaust, but the perception that Klein is trying to influence Wikipedia's coverage of certain topics by using her position is something that could be discussed during the case.
Regardless of whether or not this is true, student editors could very easily wander into a minefield they aren't remotely prepared for. Your claim that none of them edited in the WP:APL topic area isn't actually true. ZyerAbdullah123 appears to have removed someone else's talk page comment on Polish death camps during the 2021 course. [3]
While I doubt that was intentional and is very minor (not even worthy of anything beyond a gentle reminder), people have a habit of assuming bad faith during very controversial ArbCom cases. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 19:16, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
An unsupported claim of offwiki coordination was made by an involved party, it should not be repeated and has no bearing here. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:22, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Accidentally removing a talk page comment does not constitute editing in the topic area. And you say "trying to influence Wikipedia's coverage" as if it's a bad thing. I welcome scholars trying to "influence Wikipedia's coverage" by pointing out problems in that coverage. I welcome teachers trying to "influence Wikipedia's coverage" by teaching students how to edit. Levivich (talk) 19:35, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Although an accidental removal is not topic area editing, I think the point is that these things attract excessive attention during controversial ArbCom cases, and it does no service to students, or to the students' educational experience, to unwittingly find themselves in the middle of that. It's not about whether or not the students do anything wrong, but rather, about trying to keep the students from getting needlessly caught up in wiki-drama. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:38, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think Levivich makes a valid point that due to not being e-confirmed, the students can't edit this area much even if they wanted to. On the other hand, there are still many minor articles related to this topic area which don't have the right protection level slapped in, I believe, so as Chess' correctly notes with their example, they may occasionally stumble into the "minefield". To add another example: in the companion piece that the authors published in a Polish newspaper a few days ago [4], they actually mentioned that Klein became interested in the Wiki-side of the narrative after one of her students editing the History_of_the_Jews_in_Poland article (which is now e-c portended but wasn't back in 2018) got into a dispute with an editor who told him not to cite historian Jan T. Gross (the authors erroneously claimed that editor was myself, while in fact that editor who criticized Gross was Xx236; meanwhile I defended Gross and helped the student, for which Klein thanked me - see Talk:History_of_the_Jews_in_Poland/Archive_4#Postwar_Antisemitism; that misattribution error confusing me with Xx236 already got fixed in the Polish news article which now sports a small correction note - one error down, dozens more to go, sigh). Anyway, the point I am making is that it is possible the students will occasionally run into issues, but I wouldn't worry to much about it, those have been and likely will be isolated incidents. Teaching experience on all sides, really. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:04, 15 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be clear, nobody should be going around to stalk/hound these students' edits in the absence of clear evidence of (a) bad faith, or (b) significant policy violations. Their professor writing an article about a topic shouldn't affect the status of their students. The reality, however, is that students in this class will simply be more likely to run into this kind of problematic behavior, and should be aware of what they're getting into. For what it's worth, anyone following these students around and/or undoing their work will themselves be subject to heightened scrutiny, too. A good practice would be to encourage anyone who's wary of jumping in to just edit in userspace rather than article space, moving good content into articles after some review (a good practice with controversial subject areas regardless). But Chapmansh has run many Wikipedia assignments in the past, and likely knows a thing or two about editing controversial topics from both teaching and research, so I don't anticipate anything in this thread coming as a surprise. At the end of the day, if there's something the article and the arbcom case make clear, it's that there's room for improvement in Holocaust-related articles, and it would be great to have additional editors making policy-based improvements. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 23:07, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'll confirm here that User:Chapmansh's students will not be working on topics related to Poland. We at Wiki Education understand the sensitivity around this topic, and are working closely with Champansh to ensure students are adequately supported for any edits they make. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 01:33, 15 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Teacher running into trouble, their project described as "highly disruptive"?

See User_talk:Onwuka_Glory#Your_students (which are mostly blocked now)? It's likely they can use a helping hand in sorting this mess out. Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:30, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As the blocking admin for most of these accounts, I've unblocked them all now after the conversation there and on my talk page. Graham87 14:40, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New pages being created with invalid syntax that needs to be cleaned up

I'm hoping that this is the right place to get someone's attention about new pages that are being created with many wikitext syntax (Linter) errors. For example, this page was created by Chapmansh in October 2022, via a process described in the edit summary as "Updating course from". It was created with 23 Linter errors.

How can I track down the source of these syntax errors so that they can be avoided in the future? In addition to the syntax errors, there is a large amount of unnecessary text formatting (span tags specifying fonts, which is not necessary or recommended for normal pages on Wikipedia) that should ideally be removed. Thanks for any tips about tracking down the source of these problems. – Jonesey95 (talk) 22:52, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just a note that this seems to be the same series of class projects as in #Course coordinator currently involved in an ArbCom case relating to a course they are teaching, above. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:58, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, when I clicked to edit the page and fix the syntax errors, I found a big red edit notice that told me any changes would be overwritten from a different site by some automated process. It looks like we may have to get an external tool fixed. – Jonesey95 (talk) 23:07, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Those pages are a combination of free-form content that is coming from markdown that gets converted to mediawiki, some standard structure that comes from the Dashboard code, and a set of templates. Hopefully the problems are coming from either the Dashboard code or the templates. What's the easiest way to see the details of these syntax errors? Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:51, 6 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps the easiest way to see the errors on this page is to look at the edit I have made to clean them up. There were span tags wrapping multiple lines, unclosed or unopened wikitext formatting codes, large amounts of span tags containing useless or broken font formatting, LISTGAP errors, and a missing {{end of course timeline}} template at the end of the page, among other problems. I have found that "end" template missing on some other Spring 2023 course pages as well. I'll be happy to help track down the sources of these errors with you. – Jonesey95 (talk) 20:18, 6 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. Looks like you created that 'end of course timeline' template, and the Dashboard code doesn't use it (so course pages that it gets added to will get overwritten). What problem does that template solve? (Currently, I think it won't be found on any course pages except ones where someone manually added it.)
For the errors such as span tags, I believe those are particular to that course's timeline content. The Dashboard lets instructors include arbitrary content in individual timeline blocks via a WYSIWYG editor, which then gets converted to MediaWiki markup to be posted on course pages (via Pandoc). Most instructors don't significantly customize their timelines, so it includes a standard set of content with relatively simple formatting, but for customized timelines, I'm not sure there is a complete solution aside from disabling timeline mirroring altogether. (I'm open to that, as I'm not sure whether anyone finds it useful, but I don't want to make such a change unilaterally.) Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:33, 13 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The end of course timeline template fixes a problem where there was a missing closing </div> tag at the end of the page. The <div> tag is opened by {{start of course timeline}}. Tags that don't exist in pairs generally constitute invalid syntax. Span tags in themselves are not errors, but when they are used to wrap block content, or when they do not have closing tags, they create errors. Bold markup that tries to wrap multiple lines also creates errors. Those sorts of errors appear to be created by the WYSIWYG editor or during the migration of the text from the dashboard to Wikipedia; whatever process creates the errors should be fixed, otherwise edits to fix the syntax will continue to be undone by page updates. The page I fixed once again has 22 syntax errors on it because it has been reimported with updates from the dashboard site, along with the errors created by the dashboard site or the migration process. – Jonesey95 (talk) 03:50, 14 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jonesey95: Wiki Education has a Dashboard where professors/students engage with a course page. The dashboard automatically updates a copy of that course page on-wiki for ease of viewing/linking. In other words, this professor isn't responsible for technical errors on the page, and if there are errors on that course page there are likely errors elsewhere. Sounds like something Sage (Wiki Ed) should be able to help with. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 23:51, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Misleading Wiki Edu sigs at student tutorial pages

@Sage (Wiki Ed):, there appear to be four signatures in your name at the page User talk:Baruch Omale/talk page tutorial, in the responses to section § Hello 3. However, page history shows no activity by you. If there's a procedure or bot placing your sig at Talk pages based on activity by another user, I'm pretty sure that is a policy violation of some sort. Can you look into this?

Secondly, according to the timestamps on the sigs in your name on that page, four identical messages were placed within the same minute. Only, the timestamps aren't accurate, they are unsubst'ed timestamps that always show the time when the page was last loaded, instead of when the messages were saved. Checking page history, it turns out they really were all placed within the same minute, but a year ago. Given the elapsed time since then, maybe this has been fixed already, but I thought I'd better bring it to your attention. Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 21:22, 12 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This comes from the talk page tutorial guided tour — MediaWiki:Guidedtour-tour-wikiedtalkpage.js — which gets launched from this training module. Specifically, the signatures come from Wikipedia:Wiki Ed/tour/talk page preload and Wikipedia:Wiki Ed/tour/talk page preload 2. In that particular case, the student must have navigated back and repeated the tour step that posts the message with my sig multiple times.
If this is against policy, I wasn't aware of it... it hasn't caused any problems that I know of, until now. I believe The Wikipedia Adventure does some very similar things. However, it should be simple to avoid realistic-looking sigs by changing those two preloads. Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:21, 13 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi, Sage. Checking Wikipedia:Signatures (a behavioral guideline, thus not a policy), it does say in the lead sentence that "[s]igning your posts... is required". The second paragraph essentially restates this requirement, and goes on about sanctions for signatures that are intentionally disruptive, clearly not the case here with the student editors. Down the page, section § Signature forgery starts off with the bolded statement, "Never use another editor's signature". Topping the section, is a box stating that this section of the page is, in fact, Wikipedia policy.
The unusual aspect of this case, is that the signature on the page was not intentionally placed there by the Wiki Edu student, but rather by an external process (the Wiki Edu training module, via the script), which, as I understand, is a tool that publishes content on a Wikipedia Talk page on behalf of Wiki Edu students. Imho, any content thus added falls under the responsibility of the student who uses the tool and publishes a Talk page change, for the same reason that someone using a script or bot or semi-automated procedure is responsible for those changes. One analogy might be the semi-automated procedure AWB, where the user interacts with the external tool while making edits. A key difference in how AWB and the training module work, is that if the user agrees with AWB's proposed change, the edit is signed under the name of the user operating AWB, not as, e.g., the name of the programmer who wrote AWB, thus preserving the policy requirement concerning signatures. Otoh, the training module, apparently doesn't do this, substituting your name for the name of the student user who is completing the training module.
This seems like a policy violation to me, but the WP:SIG page doesn't specifically call out anything about bots or editing assistance procedures, so it's not clear whether there's a policy issue here or not. This is the first time I've run into something like this, and isn't my area of expertise, so I'll list this discussion and ask for help. Probably the policy section of the SIG guideline should be modified to address the script- or bot-assisted procedures that place signatures on talk pages so we know for sure what is and isn't covered by the policy. Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 22:38, 18 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As far as the incorrect timestamps, I know there's a way of preventing a WP:Substitution from taking place in a transcluded file by judicious use of <noinclude>; but whether this would work in the preload file case, I'm not sure, as it would be the {{Edit}} template doing that, not the page that transcludes the edit, so maybe some tricky, double-noinclusion would be necessary to get it to work, if it's even possible. But that seems secondary to the userid issue, however. Mathglot (talk) 03:58, 19 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]