Thoughts before leaving Sochi Paralympics: Reporting issues and Paralympic news

Look! I'm media! So cool!

Look! I’m media! So cool!

I leave the Sochi Paralympics today. As a reporter, I met my publishing goals that I set before I left. I need to remember that: 1 article a day is a lot on many levels, and anything else was just bonus. Also, I’m not getting paid to be here, I’m a citizen journalist writing articles for a Wikimedia project. I do not have to answer to an editor “back home” or justify the expense of going to Sochi.

But at the same time, I would have liked to have done more. One of the inherent problems with not being able to dedicate yourself to the craft of journalism is there is a lack of contacts, sometimes a lack of knowledge, and a lack of practice. Reporting relies on contacts. Reporting also relies on boldness. Be bold. Ask the questions. Go where things are. I do not have the contacts, and I can get only 2/3rds of the way there on boldness. (I might have gotten more had I done more research.)

A selfie from the cross country on Sunday

A selfie from the cross country on Sunday

This is why at times I am frustrated by my reporting here: For a few things I wrote, I feel like 70% of what I wrote came from information sheets journalist are given, 25% from pictures I took on a journalist (not photography) accreditation. The color feels hard to come through when my knowledge of things like curling fails me. Plus, I feel like I should write about all four curling sheets, all four matches… not just one. One well placed rock in one end that does not appear like it had a result on the outcome. How do you write that well?

In the afternoon match of wheelchair curling, the United States threw some really bad rocks, weren’t playing aggressively to win initially against the Russians. They went to an 8th end down by three rocks. My understanding is after the 7th end, if you do not think you can win, no 8th end required. The United States wheelchair curlers played the final end much more aggressively. They were assisted in the 8th end by some bad Russian stones which shot the gap between US stones and left the scoring area. This could only be banked on so much, and the Russians did not always misplace rocks. Despite much better playing and having three stones in the scoring area with 2 rocks to go, Russia managed to place a stone the USA could not get out. The United States ended up short, scoring only two of the three points they needed in the 8th end. Unlike the game Canada was playing against Norway on the sheet next to them, there was no forcing an extra end.

Having done so much writing for Wikipedia at times, I struggle with how to write neutrally. I second guess and end up neuturing things. That felt like the case here.

When I get back somewhere (Spain or the USA), I will write more on some of

The United States enters during the Opening Ceremony

The United States enters during the Opening Ceremony

the issues involved with Sochi, better planning thoughts, how to be more successful at this sort of thing, and the metrics at the end of the day.

Let’s move on to other news agencies coverage of the Paralympics. In London during the Paralympics, the Associated Press was not to be found. I read the news often, and I rarely if ever any coverage of the Paralympics. I did not see any reporters on the ground. Here in Sochi, it is a different case. There are USA journalists, several of whom are based up in the mountains. There is media coverage. There is television coverage. (Though I have been told NBC has few people here, with most of the NBC people using OBS feeds and as a consequence being based in the USA.)

I’m not entirely certain I am happy with other United States coverage that I have seen. It appears to take three forms: 1) Ukraine. 2) Oscar Pistorious. 3) Crashes.

I feel tremendous sympathy for the Ukraine. That situation has to a degree impacted my ability to do my reporting here. It is horrible what is going on in the Ukraine, and I cannot imagine the additional stress on the Ukrainian athletes and officials. But some of the reporting appears to hugely political. Craig Spence and Philip Craven were right about things being about sport. So when journalists appear to use the Paralympics as a throwaway line to make a political point about Putin while ignoring the broader issues of inclusion and the elite sport going on, it gets annoying. This is especially annoying when the Paralympics are not contextualized and most USAians have no idea what the Paralympics are about. Many of these sportspeople here get little news coverage outside the Paralympic period, so taking away their moment in the sun by making their participation part of some political disalogue gets annoying. Did I mention annoying? Perhaps I would find this news coverage about the Ukraine aspect less annoying if for every mention of the Ukraine in a Paralympic context, there was a sports articles about the performance of sportspeople… you know, like the Olympics.

The other thing that is annoying is the Oscar Pistorious thing. I don’t know whether I should be blaming the IPC here or the media. Everything is fundamentally political on some level in decision making. The IPC embracing of Vladmir Putin was political. The IPC embracing Oscar Pistorious and chosing to highlight his accomplishments on the big screen was a political decision of sorts. The IPC is chosing to align itself with a man who killed a woman (murdered is to be determined, killed is not disputed), who allegedly cheated on another woman and who liked to play with guns. The IPC chose to align with some one who, after winning silver in the London Paralympics, protested that the person who won gold had an unfair competitive advantage because of his blade. This was a guy who went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to say his own blades did not give a competitive advantage. Hypocrisy, thy name is…

Anyway, back to Oscar and the media. The Associated Press was asking sportspeople about that. You’re a Ukrainian Paralympian. Your race ends. You have won a medal. A United States journalist asks you about… OSCAR PISTRIOUS! You are an American Paralympic medalist and your race ends and a United States journalist asks you about OSCAR PISTORIOUS! ZOMG. So awesome. Where was this during the Olympics? During the Olympics, I did not see a single Associated Press article where, following a person winning their medal in Sochi, the winner was asked, “Are you following the Oscar Pistrious situation? How does his actions impact your Olympic experience? How do you feel as an Olympian being connected to Oscar?” This feels like lazy journalism. Bold to be sure, but lazy. Maybe I have been too inside the movement, but I think the key to Paralympic success and disability access being improve is to focus on the sports. These are elite athletes. They train really hard. They give up a lot to be where they are. When their moment in the sun comes, when they become the best in their field, they get asked about Oscar. Their own accomplishments are ignored.

The last thing I have seen involves crashes and hospitalizations. That make news. I have a harder time faulting this one, though I would like to see more emphasis on success. Great Bitain can do that. Why can’t the USA media?


Wikipedia’s selective gendering of national team article names

In an earlier post, I talked about how some articles are over represented when it comes to article’s about men’s versus women’s national teams.  I know from my own experiences that many articles about men’s national teams are gendered while women’s teams are not.

400 gendered men, 1800 ungendered

The graph above clearly shows this pattern. The majority of women’s article titles are gendered.  The majority of men’s national team articles are not.  Beyond totals, one way of understanding English Wikipedia’s systemic bias against women in sport is to look at what happens when there is a pair of articles about a country’s national team for a particular sport, with one article about the women’s team and one article about the men’s team. Softball, water polo, pitch and putt, lacrosse, inline hockey, floorball, goalball and wheelchair basketball national teams are pretty much all have titles indicating gender, even in situations where there is no match pairs.  Tennis articles consistently do not gender both genders.  Some countries defy traditional gender categorizing, including the United States and Canada, which are both more likely to gender indicate male teams for sports when almost every other country does not.

Before going into this analysis deeper, the group “Male – gendered, female – ungendered” never appears.  There were zero matched pairs where a male article contained the word men and the female article did not contain women. There is no systemic bias in terms of article titles that favour women.

This was done using the same list of national team articles.  It mostly relied on pulling article names from the categories for national teams on English Wikipedia. All articles on the resulting list were tagged as either being gendered because they contained the word “men” or “women” in the article title, or being “not gendered” because they did not contain  word “men” or “women” in the article title. Matched pairs of men’s and women’s teams were sought by country. As there is a much larger number of articles about men’s teams and some sports are more female oriented, the number of articles covered was not going to be equal. 836 matching pairs were found for 223 different countries and 28 different sports. The pairs were then labeled “Male – gendered, female – gendered”, “Male – gendered, female – not gendered”, or “Male – not gendered, female – not gendered”.

There were 517 instances of “Male – gendered, female – not gendered”, 200 instances of “Male – gendered, female – gendered”, and 119 instances of “Male – not gendered, female – not gendered”. (All 119 instances of neither gendered are tennis.)  Total, 61% of Wikipedia’s national team articles involve selective gendering favouring men. 29% of the time, selective gendering is not done.

As mentioned previously, this pattern changes from country to country and sport to sport.  In the case of Great Britain, Canada and United States, over 60% of the time, both teams are gender identified.  If we eliminate tennis’s neither gendering, Turkmenistan, Great Britain, Canada, Tiawan, Botswana, Puerto Rico, United States, Philippines, Czech Republic, Egypt, Mexico, and Venezuela all have more than 60% of their genderized pairs both having genderized titles.  The following countries have their matching pairs both being genderized between 50 and 60% of the time: Finland, Serbia, Australia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Peru.

Let me be clear: This looks yay! on some level, but it still sucks.  The number should be 100% of matching pairs either both including gender or neither article in a matched pair including gender.  Anything else is selective gendering of a national team article to the neutrality detriment of women.

Beyond country naming patterns, there is the sport naming patterns.  Nine sports genderized both men’s and women’s national team articles 100% of the time.  Those sports are Volleyball, Softball, Squash, Goalball, Lacrosse, Ice hockey, Water polo, Wheelchair basketball, and Australian rules.  This is absolutely fantastic, because the total articles involved are higher per sport than for most countries.  (Inline hockey is also high at 89% and floorball at 83%.  No other sports are above 31%.)  It also suggests the problem with systemic bias against women when it comes to articles titles is probably not entirely dependent on the nation but on the sport and its proponents involved in that sport’s Wikiproject.

But we also have the other side: Most sports have problems in that the selectively genderize women’s national team articles while choosing not to genderize men’s national teams articles.  The following sports have between 0% and 2% of their articles in that group: Handball, Soccer, Cricket, Rugby sevens, International rules, Baseball, Beach handball, Rugby league, Rugby union, Kabaddi, American football, and Bandy.  The remaining sports are field hockey at 30%, basketball at 20% and futsal at 14%.

And this is a problem because the sports that are violating Wikipedia’s neutrality policy by selectively genderizing one team over another to the benefit of promoting the men’s game through article title include 515 articles (total men not gendered, women gendered for sports where this represents 70% or more of the articles) compared to 175 for the first cohort (total men gendered, women gendered where this represents 83% or more of the article count).

None of the sports on the list of genderizing women but not genderizing men particularly surprise me.  These are sports where professionalism is dominated by men, some with high degrees of perceived violence or associated with male norms of masculinity.   By asking Wikipedia to enforce neutrality and stop selectively genderizing some articles, there is an implicit challenge to that male masculinity and male dominance in sport.

And that pattern appears unlikely to change, with Wikipedia selectively gendering those sports because, as I have been told before as a female editor, Wikipedia need not be be neutral and factual but should reflect the cultural norms in which it is written.

In the mean time, I ask that when you read a national team article, you look at the title and critically ask yourself about the gender found in the title.

The value of editing Wikipedia articles about the men’s FIFA World Cup teams

First, preface: I am not interested in commercializing Wikipedia.  I believe in an advertisement-free Wikipedia, Wikinews and Commons.  The funding model to support this works, and there is inherent benefit provided that would change this.

I like economic data and thinking about the monetary value of things as it can be used to assist in framing ideas and understanding priorities where other metrics might not.  I originally wanted to write this as a Wikinews article, but unfortunately for me, there is no research offering a clear methodological approach for duplicating existing academic research that would allow for a journalism based approach to allowing the relative ranking of English Wikipedia articles based on the value of individual edits.  See failed article and failed review at Cristiano Ronaldo tops Neymar and Messi on most valuable Wikipedia edits and Talk:Cristiano Ronaldo tops Neymar and Messi on most valuable Wikipedia edits‎.  I’m just inherently unable to do what is required, so I decided to switch to my blog.

Before going into any depth, let me start by saying the monetary and economic value of Wikipedia is not easily defined.  It all depends on how you define it.  There is little discussion of this in any practical sense that can allow for monetary weight of edits.  Indeed, even as the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) makes a bigger push for definitions of success for chapters, itself, user groups and a thematic organization, the WMF has not provided any research as to the value of edits.  Academics haven’t stepped in to fill this void.  If marketers are doing it, they aren’t making it public.  In fact, I think if they have done, they would probably be hiding it because my suspicion is the perceived economic value of Wikipedia by certain segments keen to monetize it is higher than most astute and knowledgeable marketers would put it at.

What is the monetary value of Wikipedia?  Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi (“Wikipedia’s Economic Value” — Infojustice) put the value of all Wikipedia projects at US$6.6 billion, with updating costs of $630 million per year., one of several online automated tools that allows you to estimate the value of your site, puts the value of English Wikipedia at $573,552,771. puts the value of English Wikipedia at $ 166,666,667. puts the value at $486,139,770. puts the value at US$2 billion.   The range is pretty huge with the low end of $166 million and the high end at $6.6 billion.

Wikipedia isn’t a static website.  Pages do not get uniform page views, nor do they have uniform editing patterns.  Some pages, for their visibility, are inherently worth more.  The page titled Climatic Research Unit email controversy has had 7.9 million page views in the past 30 days.  Meanwhile, the article about Ruth Glick had 185.

From a general priority viewpoint, while fully acknowledging the project is based on volunteer contributions in terms of time and priorities and while acknowledging systemic bias in traffic patterns,  focusing on improving articles with high page views seems to be the best strategy.  Again, there is no academic, marketing based or WMF provided formula which suggests what type of edits improve editing content.  There is at times an idea that the more editors involved with an article, the higher quality it will be… or at least, the fewer glaring wrong factual errors it will have.

So focusing back on the total edits and suggesting editing priorities in terms of the men’s FIFA World Cup on Wikipedia. In the past 30 days, Brazil, Germany, England, Portugal, Spain ranked as the top 5.  In terms of a views, that’s 164878 for Brazil, 151817 for Germany, 133590 for England, 124414 for Portugal,  and 122249 for Spain.  Lots of views, but not close to Cristiano Ronaldo at 689777, Lionel Messi at 493801 and Neymar at 243890.  Heck, close but not quite on par with Manchester United F.C. at  201916 or Real Madrid C.F. at 166304.  The numbers for the particular national teams will almost certainly repeatedly speak and gain a certain overall higher average daily plateau during the World Cup itself: this was the pattern at the Olympic Games and to a lesser degree the Rugby World Cup.  Wikipedia traffic to these articles won’t be critically important though as a source of information.  The mainstream media can and will trump Wikipedia in terms of overall page views for this topic because the mainstream media has an economic incentive to drive traffic to their sites for this topic.  It is a big event, with an audience of potentially billions.  These sites are updating frequently.   If there is a fight for that audience during the World Cup, individual player profiles should probably be prioritized first, their club profiles second, national teams third.  Views and use are often seen as indicators of potential success because the goal is to monetize that.  Or at least have the potential to monetize that audience.

What’s all this Wikipedia traffic worth?  (Which is important to know if we’re trying to figure out the value of Wikipedia edits.) We know it has monetary value because we know others are trying to generate traffic based on the World Cup. We also know that search and social media play a huge role in Wikipedia traffic acquisition. This can be verified looking at those sites that valued Wikipedia.  Two sources of publicly measurable data sources for views for these clicks come from Facebook Ads and Google Adwords.

Yesterday and today, I’ve gone to Facebook and Google Adwords and gotten the cost-per-click value associated with keywords for a USA audience to determine what it would cost to buy all these visits.  Not 100% realistic in the case of Google Adwords because the search data shows that the volume of searches doesn’t match with the traffic of these articles, but Google AdWords is one of the best methods we have. Using this metric, Cristiano Ronaldo is worth $510,434.98 on Facebook and  $9,449.94 on Google AdWords.   If we average the two numbers together, Ronaldo traffic to the Ronaldo article is worth $259,942.46.  That’s behind only the 2014 FIFA World Cup article at $454,518.76.  The most valuable player on my list is Ronaldo.  Wayne Rooney is second with $219,113.69. Messi is third at $174,015.47. The first men’s national team that appears on the list $107,493.55.  Next comes Germany at $104,457.69, Brazil at  $88,811.53 and Belgium at $87,482.26.  The top women’s team of the selected teams on the list is the US women at $16,169.37, directly ahead of the Australian men at  $16,046.96 , Landon Donavon at $14,736.40, the Ivory Coast men at $13,351.22 and Russia’s men at $11,292.52.  The Russian men are the worst valued team in terms of Wikipedia article views value of all 2014 World Cup team.

And this is where we have to make a logical jump.  Wikipedia editing is not the same as other website contributions.  Many sites pay $15 to $50 for original blog posts.  Some of them pay flat rates plus extra based on traffic.  Many of these sites are not sport websites, though a few are.  It isn’t particularly possible to say “An article about the US men’s national team will pay $50, while an article about fellow group team Germany is worth $25.”  And then from there, multiple and divide out and divine an answer for the question of how much value an article has.  The metrics just are not available. And again, we don’t have a formula to assign value to individual Wikipedia edits, or to assign monetary value to edits.

So the formula I’ve devised is to take the total number of edits to the article, 10392 for the Ronaldo article as of yesterday, divide that number by the total number of page views to the article in the past 30 days.   In Ronaldo’s case that is 689777.   For his article, there are 66 views for every edit.  Yeah, a number of these edits are probably crap and vandalism.  Some probably were very good in terms of adding information and adding extra bytes.  Absent any meaningful way to separate these out, we’re forced to use that 66 number.  So then we take that number and we multiply it by the average Facebook cost-per-click which is $0.74 and the Google AdWords suggested bid which is $0.01. Facebook value per edit is $48.79 and Google AdWords is $0.90.  Average between the two is $24.85.   It isn’t perfect, but it reflects the different pricing between Facebook and AdWords.

Using this formula, the most valuable 2014 World Cup team based on a per edit basis is the Belgium team article at $33.44.  It has comparatively high Facebook and AdWords value at $0.65 and $0.95.   The ratio of edits to views is also high at 42.  Switzerland, ranked second amongst all teams with a value of $18.91, has a much lower ratio at 24. Only 2014 FIFA World Cup, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, FIFA Ballon d’Or and Lionel Messi have higher ratios than Belgium.   Looking at the bottom, there is England national football team, Iran national football team, Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team, France women’s national football team, Mexico national football team, Australia national association football team and Argentina women’s national football team. All have a views to edit ratio of less than 10.  This monetary value should have some meaning because neither the views, total edits, nor monetary value actually correlate to article quality. The quality is pretty uniformly poor across all articles in this sample, with the exception of Germany women, where the article is a Featured Article and one or two of the player biographies which are legitimate Bs, which means they are relatively complete and almost fully referenced.

So herein lies the value of a Wikipedia edit.  It is independent of article quality.  The formula values market preferences for certain keywords more than others, ranging from $0.00 to $2.37 on AdWords and $0.58 to $0.74 on Facebook.  Edits are more valuable when there are fewer in relation to the audience because more edits isn’t related to article quality, completeness or up-to-date-ness.  This matters because you can understand two measures of external audience interest and the relative value they place on the article’s importance, with article text being supported by edits to it.  Ideally, you probably want to be in the middle of the pack like Manchester United F.C., Ecuador national football team, Franck Ribéry, Ivory Coast national football team and United States men’s national soccer team are.  They have middle of the range edits to views ratio, no huge skew on the Facebook or AdWords value, Edit totals in the 4 digits.  View totals in the 5.

But if you want to know where content creators did relatively less work for relatively large number of page views, where Facebook and AdWords think these topics are worth money, then the complete list of all the articles in the sample is below.

Article Value per Wikipedia edit
2014 FIFA World Cup $103.41
Belgium national football team $33.44
Neymar $32.42
Wayne Rooney $30.30
Cristiano Ronaldo $24.85
Switzerland national football team $18.91
FIFA Ballon d’Or $18.03
Cameroon national football team $17.48
Uruguay national football team $17.41
Association football $16.90
Lionel Messi $15.81
Colombia national football team $14.89
Jurgen Klinsmann $14.60
Germany national football team $14.52
Argentina national football team $12.70
Andrés Iniesta $11.87
Nigeria national football team $11.11
Portugal national football team $10.99
Spain national football team $10.64
Netherlands national football team $9.66
Brazil national football team $9.23
Estádio do Maracanã $9.19
Italy national football team $9.13
Abby Wambach $9.11
Ghana national football team $9.00
Croatia national football team $8.90
France national football team $8.15
Manchester United F.C. $7.85
Ecuador national football team $7.42
Franck Ribéry $7.23
Ivory Coast national football team $6.70
United States men’s national soccer team $6.42
Real Madrid C.F. $6.41
FC Barcelona $6.23
Vicente del Bosque $5.94
United States women’s national soccer team $5.93
Honduras national football team $5.71
Costa Rica national football team $5.56
Ballon d’Or (1956–2009) $5.01
Algeria national football team $4.67
South Korea national football team $4.49
Marta (footballer) $4.43
Germany women’s national football team $4.38
Australia women’s national association football team $4.04
Russia national football team $3.99
Japan national football team $3.85
Landon Donovan $3.69
Mia Hamm $3.64
Nigeria women’s national football team $3.38
England national football team $3.33
Iran national football team $3.21
Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team $3.18
France national women’s football team $3.15
Mexico national football team $2.62
Australia national association football team $1.99
Argentina women’s national football team $1.45
Semen Padang F.C. $1.14