The Signpost

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The Signpost
2016 February 24 The Signpost.jpg
Cover of The Signpost (February 24, 2016)
TypeMonthly newspaper
Owner(s) Wikipedia community
Founder(s)Michael Snow
Publisher English Wikipedia
LaunchedJanuary 10, 2005
Free online archives

The Signpost (formerly The Wikipedia Signpost [1] ) is the English Wikipedia's online newspaper. [2] [3] [4] [5] Managed by the Wikipedia community, it is published online with contributions from Wikipedia editors. [6] The newspaper reports on the Wikipedia community and events related to Wikipedia, including Arbitration Committee rulings, [7] Wikimedia Foundation issues, [8] and other Wikipedia-related projects. [9]

English Wikipedia English‑language edition of the free online encyclopedia

The English Wikipedia is the English-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Founded on 15 January 2001, it is the first edition of Wikipedia and, as of April 2019, has the most articles of any of the editions. As of November 2019, 12% of articles in all Wikipedias belong to the English-language edition. This share has gradually declined from more than 50 percent in 2003, due to the growth of Wikipedias in other languages. As of 7 November 2019, there are 5,966,359 articles on the site, having surpassed the 5 million mark on 1 November 2015. In October 2015, the combined text of the English Wikipedia's articles totalled 11.5 gigabytes when compressed.

An online newspaper is the online version of a newspaper, either as a stand-alone publication or as the online version of a printed periodical.

Wikipedia community volunteer communities that write, edit and maintain the various language editions of Wikipedia

The Wikipedia community is the community of contributors who create and maintain the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Individual contributors are known as "Wikipedians". added the word "Wikipedian" in August 2012.


It was founded in January 2005 by Wikipedian Michael Snow. [10] [11] Originally called The Wikipedia Signpost, the newspaper's title was later shortened to The Signpost. [1] [12] Snow continued as a contributor until his February 2008 appointment to the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees. [13]

Former editor-in-chief, The ed17, noted that during his tenure from 2012 to 2015, the publication expanded its scope to report on the wider Wikimedia movement in addition to Wikipedia and its community. [14] In January 2015, Wikipedia editors Gamaliel and Go Phightins! succeeded The ed17 as editors-in-chief, [14] followed by Pete Forsyth in 2016 [15] and Evad37 in 2017. [16] After reporting on the changes to European freedom of panorama law in June 2015, The Signpost was referred to by a number of publications for further information. [17] [18] [19]

Freedom of panorama The right to freely create images of copyrighted works in public places

Freedom of panorama (FOP) is a provision in the copyright laws of various jurisdictions that permits taking photographs and video footage and creating other images of buildings and sometimes sculptures and other art works which are permanently located in a public place, without infringing on any copyright that may otherwise subsist in such works, and the publishing of such images. Panorama freedom statutes or case law limit the right of the copyright owner to take action for breach of copyright against the creators and distributors of such images. It is an exception to the normal rule that the copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorize the creation and distribution of derivative works. The phrase is derived from the German term Panoramafreiheit.

The Signpost has been the subject of academic analysis in Sociological Forum , [20] the social-movements journal Interface, [21] and the New Review of Academic Librarianship, [22] and was consulted for data on Wikipedia by researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Dartmouth College. [23] It has been covered by The New York Times , [24] The Register , [25] Nonprofit Quarterly, [26] and Heise Online . [27] The book Wikipedia: The Missing Manual called The Signpost essential reading for ambitious new Wikipedia editors. [28]

Sociological Forum is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Eastern Sociological Society. It has been published since 1986. The current editor is Karen A. Cerulo. The journal covers all areas of sociology and related fields, emphasizing innovative direction in sociological research.

Los Alamos National Laboratory research laboratory for the design of nuclear weapons

Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory initially organized during World War II for the design of nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project. It is located a short distance northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico in the southwestern US.

Dartmouth College private liberal arts university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, it is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Although founded as a school to educate Native Americans in Christian theology and the English way of life, Dartmouth primarily trained Congregationalist ministers throughout its early history before it gradually secularized, emerging at the turn of the 20th century from relative obscurity into national prominence.


Signpost founder Michael Snow later chaired the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees. Snow WMF Board Sept 2009.jpg
Signpost founder Michael Snow later chaired the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees.

The online newspaper, first published in January 2005 as The Wikipedia Signpost, was later renamed The Signpost. [1] [12] It was founded by Michael Snow, a Wikipedian and later chair of the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees. [1] [11] Similar efforts had been made with Wikipedia:Announcements by Larry Sanger on November 20, 2001, [29] [30] Wikimedia News on Meta-Wiki November 14, 2002, [31] and Wikipedia-Kurier in the German Wikipedia on December 10, 2003. [32]

Wikimedia Foundation American non-profit charitable organization

The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is an American non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is mostly known for participating in the Wikimedia movement. It owns the internet domain names of most movement projects and hosts sites like Wikipedia. The foundation was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sibling projects through non-profit means.

Larry Sanger American former professor, co-founder of Wikipedia, founder of Citizendium and other projects

Lawrence Mark Sanger is an American internet project developer and co-founder of the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, of which he wrote much of the original governing policy. He has also worked on other online educational websites such as Nupedia, Citizendium, and Everipedia.

German Wikipedia German language edition of Wikipedia

The German Wikipedia is the German-language edition of Wikipedia, a free and publicly editable online encyclopedia.

Snow wrote in its first issue: "I hope this will be a worthwhile source of news for people interested in what is happening around the Wikipedia community", [33] and said that The Signpost's name was suggested by the Wikipedia practice of editors digitally signing talk-page posts. [33] He stepped down as editor of The Signpost in August 2005, continuing to write for the newspaper until his February 2008 appointment to the Board of Trustees. [13] Ral315 succeeded Snow as editor, writing in his first post: "I'd like to personally thank Michael for his work on the Signpost; it was a great idea that really helped Wikipedians learn more about the happenings on Wikipedia." [34] He conducted a survey for The Signpost in September 2007, estimating a weekly readership of approximately 2,800 Wikipedia users based on survey results. [35]

In July 2008, user Ral315 wrote about transparency for The Signpost, acknowledging that at the request of the Wikimedia Foundation, the newspaper had decided not to publish an article about a pending legal case against the foundation. [36] According to the editor, "I feel this was an unfortunate, but necessary move"; because of the newspaper's affiliation with the Wikimedia Foundation, an article about the lawsuit "might have had a severe effect on the case." [36] Ral315 expressed concern about the future impact of the decision: "I'm still rather troubled by the very nature of this situation, because it was the first time that I've felt pressured by the Wikimedia Foundation not to write or publish a story. This also leaves us with a dangerous precedent that I'm hoping only to keep in the most serious cases." [36]

Wikipedia community members working on The Signpost at a conference in New York City, 2009 Signpost Editors NYC Wiki-Conference.jpg
Wikipedia community members working on The Signpost at a conference in New York City, 2009

The Signpost published its 200th issue in November 2008. [37] A total of 1,731 articles had been published, written by 181 contributors. [37] Wikipedia user Ragesoss took over as editor of the newspaper in February 2009, in an issue which featured a new layout. [38] Ragesoss resigned as editor in June 2010, and HaeB took over as the newspaper debated changing its name from The Wikipedia Signpost to The Signpost. [39] That year, sister Wikipedia publications managed by volunteer contributors included The Wikipedia Weekly, a podcast, and The Wikizine, a news bulletin. [40] [41]

HaeB resigned as editor after he was hired by the Wikimedia Foundation in July 2011: "It would make it too much of a conflict of interest if I were to continue to make final editorial decisions for a community-run publication." [42] After three interim editors-in-chief, [43] Wikipedia user The ed17 took over in May 2012 as The Signpost's eighth editor. [44] He previously edited The Bugle, the publication of the WikiProject dedicated to improving the encyclopedia's military history articles. [44] The International Business Times noted in a 2013 article that The Signpost's investigative journalism uncovered a link between the Wiki-PR firm and conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia. [45]

2015 reporting by The Signpost on changes to freedom of panorama copyright restrictions in Europe was covered by publications in several languages, including German, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Blacked out London-Eye-2009.JPG
2015 reporting by The Signpost on changes to freedom of panorama copyright restrictions in Europe was covered by publications in several languages, including German, Italian, Polish, and Russian.

After its June 2015 reporting on the likelihood of increased copyright restrictions in Europe involving changes to freedom of panorama, [47] The Signpost was consulted for information by publications in several languages, including English, [48] [49] German, [46] Italian, [17] Polish, [18] [50] and Russian. [19]

Heise Online highlighted the use of a papal conclave image in a Signpost article about controversy with Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov, saying that it symbolized pressure on the foundation's Board of Trustees. Fumo negro.jpg
Heise Online highlighted the use of a papal conclave image in a Signpost article about controversy with Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov, saying that it symbolized pressure on the foundation's Board of Trustees.

Wikipedia users Gamaliel and Go Phightins! became editors-in-chief of The Signpost in January 2015. [14] The ed17 noted that during his tenure, the newspaper expanded its scope beyond the English Wikipedia to the wider Wikimedia movement. [14] In a January 2015 tenth-anniversary retrospective, Gamaliel emphasized that further improvements to the newspaper depended on collaboration and involvement by the Wikipedia community and invited users to contribute suggestions and join the editing team. [52] In their first issue of the newspaper as editors-in-chief, Go Phightins! and Gamaliel wrote about the unique role of The Signpost: "We will strive to maintain our voice and standing as an independent entity, separate from the WMF, Wikimedia chapters, WikiEd, or other entities." [53]

In January 2016, Fortune and Ars Technica relied on The Signpost in reporting a vote of no confidence by Wikipedia editors against Arnnon Geshuri joining the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. [54] [55] While reporting in February 2016 about controversy and confusion at the Wikimedia Foundation concerning executive director Lila Tretikov remaining in her position, The Signpost illustrated its article with a photo of black smoke emanating from a chimney in reference to the papal conclave used to select a pope. [51] According to Heise Online , the photo indicated pressure on the board to take action. [51] Andreas Kolbe wrote for The Signpost "that the creation of a successful search engine would transform volunteers into 'unpaid hamsters.'" [56]


The Signpost publishes stories relating to the Wikipedia community, the Wikimedia Foundation, and other Wikipedia-related projects, [8] [9] [57] [58] and is provided free of charge. [3] [5] The Wikipedia community manages the newspaper. From 2005 to March 2016, The Signpost was published on a weekly basis. In April 2016, the nominal periodicity was changed to "fortnightly" (every two weeks) due to a shortage of contributors. [6] But in January and February 2017 only three issues were published, [59] and none in March, April or May. It is now published monthly. Readers may choose to be notified of a new issue by email or, with a Wikipedia account, on their user talk page. [28]

The newspaper informs Wikipedia editors about ongoing collaborative projects to improve articles on the site, [60] and is a location for centralized notices of recent academic studies about Wikipedia. [12] The Signpost includes an arbitration report, formerly known as "The Report on Lengthy Litigation", which details proceedings by Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee. [7]

The Signpost archives are publicly available, facilitating study of the history of Wikipedia. [10]


In a 2009 article in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Sociological Forum , Piotr Konieczny called The Signpost an example of a subcommunity within the larger Wikipedia community. [20] In the social-movements journal Interface that year, Konieczny cited The Signpost as part of the "complexity and richness of those organizations" in which individuals can volunteer their time on the website. [21]

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Dartmouth College relied on Signpost archives to track Wikipedia editing outages, presenting their findings at the 2011 IEEEIWIC/ACM International Conference on Web Intelligence. [23] In her 2013 study of Wikipedia and its reputation in higher education in the journal New Review of Academic Librarianship, Gemma Bayliss reviewed the Signpost Twitter feed to confirm the timeliness of her research. [22]


If you expect to continue editing at Wikipedia ... subscribe to ... The Wikipedia Signpost.

 —John Broughton, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual [28]

In 2007 The New York Times called The Signpost a "mocked-up newspaper", with a retro style characteristic of Wikipedia and "its own special brand of kitsch". [24] In his 2008 book, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual , John Broughton recommended The Signpost as essential reading for aspiring Wikipedia contributors: "If you expect to continue editing at Wikipedia for any length of time, by all means subscribe to ... The Wikipedia Signpost." [28]

Fortune called The Signpost "Wikipedia's insider newspaper". [54] In a 2016 article The Register 's executive editor, Andrew Orlowski, described The Signpost as "Wikipedia's own plucky newsletter." [25] According to Ars Technica tech-policy editor Joe Mullin, documents were leaked to (and published by) The Signpost about the Knight Foundation's Knowledge Engine grant for a Wikimedia Foundation search-engine project in February 2016. [61] Writing about the Knowledge Engine controversy, Nonprofit Quarterly editor-in-chief Ruth McCambridge directed technically-minded readers to The Signpost "to better understand what was being planned." [26] In his article for the German magazine Heise Online , Torsten Kleinz wrote: "When official communications ground to a halt, The Signpost ... jumped into the breach, brought unknown facts to light and initiated an informed discussion." [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Wikinews free-content news source wiki and a project of the Wikimedia Foundation

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Arbitration Committee panel of editors on Wikimedia projects

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Further reading