Proposal:Geonotice improvements

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
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  5. Encourage Innovation

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Improvements to the Geonotice functionality would be great for many projects, especially Wikinews. The Geonotice system ought to make it easy to share information about future newsworthy events and photography opportunities, so that Wikinews could efficiently point would-be reporters to potential stories based on their location. For photography, this would also be of great benefit to Wikipedia.

Here is how it might work: there is a new opt-in geonotice (in addition to the current one that reaches everyone in the specified geography). For the opt-in geonotice (which would hopefully be able to reach across projects, since many causal Wikinewsies visit that site only rarely) any trusted user could add new items to let nearby people know about reporting or photography opportunities. For these opt-in notices, we would not need to lock down the ability to add items like we do for the current geonotice system (it's a fully protected page), since people who opt-in will expect a bit a noise.

So, for example, someone could set a notice that Senator Smith is holding a public discussion about pending legislation next week in Middletown, USA. I mark this as a photo opportunity (for photos of the Senator) and a reporting opportunity. The system sets a default radius (or better yet, users specify the radius they want to be notified within) and everyone within a certain distance of Middletown who has opted in to the notice gets a watchlist message pointing to more details.

One can imagine a wide range of tips and events that could be spread to the right people with such a system.


Develop a better, more flexible, more user-friendly Geonotice system.

Geonotices should:

  • Be editable by any trusted user
  • Be simple to configure
  • Be categorizable, and opt-in by category (e.g., "Wikimedia community events", "Reporting opportunities", "Photo opportunities")
  • Be compatible with the new map features that are under development
  • Work across all Wikimedia projects
  • Have the option of user-specified location as an alternative to IP-based location
  • Have a variable radius, based on user preferences


Wikinews doesn't have a system for identifying and pointing users toward opportunities to get out into the offline world and do original reporting. A fine-grained cross-project opt-in geonotice system could be a solution to that problem. If it was easy to list reporting and photography opportunities and easy to to find out about opportunities, it would be possible to form a more robust Wikinews community.

A Geonotice-based system for cataloging, annotating, and discussing reporting opportunities would do a couple things: it would draw in new users to Wikinews, and given enough participation it could provide a resource that is useful for professional journalists. Journalists are eager to figure out useful ways to tap the knowledge of amateurs, and a widely used geography-based tip-line is something that Wikimedia still has a chance to be the first organization to do well. Finding a way to play a major part in the ongoing changes in the journalism world ought to be a high priority for the Foundation.

Key Questions

  • How do we limit the number of such messages to prevent complaints about spamming?

Potential Costs

  • Development costs: salaries for one or more programmers to develop the new functions (or, bounties and/or lots of barnstars for volunteer programmers)
  • Delivery costs: servers to run a more powerful, and presumably more resource intensive, geonotice system; energy to run servers; staff time to maintain servers
  • Community costs: potentially large amount of volunteer effort for using and maintaining geonotice content



  1. Eloquence 01:23, 1 August 2009 (UTC) (see also Proposal:Volunteer Toolkit which is a larger scale effort that would include related functionality)
  2. Sj 01:21, 20 August 2009 (UTC) Also, make this visible in places other than watchlists - which many users don't use.
  3. Lyc. cooperi 11:20, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Community Discussion

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