What is Neotarf?

neotarf avatarNeotarf is a pen name I use on Wikimedia and Wikipedia-related places on the internet.

Al-tarf is the brightest star in the crab constellation. “Tarf” means eye, and “neo” of course means new. The expression comes from an editor I used to work with who would ask for someone to proofread by saying “new eyes”. I consider myself to be a Wiki-Gnome, someone who “makes small, incremental changes without clamoring for attention”.

I have written some 249 articles – mostly biographies – across 7 different language wikis. The first one was for human rights activist Susana Trimarco. The most off-beat topic I have written about was probably El Koshary Today, an Egyptian political satire website. I have also contributed to a number of other articles, mostly about human rights, as well as pitching in at some of the less glamorous but necessary backrooms of Wikipedia: requested moves and the reliable sources noticeboard, which has given me some perspective on the inner workings of the place. I was invited to collaborate on the Simplified Manual of Style, which is now a standard feature on templates for welcoming new users.

By 2013, the hostile and unsafe nature of Wikipedia’s online culture was starting to become evident to me, as well as to the outside press, and after seeing how academics fared with Wikipedia’s arbitration enforcement and discretionary sanctions, I decided to leave.

At that point, I was invited to join the Signpost, Wikipedia’s in-house news journal, and I committed to working on the project for a year, with the understanding I could use it on my resume.  During the 2013 arbitration cycle, I followed the English Wikipedia’s arbitration committee, and wrote a regular Signpost feature called the Arbitration Report.  The arbitration report had been done before, but I took it in a new direction by inviting comment by committee members, and by writing about the issues behind the arbitration, for example, Infoboxes: After the War. A complete index of my Arbitration Report articles can be found here.  I also wrote the feature for the August 13, 2014 issue of the Signpost, titled “Media Viewer controversy spreads to German Wikipedia“, on the Superprotect controversy.

This web page was originally used for hosting files that I wanted to link to on English Wikipedia. Gradually it evolved to a place to keep notes and extended comments about Wikipedia issues. The topic of editor retention particularly interests me.

Most recently I have started making transcripts of Wikipedia-related audio files that are not available elsewhere and posting them here. Three of these with a particular significance to the Wikimedia movement have been cross-posted to WikiSource:

* Jimmy Wales Speaks at Closing Ceremony of Wikimania 2015

* Danielle Citron speaks at WikiConference USA 2015

* Privacy and Harassment on the Internet (2016) by Katherine Maher

I would highly recommend the last video, executive director Maher’s 11-minute talk at Mozfest.

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My Wikimedia home page is at: Wikimedia Meta.
Contact: My Wikimedia email address is Neotarf(AT)gmail(DOT)com
[Image credit: Kitab al-Bulhan, late 14th c. Arabic manuscript]