Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-12-01/WikiProject report

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WikiProject Report: WikiProject Solar System

By Cryptic C62, 1 December 2008

Welcome to another issue of the WikiProject Report, highlighting the ways Wikipedians coordinate their efforts to make Wikipedia better. In this issue, we're interviewing Ruslik0, the current coordinator for WikiProject Solar System. With only 30 members, it is a fairly small WikiProject,[1] yet it has still managed to produce, among other featured content, the extremely comprehensive Solar System featured topic. Ruslik0 is here to tell us about how it all works.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your history as an editor.
    Well, I am a theoretical physicist. I am not an astronomer or planetary scientist. However I have been interested in astronomy since my childhood years. Wikipedia gives me an opportunity to find a useful application of my interest in astronomy.
    I made my first edits in April 2006. I actually wanted to find some information (escape velocities and gravity accelerations) about moons of Saturn, but could not. Wikipedia articles contained information that was sometimes wrong and sometimes outdated. In addition the information I found in en.wiki contradicted other sources. So I grew increasingly frustrated and decided to fix the problem myself. I calculated gravity and escape velocities and updated the values in articles. This was my first contribution to Wikipedia. After that I made no edits for almost a year.
    However then in March 2007 I again failed to find satisfactory information about moons of Saturn and Callisto, as I remember. The latter article actually had a {{unreferenced}} banner at the top, and did not look like a very promising source of information. So I decided to add sources myself. I found a good paper and update masses/radii of satellites. I also fully referenced Callisto article. I would probably have stopped at that point, had not I learned about FAC and GAN. So I thought it would be great to bring one article to GA level and another to FA. By the June 2007 I did this with Amalthea and Rings of Jupiter. I initially wanted to stop after that, but quickly discovered that I could not. Every wikipedian knows what followed after that. Ruslik (talk) 11:32, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
  2. You are currently the self-appointed WikiProject Solar System coordinator. How and when did this happen? What are your duties and privileges as project coordinator?
    In the last summer I noticed that Wikiproject Solar System was in a miserable state. It had about 500 articles under its umbrella, almost all of them unrated. I started doing some maintenance work. Currently all ~5000 Solar System articles have quality ratings. I personally rated probably ~1000 of them. I also noticed that self-appointing is popular among coordinators. I came up with an idea to appoint myself a coordinator of the Solar System Wikiproject. I did this in September; nobody has objected. Now I even have two self-appointed assistants (User:Serendipodous and User:Ceranthor).
    As to duties and privileges? There are no privileges only duties, I would say. I try to maintain consistent ratings among Solar System articles. In addition I updated the main project page and did some work on Portal:Solar System. Ruslik (talk) 11:32, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
  3. The Solar System project has over 40 featured articles, many of which you have contributed to. Solar System is also a fully featured topic. Some might say that bringing a topic of this scope and importance to featured status would require a great deal of effort and organization by you and the project members. Others might argue that the individual articles of your project are much easier to bring to featured status than, for example, those belonging to WP:COUNTRIES, as the content involved is much more clear-cut and the scientific data are so objective, well-researched, and highly publicized. What do you think?
    Well, it requires some level of coordination, of course. One editor can not really write a featured article alone. Any text needs at least copy-editing by someone not familiar with it. Very complicated articles (Formation and evolution of the Solar System, for instance) were written by several editors closely collaborating with each other. However the featured topic itself has not required so much collaboration. Creating a new topic is actually quite simple, providing you have enough GA and FA articles. Solar System FT was actually created by other editors (including Serendipodous—another great contributor to Solar System articles) before I even came to Wikipedia.
    I also do not agree that writing astronomy related articles is so simple. If it is so simple, why so few editors are working in this area? I invite anybody who thinks that it is simple to bring at least one Solar System article to featured status. In reality scientific papers are not so clear-cut, they often contradict each other and may contain plain errors. In addition, scientists have their own idiosyncrasies. So I always need to decide which information to include and which to ignore. This may be a difficult choice. Another problem is overabundance of information in some areas (Formation and evolution of the Solar System), when it is a problem to select a limited number of papers from many thousands that are available.
  4. Since becoming featured in November 2006, the Solar System topic has undergone 9 supplementary nominations, more than any other topic to date.[2] What's that all about? Is it just because the topic was among the first 5 to be featured and has had to deal with 2 years of shifting criteria?
    Initially FT Solar system included only Sun, eight planets, moon and other articles about major parts of the Solar System (18). After that six articles about giant moons became featured and we decided that they should be included (18+6=24). Formation and evolution followed soon (24+1=25). So inclusion criteria have been constantly evolving. And finally last summer IAU decided that two more bodies should be called dwarf planets. To avoid demotion of the topic these bodies—Makemake and Haumea were quickly brought to FA level and included in FT (25+2=27). However, after all those additions the topic became too large and was recently split. Three subtopics were formed: Dwarf planets, Galilean moons and Main belt. The main Solar System topic currently contains 17 articles. So nine supplements are not unusual, in my opinion.
  5. After the failure of the previous supplementary nomination back in September, do you think the topic is in a stable state for now, or do you plan on expanding it further?
    I think it is unreasonable to expand it further (however Planets beyond Neptune can be a nice addition to it), because this topic is already really big. Currently we are actually focused at subtopics. Three subtopics exist now. We are working on Jupiter subtopic that will probably supersede Galilean moons subtopic. Ruslik (talk) 20:19, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
  6. You mentioned that you are a theoretical physicist, yet according to your user page, you haven't significantly contributed to any non-astronomical physics articles. Why is that?
    I have enough theoretical physics at work. So, for me writing astronomy articles is just a form of rest. However I often review natural sciences articles that are FA candidates. Ruslik (talk) 20:19, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
  7. Your user page also mentions that your native language is Russian. Do you plan on using your language skills and your experience writing English astronomy articles to contribute to the Russian Wikipedia?
    I am actually a rare guest on ru.wiki. This is mainly because of the lack of time. However I noticed that some of the FA articles, which I contributed to, were translated to Russian. Ruslik (talk) 20:19, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Notes

  1. ^ By contrast, Wikipedia:WikiProject Military History has over 700 members.
  2. ^ The second most is only 2, held by Kingdom Hearts.



Also this week:

ArbCom elections — In the news — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Arbitration report


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