Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-01-31/WikiProject report

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WikiProject Report: Motto of the Day

By Garden, January 31, 2009

Perhaps not the most conventional WikiProject, but Motto of the Day has been around Wikipedia since 2006—the first motto used was "Hair today, gone tomorrow!" on 11 April that year. The project has undergone many changes since then, and despite occasional lulls in activity is still going strong to this day. The Signpost interviewed six active contributors to MOTD, Hersfold, La Pianista, Nutiketaiel, Queenie, SimonKSK and Simply south, to learn more.

Hersfold

What first attracted you to MOTD?
  • I think it was just the idea of having a "just for fun" Wikiproject that still had some useful purpose. MOTD's mottos are used on hundreds of userpages, and often illustrate how our policies and procedures work in witty or otherwise eye-catching ways. It's an interesting way to educate both new and old users about those policies in a casual manner. There have been multiple times I've hovered over a motto link and found a essay or a guideline I'd never seen before, and if I'm finding myself doing that as an administrator I'm certain that other users are doing the same thing. It's just a nice way to relax after the daily Wikipedia dramaz while still contributing in an indirect way.
Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?
  • I mainly comment on proposals and sometimes schedule them for usage (although lately User:Simply South has been acting like a robot in the latter regard, leaving little actual work for us to do.). I was also largely responsible for one of the more recent revivals of the project. Since MOTD isn't a particularly important project, contributors tend to wander off on a regular basis, and the activity level drops to almost zero repeatedly. Several times we've gotten close to the end of the schedule, and for about a week over the summer I found myself scheduling "reruns" from 2006 since none of the proposed mottos had enough comments to use. When that happens, someone has to kick everyone who says they contribute and get them to actually do so, as well as bring in more recruits. When I did such a revival a few months ago, we went from doing reruns to having two month's worth of mottos all scheduled in advance.
What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?
  • Mottos can be serious or funny, but they have to be eye-catching in some way. We try not to make them too long, although some really good mottos tend to be a bit longer or even mimic templates. They also have to relate to Wikipedia in some way; usually this is done through the use of links, as the mottos often don't have any sort of direct relation by themselves. I tend to prefer the inspirational type mottos more myself; they're more interesting and encourage people to edit more. The quotes are often fun to read as well, though.
What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?
  • I'd say our scheduling process is the most efficient - we have a template system set up to automatically load each motto on the new day. If there is no motto for a given day (for example, if we forget about February 29th on a leap year, which has happened), it will continue to use the motto from the previous day, or use a backup motto if we've really messed up. The thing that needs the most work would probably be our membership levels - as I said, we're continually having problems keeping people around and getting new members.
How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?
  • Not a whole lot - lately I've been more inactive than usual, unfortunately, but I still drop by the project when I need to relax for a bit.
And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?
  • I'm a bit biased, as this is one of the ones I nominated, but this motto comes from a favorite quote of mine that has become a trademark of my university's president.

La Pianista

What first attracted you to MOTD?
  • At first, I noticed the little clever mottoes on userpages here and there, and, interested, I added a little MOTD template to mine. But that was only the beginning. I was fascinated with the idea of writing inspiring messages that could be broadcast wiki-wide (and, hence, worldwide), anytime. Since then, it has played a double-role in my Wikipedia experience - as a fun way to pass my free time and a method of letting important, sometimes long-forgotten messages about the true value of Wikipedia, be remembered.
Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?
  • I'm involved in !voting and nominating new mottoes, or, occasionally, offering suggestions to ones currently being discussed. The reason for the former is quite obvious (!voting, that is), but I find creating and linking new mottoes to be like writing little tidbits of rhetorical art, another way to express what I see in Wikipedia and what I want others to see. It really is a form of poetry, in its own way, with its own life, flow, and rhythm, even if it stems from a centuries-old quote. Think about it: we could write a five-page-long essay about the values of WP:COOL, or we could sum it up in a five-word motto that hits it home dramatically and memorably. It's that idea in particular that makes me want to continue creating new mottoes, hands-on.
What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?
  • I look for a motto that is fresh and has lasting impact. Like a grenade (excuse the metaphor), it's small and compact. But once readers hover over the links, the meaning explodes, perhaps not always fortissimo and with an "Aha" moment, but like a silent song that is sung into the ears of the reader and spoken to the heart of your average Wikipedian. Perhaps that's too sentimental - and I do detest sentimentalists - but that is the kind of effect I look for in a good motto.
What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?
  • It's hard to say, especially seeing as the status of MOTD fluctuates constantly. Just a few weeks ago, the project almost resorted to archived mottoes due to a decrease in the input of new ones. But now, there are new ones being submitted almost every day. Overall, however, I think MOTD is most developed in its collaboration - the community experience isn't lost. But I would advocate a more organized numerical voting system, perhaps based on the pH system (on a whim here) since !voting "strong support" and "weak oppose" is like saying "strong acid" or "weak base" instead of giving tangible value to a !vote.
How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?
  • Hm. I'd say about 10% of my time. Again, that fluctuates - on a motto-rich day, I could spend about 25% of my time there, but when times are dearth, I'd spend about 5% at MOTD.
And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?

Nutiketaiel

What first attracted you to MOTD?
  • It was primarily its utility to its readers- MOTD serves a number of important functions in an informal and fun manner. It reminds users of various policies, it draws their attention to many essays or other portions of Wikipedia that they might not otherwise see and it helps remind everybody of what we are doing here. Every motto has some kind of positive or otherwise meaningful message about Wikipedia, Wikipedians, our values or our purpose here, and I think they serve as a great reminder to people of why we all do this and, sometimes, a little pick-me-up. Sorry, after working at MOTD for a while, I sometimes link compulsively.  :-)
Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?
  • I primarily make comments on the proposed mottos, and occasionally suggest one for myself. One of the great joys in working with this project is when a couple of us make comments together on a motto and shepherd it from an initial proposal to its final form. Of course, many mottos are just fine or even exemplary in their original form, but just as many need a little help to get from their initial idea to their finished form. One user suggests a new link here, another suggests a slight rephrasing, and we come to a consensus on a finished product. I also like that, unlike some of my experiences editing articles or working with other wikiprojects, there is almost never any acrimony in the discussions over mottos. Everyone is respectful of the opinions and contributions of others and we all work harmoniously together to bring the motto to its best possible form. In that way, the commenting and approval process for MOTD is like a microcosm of how Wikipedia as a whole is supposed to work- multiple editors from multiple points of view working together harmoniously to create something of use to us all. (Incidentally, for an excellent example of this process going on right now, check out Wikipedia:Motto_of_the_day/Nominations/In_review#.E2.86.92_Regulation_is_of_little_effect.2C_while_persuasion_has_much_more_effect.)
What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?
  • Well, as I stated above, every motto has some kind of positive or otherwise meaningful message about Wikipedia, Wikipedians, our values or our purpose here. Many of them are funny, but humor is not the real goal- the message is what is important. I am especially fond of mottos that highlight or bring attention to areas of Wikipedia or Wikiprojects that are not well known, or that deserve greater attention or recognition. For example, I am always fond of mottos that remind us about the Kindness Campaign or Wikipedia Awards (you know, Barnstars), both of which are (in my opinion) somewhat underutilized means of recognizing our fellow Wikipedians for the great work they do. You know, now that I think about it, I think a motto pointing the way to the Signpost might be a good thing as well. But, I digress. Highlighting a less well known aspect of Wikipedia is important, but the positive or otherwise meaningful message is the most important thing. Lets look at today's motto, for example. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. It is a reminder to everybody that hard to recognize POV violations often do more harm than easily recognized and often accidental nonsense added to the wiki. In other words, when you're contributing, remember the Wikipedia's neutral point of view and keep your own bias out of the encyclopedia. It also reminds editors to assume good faith, even when reading through patent nonsense. This is less of a positive message than it is a meaningful one. Yesterday's motto was Little strokes fell great oaks. That is a reminder to us all that it is the little, everyday civilities that help prevent edit wars- a positive message reminding editors to be civil, friendly and cooperative with each other and praising them for doing so. The message that the motto is getting across is the most important part, even for the funny ones. I would never offer my support to a motto that is funny, but lacks a positive or meaningful message about Wikipedia, or one that is deep and meaningful, but has no relevance to the work we do in this great human wiki-endeavor. I hope that answers your question.
What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?
  • The most developed portion is the proposal of the mottos and the consensus reaching, since that is where we spend most of our time. I really can't single out any section of the process that needs alot of work, except perhaps that we need to work harder to maintain the high levels of participation that we currently enjoy.
How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?
  • On average, I'd say about 15%, though that can fluctuate as high as 30% when we have alot of new mottos to go through. I tend to spend the most time there on Mondays, as I rarely work on Wikipedia over the weekends; it tends to be more of a diversion while I'm at work (don't tell my boss).
And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?
  • Wow. You think this question is fun? Now I'm going to have to go through all those mottos and look for one that is my favorite. I really don't think of them in these terms, normally. OK, hang on, I'll go check.
    • OK, I'm back. I was surprised. After looking through all the mottos since I joined up, I think the other day's,
      " Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."
      , was my favorite. It's short and has impact, and says an important message about the nature of our work here at Wikipedia. Though, I have to admit that the funniest one and the one I most enjoyed was the Russian Reversal-
      " In Soviet Wikipedia, you don't own article...
      ...Article own you!
      "
      • I know its silly and I know its been done to death, but I just can't help but laugh every time I see it. Oh, and by the by, reporter-man, you got me. This WAS fun.  :-)

Queenie

What first attracted you to MOTD?
  • I saw a userbox on La Pianista's user page which read "this user is a frequent contributor to Motto of the day." Interested, I clicked the link and ended up on the MOTD main page. I liked the idea of all the different opinions and ideas coming together and joined up.
Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?
  • The closing/reopening/approving process, because I noticed that nearly 100% of the decisions were made by Simply South. When I found out from him (or her) that you don't need any special qualifications to close mottos, I joined in. I do vote for mottos occasionally, when I feel that a good motto is not getting enough support.
What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?
  • Something out of the ordinary, not just the usual "blah blah". There are a lot of FA- and admin-related mottos, which become wearing after a while. However, I do like to see famous quotes interpreted in a clever way, mottos that highlight little-known but still important areas and clever, humourous linkage.
What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?
  • That's a hard one. There could be more decision makers/archivists (the last 24 mottos have been closed by only 3 different people), and the voting system gets sticky sometimes (there may be 1 support vote, 1 oppose vote and oodles of comments or replies that have absolutely no bearing on what the consensus will be). The voting numbers have perked up though. Before, at least 60% of all mottos were closed as "no consensus", but now there are always plenty of opinions. There are always plenty of new mottos, too. Yes, I'd say that the voting/decision making systems need more development and the voting numbers/motto numbers are the most developed.
How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?
  • Going through yesterday's contribs, I'd say I spend around 15% of my time on MOTD. I edit articles and revert vandalism during the day, and then at around 8 p.m. I go to MOTD and spend a merry hour there.
And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?

Little strokes fell great oaks, off the top of my head. Also, Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much, a motto which I was afraid would not pass, much to my dismay, because it's a great motto. As I said earlier, there are so many tedious mottos saying how FAs are the greatest, but this one shows that in the end, it's about Wikipedia.

SimonKSK

What first attracted you to MOTD?
  • A lot of things attracted me to MOTD, but the main thing was seeing all of the different userboxes and templates on people's user pages. I checked it out, and I loved the clever mottoes and I loved hearing all of these user's opinions. I also loved how they remind us of our policies and community in a fun and clever way.
Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?
  • The support/oppose process. It's the most important part, in my opinion. I like to let my voice be heard. There are never any fights and every one is respectful. My secret is the famous fortune cookie. They always give you cheesy, but perfect mottoes for MOTD. I also take part in the approve/reopen/decline process.
What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?
  • The best kind of motto is one that makes you think, or something that reaches out to little known projects. For example, one motto that was approved was "Listen up!." This is what I call a perfect motto because it reaches out to a project that doesn't get much views. I also love humorous mottoes because it shows the kind of community we are.
What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?
  • The support/oppose process is the most developed, in my opinion. I also think that more special nominations are needed, as there has not been one for a while.
How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?
  • I spent about 10% on MOTD when I'm bored or if I have a motto I want to nominate. Usually, I just come in and check the new nominations. If I see something I like, I will support it.
And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?
  • I don't really have one until a few days ago. This motto:
    These aren't even oranges, they're yellows. Still, that doesn't mean we should throw them out, since there's no reason not to eat them,
    was excellent and it really speaks for itself. That is what a MOTD should be.

Simply south

What first attracted you to MOTD?

I'm not quite sure what did attract me first. I saw this on many users' userpages and that and thought it would be a fun place to do it. I did not start on it straight away but after seeing it a few times thought i would try it out i think.

Which part of the process are you most involved in? Why?

I am involved in multiple processes throughout this project, particularly the decision making and the archiving, although i do contribute new ideas every now and then. From some point in the past onwards i have helped with reshaping some of the project, as well as Hersfold, although most of the core has remained the same. This was partially discussed at User:Qae/MOTD. I think as many people have pointed out, my main area seems to be the decision making. I must point out that it seems more that the making of dicisions seems to be different according to different people. Btw, when referring to archiving, this simply means mottos in which decisions have been made are archived, not the decision making process. These I have done since nearly a year after my start in this project. As noted above i am also involved in the scheduling. Why? On the first few bacause i enjoy contributing to this project, simple. The scheduling because it needs to be done and forms the final and integral part of the project so when the day comes up, other people are able to see the final result. I would also like to point out that i'm not the only one involved in these processes.

What do you aim for or look for in a great motto for Wikipedia?

I look for anything that is funny and inspirational, or just have links that make sense. I do not have particularly high expectations just as long as it says something meaningful about the different processes and acts as a guide to both new and common users (editors and readers alike). The mottos themselves are interesting to read at times if you have never heard them before.

What area of MOTD is the most developed, and which needs most work, in your opinion?

Probably the nominations area although there are still cases of people proposing mottos elsewhere. Places that could do with improvement are FUI (a common abbreviation for Frequently Used Idea, an area noting where mottos have been done notable times before) which could do with updating, and the Approved page with which due to the reshaping has virually made that page obsolete.

How much of your Wikipedia time do you spend on MOTD, percentage-wise?

Without giving away too much, it really depends on the day ... guess 10–25% but it varies

And, just for fun, what is your favourite motto of all time?

A difficult question. There have been many that i have liked in the past and sometimes a simplistic (at least in links) one is very good e.g. And now for something completely different.... I doubt i would be able to say about one i liked which i promoted which was recent involving a teapot. There are many i like out there. I do remember that at one point there was one involving a red button or red link ...



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Orphans — News and notes — In the news — Dispatches — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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