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WikiProject Apple Inc., formerly WikiProject Macintosh and WikiProject iPhone OS, is an evolving project that dates back to December 2005. It assumed its current form in May 2010, with two task forces handling the duties of the old Macintosh and iPhone OS projects. WikiProject Apple Inc. is home to 4 featured articles and lists, 18 good and A-class articles, and a total of over 4,000 articles maintained by 20 members. The project hosted an unassessed article backlog elimination drive last month, resulting in the elimination of the entire backlog of over 500 articles.
This week we interviewed five contributors. HereToHelp joined the Macintosh project several years ago and claims to be the project's oldest active member. Mono, a writer for the Signpost, describes himself as an Apple "fanboy" and initiated the project's transition from WikiProject Macintosh to WikiProject Apple Inc. SuperHamster participated in the project's backlog elimination drive in May, later "officially" becoming a member of the project. RN describes himself as "not historically a wikiproject person," but he joined recently after editing Apple-related articles for several years. David Fuchs is an admin and graphic designer with experience reviewing FACs, GANs, and peer reviews. Members Airplaneman and NerdyScienceDude also contributed to this report.
The project has undergone some major reorganization in the past couple months, including the merging of WikiProject Macintosh and WikiProject Apple. Why were these changes necessary and how have they improved the project?
Mono: After joining, I began to realize that most of the stuff on the project page was two years old and nothing really happened there. Eventually, I was working on a portal somewhere and I floated the idea for a revival on Airplaneman's talkpage. Soon after, we rebuilt the project page, notified all old members (most didn't respond), and slowly began reorganizing. People began to show up, and we found consensus to shift the project's scope, renaming Macintosh to Apple Inc. This change allowed more collaboration, and I'm certainly looking forward to future project endeavors.
HereToHelp: A few months ago, several people started showing up on the long-dead project talk page. I was skeptical at first, but out of the blue, or so it seemed, there were new people who wanted to get involved. I had previously tried to rename the project to Apple, but it fell through almost immediately. Now, we've been able to make progress towards articles and retain a critical mass of editors.
David Fuchs: Part of the problem with having too many overlapping projects is that it divides editor attention and leads to higher attrition. In practical terms, WikiProject Macintosh was covering almost everything created by Apple Inc., such as the iPod. Merging the projects together was common sense to gather everyone under the same umbrella. Another benefit of the merge and resulting discussions was narrowing the scope to shed articles that were better covered by other projects—video games whose only relevance to the project was they were released on the Mac platform at some point, for example. A leaner, meaner project is a happier project.
WikiProject Apple Inc. is home to four pieces of featured content. A fifth piece of featured content, Macintosh, was the subject of a collaboration last month in an effort to prevent delisting, which occurred 5 July 2010. Have you been involved in the promotion of any of these articles or in the recent collaboration? What have you learned from these experiences?
HereToHelp: Promoting Macintosh to Featured Article status was the one great achievement of the "old" project. It was nominated for delisting two years later, and by that point I was Wiktator of a dead project and defended the article in a ten-week siege. Now it's up for delisting again, but this time I have help. I've learned that projects can go in cycles as interest waxes and wanes, and that it is extremely helpful to have someone help you improve articles.
When the iPhone 3G came out in 2008, people created a direct copy of the iPhone article and made changes to reflect the new model. This lead to a lot of duplicated content, because the devices have so much more in common than not. It really was a mess, and did the reader a disservice because there was no way to tell what stayed the same other than realizing two paragraphs were verbatim copies. It got merged back when the interest died down—activity spikes around new products and then subsides quickly. When the 3GS came out in 2009, we created List of iOS devices to hold the extra content, although it wasn't called that at the time. I also created every conceivable iPhone-related title as a protected redirect to the main article. With overwhelming consensus against me this time with the iPhone 4 (but mostly from anonymous users), I unlocked four separate articles for each model, promising to stay out of them with the intent of showing how bad an idea it was. Initially, the same problem occurred. I talked to Scott Bywater, who seemed to be the only main contributor, which affirms that far more people talk about writing articles than actually write them. I also suspect that many of the anons (who I am guilty of looking upon disdainfully) were knee-jerk Apple fanboys; I try not to paraphrase Apple's promotional materials and to add relevant historical and 3rd party sources as much as possible. I was upset, and thought that they weren't considering all the options and believed that the most obvious organization was the only option, and didn't stick around afterwards to care — but I digress. I explained to Scott my position, trying to persuade him while also letting him make his own opinion, and we quickly agreed to discuss only the changes each model brought. Once we decided to begin with "The iPhone 4 is an iPhone..." rather than "The iPhone 4 is a multimedia-enabled Internet smartphone," which is how iPhone begins, everything fell into place. (I realized later that the precedent of "The iMac is a Macintosh..." was already in place by another editor long ago.) It looks increasingly likely that the articles by model will remain, rather than get merged somewhere (as I originally planned). They are also allowing for the creation of valuable new content that is too specific for the main article. So keep an open mind when you edit (and in life), and be willing to try new things, even if you're not sure they will work. Never be afraid to explain yourself on talk pages and communicate with other editors. And be ready to admit you were wrong, because sooner or later, you will be.
Mono: I've not been around long enough for the "old" project, nor do I have much expertise (or interest) in the legacy Macs, so I haven't contributed to a featured article. I look forward to doing so in the future. Currently, I'm working to get the MacBook Air article ready for a good-article nomination.
RN: Macintosh is a good example of an article that back in the past FAC were mostly concerned with promoting featured articles that were merely good and self-contained. To an extent, that's still true, but the standards are much higher now—every source is scrutinized, and most importantly for this article the context and focus of the article as a whole is more focused on. The latter often forces complete rethinks and rewrites of articles that before were featured with very few reservations.
Any editor who participated in the backlog drive and assessing 1 article would receive this, um, barnstar
The project recently completed an unassessed articles backlog elimination drive which resulted in clearing out the entire backlog of over 500 articles. Walk us through some of the planning and advertising that went into the drive. What aspect of the drive motivated contributors the most?
Mono: As the coordinator for the drive, I organized the event and was very pleased with the results. I modeled it after the GOCE Backlog Elimination Drive for May, which in turn modeled it after the April GAN backlog drive. There wasn't much advertising that went on, to be honest: I put a notice at the project and we quickly got participants, some who weren't members of the project (they are now). The biggest attraction was the barnstars, which were to be awarded to participants based on the amount of articles they assessed. Any editor who assessed 1 article would get a star for their contributions, and the top 2 assessors (Airplaneman and EdoDodo) received a gold star. We plan to have a bot assess importance.
What are the project's most pressing needs? How can a new member get involved today?
SuperHamster: The project has been striving to meet several needs recently. One example was shown with the Backlog Elimination Drive that took place in May, (see above) which ended successfully. Currently, the project is called for a collaboration to improve the article Macintosh, the only top-importance featured article that the project has, as it is currently undergoing a featured article review. There is, of course, always things that the project wants to get done, as the goal of the project is to of improve Wikipedia's coverage of topics related to Apple Inc. There's always articles to be made and articles to be improved, which is also why one of the project's most pressing needs is the involvement of current and new members, as we could always use a helping hand. Anybody's welcome to join, whether their interest is anywhere in between of getting involved in an active collaboration to helping clean-up and expand articles on an individual basis. Users can sign up by adding their name to the participants list on the main page of the project. If users are interested in more specific areas of Apple, they can also join one of the task forces, which are also looking for some more participants.
The project's logo, as crisp and clean as the iMac featured in the logo
David Fuchs: Expanding on the above, one of the issues that came up at the Macintosh FAR was what sources were valid for citing things like hardware specifications—essential to any article, but often hard to cite to classic reliable sources (especially since they originally derived from old trade magazines or what have you.) Fixing the project's scope and working on improving top-level articles are important, as is crafting an acceptable formula for structuring articles; the Mac FAR was far more difficult because A) there were few similar FA topics to look to, and B) there was no project guidance on what the article should contain.
HereToHelp: While I've been over most of the Macintosh article, the basic structure was in place when I got here years ago. "What should this article really contain?" never really came up for discussion. What made the FAR so hard, besides sourcing tech specs, was nobody knew (or knows) what the article should look like. Do we organize chronologically or categorically? Is there too much emphasis on new developments, or too little? Sometimes it seems like a bunch of people running around chaotically without communicating, but that is where the Signpost comes in. To be able to talk about these things in a low-stress open forum, and to let other editors learn from our experiences, does a world of good.
Anything else you'd like to add?
RN: The project in general should have more featured articles. Most of the foundation is there in a lot of articles—there are many articles with the "good" tag—it's mostly taking the extra step—in particular making sure the article stays NPOV, which has historically been a problem on Apple articles (many categories of articles suffer from this problem). Take Microsoft articles for instance, many of which of featured in a category where there are not many current featured articles or even wikiprojects! One reason for this is that strangely enough often one's passion for a subject can be more difficult to compromise with then one's simple hatred on a subject.
Next week, we'll take a walk on the wild side. Until then, tame your unruly spirit with some previous reports from the archive.