What motivated you to join WikiProject Geology? Do you have an educational or professional background in geology?
RockMagnetist: I am a geophysics professor. As my user name implies, my field is Rock magnetism. One day, I Googled the subject and found that the top hit was this Wikipedia article. Pretty sad! Then I discovered that when I searched any subject in geophysics, one of two things was likely to happen – either the top hit was a Wikipedia page, or there was no Wikipedia page on the subject. So I got a Wikipedia account and started editing. The most relevant wikiprojects for geophysics are Geology and Physics, so I joined both, boldly stating that I intended to create a Paleomagnetism WikiProject. I immediately got a nice welcome message from Mikenorton pointing out that there wasn't even a Geophysics WikiProject yet, and very few geophysicists were actively editing. Indeed, I'm pretty sure there isn't another professional geophysicist actively editing.
Graeme Bartlett: I am an interested person with no professional experience. I only studied geology at year 12. However my enthusiasm was encouraged by two geologists I knew as a teenager. I signed up to Wikiprojects after writing some content related to them.
Mav: Historical geology fascinates me, especially the astounding immensity of deep time and the fact that over 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth are extinct and can only be known through a tragically-incomplete fossil record. It has therefore been quipped, that at a first-order approximation, all life on Earth has been dead for millions of years. Learning about geology has been a life-long obsession that has involved a huge investment of time and money on personal and school field studies, book purchasing and reading. Yet, I didn't want to become a professional geologist for some reason I can't quite put my finger on (ah, I remember, it was all the calculus and quantitative analysis classes that were required). Instead, I pursued a degree in biology with a minor in geology and taught myself about the geology of places I love to visit. When I found Wikipedia in January 2002 I finally had an outlet to share some of my knowledge and at the same time improve my grasp of the subjects I care so much about; for there is no better way to learn something than to consult multiple sources and write about it in your own words.
MONGO: I founded WikiProject Glaciers in 2006, a sister project to WikiProject Geology. I have a minor in Geology but my main interest has always been geography since I find it easier to write about geolocations such as a specific mountain than the more complex task of writing about geology.
Bejnar: I have a minor in Geology and it has been a life-long interest. When I started editing on Wikipedia, there was a natural gravitation to work articles where I knew something. Unfortunately, since so much on Wikipedia needs attention, I frequently find myself scattered.
Mikenorton: I'm a professional geologist, I got involved when the major oil company I was working for wanted to expand parts of their own internal wiki. I started editing wikipedia geology articles for 'practice', but got 'sucked in' to becoming a regular contributor.
Awickert: I'm a graduate student in geology; a few years ago, I decided that I should help with some Wikipedia articles, and that's what I did!
The project is home to 34 pieces of Featured content and 47 Good and A-class articles. Have you contributed to any of these? What are the biggest challenges to improving geology-related articles to FA or GA status?
RockMagnetist: Not yet. I've been mostly building articles from scratch. However, recently I selected a couple of articles that seemed to be nearly GA - good content, well written, plenty of citations - and worked to get them ready for a nomination. Much to my surprise, there was a lot of work to do. The big job was checking the citations and making sure they really support the content. Surprisingly often, they didn't, and I had to hunt down sources or change the content. Of course, none of that is unique to Geology.
Graeme Bartlett: I have worked on very few of these high standard articles, as the quality requirements especially for FA are too demanding. I have assessed one of the GA standard ones, my input may be in some of the GA or FA pages, but only to a limited extent. Getting to GA is more difficult for me since I do not have access to appropriate references. There is so much other work to do getting material in for missing topics, that getting to GA is something for later.
Mav: Depending on how one measures it, I am largely responsible for getting 10 or 11 WikiProject Geology articles featured. My first was Yellowstone National Park but that article has been expanded and improved so much, especially by MONGO, that it bears little resemblance to the paltry version I helped get featured in March 2004. My second, geology of the Bryce Canyon area, started a series of articles I wrote on the geology of several protected parklands in the United States. Each of those is still largely written and maintained by me. The biggest challenge to improving any article to FA status is now the amount of time it takes to do so; several hours of good writing using a few sources was all that was needed back in 2004 but now it seems to take about 10 times that effort once all the changes suggested or demanded in Peer Review and FAC are satisfied. In fact, most of my FAs wouldn't be good enough for GA or even B-class now if they weren't improved over the years. I guess this is a good problem to have since it means our standards have improved. But it sure does make things a bit less fun.
MONGO: I would concur with Mav's assessment about FA level work...the standards have gotten more strict, especially regarding prose and Manual Of Style idiosyncrasies. Geology is a complex discipline that isn't always easy to write about since one must have a broad knowledge base in so many other sciences. Putting the information together is an exceptionally time consuming venture. My expertise has been primarily in geography related articles...and the vast amount of my work has been stubs which delineate specific mountains, lakes and geographical areas such as parks. However, geology articles rarely need significant updating since the science doesn't change much unless there is, as in the case of an article on a volcano, an eruption. The main issue is creation of new articles which better document this complex arena....and further expansion of this material can be done as time permits and further reference material becomes available.
Bejnar: I didn't do any significant work on any of the Geology FA or GA articles. Just an occasional minor edit. In part, that is because my own feeling is that it is better to spend time improving stubs, starts and Cs to B status, than to FA or GA status, because one gets more bang for the buck.
Mikenorton: I've contributed to a few GA and FA articles in a minor way, but I mainly aim at filling gaps and expanding stubs (including the ones that I've created).
A lengthy category tree is maintained by the project. Has this been helpful in building and organizing Wikipedia's collection of geology articles? Does Wikipedia have any glaring holes in its coverage of geology?
Graeme Bartlett: Coverage of regional geology is quite poor, and I would like to see articles for each country. This is an area I will contribute more content in future. Many geological terms should have short articles to explain and illustrate them. But there seems to be many that would prefer to merge these into bigger articles.
Mav: As is common in Wikipedia, coverage is uneven and tends to be better on focused articles verses articles about more general subjects. Category trees help to expose the systemic bias that naturally arises in any project that grows as a result of volunteer effort to write about subjects the author finds interesting. Adding content to content poor areas, especially general topics, is the glaring hole that needs to be filled.
Chris.urs-o: Voluntary work is a rare thing, university level voluntary work is very rare, indeed.
Bejnar: Yes, the tree helps. The area is full of gaps, although mostly at this point because the value articles are less than Bs. Biography is weak, probably because it is held as less important in hard science areas. I agree that the more general articles are harder to research (that's library research) and write than the specific ones.
Awickert: I find it very helpful to mentally organize the work to be done, and (echoing above comments) to find holes in which some work is needed.
The project has an active peer review department. How useful has this been in generating feedback for improving articles? With so many abandoned peer review departments at other WikiProject, what has been the secret to WikiProject Geology's peer review process?
RockMagnetist: The secret is that I revived it a few weeks ago! Someone asked for a peer review on the talk page, and I realized that the project was not making a clear distinction between a request for feedback and a peer review. So I rewrote the peer review page after looking at how some other projects did it. I don't know if it made any difference.
Graeme Bartlett: I admit I have never used it, but there are a several committed people here that step in for all the new articles to improve things.
Mav: Purely WikiProject-specific PRs tend to limit the discussion to the WP members and they die quickly as a result. While that makes sense for an A-class review or nomination, which is supposed to be content focused, it doesn't really make sense for a PR, which is a request for suggestions for improvement. Content-related suggestions can just as easily be made during a general PR as in a WP PR but with the added benefit of having non-specialist (and more) eyes look over the work. I'm glad to see that the re-organized PR dept simply transcludes the standard general PR unto a WikiProject subpage. This strikes the right balance for me even though a link to the general PR via an announcement (a la WP:ELEMENTS/A) may be just as effective but with less overhead.
MONGO: The best way to get adequate PR for any article is to find neutral persons that either have interest in the article content and/or have knowledge of MOS issues, prose and fact checking. A number of bots are available to do reference and citation checks to help speed things up and anyone can run these. I have generally found WikiProject PR set-ups to be less than helpful.
Bejnar: I've looked at the PR requests, but none of them were in my areas of interest. However, I did make a couple of edits in passing to improve them.
WikiProject Geology has several daughter projects and task forces. Are you involved in any of them? Do they regularly communicate and collaborate with WikiProject Geology?
RockMagnetist: I wasn't aware of the daughter projects until I got inspired to reorganize the WikiProject pages. Both are pretty much dead now, but in the past they were responsible for a lot of Geology's best articles and a nice set of timelines for organizing geological time units. Daughter projects, particularly Earthquakes and Paleontology, deserve much of the credit for many of our GA and FA articles.
Graeme Bartlett: I questioned the existence of some of these, but if there is an active group of people working on them then why not?
Awickert:: The daughter projects help to parse out organization and expertise, and there is good communication. The whole community at geology is very friendly and good at communicating and collaborating.
What are the project's most pressing needs? How can a new member contribute today?
RockMagnetist: I think we need more people to contribute significant amounts of content. The great majority of edits seem to be tweaks, and a number of top importance articles have languished in Start-class for years. There are lots of ways people can contribute: we have suggestions on the main page, the open tasks page and the top of the talk page. If I were to single out one article for improvement, I would pick Rock (geology). This article was in Version 0.7 and is a supplemental core article, yet much of its content was taken from a 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica!
Graeme Bartlett: Another area we are missing, is pictures of equipment, or rocks viewed through microscopes with different optical tools. I should be encouraging those who have access to labs to take photographs to put on commons!
Mav: All period and larger divisions of geologic time need to be A-class or better and we need good articles for each geologic division down to the epoch level wherever there is good source info. All those articles need to explain in general detail the distribution of continents and biomes that prevailed during those times. Further, the migration through time of each craton (the more-or-less stable cores of continents) needs to be documented in an easy to understand manor within the limitations of the source data. Finally, detailed geologies of each continent need to be fleshed out. That will give us a good backbone to build on when writing about how specific geologic features fit into the larger historical geology context.
Mikenorton: There are many many gaps in regional coverage and a lot of the basic articles need plenty of work. We need more pictures, particularly in my areas of interest of seismic reflection data, but there are very few public domain images available. It's difficult to produce a meaningful article on contourites for example without relevant images.
Awickert: Inside the project, we need significant content work and figures in core articles. On the periphery, we need to make sure that articles that incorporate geology have information that is correct. To the latter point, I would encourage anyone who is concerned about the factual accuracy of material that they are adding that is related to geology (or Earth science in general) to drop a message on the project talk page or on the user talk of a particular member.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Graeme Bartlett: Last year I assisted a plate tectonics class writing Wikipedia articles. Hopefully there will be a new group of students this year.
RockMagnetist: I have been involved in a number of wikiprojects, and I like Geology the best. There are frequent discussions and the contributors get along well. I have not encountered edit wars, mass AfDs, significant incivility or any of the other problems that often beset projects.
I would like to see the Recent changes page extended to allow searches by wikiproject. Tim1357's Wikiproject Watchlist is good, but a uniform interface would be better, and I would like to see how large each change is.
Mav: Wikipedia is no longer a village where people with completely different interests can feel as if they are in a single community with known members; it became a bustling and nearly faceless metropolis several years ago. That really did hurt the general feeling of community and shared purpose. Yet WikiProjects preserve many aspects of that lost general feeling. They create forums where known participants can interact, agree on standards and use those standards to build something they are all proud of. WikiProject Geology is such a forum and I'm glad it has been maintained as such over all these years.
Chris.urs-o: Articles on science & technology need editors with an academic degree. These people studied around 15 years, and one hour of their time is costly. An anonymous IP number changing numbers, does a lot of damage. I think that the voluntary work of these people needs more protection. Professors (Zyzzy2, Rasteraster, MaxWyss, for instance) got their images (some fair use images) deleted. It isn't Wikipedia's brightest hour, I'm not amused ;) Amazon got a verified identity option, something to think about ...