What motivated you to join WikiProject Football? What team(s) do you support? Have you ever played in a football/soccer league?
BigDom: I've always enjoyed football and am a season ticket holder at Burnley, so I first joined the WikiProject to help improve the coverage of Burnley players.
League Octopus: For the first year or so I was content to undertake my Wikipedia work "in something of a bubble" and was not interested in communicating with others. However around a year ago, having seen some of my work get deleted, I changed my position and decided to seek to understand and appreciate how WP Footy operates, in particular "Nominations for deletion and page moves". My main interest is in the "football league systems" of various countries, reflecting my enthusisam for non-league football in England. I support Bristol Rovers and Bury Town and played my football in the Bristol and Avon League.
A goalkeeper dives to stop the ball from entering his goal
When we first interviewed WikiProject Football four years ago, the project was home to 34 Featured Articles, 42 Featured Lists, and 56 Good Articles. Since then, the project's collection has exploded and now encompasses 65 Featured Articles, 146 Featured Lists, and 323 Good Articles. How did this happen? Why have Good Articles grown so much faster than the Featured materials?
BigDom: There's been a great effort by the Project to improve football articles and it shows in the amount of featured and good content that we have. I think the reason the number of Good Articles has grown so quickly is that although there is still a lot of work involved, they are so much easier to write than Featured Articles.
WFC: In general I favour quality over quantity. But more than three quarters of our articles are currently identified as stubs, so I think it makes sense that this WikiProject leans towards taking undeveloped articles up to Good Article standard.
How often do you encounter regional differences in football rules, terminology, and tradition? How are conflicts resolved?
BigDom: One of the great things about football is that the rules are the same all over the world and whatever level you play at. We have participants from all over the world, which helps other editors to understand the nuances of the terminology or traditions in other countries. Whenever there are conflicts, a quick message on the project talk page usually solves any problems fairly rapidly.
League Octopus: Football has a common language of its own and with the careful use of a much improved Google Translate it is now possible to produce better quality articles of foreign clubs, taking into account regional differences and traditions. However, whilst producing a reasonable quality stub should be relatively straight forward, it remains a challenge to prepare more detailed articles that go into greater depth using a variety of sources. I perceive that the quality of many foreign club articles remains at a low level, reflecting a poor command of English by many contributors. The issue of "strange terminology" often arises in such cases. It is not just a matter of a contributor using Google Translate - a proper understanding of English football terminology is essential. It is going to take an awfully long time to address the issue badly written articles.
Chris Cunningham: Typically if a discussion can't be resolved on an article talk page it's brought back to WT:FOOTY (which is one of the most active pages on the encyclopedia). Many of our most active editors have now been around for years, so typically if there's been a debate over a subject in the past someone is around to point to it, or at least explain what happened. Of late we've discussed having a "settled consensus" page for recording the most common cases of this, but we haven't yet discussed what form that will take. WP:FOOTY is interesting in that there's a significant "do-ocracy" element to our decisions (editors are encouraged to create their own solutions, and we are deliberately rather more sanguine regarding such things as editing of project templates than many projects) but occasionally we take years to actually settle a discussion. :)
In addition to English, versions of WikiProject Football exist in 31 other languages. Have you had any contact with editors from these other versions of Wikipedia? Has there been any sharing of content or resources among WikiProject Football's counterparts?
League Octopus: I have made contact with contributors to both Finnish Wikipedia and Swedish Wikipedia. The Finnish contact proved most helpful in providing details of historical football material that can be accessed online from the Sports Museum Foundation of Finland. - Suomen Urheilumuseo. The Swedish contact proved less helpful in providing an English version of a football table template that he had designed for Swedish Wikipedia.
How difficult has it been to acquire images for football articles? Are some countries or time periods more difficult than others to find appropriately licensed images?
Cloudz679: I have used FIST, which has been somewhat helpful in tracking down existing free-to-use images, while where I have been unsuccessful, the old "take a camera and go to a football match" seems to be quite a fast and convenient way of getting images, which I then upload onto Commons. Due to WikiProject Football members coming from all over the globe, I suppose this is one of the Project's strengths. Having said that, an image drive may go a long way to improving things in this respect, particularly outside of British football.
BigDom: I have always found it very difficult to locate usable images for the articles that I edit or create. With the laws on cameras in football stadia, it is hard to take quality photos of your own. Saying that, a good proportion of players in the English leagues seem to have images nowadays, but there is still a noticeable lack of images on players from other countries and players from more than 5-10 years ago.
League Octopus: For me this is a major issue when preparing articles for clubs outside of the UK. I would love to include appropriate photos of foreign football grounds but find that very little content has been uploaded into Commons. It is almost as if after 2009 contributors stopped providing content for Commons and concentrated on providing photographic material for Flickr, Picasa (Google) and Facebook etc. There are simply thousands of photos in these other sources that would enhance my football articles but their use is very heavily restricted because of licensing/copyright limitations. It is terribly frustrating and the quality of my articles suffer as a result. I think the basic problem with Commons is that contributors find uploading content unwieldy and at the same time baulk at making their photos available to all. I normally take a camera to away matches (non-league) in England but that is little help to me when producing articles for clubs in Portugal, for example. It would be such a step forward if it was made easier for contributors like myself to obtain appropriately licensed images from other sources than Commons.
WikiProject Football is by far the most active sport-related project on Wikipedia and claims a very large membership. What has attracted so many editors to this project? How can other WikiProjects emulate WikiProject Football's success? Would WikiProject Football be open to collaborating with editors from less-active sports projects?
Cloudz679: Possibly the global appeal, moreso the presence of banners on almost 100% of associated talk pages and an active ongoing forum at WT:FOOTY, where collaboration between users really helps resolve disputes and gain a consensus for developing articles. In part though, I would say it's difficult to emulate the success due to the reduced appeal of other sports. I do feel, however, that minority interest parts of football such as the women's game and non-league football are benefiting from the project and that can be seen in the rise of quality articles connected with these aspects of the game.
League Octopus: As Cloudz679 indicates above, the large membership is a reflection of the global popularity of football. Whilst there is an impressive umbrella forum at WT:FOOTY the break-down of individual Task Groups is rather fragmented and can contribute to a piece-meal approach across different nations. There is a lot to be said in grouping countries together in larger Tasks Groups as a mechanism to avoid duplication of process and to ensure greater consistency of approach. I personally think we need to take stronger measures to get our own house in order before collaborating with editors from less-active sports projects.
Chris Cunningham: The global popularity of the sport is obviously what drives people to us, but I'd like to think that the project runs itself very well. We don't have any project hierarchy, the discussion page is usually friendly and on-topic, and we've always tried to work well with the rest of the encyclopedia (for instance, by following wider consensus rather than enforcing our own rules). In some ways we already collaborate with other sports projects: for instance, editors from other projects have asked for help in adapting our templates to serve their own sports.
What are WikiProject Football's most pressing needs? How can a new contributor help today?
WFC: I always like to start with a positive – our featured articles and lists are among the best sports coverage anywhere on Wikipedia. But in contrast to the 3,462 articles assessed at C-class or above, at the other end of the scale 130,811 articles are stub or start-class. Furthermore, a large proportion of those undeveloped articles are BLPs.
For those with some interest in the sport, one good way to contribute is to periodically update the prose of articles on people that interest you. Given that a lot of football articles do not seem to be developing, I think all editors – regardless of their knowledge about the sport – could help by providing feedback on whether our notability guidelines for football seem in line with the general notability guideline, and if not, how we might change them. Internal discussions about guidelines have at times been contentious – some fresh input could provide inspiration.
Cloudz679: The project has over 100,000 stub articles. Any new contributor can help out by adding references or new information to these articles. Another way is to locate your favourite team/player and check the article for accuracy, sourcing any controversial statements and challenging anything which you believe not to be correct.
BigDom: I don't know if the high number of stub articles is a problem; even if it takes us decades, they will get expanded eventually. There's loads of ways to help; I would say that writing new articles about notable players, adding references to existing articles and uploading new images are three of the most important.
League Octopus: WP Footy can appear a very intimidating environment to a new contributor. There are a number of recent examples of new editors seeing their work deleted (often in an officious manner) and the normal reaction is for that editor to then exit and abandon their Wikipedia work. This is a great shame as as with education and encouragement such editors could become important long-lasting contributors to the project. I think Administrators in general need to perhaps act in a more tactful and sensitive manner by subtly mentoring and educating new editors rather than just deleting their work under a smokescreen of jargon. I cannot over-emphasise the need to address this issue.
Chris Cunningham: Just like everywhere else on Wikipedia, our most pressing need is manpower. There are almost certainly more professional footballers living right now than dead (as with the general world population), and BLPs do not write (or maintain, or patrol) themselves. As for how to help, get stuck in! There's almost no subject under the project's purview that doesn't still have at least some low-hanging fruit to pick. Category:Top-importance football articles has 39 articles, and only two are FA-class.
Next week's article will be a tour de force. Until then, ride over to the archive to read our previous reports.