In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series, we spent some time bonding with WikiProject James Bond. The project is in the unique position of having already pushed all of its primary content to Good and Featured status, including all of Ian Fleming's novels, short stories, and every film that has been released. Work has begun in earnest on the article Skyfall for the release of the new Bond film later this month. The project could still use help improving articles about Bond actors, characters, gadgets, music, video games, and related topics. We interviewed Schrodinger's cat is alive (SchroCat), igordebraga, and Betty Logan.
What motivated you to join WikiProject James Bond? Please share with us your favorite Bond novel, movie, and actor.
SchroCat: I became involved when I saw into what parlous state the Dr. No article had fallen. I looked further and saw that none of the books were particularly up to scratch and many of the film articles were in a similar situation: it seemed a sorry situation for such a body of work.
My favourite Bond is Fleming's Bond: the literary character, rather than the film version. I enjoy the films immensely, but I get far more pleasure from the novels and stories than I do from the films.
igordebraga: After I started getting the Ultimate Edition DVDs in 2007, I watched the extensive bonus material, and decided to use that to improve the film articles. From there, found it better to join the project. Haven't read the books, but my favorite movie is GoldenEye, and Bond is either Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan.
Betty Logan: I'm not a member of the project since I don't undertake article development on it, but I'm happy to review articles, offer third opinions, offer general assistance; you could say I'm an associate of the project. My favorite Bond is Roger Moore (yeah yeah I know, but I kind of like how he did completely his own thing), although my favorite Bond film is On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Read a few of the Fleming novels and Live and Let Die is my favorite.
Have you contributed to any of the project's Featured and Good Articles? Why has the project been so successful in building every Bond story and film to Good Article status? What can other WikiProjects learn from the persistence of WikiProject James Bond?
The Bond project in a good place at the moment: 63 GAs, 5 FAs and 2 FLs is not a bad record, especially as all the film and book articles are GA-rated (with one FA), apart from Skyfall, which can't go through the process until the film has been released. We have two Good Topics (one for the books and one for the films) with a raft of supporting articles. The important ones are either already GA-rated, or will be at least GAs within a year or so. Ian Fleming has just been made up to FA, which is fantastic, especially as it it not long before Skyfall is released and the 50th anniversary celebrations all kick off.
In terms of our approach to article development:
We approached it systematically, going chronologically through the films and then the books, one after the other.
We used a small team of two, three or four to do the core work. Too many editors involved leads to work by committee, which isn't the best way of pushing through. The small team got stuff done, which the larger network or watchers tended to correct, copy edit, polish and ask pertinent questions to keep it on track.
We didn't stop between articles. We finished one, nominated for GA and started on the next within a day or so. There were times we had three or four films racked up in GA Nomination, but we pestered a few reviewers who responded magnificently to our requests. The momentum kept us going as much as anything.
When the project had started its goal of a Bond topic in 2007, the article improvement was steady, specially thanks to those users SchroCat listed and also SpecialWindler (talk·contribs) and the sadly MIA Ultraviolet scissor flame (talk·contribs). Then in 2009 things started to slow down - to the point that both Dr. No and Goldfinger lost their Good status. I always kept postponing on getting the green shield back to Dr. No, and then last year SchroCat nominated it and I decided to help him out. It worked, and we collaborated on filling the remaining gaps - including the lead article, as James Bond in film was still in bad shape and we split a section of that for a featured list, List of James Bond films. The process went as listed above, with also a deep focus on researching (SchroCat with his books, myself with the DVDs, both on Google Books and general websites), and some concern on fixing the already Good (or featured) articles which could hinder the Good Topic nomination.
The lesson is clear: no matter how long is the list of articles involved, the required data for a better article (and how many sources you'll need) and the time it will take, if you are devoted to creating a topic, and have some organization on the process (including knowing which people to consult) it can be done.
Are there any gaps in the coverage of the James Bond series? Are some decades of the series's existence easier to research than others? Where can the project's articles use the most improvement?
SchroCat: There is still work to do: the production history of James Bond in film is still only a B-grade and there are sufficient reliable secondary sources which would enable it to get to GA standard. There are also a number of other supporting pages which are a way off the GA standard: these tend to be the articles that look at the notable characters, music, video games and crew, not to mention the articles on the main actors!
igordebraga: Researching the internet-era movies (i.e. from GoldenEye onward) is supposedly easier - after all, two recent theme songs are above B-grade - but the ongoing popularity of the series allows for easy data on mostly every movie, along with many sources on Google Books. The problem is to determine what's reliable, given some info is only found in fansites, and despite examples such as Mi6-HQ.com, that's usually not to be trusted.
Betty Logan: On the whole the project has a broad scope, but the one think that does jump out is the lack of coverage of the character itself on film. However Schrodinger's cat is currently drafting out an article to tackle this shortcoming.
Do James Bond articles attract the vandalism, in-universe writing, fancruft, or speculation that beleaguers WikiProjects dedicated to other works of fiction?
SchroCat: Actual vandalism is quite rare and we've been pretty lucky on that front so far. Quite a lot of time is spent reverting the good faith but misguided edits—largely those involving usual fancruft, in-universe writing etc, as well as a lot of WP:ENGVAR reversions. We also spend a lot of time removing either unsourced or poorly sourced material. Most of this is from IP editors, who are fairly good once the policies and style are explained to them.
igordebraga: Fancruft of sorts even lead the articles on individual characters plus lists of henchmen and allies to be purged and turned into redirects, as the articles hardly had any development besides telling what happened to said character in the movie.
Betty Logan: There is an "in universe" problem with some spin-off articles but it is currently being addressed with some articles up for merges and deletes. The one thing that used to bug me was the emphasis on the "Eon universe" but this has been taken care of.
SchroCat: We're actually a very quiet project with little in the way of concerted efforts, except for occasional pushes on things. Most people will dabble on an article here and there, and keep a few favourites on their watchlist which they'll watch (I doubt anyone has every article on their list as there are 720 of them!) We tend to stick to smaller groups who push forward with a mini project while the rest of us support and add help and input where we can.
igordebraga: The project's busiest days in 2007-08 are far from here, with now only the occasional pushes (and still sometimes they're one-man projects, like myself in You Know My Name and SchroCat with the books). But given not every project-wise collaboration worked, while the smaller group which started last year is piling up Good Articles (and a few featured ones), it's not much of a problem.
With the new James Bond film Skyfall due for release in October on the film series's 50th anniversary, what articles need the most attention? How can Wikipedians help prepare for future developments in the James Bond series?
SchroCat: I think that the most pressing matter now, with the new film and anniversary splash coming up, is that we make sure that the new additions onto the various articles are properly sourced and do not include rumours or info that is published on fansites or not officially confirmed. In terms of article development, the James Bond in film needs work, as do all the non-GA articles which look at characters, such as Bond girl, Miss Moneypenny etc, music, video games, crew and actors: the Assessment Table is a good place to find something good to look at!
igordebraga: Developing the core articles and keeping the Skyfall article up-to-date with reliable information should be enough to please the extra visitors that will appear with the attention given to the anniversary. But we'd better have information from reliable sources instead of speculation and huge blocks of unsourced text.
Betty Logan: The thing I like most is the use of properly written published books as sources, and personally I think the sourcing is superior to much of what we get on film articles. It generally takes a few years for a film to become the subject of book research so film articles tend to be generated from websites and magazine/newspaper articles (compare the sources at Quantum of Solace to what is at Dr. No). To maintain the referencing standard it will be important to revisit articles about the later films and overhaul the sourcing at some point. There is a certain irony in that the answer to this question is that the best way to respond to future developments is probably to not expend too much effort on them, since there is probably more value in working on articles about the older films and novels where there is a greater potential for high quality encyclopedic coverage.
Next week, we'll celebrate another anniversary by revisiting the largest WikiProject ever created. Until then, explore five years of the WikiProject Report in the archive.