Welcome to the home page for Wikipedian Vaoverland. My vocational background is in bus transportation, tourism, and the hospitality industry. I have enjoyed a variety of perspectives working as both a direct and contract employee and as an independent consultant serving municipal governments, non-profits, and private-sector businesses. I spent the majority of my career to-date as a principal with one of Virginia's more diversified bus companies. We performed privatization contracting of bus transportation and bus fleet maintenance for federal, state, municipal and not-for-profit organizations.
Many years ago, my parents made a substantial investment in our very own multi-volume copy of the World Book Encyclopedia, with the annual yearbooks added for 30 years. These treasures required hand-washing for a child to use. As I was growing up, the encyclopedias were a window to the world beyond television and closer than the library. Even now, the old year books provide insight and a look back into each of those years. Although both well-used and a bit dated now, those World Books still hold a place of importance in my home.
I will concede that, until after I began working on Wikipedia, I hadn't paid much attention to the World Book's article about an "encyclopedia". Now, I find the words and meaning each truly hit home with me.
- "An encyclopedia not only furnishes the reader with information, but also stimulates him to go still further in his search for knowledge."
- World Book Encyclopedia, 1960
Of course, the Internet and Wikipedia have opened up much greater access to encyclopedic information in new ways. My interest and participation in Wikipedia began in 2002. Since then, I have learned a lot as I worked on and researched many articles. I feel like I am contributing to others while I enjoy doing so. It is mutually beneficial, or, in our modern abbreviated terminology, one might call it a "win-win" relationship.
My favorite Wikipedia article is Lost counties, cities, and towns of Virginia. Sure, it is interesting to learn about important places like Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, but I find it is even more interesting to learn the stories of those lesser known, such as Tightsqueeze, Disputanta, Manchester, and Wash Woods, to name but a few. I also find fascinating items such as that Bermuda (yes, the one which is located on an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean) was once part of Virginia, as was the place on the shore of Lake Michigan which became Chicago.
I hope others come to enjoy Wikipedia as much as I do! I try to be helpful to other contributors, especially newbies. I have found that collaboration is one of the best things about Wikipedia, and I have learned more and participated in better article creation as a result. As a fairly-experienced editor and a Wikipedia administrator, I am always glad to assist with tasks such as page moves, renaming articles, etc. However, I feel any requests for mediation of occasional conflicts between Wikipedians, such as edit wars, and other areas of controversy are best presented to other administrators and bureaucrats, however. Any comments or communications you may have are best left on my Talk page (User Talk:Vaoverland), and I will attempt to respond to all, hopefully in a timely fashion.
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- 1 About Me
- 2 Wikipedia administrator role
- 3 My interests and contributions
- 4 Did You Know?
- 5 WikiProjects
- 6 Researching and sources
- 7 Shortcomings in my WP work
- 8 Presentation and licensing for use
- 9 Talk pages
- 10 Links to my other user pages
- 11 Summary
- 12 References
While my Wikipedia user name is Vaoverland, my given name used in most other venues is Mark Fisher. I mostly work on Wikipedia from my home near Williamsburg, Virginia. More background information about me may be found at this link: About me
Wikipedia administrator role
My main interest in Wikipedia is editing and working with certain WikiProjects, but I do accept the additional responsibilities of serving as an Wikipedia administrator.
As of May 7, 2010, there were only 1,721 administrator accounts on the English version of Wikipedia (active and otherwise), and only 836 of them were active. With millions of registered user accounts, and many more using only IP addresses, perhaps you will be glad to perceive that we are not "top heavy" in quantities. Even better, I believe that most of us are better described as "seasoned and dedicated Wikipedians" rather than as "power seekers" or "power wielders".
Within the administrator ranks, as with other Wikipedia work, each of us will have areas of strengths (and the opposite!) as well as our preferences. I see my role as mainly to be an advisory one, not that of a policeman or boss in any way. Please note that I do not specialize in politics or conflicts between users. However, I do have other areas in which I feel I may be helpful. To read more about how I see my role in this work, please see My Philosophy as a Wikipedia administrator.
My interests and contributions
For a detailed listing of my interests and what I consider my better contributions and collaborations now in the Wikipedia, please see My Contributions. As you may notice, I do not contribute anywhere near as many "new" articles as I did in Wikipedia's earlier years. Rather, I work on a higher content standard, and often find myself going back and working to update earlier contributions to our more recent and higher reference standards.
Did You Know?
I am not currently actively adding contributions in this area, as many other users are covering the field very nicely. However, for a detailed listing of my participation in the Did You Know? section of Wikipedia's Main Page, please see "Did You Know?" items for User: Vaoverland.
I firmly believe that the best thing about writing for Wikipedia is collaboration. And one of the best things we have going to facilitate coolaboration and compilmenary efforts are Wikipedia:WikiProjects. A WikiProject is a collection of pages devoted to the management of a specific topic or family of topics within Wikipedia; and, simultaneously, a group of editors who use those pages to collaborate on encyclopedic work. It is not a place to write encyclopedia articles directly, but a resource to help coordinate and organize the writing and editing of those articles.
There are WikiProjects in a wide range of topics. Many of mine are in transportation, with others related to my other interests.
With a background is buses, I have a lot of interests in these areas, especially in Virginia and West Virginia, plus eastern US. For my WP contributions, I like to add when I see the right combination of opportunity to improve/correct/enhance article, my interests, and access to credible sources. I've started stubs and enjoyed seeing other Wikipedians take ball and run with it. It is good to see increasing numbers of editors contributing to roads articles.
I especially enjoy historical aspects. In Virginia, maintaining our present infrastructure of highways, bridges, tunnels and bridge-tunnels is a major issue these days, in addition to the need to make future improvements. However, you have to read some of the older stories, such as the American Civil War tales of the Union soldiers describing the surface conditions in 1862 as they were moving up the Virginia Peninsula literally To the Gates of Richmond (as in book of that name by Stephen Sears) to obtain an historical perspective. There is a lot of variety in both the terrain and our transportation systems in Virginia. We still have a pole ferry, (Hatton Ferry), an example of one of the earlier types of crossings, as well as some of the most modern technology in the form of the cable-stayed bridge at Varina Enon on Interstate 295.
Some examples of roads-related articles I have contributed to are:
- Virginia State Route 5
- Virginia State Route 161
- Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike
- West Virginia Turnpike
- Lincoln Highway
- Dixie Highway
- Colonial Parkway
- Valley Pike
- Hampton Roads Beltway
- Breezewood, Pennsylvania
- toll road
- Hampton Roads
- Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
- Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
- Byrd Road Act
- Jamestown Ferry
I also did a lot of the work on a WP:Featured article about Carl Graham Fisher. OK, its a biographical article, but about as roads-related as any could be which everyone in this project would probably enjoy reading. I had very minor participation in the FA on the Pulaski Skyway, and can lay claim to a major role in the FA Battle of Hampton Roads, which is actually not about roads at all, but ironclad warships in 1862 in the harbor. That naming irony is the type of thing I think brings some humanity to the cold and electronic nature of the computerized aspects of WP.
Researching and sources
In January 2008, Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive officer of Google spoke to hundreds of Virginia college educators at a Virginia Business Higher Education Council forum about today's students. He said they gather information in a variety of ways, especially online, and not just through textbooks and lecture notes. The influence of the Internet will only grow, he said. He urged the educators to adapt to this. 
From my past work with touring school groups, I am aware that Wikipedia articles are used by some teachers as a basis for school projects and for our Standards of Learning program in Virginia's schools. Thus, when composing and editing articles, I find it useful to try to visualize students of middle school or high school age, and I try to keep the content factual and interesting to read, and include some good internal and external links, especially multimedia ones when available.
If the subject can be presented as an interesting and maybe even exciting story, I would like the reader to be able to relate to some of the emotions the people involved experienced, if that is appropriate in the encyclopedia setting.
Most of what I write for Wikipedia is compiled from multiple sources, including other Wikipedia articles, books, magazines and periodicals, special collections, information including some special collections held by organizations such as the U.S. Library of Congress, Virginia Historical Society, Library of Virginia, West Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Richmond City Public Library, Williamsburg Regional Library, the College of William and Mary, Colonial Williamsburg and many others. I also do a lot of web searches on the Internet looking for specific information.
Depending upon my perception of the veracity of the information source, to the maximum extent possible, I try to verify something from more than a single source before including it in an article. I also look further when I find conflicting information, which usually amounts to misspelling or incorrect dates, particularly on older subjects and sources. I am grateful for the access I have to the writing of others, and try to cite sources as set forth in Wikipedia guidelines.
Shortcomings in my WP work
I am generally more focused on content than format. I appreciate the editing of my work, especially misspelling and missing words (which spell checkers don't catch!). Images, templates and categories are other weak areas for me.
Presentation and licensing for use
I agree to multi-license all my contributions, with the exception of my user pages, as described below:
|Multi-licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License versions 1.0 and 2.0|
|I agree to multi-license my text contributions, unless otherwise stated, under Wikipedia's copyright terms and the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license version 1.0 and version 2.0. Please be aware that other contributors might not do the same, so if you want to use my contributions under the Creative Commons terms, please check the CC dual-license and Multi-licensing guides.|
Vaoverland 21:48, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I often use an article's Talk page, and I am open to help or suggestions to make better articles for Wikipedia. That is more important to me than the need to change anything from the way I have done it. In other words, please HELP if you can make my work better, or guide me in doing so.
I am reminded that WP is all about collaboration. So, of course, it is always an "up" to see an article improved, whoever started or improved it.
Links to my other user pages
I am enjoying the Wikipedia writing, and welcome suggestions. Please leave any messages at User talk:Vaoverland.
- Thanks to all,
- Mark Fisher
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- "Former owner, president of Virginia bus company passes away". School Bus Fleet. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.