Wikipedia:WikiProject Video games/Newsletter/20130109/Feature

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WikiProject Video Games Newsletter

Volume 5, No. 4 — 4th Quarter, 2012

Changes to Featured and Good content | News items and announcements | Feature | Featured editor


Feature: Strengthening and utilizing WP:VGs inter-language links[edit]

Submitted by Thibbs; Edited by Torchiest

Happy 2013, English Language WP:VG! This quarter we take a look at the state of the 27 non-English WikiProjects Video Games. These "cousin" projects all formed after our own, and while some of them have used en.WP:VG as a basic model, their subsequent independent development has often led to both structural and content divergence.

In examining how things are done differently in other language editions for the purpose of this article, the argument is advanced that cross-pollination of ideas between the WP:VGs is healthy. Treating each WP:VG as a laboratory of collaboration in the video game field, it is worth considering whether or not adopting different practices would benefit en.WP:VG. In examining the areas of overlap between projects, we should consider how this overlap can be used to increase en.WP:VG's coverage and to reduce bias. Where the implementation of common ideas has taken different forms, this should be viewed as "persuasive precedent" when tweaking or drafting our own guidelines and policies.

Suggestions for further development of this topic are included at the end.

Statistical overview[edit]

The development of WP:VGs varies greatly between languages. In some cases one may find large thriving communities of editors developing video game articles and staffing WikiProject departments and taskforces. In others one finds semi-abandoned or otherwise underdeveloped projects that suffer from very low membership. Low membership doesn't necessarily cause underdevelopment, however, and large communities don't guarantee a high degree of organization. To give a basic sense of the scope of the different projects, the following table summarizes several size-linked factors including the age of the project, the number of members, the number of first degree sub-pages (i.e. subpages with the WP:VG mainpage as the only parent), and number of articles covered.

Methodology in brief

  • The project's founding date was determined by examining the date of earliest edit to the project. This does not take into account projects that began life under another name and were later moved to their current location.
  • The number of members is taken from the membership and participation lists given by the different WP:VGs. In cases where the lists are split into active and inactive members this is reflected in the table.
  • The number of sub-pages was counted manually by running a generic search such as "Wikipedia:WikiProject Video games/" and excluding second degree sub-pages (sub-pages to other sub-pages of the WP:VG).
  • The number of articles is taken from lists provided by the WP:VGs. These lists are generally part of the WP:VG's quality assessment department, but in some cases they are linked categories and in one case it is simply a list of articles covered.
  • Various machine translators were used to provide basic translations of the different WP:VGs. The bulk of the translations were made through Google Translate. For languages not supported by Google Translate, other online tools were used (specifically, sakhatyla.ru was used for sah.WP:VG).

A few noteworthy differences between the WP:VGs[edit]

In comparing the WP:VGs, it quickly becomes clear that, beyond simply the character, alphabet, and language differences, systematic and layout differences loom large. Some are clearly of marginal or no interest to en.WP:VG due to size and regional reasons. Others are potentially interesting in their novelty or differing implementations. Although there is no reason to make dramatic changes to en.WP:VG in areas that work well, the other-language programs that are listed here are currently in use and seem to work for our non-English counterparts. For future tweaks to our programs and for creating new ones, it is wise to consider these non-English examples as "persuasive precedent" (i.e. not binding in any sense, but worth considering).

Translations[edit]

One of the most widespread differences between en.WP:VG and the other language versions is the use of translation departments. While en.WP:VG does have a category for video game articles needing translation from Japanese, the scope of the non-English translation subpages greatly exceed ours in many cases. The emphasis in these is translating from English into the native language—most likely due to the greater coverage of en.WP:VG (a function of its greater age and membership statistics). They differ in their translation department implementations, however. Projects including Catalan, Spanish, and Norwegian WP:VG, for instance, all use varying levels of specific coverage of translation from subpages to subsections within the mainpage.[37][38][39] Romanian WP:VG offers a glossary-style list of "jargon" terms translating between commonly-used English video game words and their Romanian equivalents[40] The most basic form of translation assistance is illustrated by WP:VGs like Farsi and Korean WP:VG, which provide inline inter-language links to English articles alongside their lists of most important and requested articles.[41][42] The different translation techniques found at the non-English WP:VGs reveal a potential area for improvement at en.WP:VG.

Taskforces[edit]

Another clear example of areas where non-English coverage exceeds en.WP:VG's is the specific taskforces where en.WP:VG has not expanded. Examples of this include Danish WP:VG's Tomb Raider Taskforce (a partnership with their AA-class taskforce)[43] and Russian WP:VG's MMORPG Taskforce (currently defunct).[44] Taskforces like these could serve as models in the development of our own taskforces and offspring WikiProjects.

Policies[edit]

Delving more into policy matters, a few noteworthy differences include the separate subpage devoted to listing outdated and defunct WP:VG policies that German WP:VG has adopted.[45] Spanish and Portuguese WP:VGs both use a separate forum for quick !votes and polls of pressing concern.[46][47] And Polish WP:VG has imported the concept of an incubator/waiting room for WP:VG articles that are not yet ready for public release.[48]

Smaller policy differences are present in great numbers, but to highlight the most visible of these, we can take note of both the German and French WP:VG's guidelines concerning categorization.[49] The German guideline is of particular interest as it is annotated to better explain the organizational theory.[50] German WP:VG also contains a more specific description of when it's acceptable to split articles,[51] and Japanese WP:VG contains an interesting discussion of how to treat video games that are merged as derivative into non-video-game parent articles such as anime and films.[52]

Community[edit]

Another area in which differences emerge is in the non-English efforts to foster the community spirit that underlies any active WikiProject. By giving members personal credit and allowing for an element of fun, the non-English WP:VGs keep spirits high and hopefully expand membership. Although the size of en.WP:VG limits our ability to employ all of these techniques, they provide examples of activities we could initiate here. Starting with the aspect of personal credit, Russian and Sakha WP:VG are to be noted for including featured images on their mainpage as well as at their WP:VG Portals.[53][54] In addition to this, Russian WP:VG also lists video game DYKs at the bottom of their mainpage.[55] At Slovak WP:VG, their list of goals are separated into short-, medium-, and long-term, and members are expected to sign up for short-term goals that they wish to work toward alone or in collaboration with other members.[56]

Less feasible examples of personal credit can be found at Farsi and Russian WP:VGs, which contain lists of all articles created by every member[57] and require users to manually list new article announcements and major expansions in their new article announcements section, respectively.[58] The relatively small Hindi WP:VG and the much larger French WP:VG have similar practices, listing all articles under their aegis on a single page.[15][59] There are more feasible inward-looking project-wide portions of WP:VGs like Romanian, Ukrainian, and to an extent Slovak WP:VG,[60] which each include a history of the evolution and development of the WikiProject. More specifically, Romanian WP:VG's version emphasizes charts and statistics,[61] whereas Ukrainian WP:VG dwells on the reason the project is called "Wikipedia: Project: Video Games" instead of "Project: Computer Games" like the Russian WP:VG it modeled itself after.[62]

Apart from giving personal credit where due, the element of fun within the WikiProjects also makes a few appearances here and there. This is perhaps most clearly seen at Swedish WP:VG where Weekly Competitions are held,[63] and where the stub-expansion drive is cast as a battle royale between the different consoles with the console with the fewest associated games still in stub status holding the position of winner until it is unseated by the efforts of editors with different console allegiances.[64]

Regionalism[edit]

Finally, there are also some differences which appear to be truly irreconcilable with en.WP:VG due to regionalism. Noteworthy among these are Russian WP:VG's requirement that the Polivanov System for Japanese transliteration be used rather than the Romaji system favored throughout en.WP:VG. This is natural as the Polivanov system converts Kana and Kanji into Cyrillic characters, rendering it much more comprehensible to Russians than the Romaji system. Another example comes from the discussion of image usage at both German and Portuguese WP:VGs. At German Wikipedia the common law concept of fair dealing (and the copyright-specific fair use) is not recognized, so specific permission must be granted to display cover-art, screenshots, and the like, although vector-style logos are acceptable because they lack the copyright-securing element of creativity.[65] At Portuguese WP:VG, instructions are provided for users to modify and manipulate images for use in articles.[66] The differences here arise from the intersection of Wikipedia and the different laws in different countries and as such it is rather unlikely that en.WP:VG would be interested in adopting any of these practices.

Major similarities between the WP:VGs and how we can use them[edit]

There are also a lot of similarities between the WP:VGs. Specifically there is a great deal of overlap when it comes to issues like Membership/Participation lists (included in 24 of 28 projects), Infobox/NavTemplates (22 of 28), Guidelines/Manuals of Style (19 of 28), Overview/Purpose/Goals/Scope (16 of 28), Quality Assessment/Evaluation (16 of 28), and the "To do" section (16 of 28). Significant overlap also exists in the areas of Userboxes/Barnstars (13 of 28), Categories (13 of 28), Article Requests (12 of 28), Taskforces/Sister/Child Projects (11 of 28), Lists of High-Quality articles (FAs, GAs, FLAs, etc.) (11 of 28), the WP:VG Portal (10 of 28), and Article alerts/Cleanup/AfDs (10 of 28). While differences in the implementation of these common sub-fields can inform possible tweaks to their usage in en.WP:VG, a more valuable use could be to take what the non-English WP:VGs are best at—their own language—and use it to contribute substantially to the growth of en.WP:VG and the reduction of systemic bias. This is especially visible when it comes to the overlapping field of WP:VG's Reliable Sources (8 of 28).

Reliable sources[edit]

Apart from a tidbit in the Manual of Style covering the use of foreign words, the most directly relevant policy on the use of foreign sources in English Wikipedia generally is WP:NONENG—an accessibility-related portion of the Verifiability policy that suggests that while English sources are preferred over their non-English equivalents, non-English sources are acceptable, especially when there is no English equivalent. The rest of WP:V still applies, of course, along with WP:RS, so not just any foreign source will do, but allowing non-English sources at en.Wikipedia means great steps can be taken to counter systemic bias and to reduce the noted Anglo-American focus. Indeed, en.WP:VG speaks to this in WP:VG/RS, where emphasis is placed on "Domestic as well as foreign coverage" in point #3 of "Editorial discretion should promote broad coverage and reduce POV."

To address the issue of Reliability of non-English sources, two important considerations should be taken into account. First, we should give strong weight to the views of the editors at the language edition of WP:VG that matches with the putatively reliable non-English source. This makes eminent good sense, as speakers of the language in which the source is written are much more likely than English-only editors to correctly interpret and to detect subtle differences in the quality and reliability of the source being examined. Second, we should examine the details of the non-English Wikipedia's Reliable Source guideline to see if it is comparable to en.wikipedia's WP:RS. Again, this makes good sense, as a non-English determination of reliability means little if "reliable" means something different than it does at en.wikipedia. On top of these two factors, an additional safeguard has been added in the past by giving heaviest weight to non-English determinations of non-Reliability, secondary weight to non-English determinations of Reliability, and the least weight to non-English determinations of Situational Reliability. In practice, this means that the first two determinations are usually accepted at face value with the RS determination accepted without prejudice, and that the Situationally Reliable determination is rejected as non-Reliable for the purposes of en.wikipedia, also without prejudice. To date this process has only been used once to expand WP:VG's RS coverage to cover Polish sources as well. More details about this expansion can be found at the Polish WP:VG RS transclusion proposal from April 2012.

Suggestions for the future[edit]

We can find a number of approaches for providing persuasive precedence in discussing the future of WP:VG. While not proposing any immediate changes, the hope is that when expanding into new areas of activity, guidance can be found in the practices of other experienced WP:VGs. This may require en.WP:VG to adopt outreach practices already used elsewhere in en.wikipedia—an embassy department staffed by liaison editors.

The potential for immediate ideas for future growth can easily be seen in looking only at the areas where other WP:VGs do what en.WP:VG does not. The translation subpages and techniques found at a number of non-English WP:VGs demonstrate the real potential for improvement of en.WP:VG's translation efforts. Beyond the Japanese-to-English category we currently have, it may be worth considering creating a whole new subsection and associated taskforce for editors who are bilingual and who want to translate from the non-English Wikipedias. Clarification of attribution and general issues related to Japanese-to-English and other-languages-to-English might benefit editors new to the practice of translating video game articles and the body of these documents could be informed by an examination of the non-English WP:VGs' methods. Specific taskforces like the Danish Tomb Raider Taskforce, the Russian MMORPG Taskforce, and others could provide an easy path toward the development of en.WP:VG's own taskforces on these and other worthy topics. And the incubator area idea used in Polish WP:VG may be an excellent way to encourage new contributors who produce sub-standard material in good faith and who are prone to getting bitten accidentally in their early weeks and months. New editors and old may also be interested in the Slovak WP:VG practice of signing up for short-term goals—a practice that potentially gives the members a sense of commitment and progress.

In addition to the ideas extracted from an examination of the differences between the WikiProjects, we can also see clear ways to improve en.WP:VG's breadth while simultaneously reducing it's systemic biases. As mentioned earlier, there are as many as eight different equivalents of WP:VG/RS existing in other WikiProjects. Although the Polish equivalent was successfully transcluded in May 2012, new inter-language links are being added, allowing for further investigation into this information-rich facet of WP:VG/RS. Proceeding carefully from examination to comparison of non-English reliability determinations with their underlying policies and guidelines, accurate expansion can be made to WP:VG's non-English sourcing, reducing POV.

For editors interested in making further efforts in this direction, the most immediate need is for inter-language linking between the different departments of WP:VG and their non-English equivalents. Although the obsolescence of WikiProjects like WP:WPIW have been made possible through the reliance on inter-lanugage link bots, some initial linking must still be made by humans, and this need rises to the fore dramatically for WikiProjects like WP:VG where edits like this are currently the norm. Editors who speak more than one language would obviously be a great attribute in this endeavor, and ultimately such editors may be necessary for some of the more obscure and difficult languages. Looking to Wikipedia:WikiProject Media franchises, we see a possible strategy—the development of a local embassy subproject using editor liaisons to keep track of changes in other WP:VGs. Lateral support may also be available from sources like Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias.

The need for improving inter-language linking between en.WP:VG and the non-English versions of WP:VG is clear. Examination of the details of overlapping subpages such as the equivalents of en.WP:VG/RS can lead to helpful expansions of English WP:VG. Taken together, these two efforts seem to be the most effective short-term means to reduce bias and are likely to provide the most fertile grounds for editor contribution. And embassies and a liaison program may be steps to consider for the future.

References[edit]

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