Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-04-30/Backlogs

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Backlogs continue to grow

By Phoenix2, 30 April, 2007

Wikipedia is growing exponentially; most notably in size, but also in recognition. Inevitably, processes designed for the systematic improvement of articles have become severely backlogged. For the most part, worthwhile efforts are underway to clear the backlogs. Such efforts include minor innovations; others have seen a revamp and subsequent expedition of the process, or the creation of wikiprojects.

Cleanup

Readers and editors are probably most familiar with the generic cleanup template, which can be seen on an increasing number of pages. The category containing all articles needing cleanup currently exceeds 24,000 articles. Each month, nearly 2,500 additional articles are tagged and added to the category. Various editors have chipped in to help, by checking the history of pages and determining when the cleanup template was added. Once sorted, CbmBOT, created in July of last year by Dvandersluis, updates a table on the category page providing a summary of the number of articles that were tagged from each month. RedWordSmith created the Cleanup Taskforce in March of 2005, encouraging users to tackle the rapidly increasing number of articles in the category.

The aim of the Cleanup Taskforce is to deal with editorial issues, fact-checking, and Wikipedia formatting in the most efficient way possible. Policies and guidelines should work to support this aim.
Cleanup Taskforce

A procedure is provided for editors to request an article be fixed by the Taskforce. A template is then placed on the discussion pages of articles to which modifications have been made. Members of the force who desire to do so create a 'desk' where cleanup requests are placed.[1] Elsewhere, the force also tries to add a more specific template where it is needed, from a page containing more than fifty specialized messages.

Articles lacking sources

This article does not cite its references or sources. It's a message one has an increasingly frustrating probability of seeing. Several incidents have forced Wikipedia to look more closely at articles in which content has been copied from other locations. The message has thus been forced upon articles, particularly biographies, where it was previously unlikely to appear. The proposed policy page concerning the matter, Wikipedia:Attribution, is currently the site of discussion concerning the amalgamation of various other adopted policy pages. Elsewhere, discussion is ongoing about the format by which references and external links should be cited. The category containing all articles that lack sources is quickly approaching 70,000 articles. A project created to specifically process articles from the category has yet to be created.

Peer review

Peer review is one of the most recognizable pages for editors. Since its conception in 2003, thousands of articles have been reviewed, and two dozen topic-specific reviews have been created. Regrettably, in recent months, the number of articles that remain on the page without comments has significantly increased. Possibly contributing to this is the fact that, more often than not, opposing comments on the featured article candidates page are accompanied by a recommendation that the article be submitted to peer review. For users that abide by the initial recommendation to do so, it may take well over a month for such a review to take place. In March, IvoShandor suggested that users who add an article to the list should also review at least one other article to help clear the backlog.

Good and featured articles

Symbol support vote.svg

In late 2005, the good articles (GA) process was created to provide a more prominent status for articles that were too short, or otherwise unlikely to receive featured status. Since then, more than 2,100 articles have been listed by hundreds of different reviewers, in what can be seen as a more expeditious undertaking. This week, in an effort to make them more noticeable, the articles that have been waiting the longest to be reviewed were placed in the usual backlog template that is placed at the top of the candidates page.

Though a mostly successful outing, there has been concern about the 'division of resources' good articles create. Some editors feel that instead of reviewing articles for GA status, people should work on improving them further and bringing them up to featured status. In a situation similar to that at peer review, some opposers of featured candidates are quick to point out when an article has not yet received good article status. Since the longest unreviewed articles at GAC have been there since late March, casual editors may have already lost interest by the time said article receives GA status.

Cscr-featured.svg

A graph on the statistics page for good article shows, by month, the percentage of total articles that have achieved either good or featured status. The rate at which articles have been promoted to featured status has remained relatively constant, but because of Wikipedia's quick growth the featured total against the total number of articles is steadily decreasing, now under 0.08%.[2]

There are currently more than fifty articles with open nominations at FAC. When a general consensus has been reached, or when all outstanding issues have been addressed, the articles are promoted or failed (based on four criteria) by Raul654, the featured article director. He also schedules the featured articles that appear on the Main Page.


  1. ^ For an example of such a page, see Shell Kinney's desk. Members are sorted by areas of interest or expertise, determining which articles are added to their desk.
  2. ^ Featured article statistics.


Also this week: Wikipedia course

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Arbitration