Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-03-31/WikiProject report

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WikiProject Report: Australia

By Rudget, 31 March, 2008

This week we interviewed a number of members from the renowned Australia WikiProject (Matilda, Dihydrogen Monoxide, Blnguyen, Orderinchaos, Gnangarra, Lankiveil, SatuSuro and Moondyne). A project (with its own 'cabal' and portal) that has been going since 5 June 2006, it is one of the foremost groups on Wikipedia. An umbrella–project for all the sub-groups which attend to all aspects of Australia, it is a group with numerous editors and many departments. The Australians (Ozzies or Aussies) have covered all bases with the project with nearly 56,000 articles tagged with project–notices. The scale of the WikiProject can be seen by considering that although it has 98 featured articles and lists, they only make up around 0.2% of all articles within the project's scope. The project has (in addition to 98 featured articles or featured lists) nine A-class articles and one hundred and forty five good articles.

Questions
  1. What is the main aim of the project? Does it focus more towards one niche more than the others?
    Orderinchaos : I think our aim is necessarily broad - as a community with varied interests, opinions and expertise, we are trying to create an accurate, comprehensive, encyclopaedic profile of Australia on Wikipedia. This takes in topics such as history (both Aboriginal and European), geography, politics and government, transport, geology, flora & fauna, education, culture (e.g. music, film/TV, festivals and Indigenous) and major events. Obviously we cannot cover everything so we try to identify what is most needed, and what we're most capable of producing given who we have on board.
  2. Have there been any discussions about the project that have helped it in any way? If not, where could the project improve?
    Moondyne : About 9% of the project's 52,000+ articles are still unassessed for quality and importance, and about 55% are unassessed for importance alone. An assessment drive to help clear the backlog may be a worthwhile exercise.
    Matilda : In my view the noticeboard helps the project immeasurably and the focus of the discussions on the noticeboard have helped the project to grow constructively and with little (if any) rancour. The noticeboard started in September 2004 with Rebecca suggesting a template. The elements in that template are still critical to the project today: it featured a collaboration, suggested articles to create, expand, verify, ... by theme - and those themes have held reasonably true today. The first 50 edits to the page feature a high proportion of editors who are still participating in the project ( Chuq , Lacrimosus , Ta bu shi da yu, Robert Merkel ) - it might be presumptuous to suggest it is because of the noticeboard, but certainly in my view the noticeboard helps to support contributors to the project. I also think the noticeboard's creation is the real start date of the project :-)
  3. With so many articles within scope, how can you define which ones are of higher priority?
    Matilda : A lot of the sub-projects focus on article improvement. There is no strategy to article improvement (that I can see) but we do invite suggestions for collaboration at WP:ACOTF and we have had a diverse range of topics nominated and result in successful collaborations for improvement. The assessment department rates articles on their importance and quality, but in my view, apart from participation in the nominated article for collaboration each fortnight, attention is generally paid to articles based on individual contributors' enthusiasm rather than an organised priority approach.
    Orderinchaos : WikiProject Australia is seen as an "umbrella" project, so each subproject within it, with a substantially smaller scope and a more focussed group of editors, has its own set of priorities. Coordination between projects are done through the community noticeboard, and is assisted greatly by cross-participation of editors between subprojects.
  4. Does 'the cabal' play an influence in the project?
    Gnangarra : Strewth some drongo has messed up, the Aus-cabal aint nothing like what they got there. Let me put you straight, Sarah is the pretty Sheila out front to keep every body distracted while Mark and Alphax fleece you at the Two-up schools. They are also the local Bookies with odds available for all RfA's ARBCOM elections and Jimmy Wales next girlfriend being Elle McFeast. Like all good betting agencies they dont have any influence at all <cough>
    Blnguyen : A look at the history of Australian RfAs at WP:AWNB/A will show that a lot of Australian RfAs have been scuppered by other Australians pointing out certain evidence. Compared to some other national WikiProjects, Australians are less partisan. On FACs as well, quite a lot of them get more objections (percentage wise) than from non-Australians, whereas I can think of at least one nation-state WikiProject that has a 100% support rate from members on all of its FACs, even though some of them had entirely unsourced sections. So I'd say Australians are more honest with their performance than a lot of other nation-state WikiProjects.
    Satusuro : What cabal? - clearly the inter-subproject rivalries is taken more seriously.
    Dihydrogen Monoxide : There is no cabal, despite what the New Zealand cabal will tell you.
  5. Has the project, in your opinion, influenced any others? And if so, how?
    Moondyne : Yes, see our archenemy's action plan.
    Orderinchaos : I think we have influenced other region projects in our region such as Indonesia, New Zealand and Melanesia in different ways, although each has their own emphasis and views. One of the WikiProject Reform people noted ourselves and WikiProject India as examples for structuring general-topic projects with large scopes and content areas.
    Gnangarra : The template {{WP Australia}} has been copied and reconfigured to suit the requirements of many projects
    Blnguyen : This was one of the first projects to based on a nation-state
    Number of featured articles produced as of March 2008
    Number of good articles produced as of March 2008
    Cumulative growth of recognised content
  6. Does the project's success reflect the dedication which has been displayed in the past?
    Dihydrogen Monoxide : Yes, definitely, the number of quality articles produced by the project is a sign of the dedication and hard work by many project members. For instance, towards the end of 2007, a challenge was put forward for the project to have 100 good articles by the end of the year. Multiple users got to work after the initial challenge, followed by a good deal of teamwork and collaboration as the count rose steadily. When the goal of 100 was reached, there was much rejoicing, demonstrating the dedication and hard work of project members.
    Orderinchaos : I believe we owe a considerable debt to those who started the project and thought out many of the things we now take for granted - there were more than a few but Longhair, Matilda, CJ and ScottDavis should be mentioned in particular. In addition the early participants of the noticeboard (which preceded the project by about two years) and WP:ACOTF, as well as some of the subproject maintainers/contributors, helped foster a sense of community.
    Blnguyen : In addition to what Orderinchaos mentioned above, I think the earlier crop before my time had particularly strong characters in taking the initiative, especially in dealing with incidents of troublemaking, usually on controversial articles such as politics. They were never afraid to take a stand and I think that is why there is a more of a culture in this WikiProject to tackle campaigns of disruption. In many other WikiProjects, there is more of a culture to for everyone to avoid conflict, look away and hope someone else will deal with a troublemaker, to keep high approval ratings, which can lead to lawlessness and run-down articles. So I think they have created a culture that will keep the project structurally strong with good growth prospects, long after they have retired.
    SatuSuro : One of the project strengths that may well have trickled throughout wikipedia is our high standard of project management - the behind the scenes work on categories, templates, and project management that Moondyne, Longhair, CJ, ScottDavis and others have worked upon. Not so obvious perhaps, but the Australian project is one of the few that has the minimal occurrence of the red discussion/talk page header on project article pages. It makes for a project that knows what is there and how.
    Matilda : Before the project formalised itself as such but was just a group of editors who linked together via the noticeboard, there were large numbers of high quality focussed contributions on particular themes. For example User:Adam Carr (who no longer edits here) was incredibly prolific, particularly when it came to Australian politics and history, and his contributions were of a very high standard; I am sure Adam helped to set a high standard of quality and a focus on content by example. Similarly Hesperian focussed on history and flora of Western Australia well before any wikiprojects were thought of.
  7. Does the Project have any weak points? Too many sub-projects for example?
    Orderinchaos : We have about the right number of subprojects. Occasionally one will get created by someone without thinking carefully about the scope or without seeking to make it a community project by involving others, and it becomes dormant when the person leaves or loses interest. A small group of us do watch these sorts of developments and usually seek to either merge the project into a successful one, or expand the scope to make it a realistic prospect.
    Blnguyen : Needless to say, there are a lot of areas where the coverage is not strong and needs to be improved. Even for a relatively strong section like Australian cricket (10 FAs, 18 GAs), which is the strongest of the Australian sports on Wikipedia, the vast majority of articles are far from being complete. Even the biggest projects like military history are vastly underdeveloped, so one should never be complacent.
    SatuSuro : Despite the apparent quietness on the less utilised sub-projects, there are surprises when an editor might find an area that need to be worked on, and the subsequent flow-on will encourage others to check out the more dormant projects and re-invigorate them. Maritime History, Exploration, and Tasmania are three 'quiet projects', but nevertheless there are regular additions of articles, and continued edits in those areas.
  8. Apart from the outreach department, are there any other ways non-members can get involved?
    Matilda : I would have to say that I don't think our outreach department is necessarily very strong. We do have a variation of the welcome template which draws attention to the project while incorporating the basic elements of a wikipedia welcome and which we use for new editors contributing to Australian articles. Our articles are tagged on the talk pages. Most of the pan-Australian discussion happens at our noticeboard - WP:AWNB which is the best way to gain the attention of the majority of Australian editors. Specific issues like politics have their own sub-projects and a discussion may continue there. We try to be open in our discussions and invite people who may not otherwise contribute to the noticeboard to join a discussion there if they seem to be an involved editor with an issue under discussion. Non-Australians have also raised issues with Australian wikipedians as a group through the noticeboard quite successfully in the past.
    Lankiveil : The Australian Wikipedians' notice board is probably the best place to start for any interested editors. It's quite active, and really serves as the focus point for our work on improving Australian articles. Plus, the occasional tomfoolery and silliness means that it's never a dull place to be!




Also this week:

Wikimania 2009 — Sister project interview — WikiWorld — News and notes — Dispatches — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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