WikiProject Food and Drink
In this week's edition of the WikiProject Report, the spotlight falls on a project whose subject is essential for both Wikipedians and normal people alike: WikiProject Food and Drink! This project was created in 2003 as a response to the outbreak of recipe articles. The recipe content has since migrated to Wikibooks, but the original project is still alive and well: More than 17000 articles, 14 of which are featured. Here to tell us more about this project is Jerem43, arguably the most prolific editor of Burger King-related articles.
1. As is made evident by the amount and diversity of content in the list of recipes and the list of cuisines, Food and Drink is a subject that varies widely from culture to culture. To what extent does WikiProject Food and Drink receive international participation?
Not as much as I would like; while we do have many contributors from around the globe, a good portion are English speaking from the UK, Commonwealth nations and the US. I would like to see more international contributors with a food background toning in, it would help in the translation of recipes and reference materials, especially with those from non-Western languages. I would also like to see the food and drink articles from the various other Wikipedias brought over here.
2. Topics which do not receive international participation tend to suffer from systemic bias. Do you think this is the case for WikiProject Food and Drink? If so, how do the project's members attempt to counter this bias?
It is hard for me to answer - IMHO I do see instances of that happening, though others may disagree with me on the subject. I find that the best way that the Food and Drink members deal with such issues is by finding as many sources as possible and attempt to garner information that is as neutral as possible. When there are conflicting or biased sources, I think our contributors work their hardest to present both sides neutrally, which can be difficult.
3. Of the project's 14 featured articles, there is currently only one article on cuisine (Medieval cuisine) despite the fact that the List of cuisines links to more than 300 distinct cuisines. Is there something inherently difficult about writing cuisine articles?
Yes. I have found that there tends to be either geopolitical or cultural concerns that can derail a good article. Cuisine is a subset of national and ethnic culture; as history demonstrates there are those individuals who take their culture extremely seriously. When creating an article about a culture there are always those on the lookout for things they consider insulting or embarrassing and will go to great lengths to eliminate them. On the other end of the spectrum you will have those contributors who are actively pursuing the goal of denigrating those ethnic groups or cultures they see as inferior to their own by pumping up such things. On several occasions I have seen arguments over why two cuisines from a single geographic region are different when in fact they are essentially identical except for some minor variations, or where old cultural rivalries have reared their heads to the point of massive, uncontrollable edit warring. But with patience and hard work, these issues can be overcome and a well written, neutral article can emerge.
There are several cuisine articles on WP that I believe could be nominated for FA right now, but for one reason or another they have not been nominated.
4. The project does not currently have any organized monthly/weekly collaborations. Is this something you'd like to see change in the future, or do you think the project doesn't need such a feature?
The project is so broad, encompassing WP:F&D as well as WP:Beer, WP:Wine, WP:Spirits, WP:Mix, WP:Soft Drinks, WP:Desserts, and a half dozen task forces and work groups, that collaboration is hit or miss. The organized collaborations tend to peter out due to the broadness of the subject matter. What I see happening is best described as a flash collaboration, where several individuals with the same goal come together and end up working on a task until it's fixed.
5. To what extent does the project benefit from the participation of editors with expert knowledge on cooking or cuisine?
We do have some experts that contribute, Chef Tanner is a good example. He is a PhD candidate in gastronomy that has worked on and expanded several cuisine related articles. It helps a great deal having experts in the these fields when dealing with cuisine or other F&D articles, as well as any area of interest. Any time you have an expert in a particular field working on a subject, it improves the article, the project and WP as a whole.
6. How can non-experts and inexperienced editors help contribute to the project?
That's easy, find what you like and research it. Expanding an article is easy, and when you make a mistake you learn what you did wrong so you don't do it again. That is how I started.
7. Finally, do you think the project's articles would benefit from the implementation of Flagged or Sighted Revisions? Yeah, all too often you get someone, whether it is a kid just screwing around or a disgruntled customer or employee, who is just looking to disrupt an article. I think it is the best solution to a thorny issue.