The Olympics WikiProject is one of the older WikiProjects, having been founded on 1 March 2002. The project has a large amount of content under its scope, with the modern Olympics having been held since 1896.In honor of the Vancouver Olympics that start 12 February, I asked Miller17CU94, Scorpion0422, Parutakupiu, and Andrwsc, all members of the project, to answer some questions about the project and their involvement in it.
Note: Special thanks to User:Kirill Lokshin, from whom I adapted several questions found in his interview of WikiProject Tropical Cyclones.
1. First, tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement in WikiProject Olympics.
I'm a 26-year-old Portuguese guy who, nearly five years ago, decided to embrace Wikipedia and become an active part in its growth and development. At that time, I seldom edited and when I did so, I mostly contributed towards sports-related articles. Although I've broadened my scope of action since, this theme is still my main editing drive. My passion and admiration for the Olympic Games—the major worldwide sporting competition and cultural gathering—and the finding that the Olympic content in Wikipedia was fragmentary fueled my inevitable involvement with this WikiProject one-and-a-half years later, when it was just beginning to progress past its long embryonic stage. Since joining, I believe I had a strong and positive impact in the development of the WikiProject, and despite not being as active as before, it is my wish to continue seeing it grow and thrive. Despite my extensive and varied contributions, in terms of featured content I’m responsible for only two pages: Bids for the 2012 Summer Olympics (the first featured bid article) and List of Olympic medalists in figure skating. The first took perhaps the biggest share of the time I invested in this project, back in 2007, and coincided with my most active period in Wikipedia. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
2. When did you first join WikiProject Olympics? What are some of the challenges that the project has met since you joined, and how were they dealt with?
As mentioned in my earlier comments, I joined within a month of joining Wikipedia in June 2006. Some of the challenges I have seen have been standardizing the formats for Olympic athletes in medal tables, in combining this with the various World Championships such as the FIBT World Championships with bobsleigh and skeleton at the Winter Olympics as an example. Another issue has been finding valid sourcing on the athletes. At first we had databaseOlympics.com, but that only dealt with the medalists. In 2008, a lot of the users discovered sports-reference.com which covered all of the Olympic competitors from the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 to the most recent Olympics in Beijing in 2008. It also includes the Winter Olympics. It has also forced some of the other websites like FIBT or the International Luge Federation to upgrade their athlete database to assist the growth of their sports interest. Main focus has been with event results and their standardization even though what might work in cross-country skiing may not work in gymnastics. Chris (talk) 14:32, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I joined the project in February 2007, and first few months, I really did nothing with the project. One of the most challenging tasks the project has faced has been adding complete results for every sport and nation article. It's a tedious task, and we have some fantastic users who have taken up the challenge. -- Scorpion0422 23:08, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
I became a member on November 10, 2006, after realizing I was mainly editing articles and templates concerning the Olympics. When I first joined, the main challenge was the shortness of editors and a huge void content-wise, with lots of stub pages and even more to be created. Although this has improved greatly—thanks to the intensive and committed work of a select few editors—, there is still much to do in this area and the lack of editors is still an issue. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I joined the project in February 2006. I think the biggest challenges we've had are in ensuring uniform appearance across thousands of articles, and ensuring that nationalistic POV is avoided. We've managed to do this, despite having a regular turnover in active members, through consensus. We have consensus for simple things like article layout and category structure, and we have consensus for complex issues such as how to handle the presentation of the Olympic history of nations such as Germany, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. We have also demonstrated flexibility, so consensus does not mean rigidity. When someone new comes along with a good idea, we won't be afraid to embrace it and apply it project-wide. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
3. What aspects of the project do you consider to be particularly successful? Has the project developed any unusual innovations, or uniquely adopted any common approaches?
One of the innovations I have seen is the ability to use standardized templates for athletes and news articles for different sports where it is now common. Examples of this are from the International Ski Federation and the United States Olympic Committee. Other sites such as the FIBT and the International Luge Federation had their website format changed in the two years so it made sourcing the site difficult. User:Kolindigo assisted on this greatly and has been able to make sourcing of this easier and it was done last November. This has helped on a lot of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton, especially on the Whistler Sliding Centre. Chris (talk) 14:32, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
If this WikiProject is where it is, it is thanks to the amazing work and dedication of its most faithful members. I have to highlight the role of User:Andrwsc, which managed the herculean task of creating thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of standardized articles, and very useful and easy-to-use infobox and navigational templates. This radical expansion of the Olympics-related content was most beneficial to the WikiProject. This was already in action when I joined. One of the first things I gave (literally) to this project was a complete, freely-licensed set of Olympic sport pictograms, intended to be used without restrictions. The idea was that anyone in Wikipedia could use these free icons of sports, but I never imagined it would spread quickly throughout the whole Wikipedian landscape—I even had e-mails from sports event organizations and television channels asking me for permission to use these images! Another relevant contribution of mine was the major restyling of the project pages to its current look, attempting to give it a more professional and attractive appearance, and endowing it with useful sections and tools. As an example of a collective drive towards the project improvement, I underline the creation of a Manual of Style, specific for a category of Olympic pages, which gathered an interesting and motivated share of the membership with loads of ideas. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I think one thing that has worked well is that this project seems to embrace the ideas of WP:There is no deadline, WP:Don't demolish the house while it's still being built, and WP:Potential, not just current state. That is, we have a shared vision of where we want to be, with a complete and fully wikilinked set of articles for each Olympic sport, each participating nation, each individual event, and so on. Early on, we established the structure of that vision, with a set of stub articles (where missing) and infoboxes and navboxes to tie them all together. Many of those stubs have since been developed—and often by editors who aren't openly working for our WikiProject—so the house is starting to be finished around that frame. But it was important to get the frame in place first. I'm not sure how innovative that was, but is has certainly helped us. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
4. Have any major initiatives by the project ended unsuccessfully? What lessons have you learned from them?
I wouldn’t say unsuccessful, but it’s a fact that the WikiProject-based Peer Review department hasn’t had many requests, since its inception. Once again, I point the lack of editors, but also perhaps on the fact that not many users are acquainted with this option or find it extremely necessary. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we've had any unsuccessful initiatives; I'd say the problem is a lack of initiatives in the first place. This project seems to have a somewhat temporal membership, with each Games bringing a lot of new editors and creativity to the project, but that fizzles afterwards. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
5. What experiences have you had with the WikiProjects whose scopes overlap with yours? Has your project developed particularly close relationships with any other projects?
We don't really have a "sister project", but there tends to be overlap with projects devoted to specific Olympic sports. For example, WP:HOCKEY (which I am also a member of). -- Scorpion0422 23:08, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
This project began as a subsidiary of the WikiProject Sports, but its steady growth made its "independence" logical and inevitable. Still, has it concerns every sport that is practiced in the Olympic Games, sometimes an ongoing editing of an article on a particular sport bumps into an issue that might need input from our and the sport-specific WikiProject. From what I can recall, so far we haven’t had the need to contact nor have we been contacted by other projects. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Sometimes our results pages will overlap those of another project (football, tennis, ice hockey, figure skating, etc.) but for the most part, the Olympic pages still retain a closer link to other Olympic sports. In the end, all these projects seem to be working towards similar goals, so there is rarely any conflict. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
6. What plans does WikiProject Olympics have concerning the 2010 Winter Olympics?
Cover every event and every athlete competing in those events. It includes winners and previous champions so that you can see what the results in as close to real time as possible. Chris (talk) 14:32, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
We will try to keep the site as up to date as possible, though it will be challenging given the number of athlete and events articles that would need updating (I recently read an article relating to the 2004 Summer Olympics which kept referring to them in the future tense). The real fun is going to be updating the articles and bringing them up to standards while fighting off IP vandals and good faith users who think there is some kind of award for being first to update a page and just add things without caring about guidelines. Going a bit off-topic, another problem is nationalists and users who hate certain nations. Back during the 2008 Olympics, we had a public outcry because the 2008 Summer Olympics medal table used a lead image (Image:Michael Phelps Ryan Lochte Laszlo Cseh medals 2008 Olympics.jpg) that showed two Americans. It was the best one available at the time, but a number of users complained about it, saying it showed an American bias. Eventually it was replaced with the image that is currently used (after the Games ended, nobody ever brought the issue up again and the image was re-added to the page further down). That's the kind of stuff we have to look forward to, so it should be interesting. -- Scorpion0422 23:08, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
The project members will do their best to create, maintain and update articles concerning the upcoming Winter Olympics. One of the most important tasks is to try and keep Olympic event results pages within the established format guidelines, as we expect a flood of edits by the time they are known. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
We will certainly create all the new results articles and update existing articles, while fending off the vandalism and nationalistic POV that always appears around the Games. And hopefully we'll attract a new set of editors interested in working on the project long after these Games are over. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
7. What is your vision for the project? How do you see the project itself, as well as the articles within its scope, developing over the next years and future Olympics?
My vision is to see more of the people who have actually competed there. Some of Wikipedia's FAs have featured Olympians such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Ian Thorpe. I would like to see an expansion of venues. One of my goals is to get the Sliding Centre mentioned in the third question up the GA and hopefully FA status. No Olympic venue has reached this plateau and I would like to see that happen. Chris (talk) 14:32, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to see users take more interest in cleaning up the more important articles, such as ones for the various Olympic Games, as well as articles about the sports. The main Olympic Games article is a FA, which I think is a major accomplishment. The project will most likely gain some new members over the next few weeks, and hopefully some who will take a long term active role in the project. -- Scorpion0422 23:08, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
This WikiProject has had its moments of incredible growth and membership input, as well as frustrating moments of staleness and lack of interest from editors. Fortunately, it has never regressed. I believe that, as the Olympics, this project has its own rhythm synchronized with the Olympiad. Each time the Games are held, the amount of data and work increases day by day, while the period between Games is occupied by the faithful editors and stable members working on the selection, inclusion, review and organization of the new content, and on the expansion of pre-existing pages. My hope for the future of this project is that, through its members, it is able to recruit more editors with the motivated spirit I had when I first joined, and that this can reflect on a higher level of quality of its articles so that they can serve the purpose of informing the user. Parutakupiu (talk) 03:23, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
The ultimate vision for me is that the Wikipedia Olympic pages become a key research reference site for Olympic history. That means that we have to properly collate and document all the data we have available from our reliable sources, but present them in a highly effective format. There is a great power in Wikipedia being a key resource for multiple diverse topics, and by linking Olympic content in with the rest, there is information to be gleaned that is not possible from other Olympic-only references. — Andrwsc (talk·contribs) 19:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Next week, WikiProject Report will focus on a cosmopolitan country that has never competed in the Winter Olympic Games. Until then, check out previous reports in the archive.