WikiProject Java is a new project started in September 2009 to focus on improving articles related to the Java programming language. In just a few months, the project has grown to include over 1,400 articles, 12 active members, a Java portal, and a "Java Cafe" for discussing the project's newest initiatives. However, with only one Good Article (Aspect weaver) and a backlog of unassessed articles, the project still has plenty of room to grow and many jobs for new members to assume. We interviewed one of the project's founding members, Alainr345, to learn what it takes to create a new WikiProject.
What motivated you to start WikiProject Java? How does the new project benefit the related WikiProject Computing and WikiProject Programming languages?
- At the time, we felt there could be up to 1000 articles on Java technology on Wikipedia, which might be more than all other programming languages articles combined. That deserved attention in the form of a new WikiProject dedicated to Java programming. Our subject was mostly similar to C++, and there was already a C++ WikiProject. And there were more Java articles than the .NET WikiProject, which had less than 100 articles. We felt it would have the value of 'uncluttering' WikiProject Programming languages and they could concentrate on all the other languages out there. We felt WikiProject Java should be a descendant project of WikiProject Computing, that was logical, and therefore they would also be able to concentrate on all the other diverse computing topics on Wikipedia.
What were the greatest challenges of starting a new WikiProject?
- As a fairly new Wikipedia editor, I personally felt it could be a good way to learn Wikipedia inside out. On the other hand, it was quite a challenge as I could not find a standardized way of starting a WikiProject. That presented both an advantage and a drawback. The advantage is that you feel less restrained in your edits than with articles. The drawback is that you spend way more time starting it than should be... I think WikiProject WikiProject (or whatever it's called) should be beefed up quite a bit before it becomes a significant 'contributor' to starting a WikiProject, at least that's my opinion. Starting a Portal is much easier than starting a WikiProject, I'll tell you that!
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the project?
- The short-term goals are two-fold I would say: recruit more members obviously AND finish the basic tagging of Java-related material in all corners of Wikimedia. The long-term goals will be established over time by members, but right now, I would say that improving the overall quality rating of Java articles is probably prime.
With over 1,400 articles tagged as part of WikiProject Java during the past five months, someone has been very busy. How did you motivate editors to tag so many articles in such a short time?
- Well thank you, but that's still a very basic tagging shall we say, and in that respect AWB and Xenobot come in handy (don't reveal that secret...). I think we 'lost' one editor (from exhaustion?) doing it!
How can new editors help the project? What are the project's most pressing tasks?
- There is that issue of correcting most of the problems flagged in the so-called 'Cleanup listing' (WolterBot). Also we are sifting slowly through a list of 'Existing, possibly Java-related, but uncategorized articles'. On a related level, I would like to add that, inasmuch as Wikimedia has some great tools, the search capabilities (at least to my knowledge) are really primitive and/or unstable. That's a very big hurdle that makes one lose a lot of time. Sometimes Googling through Wikipedia gives more precise results than doing searches inside Wikipedia, which is ironic...
Writing articles about a programming language can occasionally become fairly technical. How can someone without extensive experience in Java help with the project?
- Yes, that would be a very valuable asset (having non-Java editors), as Java editors can sometimes be carried away by their enthusiasm and become too technical about it. We could have the layman's point of view so to speak. Good idea, are you a candidate? Seriously, while writing a Java article is fairly involved, some of the WikiProject activities per se do not demand a high level of technical knowledge.
If you'd like to join WikiProject Java, just add your name to their member list and take a look at either the assessment page or the to do list to get started. For other projects in need of help, check out our new "WikiProject News" feature in the sidebar to the right of the interview above. Feel free to comment on the new feature or suggest news for the next issue at our WikiProject Desk. In the meantime, get your shamrocks ready because we'll be celebrating a regional holiday celebrated around the world in the next issue of the Report. Also, the archive is always open.