This week, we decided to highlight the efforts of WikiProject Environment in celebration of Earth Day this Thursday in the United States, Arbor Day next Sunday in Germany, and Greenery Day at the beginning of May in Japan. WikiProject Environment was created by Alan Liefting in October 2005 and has grown to include over 100 members and nearly 3,500 articles, files, and other pages. The project boasts 14 featured articles, 2 A-class articles, and 39 good articles. Lists of environmental topics, definitions, and pages needing attention are maintained by the project. WikiProject Environment also serves as a parent for WikiProject Protected areas and WikiProject Superfunds. Alan Liefting and OhanaUnited shared the project with us.
What motivated you to become a member of WikiProject Environment? What aspects of the environment do you prefer to focus on?
- Alan Liefting: I have a very strong interest in the environment and have recently completed a university degree in environmental management. Given my level of interest is was a logical step to set up WikiProject Environment. I prefer to focus on environmental issues.
- OhanaUnited: Just like Alan, I'm also in the environmental science field. In addition to environmental issues, I also contribute to various socially and politically-related environmental issues such as environmental justice as well as biographies on environmentalists.
WikiProject Environment is home to 14 featured articles, 2 A-class articles, and 39 good articles. Which of these articles are you most proud of being involved with? Overall, what have been some of the project's greatest achievements?
- Alan Liefting: I am quite pleased with improving the list of environmental issues article which in 2007 was a poorly structured incomplete list. It is now something more representative of the topic.
- OhanaUnited: It is always nice to teach scholars and show [new editors] how to contribute. One of the things I'm most proud of while working with scholars is improving the article on sustainability. It was a Start-class prior to being expanded by a scholar in August 2008 but since then it is now a B-class. Besides that, every year on the week when Earth Hour approaches, you will see a lot of IP contributors working (not vandalizing) on the article. That gives me a good feeling because it shows how people do genuinely care for the environment.
Have any of the project's major initiatives ended unsuccessfully? What lessons have you learned from them?
- Alan Liefting: I set up the WikiProject Environment Climate change task force after seeing huge amounts of discussion at Talk:Climatic Research Unit email controversy. The hacked emails created international news so it was quite notable and it also started a long and ongoing talkfest on the article talk page. I wanted to point out to the social metapedians that there was plenty of other work than needed to be done rather than quibbling over one particular article. Sadly, the task force has not really come to much - or at least not as much as I had hoped for.
- OhanaUnited: I would say it is the Environmental Record task force. I started this task force in June 2007. The goal of this task force was to "make sure that the environmental records of policymakers, corporations, and organizations are accurately and consistently represented throughout the encyclopedia." There was a lot of activity between June 2007 and May 2008 and over 30 people participated in this task force. Unfortunately, the activity suddenly stopped in the third week of May 2008 (which nobody knew why that happened) and the task force didn't recover since then. It might be time to restart this task force as there might be newer data on how corporations and organizations did since we stopped in 2008.
Has your project developed particularly close relationships with any other projects?
- Alan Liefting: No, even though it should have close ties with WikiProject Science.
- OhanaUnited: Other than absorbing WikiProject Energy Development and WikiProject Climate Change into our project, there's nothing else that comes into my mind.
With Earth Day just around the corner, what articles would you recommend to Wikipedians who would like to learn about environmental issues? Are there any articles that need immediate attention in preparation for Earth Day?
- OhanaUnited: The best way to learn more is to find a long article like climate change (note and pay attention to the points and the strength presented by both sides), sustainability, eutrophication, or any that suits your interest. Don't be afraid to click the links in these articles and wander off because this is a very effective way to learn about new issues.
Aside from improving articles mentioned in the answers to the previous question, what are WikiProject Environment's most pressing needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- OhanaUnited: There are many environmental issues that have not been covered by Wikipedia. A good place to start is by researching what major environmental issues in your area. It could be fish die-off in spring, noise pollution, urban sprawl, invasive species causing loss of biodiversity, alternative energy, and the list goes on and on. Alternatively, you can go to this section in our project page to see what articles needs to be cleaned up or expanded.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- Alan Liefting: There is an increasing interest in the environment by the wider community. Some issues are quite contentious, especially anthropogenic climate change, and so Wikipedia editors should cater to this interest with a wide range of verifiable, NPOV articles.
- OhanaUnited: Be aware and alert to people who push their agenda around because you'll run into them quite frequently in environmentally-related articles. During my contribution towards sustainability, a group of editors wasted nearly a year because one editor (which I won't mention his username here and we discovered that he used sockpuppets in an attempt to make it look convincing that more than one editor was on his side) added the NPOV tag on any facts he didn't agree on. We tried various venues including Wikiquette alerts, AN/I, RSN (reliable resource noticeboard) but nothing stopped his behavior. We finally had a breakthrough when we initiated an RfC. It turns out that he had also been pushing his own agenda on other areas like technology and economics. My advice to contributors that read a lot of environment-related articles is if something sounds funny in the article, check the article history and the talk page to see if someone has a hidden agenda that they are pursuing.
Next week we'll focus on a creature that lives in one of the ecosystems pictured to the right (excluding the picture taken from space, obviously). Until then, check out our previous reports in the archive.
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