Putting articles in their place: the Uncategorized Task Force
This week, we spent some time with members of the Uncategorized Task Force, a part of WikiProject Categories. Their job on Wikipedia is, not surprisingly, to add categories to uncategorized articles, making these articles easier to find and browse. The task force's members can patrol the uncategorized category to find articles and use tools like HOTCAT to easily add categories. We talked to Pichpich and EdGl.
What motivated you to join the Uncategorized Patrol/Task Force at WikiProject Categories?
- Pichpich: Fun project to participate in. I'm also a big fan of categories which are, imo, essential to the project's ease of use. Lots to do and lots to learn about the tons of article sitting in uncategorized limbo. Often, the uncategorized articles need all sorts of cleanup and quite a few are deletion candidates.
- EdGl: I created this task force because I was interested in categorizing pages that didn't belong to a category. I saw that there was a large backlog of these pages that grew and grew each day, so I thought it would make a good task force of WikiProject Categories. Other Wikipedians were supportive, and quite a few jumped on board. I think a big reason why people join is that it's easy to do, and it's fun to find appropriate categories. Also, like Pichpich said (above), the task touches on other areas of editing such as cleanup and deletion. It's perfect for a jack-of-all-trades WikiGnome!
The project's backlog only includes the months July and August of this year. How has the project been able to tackle so many articles on such a regular basis?
- Pichpich: No idea. Part of it is probably the number of participants, part of it is probably due to a few very active participants. It can be a fairly quick task for easy cases.
- EdGl: Categorizing an article is quick and easy, requiring only a minor edit or two. Tools like HOTCAT are available to make the process even faster. That said, a sizeable group of hardworking, dedicated Wikipedians are to thank for the magnificent progress over the years. This task force started in February 2007 with a very significant backlog. Like with anything, a select few do most of the work, but we do have almost 200 signatures on the participants list. Some leave after awhile, but people are added to the list every month.
What kind of "quality-control" measures does your project have to make sure contributors are adding accurate categories to articles?
- Pichpich: As far as I know, there is none and it's almost impossible to put in place. I've seen complaints in the past and they're usually handled by simply reminding editors that categorization is not a race. If anything, sloppiness can make matters worse because poorly categorized articles are much harder to identify.
- EdGl: Pichpich (above) said it well. Participants are encouraged to take their time and carefully determine accurate, specific categories for a page. If a good category cannot be determined, due to the poor wording of an article or lack of an appropriate category, participants should leave the page alone and let another editor take a look at it. Placing it in Category:Better category needed is also an option.
Do you use AutoWikiBrowser or HOTCAT to help you in categorizing articles? Would you recommend all users install these features? Are there any efforts to get some of these features added to Wikipedia's primary interface?
- Pichpich: Nope.
- EdGl: I use HOTCAT, and it's great. It makes the job quicker and easier, with less typing necessary. I highly recommend it, although there are a couple of downsides. First of all, it's easy to be lazy and not check to see if a category is really the best (i.e., most accurate and specific) one to use. Secondly, adding multiple categories requires multiple edits, which is annoying and makes the article history messier. It's worth it being able to add, change, or remove a category without using the edit window, however.
What tips do you have for editors who have just written a new article but don't know how to categorize it?
- Pichpich: Make sure the article is at least part of one non-trivial category. (By "trivial" I mean things like Category:1885 births which are not used for browsing) When in doubt, just leave the article uncategorized and let the task force handle it eventually.
- EdGl: If you start an article, you should know enough about the subject to know what category it should belong to. After that it's just a matter of finding the corresponding Wikipedia category(ies). Do what we do: look at how similar articles are categorized. If you're still lost, then at least make it easy for us by making your article clear and readable. Describe the subject in as much detail as possible. Give the location of the subject, if applicable. One pet peeve of mine is when an article about a person does not have his/her place of birth or current location, or when an article about a company or organization does not give the location of its headquarters. Include wikilinks to similar articles and proper nouns to make our category search easier.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- EdGl: Thanks to the Signpost for this opportunity, all the participants that have made this an active and successful task force, and for you for reading this article. Oh, and consider joining the UNCAT task force :)
Next week, the Report will be drawing on a largely unknown WikiProject for an interview. Until then feel free to keep a steady eye on the archive.
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