In preparation for the college rivalry games that traditionally occur on Thanksgiving Day in the United States, we sat down with some members of WikiProject College Football. The project started in June 2006 with the aim of improving Wikipedia's coverage of teams, seasons, notable players, famous match-ups, and bowl games at the collegiate level of American football. It is home to 23 featured articles, 36 featured lists, 2 A-class articles, and 145 good articles. The Wikiproject maintains its own style guide, notability guidelines, image guidelines, a collection of reliable sources, a to-do list, and a portal. We interviewed Eagles247, Paul McDonald, Nmajdan, and Jweiss11.
Notre Dame Stadium
is home to "Touchdown Jesus," a large mural that overlooks the playing field.
celebrating a victory over Army
What motivated you to join WikiProject College Football? Which school(s) do you follow?
- Eagles247: I have been a follower of the NFL Draft for five years and it all starts with college football. I became interested in college football players because they are the future of the NFL and I wanted a first look at them before they went pro. I follow Penn State and Northwestern: Penn State is the biggest school near my residence (even though it is still far away), and I started following Northwestern after I created Mike Kafka (a former Wildcat quarterback).
- Paul McDonald: I have been more of an avid follower of smaller schools, such as those in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Currently in this conference, four of the ten schools are ranked in the top 25 in the NAIA.
- NMajdan: I was one of the founding members of the WikiProject and that stemmed from my then-membership is one of the larger college football schools, Oklahoma. I tend to pay close attention to my alma mater and Oklahoma State with occassional glances at other Big 12 schools.
The project is home to 23 featured articles, 36 featured lists, 2 A-class articles, and 144 good articles. Have you contributed to any of these articles? Are you currently working on bringing an article up to FA or GA status?
- Eagles247: I contributed to Mike Kafka and Kevin Kolb, and I am currently working on bringing DeSean Jackson up to GA status.
- NMajdan: I created/contributed many featured lists including 2005 NCAA Division I-A football rankings, List of Oklahoma Sooners head football coaches, List of Colorado Buffaloes head football coaches, List of Kansas State Wildcats head football coaches, List of Missouri Tigers head football coaches, and List of Texas Longhorns head football coaches [among others]. I've been on a bit of a hiatus recently, so no current projects are in the works.
All of the project's 25,000 articles have been assessed and the project keeps records of reassessments. Do you have any advice for other projects that struggle to keep up with assessments and eliminate backlogs?
- Paul McDonald: A while back I got tired of having a bunch of unassessed articles, so I went to the talk page of one of the articles and clicked on the assessment. It gave me a great big list of all the articles that were "stubs" -- I noticed I could click on each assessment grouping and get that list. So I clicked on the unassessed articles and started just peeling through them to assess those articles.
- NMajdan: The project has performed a couple assessment drives that really helped knock down the numbers. Now its more informal; we're just lucky to have many editors who are committed to keeping those numbers down. Getting it down once it the hard part.
How does the project handle determining the notability of players and coaches?
- Paul McDonald: We have a notability essay that involved a good amount of discussion for an extended period of time. We are working on a way to maintain a library of AFD discussions to help out. We have editors who are enthusiastic about adding articles and those that are enthusiastic about raising the bar and deleting articles that they deem to be non-notable. Somehow, some way, we manage to arrive at a consensus on each and every case.
Do articles about recent events and players tend to receive greater attention than historical articles? What efforts have been taken to ensure Wikipedia's coverage extends to older subjects?
- Paul McDonald: There seems to be a misunderstanding about the history of college football. Sometimes we face arguments that historical articles should be deleted because the player "never played professionally" -- the problem is that college football pre-dates professional football by almost 40 years, and professionall football did not come into prominence until some say the 1960's or even 1970's.
- A second issue that we encounter is that many of the prominent issues of college football that occured in the past have not managed to make it onto the internet for effective research and online soucing. One particular example was Andrew Frank Schoeppel, the former football coach at Fort Hays State University for a mere one year with a record of 2 wins and 5 losses. Insignificant? Additional research led us to find that he also was the 29th Governor of Kansas.
- Finding and sourcing historic football articles is becoming easier, but it still is something of a battle.
Does WikiProject College Football collaborate with any other projects? Is there significant overlap in membership between WikiProject College Football, WikiProject NFL, and WikiProject American Football?
- Jweiss11: WikiProject College Football has probably collaborated most with WikiProject College Basketball. I think this has probably followed naturally from the fact that football and basketball are the two biggest college sports. The two projects use the same or analogous templates for things like infoboxes, yearly records, and standings. The infobox for coaches, Template:Infobox college coach, is generalized to support all sports, which is helpful given that in the first half of the 20th century, coaches often managed multiple sports. This has gone a long way toward standardizing format and layout. By comparison, collaboration with WikiProject NFL has been minimal. There should probably be more given the vast overlap in scope, particularly in biography articles. Virtually anyone who has ever coached or played in the NFL has also coached or played in the college ranks. WikiProject American Football is intended in large part to cover core concepts of the sport that span across levels of play, like "touchdown." But since a lot of these concepts were developed in the arena of college football, there is a lot of cross-over with WikiProject College Football in scope. I'm not sure how much collaboration there has been with WikiProject American Football. I think WikiProject American Football probably hasn't drawn as much attention because it's scope doesn't really include current topics, which naturally draw the most readership and the most frequent editing.
How can a new member help today?
- Paul McDonald: Several ways I can think of:
- Pictures Probably the most visually important issue is the adding of pictures. We have an essay pointing out different ways to add to articles and the kinds of images and photos that would be helpful. Many of the articles could benefit from a fresh and free-use image.
- Deletions We always welcome review of football-related AFDs to help make this encyclopedia better.
- Sources There are still a lot of articles that need sources and references added. Some simple web searches could cover most of them. We made a big "attack" on this once upon a time and made good progress, but so many new articles have come online that we've lost control of this aspect of our newer articles.
- Wikification face it, the only reason we spend so much time on this project is because we love football. We could all use help with making the content better, using citation templates, or just normal editing.--Paul McDonald (talk) 21:47, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
While the Americans are lulled into hibernation by their annual Tryptophan overdose, the rest of the northern hemisphere is getting ready for a variety of winter festivities. We'll cover it all next week. Until then, check out the archives for some sweet treats.