WikiProject Formula One
This week, we turn our attention to WikiProject Formula One. Started in October 2004 by Rdsmith4, it has 290 active members. The project is home to 13 Featured articles, 4 Featured lists, 24 Good articles, and a Featured portal – with a total of 3,584 articles under its care. The Signpost interviewed project members 4u1e, Bretonbanquet, and DH85868993.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what F1 team/s you support, and what motivated you to become a member of WikiProject Formula One?
- 4u1e: I'm not really a fan of teams (or drivers) so much as I am of the sport as a whole. Of course there are teams (Williams, Jordan, Ferrari) and drivers (Damon Hill, Alain Prost, Mark Webber) that I have rooted for at various times, but I try and avoid fannishness! I can't remember why I joined the project – it was over five years ago – but looking at my first edits, it was probably to do with perceived inaccuracies in articles. I should note that despite my editing habits (Brabham, Jack Brabham, Brabham BT19, Brabham BT49), I wasn't a huge fan of Brabham while it still existed. That has become a purely historical passion, driven by what I consider an interesting story and characters.
- Bretonbanquet: I was a fan for a long time of the Minardi team, until their sad demise, and I have supported various drivers over the years. I show some eccentricity in my choices of favourites, tending towards the less-talented, underfunded or unlucky teams and drivers who struggle at the back of the field. This led to me working on articles about these guys, from the present and the past, as their pages were often one-liners or sometimes non-existent. That was how I started editing F1 articles, quite a few years back.
- DH85868993: I was an avid fan of Alain Prost for most of his F1 career, to the extent that he inspired part of my username. These days I support Mark Webber, but I also have a keen interest in the history of the sport. When I was first introduced to Wikipedia, I saw the Formula One articles as an area in which I could contribute, and I thought that joining the WikiProject was the best way to maximise my contribution.
Your project has 3,584 articles associated with it. How do you keep all these up to standard and what are your biggest challenges?
- 4u1e: Current race and driver articles are updated as seasons progress by those who are keen on that sort of thing. A possibly smaller number of people chip away at the 55 or so years of F1 history that precede Wikipedia. The biggest challenge, or at least the one I'm personally least willing to face up to, is taking on the really long articles on controversial drivers that attract large numbers of low quality edits – Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher spring to mind. Those two should really both be FA-class, but it's a major undertaking.
- Bretonbanquet: I have to agree with my esteemed colleague 4u1e in that there is a lot of work to be done throughout the project, trying to raise the standard. Articles about defunct teams, old races and retired drivers tend to get neglected, and so have to rely on editors taking an interest and bothering to research the topic in order to see improvement. Articles on current drivers and teams tend to see a huge number of minor edits, especially on race days, and effort has to be made to keep the trivia out and to maintain consistency in each article. Race days can be a bit hectic with a lot of statistics being updated in a short space of time.
- DH85868993: Having a large number of active project members in different timezones makes it fairly easy to keep "one off" vandalism under control. Something that's more challenging is when editors make systematic changes to a large number of articles without prior discussion with the WikiProject – these sometimes take a while to rectify.
WikiProject Formula One has 13 FA-class articles, 4 FLs, 24 GAs and a Featured portal. How did your project achieve this and how can other projects work toward this?
- 4u1e: The Featured and Good articles have generally been achieved by one or two editors deciding that they want to shoot for a gold star and plugging away. Other project members are always helpful in commenting when asked, but I think the GA Monaco Grand Prix is the only article on which a team bigger than two worked in a semi-structured way to achieve the desired standard.
- Bretonbanquet: I agree again, most FAs and GAs were the work of single editors, empassioned by the subject. Formula One inspires great passion in people, and there are some incredible stories, some glorious, some tragic – and editors are then inspired to tell the tale. Tom Pryce is a great example. I think the F1 project is fortunate to have a very large number of engaging stories to tell, and that brings out good quality articles from some of our editors.
A typical F1 season runs for around nine months. What do members do between seasons and does the project have any special activities to encourage participation during the off-season?
- 4u1e: We don't have any special activities between seasons. There's always plenty of historical stuff to do, although there is a difference in the editing communities that cover historical and current events, so I guess some guys have a quiet winter!
- Bretonbanquet: Yes, apart from working on topics from years gone by and keeping tabs on the off-season shenanigans regarding driver contracts and suchlike, there isn't much to do. I often work on music or football-related articles in my F1 downtime.
- DH85868993: During the off-season, I tend to focus on project-wide issues such as consistency, and try to attend to some of the little tasks that I didn't have time for during the hurly-burly of the F1 season.
Do you collaborate with other WikiProjects?
- 4u1e: We have a parent WikiProject in Wikiproject Motorsport, and where appropriate discussions started at WP:F1 will be diverted there.
- Bretonbanquet: Yes, sometimes the Motorsport Wikiproject gets involved when a debate stretches beyond the boundaries of Formula One, otherwise we're quite independent.
What are the most pressing needs for WikiProject Formula One? How can a new contributor help today?
- 4u1e: We're not short of people willing to update statistics, but could do with more people willing to write prose. Historical pictures with appropriate licenses are always welcome. And it would be great if more people would comment at Formula One FACs. One recently successful FA took three attempts, largely because of reviewer apathy rather than inherent faults in the article.
- Bretonbanquet: Certainly more photos would be a welcome development and good prose-writers. Other than that, it would be nice to standardise the sources for statistics across the range of articles. Currently we see a lot of drive-by changes to some of the older stats, and accuracy can sometimes be compromised. We could always do with "outside" help from people to bring articles to a higher standard, just by filling out text with a bit of easy-to-source detail. Editors need not necessarily know much about motor racing to contribute, and a lot of the source material is readily available online. A Featured article may necessarily require some relatively expert knowledge to construct, but a decent B-class article can be written with a fairly basic knowledge of the sport.
Next week's article will be a traveler's delight. Until then, transport yourself to the archive.