David, a Londoner for most of his life, has been on Wikipedia since March 2005. A Chartered quantity surveyor, his main interests are history, architecture, transport (specifically London Underground), genealogy, music and literature. A Wikipedian since March 2006, Simply south is from Hertfordshire, and is interested in rail, geographical, other forms of travel and transportation.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what motivated you to become a member of WikiProject London Transport?
DavidCane: My interest stems from an early fascination with the London Underground. I grew-up in a southern suburb of London, so a trip as a child on the Underground was often a prelude to a visit to the centre of the city. The impact that London's transport infrastructure had on the development and expansion of the city are so great that it is impossible to imagine London being the city it is now without the railways, the Underground, the trams or the buses that enabled its inhabitants to move progressively further from the work place. I became involved in the Project in 2006 because I wanted to see better articles on the Project's topics.
Simply south: I have always been interested in transport, especially rail transport. I joined as I was invited by Unisouth just when the Project was getting off the ground. I have always had a particular interest in the Docklands Light Railway and London Underground ever since I was young, but this has since branched out.
Your Project has over 2,800 articles associated with it. How does the Project keep all these up to standard, and what are its biggest challenges?
DavidCane: It's a slow process. A laborious assessment exercise last year means that all of the articles do, at least, have a quality and importance rating; though more than 80% of the articles are still stubs or start class, and the quality varies considerably. We try to standardise articles as much as possible by providing a reasonably flexible style guide and by using a range of templates including various infoboxes and navboxes, which help structure basic articles and group them thematically.
Simply south: There are so many dedicated editors in the Project that not enough credit cannot be given to them whether their effort is big or small. Problems are discussed on the Project talk page or related Projects. A previous challenge has been how to revitalise the Portal, which was done through getting rid of selection processes and adding sections such as biographies. This had spikes over several months but through dedication, this has since achieved Featured status a few months ago. There are more people showing interest in the project every month. There are various resources and templates the Project uses in improving articles.
WikiProject London Transport has 26 Featured articles, 4 Featured lists, 26 Good articles and a Featured Portal. How did your Project achieve this and how can other Projects work toward this?
DavidCane: I think that the Project has achieved these numbers largely due to the good fortune of having dedicated editors working on articles that they are interested in over an extended period. We don't at present have a strategic plan, targets or collaborations to achieve particular goals in particular topic areas. I know this works well for some Projects but we tend to be more of a loose affiliation than a focused team.
DavidCane: I am not aware of any problems. Aside from WP:London, the Projects with the most overlap are the UK Railways and Trains. Aside from having an agreed naming convention for station articles between the Projects, we don't collaborate in a formal way.
Simply south: In the past, we have also had loose collaborations with WP:TIS, WP:BUS, WP:UKROADS and many county Projects around the UK, as well as the Geography Project and WP:RDT. We have had some article specific collaborations but not much on a large scale.
DavidCane: We used to have monthly selected articles, biographies, [and] pictures which were nominated by members periodically, but this petered-out some time ago, so the Portal was automated to use a random selection from pre-selected lists of these subjects. The news section is updated regularly with items sourced from the press release sections of various relevant organisations.
What are the most pressing needs for WikiProject London Transport? How can a new contributor help today?
DavidCane: It would be nice if all of the Top- and High-importance articles could be improved to GA status. There's currently about 80 of these that are below GA quality, but an editor can just get stuck anywhere they have an interest.
Anything else to add?
Simply south: I also maintain the Project newsletter, [when] the torch was passed to me when the founder left the Project. This is usually released monthly (occasionally bimonthly), giving an update on how the Project is progressing, as well as news outside the Project. I feel this is small but still key to developing interest in the Project. I have also occasionally had guest editors doing their own versions, or adding/rearranging the newsletter, The Metropolitan.