Phil Campbell of Motörhead in New York City in 2011
This week, we rocked it out with WikiProject Rock Music. Started in June 2006, the project has grown to include 62 Featured Articles, 45 Featured Lists, and 213 Good Articles. Project members maintain a to-do list and work on reducing rock-related unreferenced biographies of living people. The project has two task forces and a variety of sub-projects covering sub-genres and individual bands. We interviewed Sabrebd.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Rock Music? Do you prefer a specific sub-genre of rock music? What is your favorite band?
I joined the project because I realised that a lot of my editing would be in the area of rock music and wanted to be able to respond to requests from other users and to be able to ask for help if I needed it. As I get older I find it harder and harder to say what my favourite act or genre is, as I have listened to so many. I also edit [articles about] bands and particularly acts that I have very little vested interest in: you don't have to love them to give them a good article and it may actually help if you are not a committed fan to adopt a neutral point of view.
How active do you feel the project has been over the past few months? Do efforts to improve rock articles tend to be decentralized? Are there any obstacles that may be preventing the project from growing?
The project is not very active. I am not sure what very active would look like as most of the projects to which I belong operate on a relatively low level. This may be unavoidable, they are, after all not forums for chatting with friends or having abstract arguments and I am not sure members would want that even if it were offered as the internet is full of that sort of thing. I rarely decide what I am doing by going through lists of work that needs to be done, as after several years of editing I probably know that as well as anyone else. I also try to make sure that Wikipedia remains my hobby and therefore avoid being too systematic, as strange as that may seem. Nevertheless the project is useful when some issue that affects several articles comes up, or where an article or debate needs some additional input and for keeping a check on how Wikipedia is progressing. I also think that the size of Wikipedia now makes it hard for these projects to function as they once did. Getting all the rock related articles to GA or FA status would be more than a lifetimes work for one individual.
The project is home to 62 Featured Articles, 45 Featured Lists, and 209 Good Articles. Have you contributed to any of these articles? What are some challenges to improving rock music articles to FA or GA status?
I have contributed to making a grand total of four rock related articles to GA status, including Rock music and Led Zeppelin; the latter is currently being assessed for FA status. That does not sound like much, but it was quite a lot of work. I also do not particularly pursue status awards: it is usually enough for me to know I have improved an article and I look to those processes more for getting comment on further improvement. Most of time the GA process works well, but because it is an individual assessment feedback can be a bit idiosyncratic. Usually it just takes some focused time and patience to implement the suggestions to get the status.
How frequently do you deal with a band's fans, publicists, or detractors adding puffery or vandalism to articles? How do you typically respond? Have any editors you've dealt with for point of view (POV) or conflict of interest (COI) issues later become productive members of the project?
Drive-by vandalism is probably a large part of this, but it is usually easily dealt with. There are sufficient regular editors that mean that, normally, if I do not catch some vandalism, someone else will. Drive-by puffery is less of a problem, but we do get the odd determined fan. If they are simply adding and re-adding puffery, that can be dealt with as long as there enough editors around to support a neutral point of view. The hardest editors to deal with are those that carry out bad edits but with good intentions: they tend to keep coming back and it is almost impossible to explain to them that information must be neutral, sourced and encyclopedic. These editors can take up a lot of time and effort. I would like to think that offering help and guidance to problematic editors has produced some useful and productive members, but I cannot remember a single one. Most of the difficult editors simply stop editing; the ones that prove positive in the long run tend to be positive at the start.
How much does the membership of WikiProject Rock Music overlap with projects for other music genres? Does WikiProject Rock Music collaborate with any other projects?
A lot of personnel belong to other related projects such as projects on music or music genres. Collaboration between projects is not really how it works. It is more that editors will tend to assemble themselves on an article or talkpage for a specific purpose. That is probably just inevitable given the way Wikipedia works.
What are the project's most pressing needs? How can a new contributor help today?
Since there is a regular turnover of editors on Wikipedia the project always needs new members, particularly if they will take on some of the many stubs and starter articles and try to expand and improve them. My feeling is that someone will always add articles for new bands and trends, but in Wikipedia's second phase improving and expanding those articles is the major challenge. We also need editors that are aware of current trends and bands to keep adding articles on these things or the whole thing will ossify. It would be even better if these articles conformed to Wikipedia guidelines, but if they do not someone will eventually make them do so.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I count on a nucleus of committed editors to get feedback, occasional support (sometimes productive disagreement) and to correct my errors. Many of these are members of the project. So if it didn't exist we would probably need to invent it.
Next week, we'll report about the reporters. Until then, explore Signpost history in the archive.