Summer sports series: burning rubber with WikiProject Motorsport
takes place on public or private roads using modified yet still road-legal cars
involves competitors deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another
This week, we caught up with WikiProject Motorsport. The project, which dates back to December 2006, oversees a wide variety of child projects covering auto racing around the world. Among the project's 4,636 articles are 14 featured articles and featured lists. Members of WikiProject Motorsport work on a list of important tasks and burn through a large backlog of unassessed articles. The project also maintains a portal and two task forces. We interviewed NaBUru38 and Royalbroil.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Motorsport? Do you prefer one form of auto racing over others? Are you also a member of any child projects of WikiProject Motorsport? Have you been involved with the history of motorsport or touring cars task forces?
- NaBUru38: I've been a motorsport fan since I was a young child. My family tells me that I could pronounce car brands before the simplest words! One of the reasons that I joined Wikipedia was to find and share information and stories about my passion – both in Spanish (my mother tongue) and English – so joining the projects was natural.
- I enjoy all types of motorsport. I'm better informed and more interested in some disciplines (formula racing, sports car racing, touring car racing, rallying), but Wikipedia is special in that it includes less known disciplines, and I like helping to build those articles too.
- Royalbroil: I was involved with the WikiProject since inception. We started the WikiProject Motorsport to coordinate items that apply to multiple genres of motorsports. Many drivers have switched genres throughout their career.
- I prefer attending motorsports over television. I like to see the local weekly drivers who are doing it for the fun of it knowing that they'll probably lose money in the process. My favorites are off-road racing and stock car racing.
- I'm a member of WikiProjects NASCAR, American Open Wheel Racing, Sports Car Racing, was in IROC before the series became defunct, and the History of Motorsport taskforce.
Since WikiProject Motorsport serves as an umbrella project for an array of auto racing projects, how does WikiProject Motorsports differ from Wikipedia's other umbrella projects? Is it difficult to attract contributors from the child projects? How has WikiProject Motorsport been able to foster lively talk page discussions when other umbrella projects like WikiProject Sports and WikiProject Arts have failed?
- NaBUru38: I only know the Motorsport and Automobiles project in Spanish and English, so I can't compare them with other projects. I guess that umbrella projects lack the unconditional passion of fans of specific varieties of sports and arts. It's hardcore fans like us who build most of Wikipedia. However, my view is that Wikipedians should get involved in more subjects. We never know what can fascinate us, so just explore the millions of articles.
- Royalbroil: WikiProject Motorsport has been used as the binding decision maker for things affecting child WikiProjects. Also, some types articles don't fit neatly into the child WikiProjects such as those relating to drag racing.
Are there particular aspects of motorsport that are poorly covered by Wikipedia? What can be done to fill these voids?
- NaBUru38: In the English Wikipedia, motorsport in English-speaking regions tends to be well covered, as well as world, European and German competitions. Other regions lack coverage, in particular Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia (except Japan). The alternatives are to attract more fans from those regions and to translate articles from other Wikipedia editions (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese in the case of Latin America).
- Another issue is that there are so many competitions, drivers and teams that articles get outdated very quickly, especially the less popular ones. For that reason, in Spanish I don't maintain articles on seasons, and edit articles on drivers only once or twice a year. My weekly work is to add race winners to the tables in articles on races and circuits.
- Recentism hurts us too: there are lots of articles on current drivers, even the less successful, but retired and deceased drivers are often ignored. There a reason for that: Internet has more information on current drivers. As a project, we should tackle that issue.
- Royalbroil: Major American professional drivers in the off-road racing and drag racing genres are poorly covered. There don't appear to be many interested contributors and I have worked on a bunch of the biggest names. WikiProject Formula One has done an excellent job with developing articles on their drivers.
How does the project handle the notability of races, teams, owners, and drivers? What are some helpful resources you've used when sourcing motorsport-related articles?
- NaBUru38: Sports has a rule of thumb rule on notability: winners are more relevant than losers! That doesn't happen with academics and artists, so there's an advantage for us. Some project members dedicate a lot of time in chasing particularly irrelevant articles, so the obvious cases are dealt with already. Anyway, as with other subjects, notability rules in motorsport are more relaxed that I would prefer. We haven't found a solid policy, which we need. For example, I would allow much less content on development series. They often enjoy considerable media coverage, but aren't as relevant to me as national semi-professional championships.
- The best sources are closed, for example Autosport requires subscription for stories older than a month. There are some very interesting open databases, which are useful to find results. However, they lack prestige, which can be an issue with non-motorsport editors. More importantly, they lack the stories behind the numbers. Motorsport is always about racers first. A solution could be to use newspaper archives.
- Royalbroil: WP:NMOTORSPORT was developed as part of WP:ATHLETE to include only professionals. I disagree with NaBUru38 and think it's a bit too restrictive to not allow some of the top semi-professional / development people who have made major accomplishments like national championships – but only if they meet the general notability guideline. Sources vary depending on the series and the country. Some sanctioning bodies have lots of articles about their drivers. Other sources including sports television networks like ESPN/Speed, newspapers, and magazines.
Is it difficult to obtain images for motorsport-related articles? Is it harder to find images for particular periods in the history of motorsport? How can auto racing fans contribute images from their next trip to the racetrack or tour route?
- NaBUru38: Wikimedia Commons hosts lots of images of contemporary motorsport in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, mainly in circuit racing and rallying. We need to contact fans from other disciplines and other countries to take pictures and upload them, which is very easy. Promoters don't mind – actually a fellow Uruguayan promoter was happy for my work.
- Another matter is older motorsport, where most of the material is privative and in print. A way of to find pictures of older vehicles is historic events, where collectors show old vehicles – and often race them! Nevertheless, it's crucial to find historic motorsport pictures. Crowds and safety measures were very different back then! A more relaxed copyright policy would help us a lot.
- Royalbroil: I get around a lot and have uploaded images from many types of motorsports from my collection. I've used Flickr to find excellent photographers from many genres who have agreed to freely license their images. All you have to do is ask. I've been successful about 50% of the time, as long as you ask someone who is currently active on flickr. Two of my flickr friends used to photograph professionally, one for NASCAR and another for a major national motorsports magazine in the United States. I've been able to find free photographs from most American drivers back into the 1970s.
Has WikiProject Motorsport planed any collaborations between the various motorsport projects? Are there any initiatives WikiProject Motorsport could undertake on its own?
- Royalbroil: WikiProject Motorsport has developed standardized infoboxes that are used in most genres of motorsports. New members usually find out about us from child WikiProjects.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- NaBUru38: My two favourite motorsport quotes in fiction are:
- Royalbroil: I'd add "Second place is the first loser" – Dale Earnhardt
The summer sports series continues next week with the most popular sport on Earth. Until then, kick around our previous articles in the archive.