Land of the Midnight Sun – WikiProject Norway
Norway is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and third largest gas exporter
This week, we took a trip to WikiProject Norway. Started in February 2005, WikiProject Norway has become the home for almost 34,000 articles about the world's best place to live, including 16 Featured Articles, 19 Featured Lists, and nearly 250 Good Articles. The project works on a to do list, maintains a categorization system, watches article alerts, and serves as a discussion forum. Interested editors should sign their name to the project's membership list and add the project's page to their watchlist. We interviewed Mentoz86, Hordaland, and Arsenikk.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Norway? Do you live in Norway? Have you contributed to any of the project's Good or Featured Articles?
- Mentoz86: I am Norwegian, and has used the English Wikipedia as a "primary point of reference" for a while. I started to edit Wikipedia in English, when I found out that articles about Norwegian football was not as good as I wanted them to be as a reader, and I joined WikiProject Norway to help out on updating and expanding articles about Norwegian football.
- Hordaland: I've lived in Norway for decades, though I'm originally from the USA.
- Arsenikk: I have lived in Norway for most of my life. I contribute mostly about Norwegian topics largely because I have good access to sources, for instance library books, making it logistically easier. I have written 156 GAs and 18 FLs within the project scope.
Do you speak Norwegian? Have you contributed to either of the Norwegian Wikipedias? Why do two versions of Wikipedia exist for the Norwegian language?
- Hordaland: Yes, I speak, read, write and teach Norwegian. Yes, I've contributed to the Norwegian Wikipedias, tho not for a long time. Why there are two written versions of the Norwegian language is a long story. In the 1500s or so, Norwegian like other languages at the time was developing a written language. But then Norway was dominated by Denmark for a few hundred years, and the Danish language took over as the written language. Starting in the first half of the 1800s, people started wanting a Norwegian language, naturally enough. Bokmål is norwegianized Danish. Nynorsk is based upon the dialects of Norway, which differ quite a bit from Danish. However, any Norwegian can read any Norwegian text as well as Danish without too much trouble. (Spoken Danish is, however, another story.)
- Arsenikk: I am a native speaker of both English and Norwegian. My contributions to the Norwegian Wikipedia are sporadic; my largest work was translating an article I had written in English to Norwegian during the SOPA blackout and getting it to GA in both languages.
Are there any significant gaps in the coverage of Norway on the English Wikipedia? Are some regions or time periods better represented than others? What can be done to fill the gaps?
- Arsenikk: I have not noticed a significant regional bias in coverage. I often write about locations elsewhere to where I live, have lived and come from. Regarding periods, I often find that the Norse and Viking period is well-covered, as is World War II. There is of course a recent bias from ca. 2000 till present. An area I find has been overseen—and which I recently have tried to counter somewhat—is the period from the 1950s to the 1990s. This is an exciting period in which the nation first had to rebuild after the war, started off as one of the poorest countries in Europe, to find oil and go through an economic boom and bust in the 1980s. To counteract the bias requires access to written sources and an awareness of what areas need work. The skewed topical scope is created largely because there are a limited number of active contributors and they all prefer writing about their own favorite topics.
The project has several Featured and Good Topics related to public transportation in Oslo. Was there a concerted effort to get these articles to their current status? Are some topics easier for the average Wikipedian to contribute to than others?
- Mentoz86: I believe this is the effort of User:Arsenikk's fantastic work. He has written a whole lot of GA's in his field of interest, so most of the projects GA's are about public transportation, football stadiums, airports.
- Arsenikk: I wrote most of the Oslo transport articles, despite never having lived there. Rail transport is my favorite topic and writing about the numerous metro and tram lines in Oslo is easy because it is well documented in books and periodicals. I believe easy topics are those which one has an interest in oneself. Running for a good or featured topic can make it easier to get that one last article in place.
Does WikiProject Norway collaborate with the projects of any neighboring countries? Are there any regional projects that could become a space for collaborative work on Scandinavian topics?
- Hordaland: I don't know, but it ought to be possible. I've worked on a big translation project where the Danish group and the Norwegian group cooperated very well. On Wikipedia I translated a Swedish article to English, Sleep (non-human), with the help of someone who knows Swedish.
- Arsenikk: Norway spent the era from 1397 to 1905 in unions with Sweden and/or Denmark. The countries share a common Norse heritage and have close cultural and linguistic bonds. Norwegian, Sweden and Danish are mutually intelligible. The potential for common articles is large, although Norwegians would not be dependent on people from other countries to comprehend sources. I have for instance relied largely on a Swedish book to write a subarticle about Scandinavian Airlines—the common flag carrier of the three countries.
What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- Mentoz86: We have a couple of editors who are very good on creating new stubs, and like I mentioned above, some editors who are very good on improving articles to GA-status. But we have some outdated articles, and a lot of stubs who can be expanded, and new contributors are welcome to help out on this.
- Arsenikk: There are a number high-viewership and important articles which are in rather poor condition. Examples include major cities and towns, counties, major companies and institutions. Often it is easier to work with less extensive articles, but with regard to our readers it would be better if we focused more on central issues.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- Arsenikk: Language is a major barrier when writing about a non-English country and it is often impossible to reach beyond the most basic facts if relying on English sources. I would presume I use ninety percent Norwegian sources simply because no equivalent English versions exist. On the other hand this means that the English Wikipedia is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide available to many non-major Norwegian topics. A local resident may simply borrow a book about an important Norwegian topic; for the rest of the world the book is not available or comprehensible. As English is establishing itself as a world language, Wikipedia is helping spread knowledge not only in a free way but also in a linguistically barrier-free way to a global audience. This is one of my main motivations for participating in the project.
Next week, we'll summarize all the most important information in an infobox. Until then, wade through our antiquated sentences and paragraphs in the archive.