Unity in Diversity: WikiProject South Africa
This week, we ventured to WikiProject South Africa. The project was started in February 2005 and is home to 13 pieces of Featured material, 2 A-class Articles, and 21 Good Articles. The project's workload is very rough, with a relative WikiWork rating of 5.44. The members of WikiProject South Africa keep tabs on a variety of watchlists and maintain a list of resources for editors. We interviewed NJR_ZA, Roger (Dodger67), and HelenOnline.
- What motivated you to join WikiProject South Africa? Have you ever lived in South Africa? Do you contribute to the WikiProjects of any other African countries?
- NJR_ZA: WikiProject South Africa was stagnant with little activity and outdated information; I felt I could improve that and attract more support to the project. I am a South African citizen and have lived in the country all my life. I contribute to articles on other African countries, but do not actively participate in their WikiProjects.
- Roger: Joining was simply the logical thing to do. I am South African and I edit many SA related articles.
- HelenOnline: I write and edit articles about SA among other topics. I was born in SA and have lived here most of my life.
- Are any aspects of South Africa better covered by Wikipedia articles than others? What can be done to fill the gaps in coverage?
- NJR_ZA: The best covered South African topic must be List of South African locomotive classes. Apartheid and the Boer Wars are quite well covered, but suffer from a lack of inline citations and occasional bias. The best way to fill the gaps would be to attract additional editors with knowledgeable in the areas that are not so well covered., specifically Science and technology in South Africa, Geology of South Africa and Economy of South Africa.
- Roger: History is fairly well covered in terms of the existence of articles but there are systemic bias problems in many of them. Given the history of the country there are a multitude of South African "realities" - we need more participation particularly from editors who are not white English speaking male South Africans. Biography is quite good too. Gaps exist in, amongst others, Science, Technology, Economics, Business, Natural history, Arts, Linguistics, Current politics.
- HelenOnline: Historical topics seem to be better covered than current topics.
- Do you encounter any difficulties finding reliable sources for articles about South Africa? Has notability been a concern for many articles about South African communities or biographies? Are there any useful repositories of information about South Africa that can be used for sourcing Wikipedia articles?
- NJR_ZA: Except for pre-colonial history, sources are quite readily available. Notability is not a real concern, non-notable articles are generally identified and vfd'd quickly. WP:RSA contains shortlist of some useful repositories and sources, but this can be extended.
- Roger: Sources are generally quite easy to find, mainstream press all have a strong online presence, government publications are also all online.
- HelenOnline: Not really. Afrikaans news sources should not be overlooked. Many notable SA people are not covered or their articles are neglected.
- WikiProject South Africa has a task force for municipalities. Have you contributed to this task force? Are there any other aspects of South Africa that could be better handled by a dedicated task force?
- NJR_ZA: I have in the past contributed to the Municipal task force, but am not currently actively involved; there is a small group of dedicated contributors doing a good job in this area. A News/Current events task force may be useful to co-ordinate the addition of current events to the relevant articles in a structured and cited manner.
- Roger: I do occasionally participate in the Municipalities Task force. I believe we have at least a stub article containing demographic and political data for every single municipality in the country. Such data is very easy to obtain because of the way census and election information is published by the authorities. Expanding most of these articles beyond the bare numbers is however a far more difficult task.
- How does the activity at WikiProject South Africa compare to other African projects? In general, how difficult has it been to attract editors to improve articles about African countries? How can editors with little knownledge of African topics help improve articles about Africa?
- NJR_ZA: There are not many other African projects to compare with and I do not have enough experience with the ones that do exist to make a comparison. Attracting editors to WP:RSA is not all that hard, keeping new members focused and regularly contributing is a lot harder. See answers to the last question on the question below.
- Roger: WikiProject Africa and it's sub projects are not as active as they could be. I am also a member of WikiProject South Sudan, I joined when the project was created when the country was established - I was part of a flurry of activity on WP about South Sudan at the time but I have not seen much action there recently. WikiProject South Africa is by far the most active of the African Projects, I believe this is simply a matter of time and numbers, South Africa has more internet users than the rest of Africa combined, but this is changing slowly as internet infrastructure expands across the continent.
- What are WikiProject South Africa's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- NJR_ZA: New contributors can help by:
- Finding references and adding inline citations
- Cleaning up external links
- Identifying and removing obvious bias
- Improving the structure of articles by adding info boxes and navboxes
- Identifying and improving articles that overlap other projects such as Geology of South Africa
- Updating South Africa portal on a more regular basis
- Anything else you'd like to add?
- NJR_ZA: More active participants in the project are required, particularly from across all cultural groups in South Africa.
- Roger: More participants and more demographic diversity among paricipants. Most of the WikiGnome work in the project is done by the same half-dozen or so "usual suspects".
- HelenOnline: We need to find a way to encourage more people to participate constructively.
Next week, we'll try to retain all the new recruits. Until then, show some compassion in the archive.