Processing WikiProject Computing
Can you name the components of this computer?
This week, we spent some time with WikiProject Computing. Started in October 2003, the project has grown to include 17 featured articles, 11 featured lists, 3 pieces of featured media, and 80 good articles. The project still has a heavy workload, with a relative WikiWork rating of 5.44. Members of WikiProject Computing follow Article Alerts, keep track of recent changes, maintain a style manual, and work on a variety of articles under the scope of WikiProject Computing and its child projects. We interviewed Trevj and KvnG.
- What motivated you to join WikiProject Computing? What computing topics do you tend to focus on? What is your preferred device and operating system?
- Trevj: I grew up with computers in the 1980s, as a result of the BBC Computer Literacy Project, and so have a long-standing interest in them. I tend to focus on areas in which I have some experience (both general and specific), finding sources to verify information added. My currently preferred device for practical reasons is a tablet running Android, with my preferred operating system being RISC OS.
- WikiProject Computing is the parent for an array of other tech-related WikiProjects and task forces. Do you participate in any of these projects? How much collaboration exists between the computing-related projects? What can be done to improve communication and teamwork between these projects?
- KvnG: I do more for the networking task force than anywhere else in WP:COMP. Having an overarching project for all these computing-related topics definitely makes working on WP a more social activity and having others around to watch and help improves the quality of the final work.
- Trevj: I have participated in WikiProject RISC OS, which I will pick up again when real life is a little less busy for me. I've not experienced a great deal of collaboration between the computing-related projects, although I've always found other members to be helpful when opinions are asked of them. I think that more collaboration would be desirable in order to reduce the possibility of task force members effectively claiming ownership of articles by citing what may amount to only WP:LOCALCONSENSUS. (This issue is not confined exclusively to WikiProject Computing.) Some projects have been merged, which may be appropriate where levels of interest are low. I believe that communication and teamwork could be improved by something like a Collaboration of the Month, but this would require more commitment from editors, which understandably presents difficulties.
- Are there any significant gaps in Wikipedia's coverage of computing? What can Wikipedians do to improve coverage of neglected computing topics?
- KvnG: I've been amazed from the beginning that something almost always turns up when you search obscure technical topics on WP. There are neglected articles but there are not neglected topics.
- Trevj: There are probably some significant gaps in quality coverage of some computing topics, although I'm not familiar with most of the thousands of articles within the scope of the project. There will be key documents which serve as reference material for a number of topics; consolidating these into some kind of sortable format may help editors to improve coverage. I've noticed that some of the coverage present is unreferenced, and in some cases content breaches WP:NOTHOWTO.
- Does the project deal with many NPOV issues regarding hardware, software, or the history of computing? What can be done to prevent manufacturers from using Wikipedia to promote their products?
- KvnG: I've made some contributions to other areas of WP but what I like about computing and other technical topics is the relative absence of drama and POV disputes. We don't want to prevent manufacturers from contributing to WP. Promotional articles can either be a useful and workable starting point for an improved article or they can be deleted.
- Trevj: I've come across only 2 or 3 cases I recall where I questioned the POV and a satisfactory outcome wasn't evident. Maybe I'll revisit them some time. There must be an amount of promotional material present in articles, but this can probably be dealt with as part of the normal editing process (maintenance tagging, removal and noting on article talk pages).
- How useful are articles that compare different devices, operating systems, or programs? Where does the project draw the line between providing encyclopedic material and serving as a catalog?
- KvnG: Not very useful and not easy to maintain. But that's just my personal opinion. I work on stuff that I personally believe is useful. The other stuff only detracts from WP if it is wrong or has POV issues etc.
- Trevj: I agree with KvnG on this. Unless a number of unbiased reliable sources have made comparisions then such comparisons are unlikely to be neutral. However, I do think that tables of features etc. generally are encyclopedic and serve as a useful reference.
- Have you contributed to any of the Portals overseen by WikiProject Computing and its child projects? Why haven't portals had as much visibility and importance on the English Wikipedia as the Portals on other languages of Wikipedia? What can be done to make portals more relevant to Wikipedia's average visitor?
- KvnG: The only work I've done here is fixing embarrassments. I have seen very few if any contributions to these by other editors. I don't personally find portals to be useful and so I don't contribute to improving them.
- Trevj: I agree with KvnG on this one too. I find categories, wikilinks within articles and the general search facility to be more than adequate. Perhaps I'm missing the point of Portals.
- What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- KvnG: It is not hard to find obvious gaping room for improvement. I would suggest visiting the WP 1.0 assessment for a topic of interest and have a look at higher importance articles with lower quality ratings.
- Trevj: Seconded. Additionally, new members could note their areas of interest, knowledge and skills at WT:COMP, and discuss with others there. Maybe working to consolidate a few templates wouldn't go amiss, although I confess to not having spent much time recently investigating this.
Next time, we'll head off to the Southwest Territory. Until then, sip some local whiskey in the archive.
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