Loop-the-loop: Amusement Parks
Rides and lights at a traveling funfair
This week, we secured free admission for WikiProject Amusement Parks, the project dedicated to amusement rides, roller coasters, theme parks, traveling carnivals, and funfairs. First opened in January 2007, the project has grown to include 8 pieces of featured material and 72 good articles. The project recently completed a push to assess all articles under the project's scope, although Importance ratings remain under-utilized. The project has several task forces covering roller coasters and an assortment of large amusement park chains. WikiProject Amusement Parks began circulating a quarterly newsletter this year and is experimenting with a collaboration called Operation B&M. We interviewed Dom497, Astros4477, and McDoobAU93.
- What motivated you to join WikiProject Amusement Parks? Do you participate in any of the project's task forces? What is your favorite park?
- Dom497: My story is kind of weird. I came to Wikipedia with the intention to focus on NHL related articles. At the time, I had hardly any knowledge about amusement parks, ride manufactures, types of rides, etc. Then, when I found the WindSeeker article, that's when my amusement park enthusiast life began. I began looking more and more into theme parks, started joining forums, and finally, WikiProject Amusement Parks. Though I am an enthusiast, I'm not the kind that knows every detail about theme parks, I mainly focus on roller coasters, Cedar Fair and (from time to time) other companies that run amusement parks. And my favourite park? Canada's Wonderland...my home park! Behemoth and Leviathan are awesome roller coasters, they got great flat rides, and have the best water show that I've ever seen in person.
- Astros4477: I have been a member of WikiProject Amusement Parks since I joined Wikipedia in November 2011. Similarly to Dom497, I did not know much about amusement parks or amusement rides. I loved them growing up but I never knew more than Disney or my local parks. In 2011, I started to become more interested and join online forums. I live close to Cedar Point, which is one of the most popular amusement parks in the world. As I was researching information on Cedar Point, I became rather disappointed that its Wikipedia pages were pretty weak in content. I started creating new articles about the park that didn't exist then I eventually moved on to Good Articles. As time moved on, I became more and more interested and started contributing in other subject areas in the project. Today, my main interest is in the Cedar Fair and Roller Coaster WP. Both projects have made tremendous progress over the past year and continue to do so.
- WikiProject Amusement Parks has been running a collaboration called Operation B&M for the past few months. What are the goals of this initiative? Why were roller coasters manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard selected as the focus of the collaboration? How successful has the collaboration been?
- Dom497: The goal of Operation B&M is to get all articles relating to Bolliger & Mabillard (whether it be their roller coasters or models) to at least Good Article standards. If an article can meet Featured Article standards (as one already has), it counts as a bonus. Regarding why B&M was chosen as the focus of this collaboration is simply because B&M is my favourite manufacture (amusement park enthusiasts tend to have their likes and dislikes about manufactures of rides and because debates on which manufacture is the best often occur, I'm not going to say any more about this). I started this operation as a solo project for my self (hence why I choose B&M) and had never intended it to be part of this WikiProject, but later decided that it would be better to make it a WikiProject effort. Overall, the collaboration has been very successful. Though we are no where near complete, every article that gets promoted moves us one more step closer to the finish line. Also, a major barrier involved with this collaboration is finding reliable information for some of the older roller coasters (I comment on this in more detail in one of the questions below). Only one of the three contributors working on Operation B&M (at this time) has access to some older resources which reduces the pace that we could be working at, but with what we got, I think we are still working at a good pace. And if you really want to get technical, Operation B&M will never be complete as long as Bolliger & Mabillard stay in business as they've manufactured at least one roller coaster every year since the very beginning.
- How is notability established for an amusement park or a particular ride? Does the project have to deal with editors attempting to use Wikipedia articles to promote and advertise parks or rides?
- McDoobAU93: The very fact that a ride exists makes it somewhat notable, but at the same time, has it received coverage in reliable sources? Has the local news talked about the ride/park in the past, or currently? If it's one of many similar rides, then it probably will be mentioned alongside its cousins, such as you'd see at SkyScreamer, instead of having its own standalone article. Roller coasters, being significant investments, often have lots of coverage and thus make notability much easier to establish. As to promotion, I try to follow the guidelines established regarding conflicts of interest and peacock words in order to keep out undue influence and marketing-type language (i.e., "the biggest so-and-so in the such-and-such").
- Dom497: McDoobAU93 pretty much has it right. For non-roller coaster attractions, I believe that any unique attraction is notable. What I mean by this is that if a park were to announce that they are building a new merry-go-round, its not unique and holds almost no value of having its own article. Even if it is a heavily themed merry-go-round, its still not notable enough. If a ride that has never been seen before (or breaks at least one substantial record; something like "Tallest drop tower in the nation", not "Tallest drop tower in the city") is announced and mentioned in the news, I count that as notable enough for Wikipedia. For roller coasters, any roller coaster that has its own unique layout is notable for its own article. For amusement parks, pretty much every park is notable - big or small - as these are the places that house attractions. When talking about using Wikipedia for promotion, I personally have never had to deal with that and don't think it has ever been a problem.
- Do articles about roller coasters receive more attention than other types of attractions? What can be done to improve Wikipedia's coverage of all types of amusement park rides?
- Dom497: Absolutely. Roller coasters are what make amusement parks attract more people. When you think of a roller coaster you think of going really high into the air and dropping back down really fast, going upside down, and the sensation of flying out of your seat (depending on the roller coaster). Its a tall, fast, and long "machine" that is great for marketing a park, scaring people, and want the public to experience more of it. This is why the news never stops talking about roller coasters (especially the news publishers located around major theme parks such as Cedar Point, Disney World, Universal Orlando, etc). One of the only times where a non-roller coaster attraction may get more attention is when it is has lots of problems that pose a "risk" to riders (ala WindSeeker) or when serious malfunctions happen injuring riders. As an editor, there is really nothing you can do to improve the coverage of an article other than research and hope that there is information about the ride; sometimes you just have to hope that a newspaper publishes info that you need.
- Considering how many photographs are snapped in amusement parks, are images easy to find for parks and rides? Are some rides harder to photograph?
- Dom497: It all comes down to licensing. Though lots of images are indeed taken, most are copyrighted and cannot be used on Wikipedia. If I think that there needs to be an image to support something and I find one on Flickr, I will (and have done before) contact the photographer asking them to change the licensing of the photo I wish to upload to Wikipedia. To answer the second part of this question, it really depends on the factors that you have to face. Images of most older rides that no longer exist often hard to find no matter what license it is under; however, there are still a lot cases where there are tons of photos of the ride. That's just how it is. With rides that are currently operating, its pretty easy to find a picture though there still may be some barriers restricting the photographer to take a picture from the best angle (due to trees, fences, light poles, etc).
- Does the project handle amusement park simulation games and other fictional media set in amusement parks? Are there any collaborations that could be hosted by WikiProject Amusement Parks and the projects that cover books, films, and video games?
- Dom497: Personally I have never worked within these areas; however, I do know that simulation games relating to amusement parks are ranked as the least important articles within this WikiProject. Also, I don't want to say that a collaboration involving several WikiProjects will never happen as it could one day. For now, its an option on the table that may be discussed in the future.
- What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new member help today?
- Astros4477: In my opinion, the park pages are in the most need of help. Most users (from what I've noticed) usually contribute to the attraction articles. Most park articles are poorly sourced and organized. The information is usually outdated and not updated often. The pages contain a lot of un-encyclopedic material, also. This is where I would tell new members to contribute to as a lot of them are in rough shape. Most of the things I see the most is what you see in this section. All it does it list what the park did each year in 2-3 sentences.
- Anything else you'd like to add?
- Dom497: You don't need to be an amusement park wizard to join this WikiProject. I knew nothing when I first joined and I have since learned way more about amusement parks than I ever thought I would. All you really need is patience to research...with how old some rides are, it can be really hard to find references; but on the other hand, references for rides that have been built in the past decade are easier to find for the most part!
Next week, we'll delve deep into the human mind. Until then, search for your inner demons in the archive.
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