This week, we visited WikiProject Germany. The project began in October 2006 and has grown to include 128 pieces of Featured material and nearly 400 Good and A-class articles. The project oversees a variety of task forces and subprojects covering the topics ranging from German cinema and German football to a vast array of geographic regions and historical nations. We interviewed Gerda Arendt, Kusma, and Agathoclea.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Germany? Do you or have you ever lived in Germany?
Kusma: I was a regular of the German speaking noticeboard when Badbilltucker founded WikiProject Germany and was quickly drawn into the organization of the project. While I was not living in Germany when I joined Wikipedia (and do not live there now), I have lived in Germany most of my life.
Agathoclea: Is it really that long ago? I got interrested as it gave me a link back home - a connection to the "Heimat", having a feeling I could contribute due to local knowledge while understanding it also from an international angle.
Have you contributed to any of the project's Featured or Good Articles? What is the most difficult hurdle to overcome when building an article about Germany to Featured status?
Kusma: I have written most of the Germany portal and brought it to featured status (many years ago now). Also, I have contributed to the FA Georg Forster, mostly by translating form German (together with Alx-pl), but also finding secondary sources in English. For me, an obvious hurdle is that my English isn't quite good enough to write brilliant prose.
Do you frequent the German Wikipedia? What can be done to improve inter-wiki collaboration and the sharing of content?
Kusma: I read it every now and then and have written an article or two there, but I prefer contributing here. I used to translate from German quite a lot, but that was before inline citations and modern sourcing requirements (I think translating was easier back then).
Agathoclea: I was initially put off by deWiki due the ruder tone and some sillyness by deWiki admins (The windmillfight against interwiki links against bots comes to mind). Now I think I am more active there since I found a niche of interest inserting pictures in lists of listed buildings. Not that I am much active anywhere due to real-life constraints.
WikiProject Germany is the parent of over a dozen task forces and subprojects. Have you contributed to any of these? Are there ways that these smaller-scoped initiatives can be improved and revitalized?
Kusma: I have founded some of these task forces/subprojects and written the template code for most of them (the Mainz project was one I originally used to test various things) but others actually predate WikiProject Germany. The Frankfurt project, for example, has its origins in the very first Wikimania conference. All of these initiatives (as well as the near-dormant WikiProject Germany itself) can be revitalized; all it needs is someone who dedicates time to the project. It is not very difficult: you need to look at page histories, talk to editors who write good content, find interesting missing topics, talk to people some more, then find collaborative goals and motivate people to work on them. (I was originally drawn into translation by a huge list of red links needing to be filled when somebody else wanted to prep Sanssouci for FA). It is a lot of work, and I haven't had the wikitime to do it for several years. Fortunately others are still working :)
Agathoclea: While the taskforces do not have much of a obvious life they provide a good access point for someone who wants to contribute in a certain area to utilise the various bot generated lists to find a neverending supply of articles to work on.
What can Wikipedians visiting or living in Germany contribute to the project's photography? Are there any locations or objects that could be easily handled by anyone with a camera?
Do some geographic areas of Germany receive more attention than others? What can be done to improve Wikipedia's articles about overlooked locations in Germany?
Kusma: Probably yes. I would go for the systematic approach -- make a list of relevant articles and go through it, checking if every article meets the right standard. WikiProject Germany's scope is a bit too large for the amount of manpower we have available, though.
Agathoclea: Work on articles is usually polarized around clusters where local or ex-locals are active here. Like Kusma I think we need a systematic approach, but manpower is missing so very often we only have stubs with at least a good infobox. The frustrating thing about expanding from there is the task of maintaining it afterwards.
What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
Gerda Arendt: I don't like questions with a superlative ;) - A new contributor can look at "Things to do" on the project's featured portal, ask on the project's talk, ask project members. Another way is to look at the project's DYK archives, find articles of interest and fill their red links, or contact their authors.
Kusma: Start at the portal. Consider maintaining the news section. That also tells you what current topics should be improved. Check the open task list. Start maintaining that list and make sure it has interesting things on it for everybody who wants to help. Consider whether the project's structure is adequate and change it. Really, just be bold and do what you think needs to be done.
Agathoclea: People, people and people and for them to watchlist: