To the altar—Catholicism
has taken the Catholic Church in a new direction since beginning his papacy last year
This week, we visited WikiProject Catholicism. Started in November 2005. The project has grown to include 75 pieces of Featured material and 118 Good Articles. WikiProject Catholicism is a child project of WikiProject Christianity (see our 2009 interview in the sidebar to the right) and oversees the Canon Law Task Force. We interviewed the multi-talented Johnbod.
- What motivated you to join WikiProject Catholicism? Do you also participate in any of the broader WikiProjects covering Christianity, religion, or religious observances?
- Johnbod: I mainly write on art history, with a strong leaning to Western medieval art, which most of what has survived is religious (though it wasn't always so). I found I was getting involved, somewhat reluctantly, into some mainly religious articles. But WikiProject Visual art remains very much my "base" project.
- Have you contributed to any of the project's featured or good articles, featured topics, or featured images? What are the most difficult challenges editors face when improving Catholic content to featured status?
- Johnbod: I was involved (mainly talk page & improving the images) in the long and unltimately unsuccessful saga of getting Roman Catholic Church through FA. Certainly that attracted some "Black Legend" editors who would never approve of an article that wasn't almost entirely critical, as well as others with more reasonable issues, from both Catholic and non-Catholic angles. I never look at the article now — it ended much shorter and worse than it started off (actually on a quick revisit it seems better than when I last saw it, with a much less busy talk page). I see only one of my art FAs has a WProj:Christianity tag. I don't tag Christian religious art for the Christian wikiprojects myself.
- Are some periods in the history of the Catholic Church better covered than others? Is coverage of churches, important figures, and historical events in some parts of the world better than others? What can be done to correct imbalances in Wikipedia's coverage of Catholicism?
- Johnbod: I'm sure. There is an awful lot of century-old EB and Catholic Encyclopedia stuff still around, especially in biographies. More editors, especially ones who will use high-quality sources!
- How frequently does the WikiProject deal with contentious and controversial material added to articles about Catholicism? What can be done to prevent undue weight being given to controversy? Likewise, are there ever instances where project members become over-protective of articles or stumble at keeping a neutral point of view? How does the project wrestle with these weighty issues?
- Johnbod: Less often than one might think. Generally the big arguments are at pan-Christian articles. Lots of our more obscure articles on Catholic subjects are written from an overly Catholic perspective, but who else looks at them? It's the same for all religions (I also write on Asian art, so sometimes see articles on Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions).
- How difficult has it been to locate photography, artwork, and audio files to illustrate articles about Catholicism? Does the project collaborate with any projects covering art or music? What can the average Wikipedian do to improve Wikipedia's collection of images and sounds related to Catholicism?
- Johnbod: Generally the legacy of Catholic art is superbly represented on Commons because museums have so much of it, which is very important for my articles. As an art-into-Catholicism editor I used to work very productively with one editor who was more Catholicism-into-art, now sadly left, and there have been others. I think the same is true of musical editors, but I don't edit in that area.
- Does WikiProject Catholicism interact with the projects for any other Christian denominations or with any other religions? What can be done to improve Wikipedia's coverage of religion and irreligion in general?
- Johnbod: I think so, generally fairly well. It tends to be at the individual article level. More editors!
- What are the most urgent needs of WikiProject Catholicism? How can a new contributor help today?
- Johnbod: More editors! We are not very good at pointing them at things that can be usefully done, imo. Nor are most WikiProjects. Requested articles is a terrible trap, imo.
Until next time, check out our previous reports in the archive.