Making a difference in Wikipedia, one GA at a time
Here's a bit of Wikipedia trivia for you: the first articles to be nominated for a good article (GA) review almost ten years ago, way back in December 2005, were Martin Guerre, about a French peasant of the 16th century at the center of a famous case of imposture, and Lusty Lady, a peep-show establishment in Seattle and San Francisco. Neither article was promoted to GA status at the time, and both remain non-GAs to this day. The third GA nomination was Mosque, in the same month; this article was promoted and went onto FA status, but was demoted after a review in 2013.
I believe that these facts demonstrate an important truth in Wikipedia: as editors, we need to be ever-diligent in ensuring that articles remain of high quality. With almost 5 million articles in the English Wikipedia, and not even one-hundredth assessed as either GAs, FAs, or FLs, that's a daunting task; some editors would say that it's an impossible one. However, those of us interested in the quality of Wikipedia understand its importance and have dedicated ourselves to making a difference. One way to accomplish this is to use the existing structure of reviewing articles: the FAC and GAN processes; although by no means perfect, these are tried and true ways of eliciting feedback for the articles we create and edit.
We at WikiProject Good articles have been leaders in this endeavor for almost 10 years. One of our challenges is that since most articles should be GAs before they're FAs, the huge queue at GAN prevents articles from becoming the best examples of the best writing, research, and information on Wikipedia. To be honest, we haven't always been successful. Most of our attempts, like the now-defunct GA Recruitment Centre, which tried not only to train new GA reviewers but to retain editors (another chronic issue for Wikipedia), didn't succeed. Even our periodic backlog drives have been only moderately successful. Our most recent attempt to encourage article improvement is the GA Cup. At first, we didn't really know what to expect: for all we knew, yet another failure was in the works; but in the end it was a resounding success.
The inaugural GA Cup was held between October 2014 and April 2015. Its purpose was to encourage high-quality reviews and promotions of GAs, and to help reduce the long queue of good article nominations. We believe these goals were fulfilled. The event made a big difference: overall, 578 nominations were reviewed throughout the competition. Currently, there's a backlog of 580 articles waiting to be reviewed, so we're conducting another GA Cup, which will begin July 1 and run to the end of November.
As judges, we learned a great deal during the first GA Cup, so some substantial changes are in store for our second competition. The competitors were enthusiastic and patient with us, and gave us a lot of feedback about how we can improve the event. The points system has been changed to better reflect reality; for example, we're making it easier to earn points for reviewing larger articles and for more comprehensive reviews. We're including GA Reassessments, new to this year's competition. We have increased the number of judges to six. These changes, we anticipate, will make the competition run more smoothly so it's be more fun for all.
Whether you've been editing on Wikipedia for ten years or ten days, the GA Cup is for everyone. Last year several participating editors had had no experience reviewing nominations before the competition, but by the end had each reviewed more 50 nominations (and yes, all reviews are looked over by a judge).
If the GA Cup sounds like something you'd be interested in following, please put your username on the recipients' list. If you want to participate, make sure you add your name to the Sign-ups page. As mentioned above, the competition starts on July 1; sign-ups will end on July 15.
We look forward to another rousing competition, and invite all to join us. If you want to make a real difference in helping articles reach their full potential, please consider participating.
- Figureskatingfan (Christine) is a long-time WP editor, since early 2007. She is one of the founders of the GA Cup, and is also a judge in the WikiCup competition.
- The views expressed in this op-ed are those of the author alone; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should use our opinion desk.
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