Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2021-09-26/WikiProject report

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The Random and the Beautiful: An interview with members of the Random Page Patrol.
WikiProject report

The Random and the Beautiful

Most WikiProjects are organized around topics – military history, India, classical music. But a few are different – and one of them is the Random Page Patrol. WP:RANPP is a group of Wikipedians who dedicate themselves to improving the quality of Wikipedia's content purely by chance. They click the random article button and see what awaits them. We interviewed several members of the Random Page Patrol about what they do, how they came across it, and what they've found out as custodians of the unplanned.

  1. As an early member, do you remember how the Random Page Patrol came to be?
    • Floydian: As far as I know, it was around from the beginning.
  2. How did you come across the Random Page Patrol?
    • Rodney Baggins: I think I just noticed the random article link on the left-hand link bar (Main page - Contents - Current events - Random article, etc.) but I can't remember how I actually found the Special:Random page. From there, I eventually followed the link to Wikipedia:Random page patrol, which is when I realised there was a project dedicated to it. There was a gap of maybe 18 months or so between first discovering the random article link to finally joining the RPP project.
    • WildStar: I first started to copy/edit articles on familiar topics, and then joined Wikipedia:Cleanup. At the time it was quiet there, so I decided to join similar Wikipedia projects and found Random Page Patrol.
    • Onel5969: I came across it as part of New pages patrol (NPP).
    • Souravdas1998: I joined Wikipedia in 2016 when I got my first internet connection after passing high school. That was an overwhelming experience for me. I never knew that anybody can edit Wikipedia articles. I always thought that there are some highly qualified staff who write articles. Could just anyone really edit the articles? Then I slowly started editing myself and came to know the whole process. Then I stumbled across the "Random Page Patrol".
  3. Why did you decide to become a random page patroller? What do you find valuable about the project?
    • Rodney Baggins: The fact that it's a random process really appeals to me. I love spontaneity and sometimes find it hard to make decisions so am happy to be guided in an unpredictable direction. It's probably the same reason that many people like using the random function when playing music. I love Wiki-editing but sometimes can't decide where to look and what to edit, so when I'm being indecisive the random article is a good way to direct my attention onto something I wouldn't otherwise have thought of. There are so many millions of articles in Wikipedia that you could never hope to visit every single one. RPP gives the opportunity to explore and improve the encyclopedia without the constraints of personal choice and bias. It's a good way to discover a new subject that you never knew existed – how could you ever expect to find its Wikipedia page otherwise?
    • WildStar: Random page patrollers are important in maintaining the integrity of the entire encyclopedia.
    • Onel5969: As part of NPP, it is sometimes a welcome change from reviewing at the back of the queue.
    • Souravdas1998: Initially, most beginner Wikipedians may dream of becoming an administrator. But, the real goal is to create new articles following Wikipedia policies, maintain the articles by preventing acts such as vandalism, and strengthen the community as a whole, involving tasks such as welcoming newcomers, etc. One day, I decided to patrol random pages and do corrections of any grammatical mistakes, errors, citations. That's when I became a Random Page Patroller. Becoming a Random Page Patroller is very valuable, since there may be an article buried deeply out of sight of regular Wikipedians, but many errors may remain present in the article. Randomness will make sure that such articles are also patrolled by Wikipedians.
    • Floydian: I was bored and wanted to wander down the rabbit hole. Random page patrol allows us to find those obscure articles that may have skipped by new page patrol.
  4. How often do you randomly page patrol? Do you use it mostly as a break from other Wikipedia contributions, or is it a major part of how you spend your time here?
    • Rodney Baggins: Whenever I have the time. Maybe a couple of times a week unless I'm involved in something else on Wikipedia that I want to get on with. I use it as a break, a sort of relaxation exercise if you will. I'm involved with the Olympics and Snooker projects and have interests in a few other specific areas, but I like to have a diversion when I'm not in the mood for anything too heavy-going.
    • WildStar: All the time, and yes, sometimes it does provide a much needed break when more intensely engaged in other project areas.
    • Onel5969: As I said above, I have definitely used it as a break from my normal NPP routine, while still contributing to reducing the reviewing queue. How often varies from week to week. But I used to review about 50-60 articles a week that way.
    • Souravdas1998: In the earlier years of mine as a Wikipedian, I was mostly a Random Page Patroller. After that, I learned that vandalism is a very serious problem in Wikipedia. That's why I started using Huggle, and was a very busy Wikipedian preventing vandalism. But keeping watch on vandalism becomes hectic most of the time. Whenever I want less stress, I do Random Page Patrolling.
    • Floydian: Once every few months. I do use it as a break.
  5. Are there any articles you have edited as part of the Random Page Patrol that particularly stand out in your memory?
    • Rodney Baggins: Yes lots, e.g. Chicago Pile-1, Valhalla train crash, Heterodyne, Maidie Norman, Adele Addison, Patricia Frolander, Alexander Wienerberger, all of which I contributed to. These are all unrelated, diverse subjects that I wouldn't normally have come across (and I've learnt a lot).
    • WildStar: Yes. Just recently RPP took me to a copyright violation. What was particularly striking there was that the heading for the copyvio included the words "Taken directly from site", and that the copyvio went unnoticed for almost 3 years.
    • Onel5969: Wow, not that I can remember, but you have to understand I've reviewed a couple of hundred thousand articles or thereabouts in the last 5 years.
    • Souravdas1998: Yes, I found the list article List of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize recipients which had some outdated information and statistics. I updated the list and the statistics. It stands out in my memory because I am also a physicist in the making.
  6. What would you say to someone considering joining the Patrol?
    • Rodney Baggins: It's fun, a nice diversion, something different to do, and can be incredibly interesting. You never know what you might find! If you're well versed in Wikipedia's MOS and style guidelines, you could make a real difference to some articles that are just sitting there unnoticed and unloved.
    • WildStar: Feel free to join... like me, you may find that there is much to learn in doing so.
    • Floydian: If you click "random page", give it the full patrol. Check the references, tag it as necessary.
    • Souravdas1998: I will suggest the newbies to take advantage of randomness, which is a very powerful tool, not only in Wikipedia but throughout the world. People may get life partners through random encounters. Wikipedians may also come across neglected Wikipedia articles, and it will be a nice opportunity to improve the article and add their contributions.
  7. Is there anything else you'd like to add that I haven't asked you?
    • Rodney Baggins: I was very surprised when I added my name to the RPP list because I realised there are only 138 names on it. We need more editors to get involved!! Someone needs to put an advert on the main page!!
    • Souravdas1998: I will just add that don't run behind various roles in Wikipedia, otherwise, the goal to maintain such a project won't fulfil. Just contribute as you like and apply for the roles as required. Also, always behave well with other Wikipedians, especially the amateur ones, who do unintentional mistakes.
    • WildStar: As mentioned here, Random Page Patrol can be fun, rewarding, and make you the first to discover "treasure" in the form of a wonderful article or page!

That's it for this month; please feel free to suggest a WikiProject for an interview (or interview a WikiProject yourself!) here.