Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history/Strategy/Archive 3

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Tracking non-article assessment classes

Not sure where to put this, but you can move it to the best place whenever.

There are a great number of Wikipedia books that fall under your project. A good number can be found at Category:Wikipedia books on warfare. When I went to your assessments page, I noticed that your tracking of books is almost non-existent. I was going to use your own tracking to subcatagorize that linked category to single out the OMT books, of which there are a good number, however I can't do that because you don't track it. Furthermore, when I tried to add a book to the OMT listing, it didn't work.

Books is a neglected namespace, but it's slowly building. MilHist is one of the top half dozen projects in terms of representation in the community books. I'd like for you to implement tracking for the book namespace (I'll be asking other major Wikiprojects for the same thing soon). Further, if you want to become more involved with books, I think it'd be mutually beneficial to our two Wikiprojects. Drop me a line if you're interested. Sven Manguard Wha? 07:40, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Moved from Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history#Wikipedia Books. Kirill [talk] [prof] 09:27, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I have no particular objection to allowing sub-categorization of books by task force and special project (which is what I assume is actually being requested here), but this brings up a broader question. At the moment, {{WPMILHIST}} only generates task force categories for assessed articles; unassessed articles are only tracked at the project level, and non-article pages are simply placed in non-tracked holding categories.
In particular, we have a large set of different classes/categories for various types of non-articles:
The original request is to modify the BK class tracking to generate "proper" assessment categories, as is done for assessed article classes; to what other types of media should a similar strategy be applied? I would assume that there is no reason to enable tracking of, say, user pages; but would we want caategories, or portals, or images tracked, either on a project or task force level? Kirill [talk] [prof] 09:34, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Actually, as far as I was able to see, the only part of MilHist that tracks books at all is the biographies subproject. The overall project itself (as well as all the other task forces/subprojects) dosen't track it. If it could be activated at the main level as well as the subproject level, that would be most useful. Sven Manguard Wha? 17:56, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I suppose there's a subtle distinction between "tracking" and "categorizing" here: the main project places books in a category (Category:Military history book pages), but this category is not named or sub-categorized in a manner that invokes the tracking bot, so the count of books is not included in the assessment statistics. Kirill [talk] [prof] 21:00, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

So, any other thoughts on which categories of items the full assessment/tracking mechanism should be enabled for? Kirill [talk] [prof] 23:23, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Sorry for appearing ignorant but I am not sure if I fully comprehend the issue here. Example: the Book talk:Battlecruisers of Germany has an entry {{WPMILHIST|class=book|OMT=1}}. One could also categorize this book by applying the Maritime=yes tag. Wouldn't this allow for further subcategories? Is this the issue that is being addressed here? MisterBee1966 (talk) 12:39, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
The basic issue is that the "OMT" and "Maritime" tags don't actually produce any assessment categories when applied to non-articles; if you look at Book talk:Battlecruisers of Germany, the only category produced is Category:Military history book pages. The proposal is to modify the template to produce the full category set, which would allow (certain) non-article classes to be tracked by the assessment statistics/categories/logs at both the project and the task force levels. Kirill [talk] [prof] 13:11, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
So, any other opinions? Kirill [talk] [prof] 23:43, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Is it necessary for task forces to track all these subpages? Would it suffice to have only project-level categories such as Category:Book-Class military history articles? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 06:09, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps, although I think the original request was actually about having the categories at the task force/special project level. On the other hand, creating the additional categories would take very minimal effort; and, since the assessment would be automatically mirrored between the project-level and task force-level ones, I don't see any particular reason not to have the statistics available for both. Kirill [talk] [prof] 11:45, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
I think tracking non-article pages by task force is a good idea, especially if the implementation is not burdensome. Some pages (especially portal pages, but possibly also book pages) have content that is essentially summarized article content, and should thus be trackable/findable on the basis of a task force. Magic♪piano 01:03, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

I just noticed this discussion and thought I would throw in my 2 cents as well. From dealing with WikiProject United States I have observed a few things in dealing with non article content that may be relevant to this discussion, although I would lean towards allowing the content based on these observations.

  1. Very often an article will be marked as a stub, start, etc but then is merged or disambiguated. These articles would then fall off the assessment list
  2. The above also sometimes happens on lesser known articles surrupticiously whereas a user will change the assessment class to redirect or other for a project and then submit it for deletion so it doesn't show on the article alertbot for the project.
  3. Having these other non articles tagged allows article alert bot to notify the project if the Category, redirect, template, image, etc is submitted for deletion.
  4. It allows the project to get an idea of their total content scope.
  5. It allows the project to identify non article problems such as incorrect naming (templates, categories and files for examples), things that might be needed like categories.
  6. With so many other projects using these other assessment types it brings the projects into alignment so that formatting is relatively consistant across projects.--Kumioko (talk) 20:27, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

I think tracking Books and Portals would be a very good idea. Other than that, tracking some of the others (probably disambiguations, images, and templates) could be of some use, but I don't think tracking redirects, categories (how many of either would actually be tagged?) and user pages (how many users do this? Could lead to people incorrectly assuming project membership numbers or that X people are part of/assigned to a taskforce) would be particularly helpful. -- saberwyn 01:41, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Based on the discussion above, are there any objections to implementing tracking for Book-Class and Portal-Class for both the main project and the individual task forces? Kirill [talk] [prof] 20:30, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

In regards to this discuss. I have been coming across several articles that have been rated as non assess by the bot when the editor puts redirect in the class section. Currently I am just assessing that article as what the redirected article is assessed as. Is their any plans to add a rediect tag to the assessment page/banner or am I currently not following a guideline for non article page? Should the Mil Hist banner be removed? Currently I believe the way I am doing it is just causing an inflated article count for the task forces associated with the articles.Oldwildbill (talk) 05:10, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Hi Bill, the banner should be removed from redirects for the reasons you mention. I believe that's why the template counts "redirect" as a not assessed. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 06:15, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Improving WP:SOLDIER

First let me say it saddens me to see the proposal end with a no consensus mark against it. That being said, there were some points mentioned in the discussion, which perhaps can go towards improving the essay, even if the anti-SNG opinion, would rather see it abolished completely.

The two significant points brought up, outside of the anti-SNG opinion, were as follows:

  • Rewording as to make the essay not contradict WP:GNG
    • Improve wording as to show the essay as complementary to WP:ANYBIO
  • Re-discussing notability of Flag & General officers

As suggested, I would like to see what editors believe should be done, if anything, regarding tweaking WP:SOLDIER to alleviate these points of contention. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 19:11, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Can I ask one question? It's probably me being dense, but I was slightly confused about exactly what was being proposed. Was the intention to elevate the entire MILMOS/N to a guideline or just SOLDIER? I thought it was the former but the debate seemed to shift as things progressed. EyeSerenetalk 14:26, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
The proposal was for all of MILMOS/N to be elevated.
The primary objects were launched against SOLDIER
It is my belief that I can only speak on behalf of SOLDIER as I was not involved in creating WP:MILUNIT. Furthermore, there did not appear to be opposing proposal opinions that MILUNIT conflicted with GNG or WP:ORG.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 18:04, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
I think most of the concern was that the guideline would be used to (en)force an notability rather than an aid to understanding what might be notable. Reading back through the comments, I don't see any complaint about the phrasing of the WP:Soldier guidance as it stands. GraemeLeggett (talk) 18:18, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
GraemeLeggett (talk) 18:18, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Don't SNGs purpose is to codify an established consensus of what a group of individuals who are interested in a given subject area see as notable within said subject area? If this is the case, is this not what we as a community did in creating the essays we did? Should the links to the discussions that lead to the creation of the essays, help those interested, understand why we decided X was notable within the field of military history, and why Y was not.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 05:13, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
I've used this analogy elsewhere but I view the relationship between the GNG and SNGs much like the UK's health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety At Work etc Act - the enabling act of Parliament - is analogous to the GNG in setting out general principles that must be applied everywhere at all times. Underneath that we have the mass of H&S Regulations, Approved Codes of Practice and Guidance Notes, which like the SNGs set out how those general rules can be translated into specifics. Therefore the SNGs can expand upon, but must never contradict, the GNG.
The reason I mention this is that I think historically part of the problem is not all SNGs seem to have been written with this approach in mind. While I don't believe MILMOS/N suffers from that problem it has perhaps poisoned the well. I'm not sure there's much we can do about that, though as you suggest we could try making it clearer that MILMOS/N operates under the GNG rather than alongside or outside it. Links to the discussions might help. EyeSerenetalk 08:21, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Am I the only baffled by the fact that any idiot who plays sport professionally, even for just a few minutes, is automatically entitled to an article (regardless of how well covered they are in reliable sources), but people who have spent 30 years in the military and reached the very top of their profession apparently aren't? HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 11:35, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
    • WP:ACADEMIC is even worse - the subjects of articles that fall under its scope don't even need to have received more than passing coverage in reliable sources, and the criteria are hopelessly subjective. Nick-D (talk) 11:51, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
    • Add in "or been a contestant on X-Factor/Eurovision song contest/reality show X" and I'm right there with you. That said, I do think that the automatic notability of general/flag officers can vary by era. Two examples I can think of off the top of my head are the American Civil War and the current U.S. military (which is becoming very rank-inflated). It's an interesting situation, and I don't even pretend to have an answer.Intothatdarkness (talk) 15:34, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
  • We caught some flak because of problems at AfD that don't have anything to do with us. I don't think it matters whether an SNG is a guideline or an essay, as long as someone is watching (are they?) at WP:WikiProject_Military_history/Article_alerts#Articles for deletion and encouraging good writers who have bad experiences there. My take: voters often make decisions at AfD after 5 minutes or less of trying and failing to find RSs; the SNGs are supposed to be increasing the odds that they'll make the right decisions in the absence of good information. IMO the SNGs never overrule GNG, whether they're guidelines or not ... that is, when you've spent enough time looking, then either you know that the RSs don't exist, and you have nothing to write the article with even if you wanted to, or they do exist, which means GNG says the article ought to stay, regardless of what any SNG says. - Dank (push to talk) 11:54, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
    • P.S. My view that notability is simpler than some people make it out to be applies mostly to history-related articles here, including ours; in some other areas, notability isn't obvious at all. - Dank (push to talk) 12:36, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
      • I've seen that in niche areas certainly (thinking of things like proving the notability of folk bands, webcasts etc). However, I think if we focus too much on things we can't do much about we risk losing sight of what's important to milhist.

        Are we intending to work towards a second attempt to get guideline status? If so it would make sense to consider our tactical approach. It might be worth just concentrating on one portion of MILMOS/N at a time rather than the whole thing. If for example we started with WP:SOLDIER, we could look at really nailing down some cast-iron wording and if necessary dropping or tightening up the less-defined elements (perhaps also including examples in each category). We could then nominate this section alone, perhaps minimising the chances of the debate becoming diluted. Baby steps, in other words :) Realistically we're going to face the same "no more SNGs" and "instruction creep" opposes but I think we can do this in a way that maximises the chances of it passing. I'm not advocating gaming the system, but I feel that the proposal ought to have passed. MILMOS/N reflects project consensus and for the most part we're the editors who'll be dealing with the subject matter. I'm slightly uncomfortable about the fact that a large proportion of the opposition was based on general principles rather than the actual merits of the essay itself and came from editors who may never work in this area and therefore can't fully appreciate why a guideline would be useful to us. EyeSerenetalk 13:19, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

@EyeSerene; I see what you're saying. It's like GNGs are State Codes, whereas SNGs are County or City Ordinance. One supersedes the other due to scope and the are where it is authorized from, as Policy is supposedly derived from consensus of all Wikipedians, whereas Guidelines, are from a group, and essays maybe a smaller group or a single individual.
If we can strengthen the wording of both MILUNIT & SOLDIER in away that will increase the chance of elevation, then it can't hurt it, even if it fails and remains at Essay.
If we shall attempt to do a "Recon by force" elevation, I think the stronger candidate is MILUNIT. It had the least amount of objections (if any at all), and WP:ORG can use improvement, and SNGs underneath it would help towards taht improvement.
@HJ Mitchell, Nick-D, & Intothatdarkness; the greatest counter to our repeated insistence, and pointing towards the developing discussion, that our essay coincides with GNG & ANYBIO and is similar in make up as WP:ATHLETE or WP:ACADEMIC that was often meet with, than GNG or ANYBIO should be sufficient on their own (the anti-SNG arguement) and WP:OTHERSTUFFEXIST (in so much that just cause there is X & Y, there should not be new Z).
That being said if we can show that MILMOS/N actually falls under GNG, ANYBIO, & ORG, and actually limits who is notable, perhaps in the next attempt to elevate, we can see more success.
@Dank; agreed. It appears that the use of SOLDIER, even with those who oppose the General/Flag officer criteria, is in wide use, and for those who don't primarily edit in are area of interest (or AO) since it has wide acceptance within our community, other editors tend to acquiesce to it if it can be shown by WP:RS that the subject is verified to meet a criteria set forth within it.
That being said, I wholeheartedly agree that the wording should be changed to indicate that in no way does this essay automatically make any subject notable, that the claim to meeting a criteria must be supported by reliable source(s) in a way that is significant under WP:GNG.
One thing that I have found though in AfDs is that significant can differ depending on the quality of the reliable sources. Some articles survive AfD with one (or two) book(s), while as others require hundreds of multi-paragraph mentions from a number of sources.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 19:21, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
I think as per the example given by EyeSerene, that our notability guideline can be illustrated by the British legislation on cars and road use. There are number of laws (and statutory instruments) that say what you must and mustn't do while driving a car down the public highway. These are written in legalese and spread across the body of law, so not much use to the ordinary car owner who would need a shelf of books to stay legal. To aid drivers, there is the Highway Code which is a slim pocket sized volume of guidance. This tells you how you should behave on the roads. If you follow the Highway Code you are unlikely to be pulled over by the police and taken to task for your behaviour. You can't be prosecuted for not following the Highway Code. Our Notability guideline stands in a similar relationship to the GNG as the HC does to the body of road-related law. Other project specific notability guides do not, they have more the appearance of devolved legislation. The other project specific guidelines (seem to) take it upon themselves to say in their areas, their guideline is superior to the GNG.
Reduced to the minimum, our guidleine is something like: "GNG requires coverage in reliable sources for notability, the people, places and things listed here have probably been covered in multiple RS. Other guidleines read more as "the people, places and things listed here are notable if they have done this, that, or the other". I also note the other guidelines seem much more wordy.GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:45, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
The difference is subtle, is it not? That the criteria set forth in X through Z leads to significant coverage per GNG rather than fulfill any of A to C and that itself is notable therefore the subject is notable. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 20:42, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

There has been no discussion regarding this since mid July; is improving SOLDIER and/or MILUNIT dead in the water?

It's important to me, but I'd prefer to put off work on it until September. Are there articles that are currently dying at AfD for lack of clarification? - Dank (push to talk) 11:42, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Not that I am aware; however, in the proposal process it was made clear that there was a general community consensus (as well as some within our own WikiProject) that felt that it was not worth elevating to a Guideline in its current state. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 15:25, 6 August 2011 (UTC)


I find it rather unusual that MILHIST excludes List-class articles from the Assessment criteria, given the importance of such material. I do not know the reasons or logic behind this, but I also do not feel the pros and cons of this class have been considered, to allow the Project to take full advantage of the class. Given that I support the use of List-class I think it would not be unreasonable to initially have an open-discussion regarding peoples opinions of introducing the class to the Project, followed thereafter by a vote to see the actual level of support and opposition for such a motion. Perhaps this would lead to the addition the the class, perhaps not. I have not looked through any archives of the Project to see if this has been raised before, and regardless of if it has or not, fresh discussions often bring new things to light that may have been overlooked previously, as Wiki and the Project has grown and seeks to grow further. I shall start by weighing up my thoughts on List-class articles, as opposed to marking them as Start-class, which seems current practice in all but a couple of Task Forces.

  • Broader scope: List-class offers a different range of material. Where Start-class current mixes all newly-laid eggs in one basket, a separate class would aid in defining the types of articles being read, created, nominated, and requested.
    • As Wiki is an enyclopedia, it is not unreasonable to assume that people often only look for certain types of information. Articles can range from full bodies of text, to tables and lists. Lists may contain tabular data, formatted in a more understandable fashion than a verbose article. Such material is favourable to many researchers looking for data that gets to the point, with a minimum lead section followed by quantitative data. For example: World War II casualties.
    • In terms of Project members offering their services as a reviewer, for Peer reviews, and B/A/FA reviews, it is clear that many reviewers have "areas" they like to focus on. Content, style, citations, NPOV, etc. These areas tend to focus on Wiki policies, than personal strengths. A distinction between full-body text articles and lists helps determine the logic an article might take. Some people might like to read through a 3,000 word article and review it in detail, but not want to go through a list or table with 200 rows and have to review that, and vice versa. List-class articles would allow members to indulge in reviewing articles that allow them to play to their own strengths. For example: Castle vs List of castles in England.
  • Encouraging growth: List-class seems to be a parallel class to Start-class. Dependant on the content, this level is an alternative description. It also acts as a stepping stone, between Stub-class articles and higher classes.
    • Given that articles may progress from Stub->Start->B-class->A-class->FAC when going from strength to strength, it seems logical that a list should progress from Stub->List->B-class->A-class->FLC. Because many articles are created, and given a first rating of Stub or Start, compromising approx 85% of the Project (source: there are currently 49,050 Start-class and 46,077 Stubs of 115,018 MILHIST Project articles) it should be considered, why are so many articles being created, and not maturing through the assessment stages to attain their potential? Is there a weakness in the project that is preventing these c.100,000 from maturing further? Many remain incomplete, uncited, in need of clean-up or copy-edits. Whist MILHIST is considered one of the strongest WikiProjects, these figures cannot be ignored. They're not necessarily bad figures, but clearly an example that whilst there are many articles in the scope of the Project, there is possibly a lack of dedication to completion (i.e. authors creating B+ rated articles, rather than stubs for the sake of covering a subject). I think the addition of List-class will help highlight what these 100,000 articles are and where there is need for development. I strongly believe that there is something to say about every event in history, and as long as the evidence/research is there, it can be written about in detail. There are many Stub articles that read something like "X army, fought Y army, on Z date, in Q country. X army won." Okay - big deal? A battle isn't just a few guys fighting; it's a place, a date, a time, there are commanders, incidents, casualties, tactical and strategic results - a battle or clash is about people giving their lives for a cause. Call me sentimental, but is MILHIST really meeting its primary goals when 100,000 carry such very little weight? This is probably a question of Quality vs Quantity. When it comes to history, is there any doubt that Quality is better? I'd rather have one well written and researched book about a single subject, than every single Osprey book - for example.
    • There are plenty of people, like myself, who enjoy working with lists - they are a different playing-field in how they develop. Sometimes starting as mere lists, before becoming tables, and expanding - more columns, more rows, greater flexibility, etc. Full-body texts sometimes lack that appeal, because tweaking a word here or there, fixing grammar, updating a reference, doesn't seem to have the same effect on an article visually, apart from major edits.
    • "Give the newbies a target, and they'll aim for it." That's really me saying, when you tell a new editor their article is a "Start" class, it really isn't that encouraging - in itself the description is quite vague, unflattering, perhaps demeaning considering the difficulties of producing a list/table using the wikitable template and other tools they might not be familiar with - it can be an arduous task versus typing a straight forward block of text. If you tell them it's a "List" class, and could reach FLC, there's a bit more to hope for. This opinion has nothing to do with the mechanics of Wiki, but the psychology behind encouraging new article creators to keep going, not to stop after typing 30 lines of "Kings of England", or whatever - but to keep going, to maintain the growth of their article, so that they can visually see that their "List" is becoming something intrinsic to the Project. I'm saying that out of experience, having worked on an article which I am told is a trailblazer, in that there is no precedence for the article I developed. Whilst that was a strong reason for me to continue with the article, now that I've set that trend and aim to have a second article of similar design published in due course, this is no longer a means of encouragement for others. Given that List-class is an established level, across all of Wiki, it should be open to all members, rather than selectively applied by Projects.
    • I mention newbies in my previous point, as I feel that many of the articles being produced and nominated at present are being contributed mostly by long-term members of the Project, and Wiki in general. I have not looked into this is depth, please note, but there does not appear to be a great deal of new contributors per month. Given that there are 100,000 articles out there in need of development, I see many nominations are new from-the-floor up articles being developed in Sandbox, by experienced members, reviewers, Project-coords, and Wiki-admins who are aware of the criteria, and have the time and patience to create an article, develop it to what they believe is FA level, and have it reviewed. Within a short time, the article is reviewed, tweaked and graded. Much like real life, people seem less willing to clean up other peoples mess (i.e. existing articles in need of major work), and prefer creating new articles. Not that this is the problem. The problem is that those existing basic articles should not have been allowed to have their author lose interest, and disappear leaving the job half done. I think there's a difference between "good faith" and "half-arsed" interests - on a site like this, encouragement really does facilitate development. Sometimes those new creators may need to be recognised, to keep them keen. They may not know MILHIST even exists. Wiki is not X-Factor where candidates should be running to Projects for encouragement, in my opinion, MILHIST should be looking to establish relationships with newbies, discriminatingly inviting some to join and guiding them, to become better editors, reviewers and stronger contributors all round - giving Peer Reviews, through talk pages, rather than waiting for people to ask for them. A simple "Do you need help/advice/guidance with the article you're working on?" - perhaps even a new MILHIST template to achieve that, so the newbie is guided to the MILHIST Project rather than one member - opening them up to support. I see article classification playing a strong factor in this, also. Giving people the opportunity to produce a wider range of unique articles, to me, embodies the principles of Wiki and MILHIST. I strong believe that this extra level of flexibility would serve in the Projects best interests. People take more pride in their work when they feel their merits are recognised fairly, and this alone can make the difference to an article being abandoned or pursued.

Thanks for reading, Ma®©usBritish (talk) 10:49, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

So, just to be clear, what you're proposing is that List-Class be used to replace one (or several) of the low-end assessment classes for lists, rather than all classes below FL-Class (as is typical with other projects)? That's quite an interesting idea; I don't think anyone has done something like this yet.
To take this a bit farther, which of the existing assessment classes would List-Class replace? In the discussion above, you focus primarily on Start-Class, but I'm not sure that a simple one-to-one correlation would make sense; we'd end up with a progression of Stub -> List -> C -> B -> GA -> A -> FL, but the distinction among Stub, List, and C (and perhaps even B) is more vague for lists than for fully prose articles, and the B-Class criteria may not fully apply to lists.
Perhaps we should consider replacing multiple of the existing classes with the new one? For example, we could use something along the lines of:
  • List -> GA -> A -> FL (List-Class used for all articles prior to formal review?)
  • List -> B -> GA -> A -> FL (perhaps with a modified set of B-Class criteria for lists?)
  • Stub -> List -> GA -> A -> FL (to allow undifferentiated stubs, since the "list nature" of an article may not yet be obvious at that point?)
There are, of course, other possible arrangements. Kirill [talk] [prof] 11:17, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, at the moment I suggest making it a usable level and an alternative to Start - List isn't even available on MILHIST at the moment, which I find more of a concern than the actual progression order. If an article is more of a list/table then use List, if it's more of a text article, use Start - content determines which; they are equal in level from what I gather, but identify different content. As a low-level, it can also be used for self-assessing an article, rather than awaiting a review. That at least gets some articles on MILHIST radar, which may not appear at present because people don't make sense of the Start level rating. Ma®©usBritish (talk) 11:30, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Establishing an alternate scale for lists would, in my view, add a bit of complexity and confusion for no real gain. Lists are expected to meet the same standards as other types of articles, and the assessment scale should reflect this. Nick-D (talk) 11:38, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, hence why I haven't discussed the scale - only that List-class should be introduced per se, to help determine the status of the articles content, in addition to its standard. "Start" is not a very verbose class, when it tries to encompass 100,000 articles in this Project, which I personally consider a backlog of low-quality articles needing attention, than a practical level. Ma®©usBritish (talk) 11:46, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I have to say I'm a bit confused about what's being proposed here. I agree completely that 'start' class articles are unsatisfactory, but I'm not sure how designating 'list' type articles as such in the assessment scale would help. These kind of articles are generally easily distinguished by their titles, and the effort needed to bring a start class list up to C or B class is similar to that required by other types of articles. Nick-D (talk) 11:54, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I would hope there was enough to go on in my opening post, there's not much else I can say to expand it further. Titles don't mean anything - they are named by the author themselves, so they can't be awarded a sense of achievement from their own naming. To give a real-world example, anyone can call themselves an "athlete" - you could even give them a medal for being "an athlete" - what they really want is recognition for the event they enter. So "List-class" is like giving a bronze for recognition of early attempts. To get to gold you have to keep going.. FA articles are the gold standard, are they not? Only way a person achieves such things is through encouragement in a positive manner. It's no good telling an athlete that he "looks fit" (generic, like Start), when he wants to hear, specifically, that he's a good runner, to keep going. Ratings don't just identify the level an article stands at - they give authors due credit, hence why people post their A's GA's FA's on their Userpages. List is specific to a piece of work. So I think it needs introducing to promote Project "fitness", and get some long-distance runners. At the moment it seems like we have a lot of sprinters don't go for very long, hence those 50,000 stubs. Ma®©usBritish (talk) 12:11, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
What I'm understanding from your suggestion is that we enable "List" for the "Class" parameter in the {{WPMILHIST}} template, to replace "Start" for list-type articles. Is that correct? EyeSerenetalk 11:52, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
That about sums it up, yes. Though given what Kirill said, in doing so, it might be prudent to review the scale by which List articles ascend to FL standard. Should they be permitted to attain C, B and A class per their criteria, also? As you told me earlier on your talk page, List-articles aren't normally reviewed for GA rating, although you didn't explain the reasoning behind that, and I'm not entirely sure myself, many contributors might find that creating List-articles results in a lack of source material for the article to ever attain FL-class, which suggests that in some cases, without ample prose in the article, the criteria for BCR and especially ACR is harder to fulfil, speaking from experience. I don't know if the criteria for promoting articles to B- and A- class is global across wiki, or can be specific to Projects - i.e. the ACR standard may be higher for Milhist Project than, for example, LGBT Project articles, given the huge difference in subject, content, and context. If this is the case, it might necessary to relax the criteria, just a little for purely List-orientated articles. Perhaps an A-class-list would be equivalent of a B-class article, or something like that, to reflect the lack of prose in the article, and not give contributors an impossible task. These are just my thoughts though, which need more thought and experience of Wiki standards than I have, to develop them and highlight my bad thinking and ideas clearly. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 13:30, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the advantages of assessing lists on a less demanding scale would be, or what problem doing so would solve. There's no expectation for lists to contain substantial amounts of prose (as this obviously would stop them from being lists), but they are expected to meet the same standards in regards to comprehensiveness, referencing, supporting materials, formatting, etc, and a steady stream of lists reach B and A class through the project's assessment mechanisms. Can you provide some examples of where things haven't worked as they should? Nick-D (talk) 08:18, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid I can't - mainly because I'm not looking at the Project in retrospect or where things haven't worked - but more, forward thinking, and to throw suggestions forward that can be developed that help the Project grow and develop. What with the current lack of contributors and reviewers, apart from a regular "inner circle" or long-term members, and coordinators - it seems to me that the Project is a little stale in some areas, and needs a few fresh options to try and boost active membership, and contributions in as many ways as possible. The only way anything grows, or evolves, is to adapt and try out new options. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 10:50, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

List Class Redux

I believe I can make a fairly good case for the creation of a distinct list class which was not brought up by MarcusBritish, so I will bring up the subject again. On occasion I have tried to work my way through the unassessed article backlog and every time I have noticed that there are a number of articles which are in the backlog despite having been assessed by members of other WikiProjects. These articles are list-type articles which are classified as such in other WikiProjects. The issue is that these articles often are also classified as List-class articles in the MILHIST talk page banner and as such they kick into the unassessed article backlog. I assume that these articles are either classified as such by Wikipedians who, while familiar with our MILHIST project and talk page banner, are not familiar with our project's assessment system. This unfamiliarity with our assessment system's own quirks inadvertently causes well-meaning Wikipedians from other projects to create more work for our editors; if there was a separate List-class in the MILHIST system, the Asssessment Department would have its substantial workload lessened to some degree. I believe this is a sufficient reason by itself to create a List-class for articles. There are some tangential and/or consequent issues related might be brought up alongside with the issue of List-class articles, so allow me to take this opportunity to clearly divide the issue:

Item Number Discussion Item
#1 Should the Assessment Department create a List-class for its article assessment scale?
#2 Would a List-class on the article assessment scale necessitate the development of separate quality criteria to assess list-type articles?
#3 Could a separate list-type article assessment scale be of value to the MILHIST project? For example: a separate hierarchy of list-class articles with separate criteria?

I would like to hear others' opinions on this issue.LeonidasSpartan (talk) 09:50, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for re-opening this barely acknowledged topic. I think topics on this page gets archived too fast - 5 days - meaning things disappear from sight and mind too quickly, and are soon forgotten.
  1. Yes, per my original comments.
  2. Also yes, per my comments.
  3. A scale might help but could be complex - a "stub form" list vs a Featured List is obvious by sight and content, but there are no intermediate classes between the two. Assessment would need to determine what the minimum standards and criteria for a "List" should be, given that "List" is the only stepping stone between "nothing" and FL, whilst prose based articles can have many classes from Stub to FA to facilitate quality and aid promotion. Also lists are not considered GA worthy, in most cases - meaning many do not reach high standards unless contributors are really keen on the topic. Bearing in mind a list is generally a bullet-form list, but once it becomes tabular, with columns and more prose, it becomes more classy - can such an article only be rated "List" when it clearly meets B- or A- class standards, for example, but is still in the realms of being "a list" in its nature? Ma®©usBritish [talk] 13:58, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
OK my two cents (1) yes (2) no B–A Class should as now be judged by our peers FL Class by the FL project. List Class should be applied for anything below C Class. (3) I can see no need for a separate assessment scale for lists.Jim Sweeney (talk) 13:53, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Quick response - List articles need more assessment (than they currently get?) especially when many of them are more than just lists of articles but include other content. Alternatively a "list of ...." which actually contains more that just a striaght list of wikipedia articles should be not take the "class=list" in its assessment but use the normal assessment classes. I mentioned something similar over in the Aviation project with regard to a list of airline destinations which (in my mind) jumped from creation to assessed as a list to featured list without critical reviewing in between. GraemeLeggett (talk) 16:14, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree that anything that exceeds a standard list should be assessed via normal classes, eg List of castles in England, or the one I wrote, Battle record of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as they clearly contain far more info than an average list would. My concern is more for the "in-betweeners" - i.e. how do you assess a list which is clearly a list in its own right, but is more appealing, meets quality standards, passes all required notability and verification checks, uses reliable sources, but is not up to FL quality for whatever reasons? Likely that such a "list" is more likely a table, or several, with considerably more content than a basic list, but with significantly less prose, equivalent to what would perhaps only reach Start or C-class, if not for the list. I think WW2 casualties is one such example - the bulk of the article is in tables, which are lists of casualties per country/region, etc, the prose is more supportive than principal reading - to me that's a high-standard List - equivalent of A-class quality, but should not be assessed as a standard article, as it is a list in content and form. Classifying articles as Lists not only aids with assessment, but search results - people are generally going to want "a list of WW2 casualties" - the only way they will know it meets MilHist standards is if it has been assessed in its own right. That and other similar articles. I'm sure there are many more - any and every war could have such casualty lists. So it is not unreasonable to place them in the assessment process accordingly - as opposed to letting them become ignored when nominated for assessment, or poorly assessed against criteria which better suits prose articles, or "List class" in general (vague) terms, because MilHist is capable of better when it comes to giving unambiguous promotion for anything it reviews. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 17:19, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Even a table is more than a list if it brings together information from different sources, and adds related info. Thinking from a different angle - rather than a new assessment system for Lists, is there room for a consensus that says although article x (under the WPMilhist scope) is named as a "List of..." and currently has class=list in its assessment, it is (in terms of its content) not a list as commonly understood across wikipedia and should instead be given a start or B class rating accordingly and as a result require GA assessment before going up for FA? GraemeLeggett (talk) 08:59, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that's been the consensus for some time; we've traditionally assessed lists using the regular ratings, and I'm not aware of any real complaints regarding our doing so. Each project's assessment scheme is notionally independent, after all.
In terms of the broader question, I'm not sure whether having a "List-Class" to replace only a subset of the assessment hierarchy for lists would be particularly useful; it seems more a case of simply relabeling the rating than one of providing better granularity in the process. Do we gain anything significant by knowing that a low-quality article is actually (intended to be) a list? Kirill [talk] [prof] 19:51, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes - narrows the scope of search/categorisation, if they are detailed on one page, such as Category:List-Class African military history articles. Makes lists easier identify in one page than searching for them amongst all the non-list class articles where lists are of questionable standard, and necessarily named "List of..." Which in turn means low-quality lists are easier found, increasing the potential that someone will actually address the low-quality and raise any of interest to them to higher standards - which is good for them, the project and wiki as a whole. If people can't find, they won't fix. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 20:23, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I think I should clarify my position somewhat more as I feel the discussion has veered astray from my original intent when I tried to re-frame the discussion. While I would agree that at the moment there seems not to be a pressing need for a list-type article hierarchy of articles. However I feel there has been a demonstrated need to address the issue of the editors from other projects who add the WPMILHIST Template to list-type articles and assess those articles as List-class. This issue needs to be addressed in some form as it needlessly fills our unssessed article backlog and takes up our time which could be used elsewhere within the WikiProject. One way to address this issue would be to a simple List-class which be used to classify article of the same quality as Start-class articles. Any improvement to these articles would require those articles to be assessed according to the normal article quality scale. Are there any thoughts on this proposal? LeonidasSpartan (talk) 04:28, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I think the normal List-class rating needs to be added that already exists on most other WikiProjects, but not ours. I see no reason for the voids in our assessment classes - no List class (or Template for that matter), and yet as one of the bigger subject-covering projects we probably have, need and use more of these things than most other projects. I simply think we need to get in line with Wiki, first, worry about the details of how List-class articles should be assessed once the standard system is in place and running for a while. In the meantime, assessing articles really is the discretion of the nominee - as it is usually they who bring a list to a BCR or ACR, but I see no reason why they should not be able to identify List-class altogether, as is the case now, even for those equivalent of Start quality. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 08:39, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Late to this debate :) As I understand the above, the main issue being raised is that we don't distinguish lists from other types of article, which then makes it difficult to identify lists from any central location. If I've understood that correctly, would something like an additional parameter in our {{MILHIST}} template (for example, "list=yes/no") fit the bill? It would be a fairly trivial change and could be accompanied by a category, so adding "list=yes" would add the article to a "category:milhist list articles" or similar. This would be in addition to the current Start- to A-Class categorisations, so we'd not be introducing lists as a replacement to other classes but merely noting which articles in whatever category also happen to be lists. EyeSerenetalk 09:45, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
In a nutshell, yes, that's my thoughts to at least get the ball rolling. Though I think it needs to follow the set wiki-standard using "List" class as already exists and can be seen on several tables here: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Military_history/Assessment#Task_forces_.28national_and_regional.29 - we don't want to start creating a sub-set of lists of our own and confusing people in other projects and across wiki. At a later date maybe we then should consider the criteria for List, as opposed to "it's Start class but in List format", perhaps more meaningful criteria would lead to stronger quality from the off - to me it's about bridging that gap between List-class and FLC, without having to jump through the BCR, ACR criteria hoops, and because lists are not usually GA applicable - I think we need more transparent List criteria. Looking through the military articles, I note many "list form" articles: wars by century, country, era; casualty lists; lists of weapons used by war, country, century; lists of planes, tanks, ships; lists of medals; granted some of these article often contain enough prose/background info that the lists therein become merely supportive and it's to go via the normal scale, B->A->FAC - but sometimes there just isn't enough prose to warrant that, and List->FLC just doesn't cut it, imo - too big a jump, some people prefer stepping-stones. Criteria for list styling, citing and such needs more development to encourage better List articles, where prose is lacking, and to further improve the way they are reviewed within their own right. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 10:01, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
To take this back a step, are we now considering "List-Class" as a replacement for everything below "FL-Class" (at least in the short term)? Or are we still looking at only replacing the initial two/three/etc. classes and having a progression akin to List → B → GA → A → FL (with the intermediate classes being, of course, optional ones)?
Alternatively, it might be easier to think of this in terms of how the assessment mechanism will function at the implementation level:
  1. Will setting an article's rating to "List" cause the resulting assessment to ignore the B-Class checklist? (The C-Class and B-Class ratings are automatically generated based on the status of the checklist items. Ignoring the checklist will mean that a list cannot be rated as C-Class or B-Class; not ignoring it, on the other hand, will mean that any list meeting the checklist criteria would be assessed as C-Class and/or B-Class, not List-Class.)
  2. Will setting an article's rating to "List" cause the resulting assessment to ignore the A-Class review status? (The A-Class rating is generated on the basis of the A-Class review status parameter. Ignoring this parameter will mean that a list cannot be rated as A-Class; not ignoring it will mean that a list that passes ACR will be assessed as A-Class rather than List-Class.)
It's fine to talk about long-term plans in purely general terms, but we'll really need to answer these specific questions before we can actually implement anything. Kirill [talk] [prof] 12:13, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it should replace everything below FL - a list of 3 or 4 things, is probably still a stub, for example. I think List → B → GA → A → FL is pretty much what we do now, except MilHist lists begin as Start-class, due to List-class being unavailable in the {{MILHIST}} banner. Given that Wikipedia:WikiProject_Military_history/Assessment#Statistics currently identifies 50,187 Start-class articles, I think the priority is to a) incorporate List-class project-wide b) segregate Start and List articles - which will have an immediate effect in terms of being able to see what basic lists have been created and are in need of development. I doubt there are more than a few hundred in there, but even so, they could be valuable - lists are generally statistical or more focused on displaying facts/figures than giving lengthy background info. There may be some good articles floating about in the MilHist "Start" category that might receive a boost once they become known - it's easier to dig through a few hundred lists for something to work on, than wade through 50,000 and get bored from looking. c) Once a "List" list has been compiled, then we should worry about implementing long-term methods, in the meantime I think its best to see what we've got to work with, before discussing how we should work with it. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 13:05, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Any further thoughts on this? I hate to see this topic go to waste again and disappear back into the archives without reaching a conclusion. Can we add Wiki's List-class without further ado (and possibly Template-class to help track them, as we have so many) to the project or is a consensus to support/oppose the addition of List-class required (shouldn't be, it's not controversial to get in line with the rest of Wiki). Ma®©usBritish [talk] 19:29, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Proposal – add List-class to MILHIST

Moved to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history#Proposal to add List-Class. Kirill [talk] [prof] 15:25, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Grants from the Wikimedia Foundation

Several Foundation Board members said in their question and answer session at Wikimania that they plan to start giving out more money; I've got some quotes at User:Dank/Foundation. I hear that discussion on mailing lists is pretty confusing, but apparently they don't want to give money to Wikipedians to edit Wikipedia, they're looking to give the money to incorporated groups that "share their mission" to create neutral, verifiable free content ... reading between the lines, if that content later winds up in Wikipedia, all the better. I don't know anything about incorporating in other countries, and I don't think that Americans should be telling Brits or Aussies the best way to proceed ... you guys should probably talk with your local Wikimedia chapters and make your own calls. Chris is the fundraiser for Wikimedia UK, and he's happy to help.

In the US, Kirill is on the Wikimedia DC board, and his guess is they'd welcome a collaboration with US Milhist members ... they've already applied for tax-exempt status, and being part of something bigger might attract more funding from the Foundation and elsewhere for both them and us. (They're hosting next year's Wikimania in DC, which will help.) Kirill and Chris advise that we should ask around to try to figure out what the Foundation is looking for ... maybe post on the Foundation-l mailing list, maybe ask the Foundation directly. That sounds good to me ... but if the Foundation keeps on being confusing, if it's possible that most of the money will be headed to groups not affiliated with the Foundation, then to be safe, I think we should also get in a grant proposal as a separate group. That's not hard to do; the law office I work in has done a lot of incorporations over the years. The main thing Milhist would need to do is select a board (again, just for the US, I don't know how others should proceed). Inserting ... I'm not proposing we fragment Milhist, only that I don't know the legal details in other countries.

All this raises a thousand questions ... my only request is that we keep discussion about separate questions in separate subsections. Thoughts? - Dank (push to talk) 11:19, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Is there no future in addressing this as a united project then? It seems to me that each country's milhist members trying to set up their own arrangements via their local chapter will be chaotic at best, divisive at worst. EyeSerenetalk 17:43, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec)I may have made that sound more difficult than it's likely to be; forming a corporation shouldn't be hard anywhere (it takes about a day here), and once we have corporations set up in the 4 or 5 countries with the most Milhist members, there's no reason we can't submit a unified grant proposal to the Foundation and all the relevant chapters ... hell, let them bid for our affections. We've certainly earned the right to be respected, and they're only helping themselves if they give us money that we're able to use more efficiently than they could to improve Wikipedia. One more thing ... it's been a long time since I looked at the Foundation-l mailing list. I just went through August and ... OMG, my eyes hurt, my brain hurts. - Dank (push to talk) 18:23, 11 August 2011 (UTC) Adding: I think Kirill and Chris may have different points of view, and please hear them out before jumping to any conclusions. It's a reasonable argument to say that handling money ourselves could be time-consuming at best, and possibly counterproductive. But after reading Foundation-l, I'm inclined to just take whatever money they're willing to offer, and do our own thing with our own people. - Dank (push to talk) 18:33, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
P.S. I probably wouldn't have said "hell" there if I hadn't just read the mailing list archives. And I'm not suggesting that if we get money only from WMUK, that we should only henceforth write articles that start with "HMS". - Dank (push to talk) 18:54, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Are we sure that the Foundation wants wikipedia projects to establish tax-exempt incorporated organisations in each English speaking country? In the UK we would probably be talking a Trust company or the new Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Fairly easy to do but does bring on a number of bureaucratic, legal and governance issues (who would be the members, who the trustees?). Or is the Foundation saying it is seeking to partner with existing incorporated organisations that share the mission? Like academic institutions, museums, libraries, archives and the like? Monstrelet (talk) 18:13, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
They have taken pains to be unclear :) I'm suggesting that we ask them for guidance, and if they don't completely dash our hopes, we can write a good grant proposal and see what happens. Certainly, they're talking about funding a lot of different groups, and I can't think offhand of a group they have more reason to trust to stay in line with their mission than Milhist. I know that they're not limiting the grants to tax-exempt corporations, but of course, if we're not tax-exempt, we'll get to keep less of the money they give us, and I don't think tax-exempt status will be difficult in the US. - Dank (push to talk) 18:38, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Hope you don't mind me butting in here but in the case of the question above about establishing organisations in different countries. The US currently has several WikiChapters (DC and New york at least). They might be good places to sink some cash. As for how to use ther funds I can think of several ways personally, perhaps we could fund a billet to act as a liaison at some of the GLAM sites. Not necessarily to edit articles themselves necessarily but to act as liaisons between the facility and the Wikipedia/WP editors. Like the residents at the SI and Archives did. Another way might be to use some of the funds to digitize images or documents for commons from the GLAM sites such as Library of Congress, NARA, SI or British Museum. These are just a few examples of course. --Kumioko (talk) 19:29, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd say a few things - do bear in mind that I am both a Wikimedia UK board member and an active milhist contributor (not that active since I was elected to the board!). These comments are obviously my own and not those of WMUK;
  1. More Milhist editors getting involved in outreach work is definitely a good thing - come in and join the fun!
  2. I'm not going to try to tell everyone what the right structure to support this outreach work is.
  3. That said, where chapters exist, they will tend to have important assets; networks, experience of working with GLAM institutions, in many cases money to spend. Some of us are already getting on with it. So whatever the structure is, I think that it's very important to work collaboratively.
  4. The Foundation's planned new grants policy isn't clear yet but it's definitely worth talking to them about it.
  5. Also, don't forget the global context. This is the English Wikipedia - what about military history editors and institutions in Germany, France, Russia, Austria, the Netherlands....?
So there you go. The Land (talk) 22:19, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Some thoughts: @5, I think that's part of the reason we're thinking of creating a separate Milhist entity – so one Milhist group can work with different chapters and GLAMs instead of individuals having to do the same thing. I fully agree that we'll need to work with the chapters; I think it's more a question of what's the easiest way to work with them. GLAMs like recognizable groups afaik, and the chapters could serve as that, but in my thinking, it would be best to show off a collaborative effort. Eg the 'Military history-WMUK proposal to the Imperial War Memorial for ...'
I suppose the pertinent questions, then, are (a) are we better served with an incorporated, formal entity or a defined group with no legal status and (b) what does the Foundation think about us taking the incorporated route? If these are the right questions, we should talk to the WMF asap, because if (b) turns out to be very negative, that solves (a) and allows us to move forward with brainstorming other things. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 06:44, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Involvement in outreach programmes like GLAM is limited to editors in locations where they have access to suitable institutions and with the free time to make use of that access. Similar constraints apply to other 'meta' work. While that's an essential part of the big picture approach to raising the profile of Wikipedia and involving academic institutions in our work (something I fully support), for me at least there's a perception that all this happens outside of, and unconnected to, the day-to-day editing of most of our members. Apart from events like when announcements are posted that archive photos have been made available, I'm largely unaware of such activity and see no direct impact on my article work from it. It's not my intention to belittle the superb work that GLAM or the chapters are doing, just that from a sort of 'grassroots' perspective it all seems very far away.

Related to that, I think perhaps we should be looking at this opportunity from the perspective of "How can it directly benefit all the members of the milhist project on the English Wikipedia?" I'm not a metapedian and, although I sometimes feel as though I should be, I'm not really that interested in what happens on other Wikipedias or even other WMF projects (other than perhaps Commons). Part of that is probably that I don't have the time to get more involved, but I'm not alone there and I think in order to involve our grassroots membership we ought to start out by being selfish. We may end up with something that can be exported to other WPs, or can be coordinated with them, but the whole point of our existence is the production of good-quality English-language content. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if we try to channel our limited resources too much into meta-level initiatives, only a few editors will be able to participate, their focus will shift (as The Land mentions theirs has above), and I fear we'll end up reinforcing the impression of a two-tier system that doesn't involve most members and is of no direct benefit to them.

The upshot of all that is that I'd like to see WMF money used in ways that will directly assist article editors. These might include:

  • Subscriptions to online archives - maybe group subscriptions can be negotiated?
  • Funding the purchase of source material - editors could perhaps apply to a grant committee for a downloadable e-book, maybe on the condition that they make it available to other editors (without infringing copyrights obviously!)
  • Refund of postage, fee or loan costs (the National Archive charge for hard copies of medal citations, for example)

I'm sure there are more ideas, and the administration would need to be carefully considered, but it seems to me we might have an opportunity here to potentially help all our editors in small but real ways. EyeSerenetalk 11:12, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Agreed with Ed that we need to confirm with the WMF that they're looking for us to incorporate. If they are, then I'm hearing from the above that we want to look first at things that might help any milhist editors before we look at geographically limited benefits ... is there any disagreement with this?
Also ... Eyeserene, what would be cooler than than buying e-books would be free e-books and free "looks inside". Jeff Bezos at Amazon is a big supporter of the free-content culture. Milhist could in theory provide all kinds of services to Amazon ...'s monthly special $1-$4 e-books are heavily weighted toward military history. As a publisher, they could use our help as writers, copyeditors, factcheckers ... or they might want to simply donate the services to show they support the free-content movement. But being successful as a nonprofit is a gradual and progressive thing ... if we can show that we're accountable when given a small grant by the Foundation, it makes it more likely that we can get someone else, like Bezos, to trust us with grant money or with special privileges. Presenting ideas like this to the Foundation board will go a long way toward showing them that we view their money as "seed" money, that we're looking for a hand up rather than a handout. - Dank (push to talk) 12:34, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
P.S. Since asking the Foundation if we're on the right track seems to be the first priority, anyone object if I point Maggie/Moonriddengirl (see above, she's operating as a volunteer coordinator) to this section and ask her to ask for reactions from the Foundation? - Dank (push to talk) 12:55, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Also: Wikipedia has never really solved the problem of how to have a big, rambling discussion that breaks new ground ... a lot of people jump in with good ideas, but the group tends to focus on one thing at a time, people feel like they weren't being listened to, and then they're less likely to jump into the next big discussion. I propose that we try to get the big questions solved as quickly as possible ... should we incorporate, and how, and is it useful to see Milhist as something special, something different ... then make sure that every specific suggestion offered here gets proper consideration. If we do that, then more people will make suggestions. - Dank (push to talk) 13:23, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

To touch on a couple of different points:

  1. A formal, incorporated entity is really only necessary if we need to collectively manage substantial sums of money or enter into legal agreements. If we're interested only in pursuing arrangements don't require that—for example, grants from the WMF directly to particular editors or small groups of editors, individual Wikipedian-in-Residence-style arrangements with GLAM institutions, and so forth—then we could do everything fairly informally, using our current (on-wiki) project structure for most of the work. In this scenario, any resulting financial arrangements wold be the responsibility of the specific editor(s) entering into them, rather than being handled by a central entity.
  2. I see a lot of problems with the idea of incorporating a MilHist-specific legal entity or entities. Even if we ignore the purely logistical concerns—the need to select a particular jurisdiction in which to incorporate, the need to have people on hand to perform tasks that require a physical presence in said jurisdiction, the need to obtain funds to cover day-to-day operational costs, and so forth—there is a range of broader issue having to do with governance and the relationship of the incorporated entity to the on-wiki project. If the leadership of the two (for whatever meaning that term may have with regard to our actual on-wiki community) is distinct, we run a high risk of power struggles and rifts within the community. If, on the other hand, the leadership of the corporate entity is a function of on-wiki roles, we potentially allow anyone who can drum up some support on-wiki to get their hands on a great deal of other peoples' money. Neither is a particularly good arrangement, in my opinion.
  3. In general, chapters are not constrained to spending money within their particular jurisdiction; there is no reason, in principle, why a US chapter could not work with a UK editor, or vice versa. Particular chapters may be better positioned to work with particular institutions, of course—a UK group would make a much better partner when talking to the British Museum, for example—but things that don't necessarily tie to a specific institution could potentially be done through any chapter, regardless of where the editor involved happens to reside.
  4. In terms of the areas EyeSerene mentions, grants to cover purchases of sources and subscriptions, postage reimbursement, and that sort of thing could potentially be done directly with the WMF. Having said that, I'm not sure that having a hundred editors each requesting a $50 grant from the WMF would be a particularly efficient arrangement. One potential alternative might be to have one or more chapters operate a "small grants" program for particular types of requests. For example, a chapter might request a $5K grant from the WMF to cover purchases of source materials by editors, receive the funds as a lump sum, and then dole them out in smaller amounts to individual editors based on a more light-weight application process. This would, of course, require the chapter(s) involved to do some or all of the paperwork required on both the WMF and editor sides; but, personally, I think that at least some of the chapters would be willing to take part in something along these lines.

Kirill [talk] [prof] 16:07, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Ugh. Kirill, I'll discuss by email before replying here. In general, folks, there are 5 or 6 good reasons not to discuss legal questions on-wiki. - Dank (push to talk) 18:07, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
It's worth noting that several of the chapters already do have small grants programs. The Australian chapter has one, for instance. Nick-D (talk) 00:26, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - I was always hoping that Wikipedia, in some form, can be represented at Comic Con or other media conventions, in order to publicize our better articles, reduce some of the negative view points out there about the hard work we put in, and attract new editors who maybe experts within their field. Perhaps the money can be used to pay for booth registration cost, and other things? --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 17:18, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Just a followup on the Comic con comment. There are a slew of conventions relating to (Using US topics as an example) US History, Historic places, Art, etc. Several are well suited for us to attend. --Kumioko (talk) 18:19, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
@ Kirill: I wasn't suggesting we all approach the WNF for a few pounds/dollars/etc a time. That's why I think a strictly limited pot of money, administered by milhist (if there was a way to do that), would be ideal for those small occasional refunds or purchases. As a control we'd be likely to know the editor making an application and their work, and would perhaps be able to decide the merits of an application better than a more distant body. On the other had it could be divisive (things often seem to end up that way where money is concerned), and I have some misgivings about the coords taking on the role because of the clash with our traditional hands-off approach. EyeSerenetalk 16:40, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Legal issues

I didn't want to start the conversation on a negative note talking about legal issues, but we've now attracted enough attention that we need to cover a few important points about what can go wrong when you talk about legal issues on-wiki, whether we incorporate or not. FWIW, my partner John is a lawyer with 30 years direct experience with nonprofits, including a recent 5-year stint on the national ACLU board.

  • Getting and maintaining tax-exempt status in the US ... for the Wikimedia Foundation, for Wikimedia DC, for us ... is a little tricky. The best approach is to encourage the board to get good legal advice and handle issues internally. You don't want to be talking about sending money outside the country on a regular basis right before you're making a nonprofit application ... but please understand that I'm not trying to slap anyone, it's nearly impossible to know what it's okay and not okay to talk about ... which is why the best advice is: just don't talk about tax and legal issues on-wiki. If we don't incorporate, let's leave these questions to others; if we do, let's leave it to our board.
  • It's counterintuitive that the Foundation would want to give a substantial chunk of money to other organizations rather than spending it directly on Wikipedia ... but there are indeed some business and legal reasons why that can be a good idea for some nonprofits in some circumstances. It's not a good idea to speculate about that on-wiki; it's also not a good idea to bet all our potential funding on the idea that they couldn't have meant what they said at Wikimania. Let's wait on clarification from the WMF staff.
  • The biggest legal question, of course, is who we want to trust to discuss legal questions. We've never figured out who's in charge at Milhist, and I like it like that, and I think the membership likes it like that too ... although of course a corporation would need an elected board of directors. One approach would be to enter the coord elections in September with the understanding that some of those elected will constitute at least the board for a US corporation ... then, after the election but before we actually receive any money, we ask the membership if there's any discomfort with some of the elected coords performing that role. It always boils down to trust. To hand authority over the money to people we don't know because we're afraid we might not be able to trust the Milhist coords ... especially if we talk about these issues both before and after the elections before committing to the new scheme ... is not going to make the membership feel more secure. - Dank (push to talk) 19:29, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Inserted: FWIW, now I'm feeling embarrassed that I framed this answer as a response to Kirill's mistake ... I made the mistake by posing questions on-wiki that could only have legal answers, Kirill just responded. Lesson learned. - Dank (push to talk) 14:42, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
For what its worth I also don't like the idea of WikiProjects getting funds. I think that it would be best (as I mentioned before above) to use the funds for things like paying for a billet at a Museum (Like the british museum or Smithsonian) to act as a Liaison, to spend the money on things like group memberships (which projects could use), paying for scanning of documents and images for Commons, or to give funding to the WikiChapters like DC and New York City to do some of these things or other opportunities. Aside from any legal ramifications I just think it sets a bad precedent to start paying for things that have been historically Voluntary. These things would all be crossproject and would benefit the pedia in general and not just one or two specific projects. --Kumioko (talk) 19:53, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
We need to remember that, by and large, the members of this project are here because they enjoy working on military history articles in an encyclopedia; and the coordinators are elected on the basis of their work in the project and their ability to help keep it organized and running smoothly. We don't choose people to be coordinators because they're qualified—or even willing—to manage a non-profit corporation; and we would be doing the project a grave disservice if we limited the ranks of future coordinators to those able to take on legal responsibilities of this sort, or excluded otherwise talented and dedicated editors from participating merely because they preferred to remain simply editors, rather than being forced to sit on a board of directors of some sort. Kirill [talk] [prof] 20:12, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Quite right, I meant some of the elected coords, not all of the elected coords, thanks for catching that ... and of course it's possible Milhist would want to elect board members who aren't coords. - Dank (push to talk) 22:21, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Not wishing to be a spanner in the works, but first, why would we have to incorporate in the United States or at all, but that's being discussed...? The UK and, in particular, Australia are also well represented among the membership, so I think it would be wrong to proceed on the assumption that the US is the default. Second, if we are to incorporate and form a board, we shouldn't assume that those positions should relate to on-wiki positions. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:20, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
I did email Maggie, and she'll get back with us shortly. The WMF may want us to incorporate in multiple countries, one country, or none. If they do say that our chances are good of getting a substantial grant under certain reasonable conditions, I'm not inclined to argue with them. And if there's no money coming, that will save me from answering a lot of questions :) - Dank (push to talk) 22:21, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

What are we hoping to achieve?

I think that the above discussion is a bit too focused on the ins and outs of organisational structures and their implications. Issue which need to be considered are what are we hoping to achieve here, and how much would it cost.

  • The kind of projects which would be useful to Wikipedia articles on military history would be ones which generate material to be used in articles. This is stuff like supporting editors to take photographs (eg, by covering their travel costs), supporting collaborations with cultural institutions and (possibly) supporting collaborations with publishers. There's a case to be made for providing small grants to help people with journal access, though many public libraries are now starting to offer this for free (Australians can access heaps of journals through their state libraries and the National Library of Australia website, for instance). Anything beyond this is probably out of scope.
  • Unless we're planning large scale purchases of things (eg, photos to release into the PD, scanned documents, or some kind of IT hardware) the individual projects aren't going to need much more than small grants. For instance, if it was decided to fly someone from Australia the UK and support them with moderately priced accommodation and a living during a one month residency with a museum in London (which is probably the largest-scale editor focused project which would be conceivable, and even it is stretching things) the total cost for supporting the person wouldn't exceed $US15,000. More realistic projects (eg, to fly someone from London to Paris and cover their costs of attending the Paris Air Show or to help someone living in London put in a day a week at the Imperial War Museum) would be fairly cheap.

Taking this into account, it's hard to justify setting up a separate organisation to receive and administer grants, especially given the problems Kirill raises (which are quite real: anyone who's had anything to do with administering a grant program will be able to tell you war stories about wonderful projects run by hard working decent people which went totally belly up and caused serious damage to all concerned). Nick-D (talk) 23:57, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

I tried to express something like this in the email discussion, but you've succeeded in getting the point over much better. Excellent! I have no objection in theory to setting MilHist up as a real-world entity, but if we can adequately meet our objectives without doing so, then so much the better. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 00:34, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
For what it's worth, from an English legal point of view, setting up an incorporated non-profit organisation isn't massively difficult and doesn't need to involve lawyers. However, it does take clarity (purpose,governance)and it does create bureaucracy. I'm not seeing anything so far which is a compelling argument to go down this route. A collaboration with another entity (e.g. an educational trust, a museum, a library) which agree to apply for and handle grants on our behalf would free MILHIST from red tape and enable people to maintain focus on the work of improving the encyclopedia.Monstrelet (talk) 08:00, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Just to point out that Wikimedia UK is still in the process of persuading the English Charities Commission that writing an encyclopedia is a charitable purpose under English law. Though once we succeed, others will find it easier ;-) The Land (talk) 19:29, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

First response from the Foundation

I just got this reply from Maggie:

Hi, Dan. I found the right person to ask (Asaf Bartov), and he says, "They don't need to be incorporated to ask. Let's see the request and I'll be able to say more." He provides this link: He's the man to contact. :)

One thing makes me hopeful: the Foundation is struggling with a forceful response from the chapters and from Wikipedians about some of their recent announcements about funding. They must have been really tempted to say that of course they can't fund a wikiproject, or else they'll have a hundred wikiprojects beating down their doors ... and they didn't say that.

So ... as everyone is pointing out, there are really difficult questions about how and whether to incorporate, and for the moment, we don't have to think about that ... all we have to do is suggest a list of things that the Foundation might want to fund (and see the linked page for some basic information), specify exactly what group is going to be responsible and accountable, and tell them something about our accomplishments so they know that we're already focused on the mission, competent, and trustworthy. Carry on, guys. - Dank (push to talk) 01:26, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Well then, that makes a lot of the discussion above moot. ;-) Is Bartov asking for a specific grant request or the overall plan? Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 08:03, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
That's all I've heard. The link he gives asks us to read this short presentation on how he sees the grant process: A Grant's Life. - Dank (push to talk) 13:18, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Ideas for things we want the Foundation to fund

Pursuing the idea of clarity in our discussions, I'm pulling this out of Dank's suggestion to allow a focus on ideas rather than process (I know we have several above). My first suggestion is can we have an MILHIST JSTOR account that editors can access? Access to journals, even in these global information days, is still largely the preserve of academics and professionals. Aceess to these journals should enable better articles, and better referenced articles.Monstrelet (talk) 08:09, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Access to the 1923–1980 New York Times and The Times archives would be nice as well. We'll have to tread carefully though, as I'm not sure that JSTOR/NYT/Times like or would even allow an open account like that. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 08:30, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
That is the flaw in my plan :) However, if we partnered with an institution with a JSTOR, or appropriate archive, accounts and we worked with them to get a grant that enabled them to open access to MILHIST editors, we might get it to work.Monstrelet (talk) 08:50, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Exactly what I was thinking. ;-) We might be able to borrow ideas from Wikipedia:Credo accounts. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 08:59, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
This is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of :) There could be all sorts of ways of doing it. If they only do one account per person and only a limited number, maybe a few dedicated individuals could volunteer to take requests from other members and look stuff up on their behalf. Or perhaps monthly rather than yearly access, giving everyone a chance to do at least a month's worth of research. Britannica might also be worth considering, though there might be some issues with them working with WP... EyeSerenetalk 16:33, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps a project librarian post? Sponsored travel may become subject to Unintended Consequences for the Cabal, but project access to books and journals via a set of designated intermediaries sounds exclusively benign. There is a danger of setting precedent for previously volunteer contributions becoming paid. (Apologies for out of scope) Discussion on this thread has also highlighted that individual editors are unaware of books owned by other editors and which could be used for fact-checking, again mediated by a librarian who maintains a list of available resources. Doug (talk) 12:25, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm going to sit most of this out while I catch up on some work, but I'd like to say that I think we can think bigger. There are things other than money that Asaf can help us with. For instance: although it's common to encounter friction when talking with tradional publishing people about Wikipedia, that's largely because they lump us in with the rest of Web 2.0, and they're sore about what Google has done to their business ... they don't actually hate us, and Asaf probably knows people who are in a position to make reasonable proposals to the big publishers. Some publishers have online access to many of the books they've published. If Wikipedians who routinely check articles for accuracy and close paraphrasing had online access to the sources, it would mean that some of the over 400M people who access each month wouldn't be seeing things that the publisher and the writers don't want them to be seeing ... we're their friends, and we would be doing the work for free if we could. If people who know people would just make the argument, I don't see why our frequent reviewers, at least, couldn't get online access to a lot more sources. And even if the publisher doesn't agree, it may be that Amazon's "look inside" and Google's "snippet view" agreements allow them to let their employees read specific pages of the books, if they're doing it for internal purposes, such as checking for accuracy. It might take some doing, but it's conceivable we could get some special arrangement with Amazon or Google to let reviewers check information from these books, especially since Amazon and Google are always looking for ways to show they're on our side. - Dank (push to talk) 17:26, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Now now, that's a fantastic idea. If we could manage this, which is probably one of the biggest ways we could help publishers, it might be a foot in the door that we could use for other things. The problem, as you say, is finding the right people who have the authority to make this happen. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 19:37, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Wikimedia UK microgrants

Just to make sure you're aware of Wikimedia UK's microgrants scheme - obviously it's a much smaller scheme than what is being discussed here - but it might be useful for some people participating in this discussion, and also it might be a good idea for Milhist to replicate, at least in areas without chapters. Basically if someone British-based needs to go somewhere or get something to help improve an article, Wikimedia UK is offering to pay (at least for WMUK members, but membership is only GBP5). The Land (talk) 08:04, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

I think this possibility was mentioned above, but I didn't know WPUK already did this. If we could get the grant money, this would probably be the easiest and among the most beneficial things we could do – we all know that more books will help our articles, but good portion of them (Friedman's Battleship Design and Development comes to mind) are out of print and/or prohibitively expensive. It would also require a minimal amount of overhead. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 09:29, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
That kind of scheme looks very useful. Nick-D (talk) 11:06, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
Just FYI Ed - I have Friedman Battleship Design and Development - got very lucky a few Christmases ago. However I am just about to request support for Sumida's In Defence of Naval Supremacy. The Land (talk) 12:40, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, do you think they might fund a subscription to Who's Who even though it's a little bit (£45) more than the £250 limit? HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 14:08, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
HJ - you have email - but on the more general point, we do make grants of over £250, they're just approved via a different process. The Land (talk) 14:56, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Heavy bias in maritime warfare

As far as I can tell, the maritime warfare task force appears to be extremely biased towards modern naval history. I compiled some simple stats (see User:Peter Isotalo/stats) from lists of maritime warfare articles from C-class up to FAs and came up with a list that was virtually devoid of topics on anything before c. 1750. It seems to me to go far beyond even the normal and fairly predictable bias for Europe and the Western World. Has there been any discussion about this before?

Peter Isotalo 22:08, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

That's a good point. I'm not sure that 'bias' is the right word though, as the availability of articles (and their quality) generally reflects the interests of editors rather than some kind of deliberate pattern. I'd note that the availability of references on naval warfare seems to increase dramatically for events which took place after about 1700, so it's much easier to write about this era than previous periods. Nick-D (talk) 22:21, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I can't say those figures are especially surprising. If you look at Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Assessment#Task forces (periods and conflicts) the two biggest task forces are for the First and Second World Wars with a combined total of nearly 40,000 articles, 300 FAs, and 650 GAs. No other task force has more than 50 FAs (although the medieval one has 48) and aside from the world war task forces only the ealry modern one has in excess of 150 GAs. The skew towards modern warfare is project-wide rather than specific to maritime warfare, although Peter's figures suggest it may be particularly bad in that area. Perhaps the first stage towards addressing this would be to identify which maritime articles from before c. 1750 are most important. Nev1 (talk) 23:00, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I'd agree with Nick above re. sources, though I'm not the best one to evaluate this (Cplakidas/Constantine would know much more, esp. for Byzantine topics). Another reason is that we have group of editors who are specifically working in the area of 20th century naval warfare (WP:OMT). I think another good starting point, after Nev's above, would be to identify sources that would be helpful in writing a pre-1750 maritime article and listing them somewhere in the project. This will take time, but people who come across it will have a starting point where they can enter the field. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 23:41, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
There's most likely more literature on the time from Napoleon and onwards, but there's more than enough published about the time before that to improve a lot more Wikipedia articles. My work on galleys has introduced me to a lot of literature on pre-modern naval warfare. Just point me to an appropriate page, and I'll start adding book titles. My ever-expanding draft for galley should also have enough content to help improve naval history.
But even if we do accept the bias towards moderns history, why are destroyer, cruiser and even aircraft carrier still below B-class? And what about naval strategy and naval tactics? Political history and military theory both seem to have been completely over-shadowed by an almost complete focus on the military history of technology.
Peter Isotalo 17:22, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
That would be partially because they would be massive and possibly controversial undertakings. User:The Land can testify to this after he wrote battleship and dreadnought. The other reason is that we write about what we're interested in... as you can probably tell, I'm interested in Latin American naval history, so I've written all the subarticles and finally got to the main article, South American dreadnought race, this year. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 17:40, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
To pick up on the generality, we seem to have relatively few editors interested in strategy and tactics generally - it isn't just a naval thing. Monstrelet (talk) 07:53, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I quite agree with Peter Isolato. Wikipedia as a whole is very biased to "things" rather than "ideas". In fact we are particularly biased to "things that go bang" and military history itself gets much more attention than many other areas of study. But within military history we are great on individual pieces of kit, worse on general topics, not very good at dealing with areas where there is difficulty reconciling different interpretations of history, and weak on doctrine. (To be fair, it isn't just Wikipedia that has this problem - it is always easier to find the technical characteristics of a weapon than it is to find a decent account of what the people who built and wielded it thought they were doing and why). There is also a big "recentist" bias.
To a large extent this is a reflection of the interests of the people who write the articles, though we haven't really ever made an effort to get people working on difficult/non-English/old/big topics, either. Personally I would like to see us try, particularly around the WWI Centennial! The Land (talk) 09:09, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, for the maritime task force it's actually not just a matter of tech trumping politics. It's that extremely narrow tech articles are trumping more general tech articles. WP:OMT is of course not doing any harm, but it's definitely padding the stats of the task force a bit more than is appropriate. It's a bit unfortunate, since I believe that those who have written 20+ FAs on, say, Imperial German battleships should have amassed enough general information about context to improve more general articles on that period. And I'm not just talking about dreadnought or the likes.
If anyone is worried about potential controversy and edit conflicts when writing about general topics, I really recommend taking on even articles like naval strategy. Judging by the talkpage of that and the other examples I mentioned above, there's no heated debated whatsoever. Special interests can't be argued with on Wikipedia (we're all volunteers, etc.), but I can tell you that taking on pre-modern topics is a bit like entering the Undiscovered Country. Hardly anyone seems to write about it in a serious manner, so even a modestly ambitious undertaking is likely to be very rewarding. As long as it's reasonably referenced, that is.
Btw, you should check out the visitor stats for articles about common naval vessels. Most of them tend to get more hits in a month than any number of individual ship articles get in a whole year.
Peter Isotalo 14:58, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Reference list?

Nick-D mentioned the need for literature for pre-modern naval topics. It seems like a very good idea to follow up on. Is there any project page dedicated to lists of useful literature for various periods? Can one be created?

Peter Isotalo 14:58, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

At the moment, the easiest place to put things of this sort would probably be the resource section of the relevant task force (see e.g. ARW). In the long term, we can look into setting up a centralized repository of literature; but we should probably try and collect some more task force lists as a starting point first. Kirill [talk] [prof] 18:13, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, I've been primarily interested in maritime issues, so I expanded the maritime task force list. Voilà.
Peter Isotalo 21:45, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Added a handful more pre 1600. If this list is to be expanded any further though it needs a bit more structure, either geographical or chronological. A section on Mediterraean warfare might be apt, for example.Monstrelet (talk) 08:45, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, structure is good. But discriminating generality is even better. I think we should encourage people to add only reasonably general references written by acknowledged academics or writers, like Rodger's trilogy of the naval history of Britain, anthologies edited by Gardiner, or highly influential studies like Guilmartin (1974). With that said, titles by authors like Roger Crowley might not be the best option. "Narrative history"[1] can be very good and easily available, but if you can't find it in a university library, it's a good idea to at least look for available options. That sort of works can easily gloss over (rather than generalize) complicated academic debates, or simply uncritically take sides in them. As far as I know, popular historians also have an annoying tendency to keep old historical myths alive.
I'm not saying that Crowley in particular makes all those mistakes (since I haven't read him) but I'm saying that some discrimination is appropriate.
Peter Isotalo 09:55, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
To be discriminating, we need to be clear what we are producing the list for. I am assuming we are generating a list of materials which will be useful in producing articles, not a university reading list. If so, what we need are materials that are readily available, properly referenced and based on modern scholarship. Books that might be obtained outside a specialist library. If that is not what we are doing, delete what I added and seek the assistance of a properly scholarly institution who can judge what are the best sources on maritime historyMonstrelet (talk) 10:24, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Having reread the above, I think the tine comes over sharper than I intended, for which I apologise. However, the central question is I think valid. What is the list for and who is it aimed at? Is it for beginners, casually interested editors or scholars? What level of access to study materials should we assume? We have already had a mismatch of expectation in this quiet corner - perhaps we need to nail these questions before we think of rolling it out beyond this task force? An additional point, which comes up often on the project talk page - should we list recommended websites which can be cited in articles and other online resources (collections of documents, articles etc.)? Monstrelet (talk) 10:50, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps we can have it both ways. Crowley could be included with a note that as a popular historian his work is (probably, I know nothing of this area, only generalities) accessible and provides a useful introduction but that in terms of adding references more heavy-weight sources should be used instead. Nev1 (talk) 11:15, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah, Nev, I'd settle in many articles for any references at all :( However, I think you are right. If we had a little key at the top noting the abbreviations used we might mark Crowley with a P for popular history. Others might be marked A for academic, or C for classic (Rodger's work on oared warships, perhaps?), or I for introduction. We could then have a small para which might help a would-be editor, like "popular works are good for building basic articles but for feature and above, you would be expected to be referencing more academic works" or the like. Thus, our section on say Mediterranean warfare will group books on that area but will include a range of styles or levels for the reader.Monstrelet (talk) 11:55, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I didn't intend to say that Crowley should be removed, nor that it was wrong to add him. That would have been very presumptuous by me, since I haven't read him. I apologize if that's how I came across. I merely commented that he described himself as "narrative history" on his webpage, which provoked a bit of a gut reaction from me. The only thing I'm against almost by principle is online sources for history topics. I love the digital medium in general, but from what I know of the academic and literary world, very little worthwhile is published digitally.
I find virtually all my references in academic libraries, and not none of them are closed to the public. I'm quite used to borrowing truckloads of academic literature, so I don't really know how hard it is for others to do the same. I have no idea how it is outside of Sweden, for example. In my experience, though, academic libraries specializing in the humanities contain far more than dull, dense and theory-ridden course literature. That said, I think it might be better to describe things like "academic", "popular", "classic" (ei possibly dated) in plain language. (Or we might end up arguing too much over classification.) Something that would probably be more useful to write in shorthand is the availability of individual titles. If that can be easily estimated, that is. And the important thing is still primarily to let others know about good sources. Merely finding the right refs for a project can often take quite a lot of time.
Btw, I completely agree with Monstrelet concerning the compromise about sources. Any reference is better than no reference, just like any content is better than no content. To actually argue the latter, we'd have to be talking excruciatingly shitty content. Which is kinda rare. Actually, even online sources are better than no sources, since they at least can lead you on to more worthwhile print references.
Peter Isotalo 18:48, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Peter. Academic libraries do grant access in the UK on application but you have to pay for borrowing rights. Public libraries are quite a low priority here and don't have large book buying budgets so what you find there can be a bit hit and miss. We have a good interlibrary loan system but to borrow a book will cost as much as buying a popular paperback history.
To return to the topic, I think we have a model. I think there might be an argument for a project wide guide to research sources which pick up this simple classification but if not, an expanded key explaining the types of book and how they might be used. As you say, classics may be dated but they also contain a great deal of information and are often the source of significant ideas and interpretations ( for example, in the maritime context, we might cite Mahon as a classic)but they need a caveat about the world having moved on.
Online sources do need to be tackled in some way because increasingly that is the easy way to research. Quite a few wikipedia articles only have references that come from the internet, either websites of various quality or book previews from Amazon and the like (this latter isn't so bad - it can be the easiest way to access some academic texts, for example). So, if we have them, it would be good to be able to guide editors to good, rather than rubbish, sources. Collections of articles can be helpful - de re militari for example has some useful articles on medieval naval warfare.Monstrelet (talk) 07:32, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Here are some suggested categories and descriptions
  • (P) Popular histories - these give an acccessible introduction to the subject but can be unclear on their sources. Good for providing contextual information in a specialist article, less so for detail.
  • (A) Academic studies - these make critical use of sources to provide an interpretation. These should be the mainstay of article referencing.
  • (C) Classic studies - sources of significance in the development of understanding of the subject but often superceded by more recent research. Can be used for referencing but, unless talking about the author's theories directly, best checked against more modern works.

Thoughts/alternatives? Monstrelet (talk) 08:16, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

With these descriptions, I think these classifications would be very useful. Do we format it as headings or notation, though?
Btw, should we add a fourth category for primary sources like Herodotus and Thucydides? Or should they be sorted under (C)? The reason I'm asking is because I'm a bit worried about the heavy use of ancient historians as direct sources in, for example, the articles on the Greco-Persian Wars.
Peter Isotalo 14:09, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
The historian in me says yes but the wikipedia editor sounds a cautionary note. Wikipedia articles as supposed to make limited use of original sources, to discourage OR. The exception seems to be critical editions, where there is scholarly input. Advice from other editors would be useful here. Monstrelet (talk) 17:49, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
There doesn't seem to be oodles of instant interest here, so how about trying out the classifications over at the maritime task force? I guess that the parenthetical descriptions are the most appropriate, what with the existing headings.
Peter Isotalo 20:41, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I think this is a good idea. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 03:05, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I tried applying it to most of the titles and I added some comments on stuff I've read. Any thoughts?
Peter Isotalo 20:41, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think it works. Been away for a few days and the thought came to me we may need a (T) category for technical. Many articles in more modern times make use of books of technical details about ships e.g. Janes.Monstrelet (talk) 14:35, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

New format for member directory

As part of the planned deprecation of the logistics department, I've been working on a new, template-based format for our member directory. The basic idea is to combine the existing listing of member names and interests with the various listings of people available to help with specific tasks (e.g. translation, copyediting, etc.) that currently reside in the logistics department to create a single, consolidated list of members and the areas in which they are able to assist.

An in-progress example of the new format can be seen below:

ADM Administrator CPE Able to assist with proofreading and copy-editing
IMG Able to assist with editing and/or restoring images MAP Able to assist with creating maps
PHO Able to take on-location photographs SRC Able to assist with obtaining or verifying sources
User Location Languages ADM CPE IMG MAP PHO SRC Interests
Alice United States en-4, de-1 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes Everything under the sun
Bob [inactive] France en-3, fr-4 1Yes 2 1Yes 2 2 2 Something or other
Carol United Kingdom en-4 2 2 2 2 1Yes 2 Nothing at all

The table includes the basic member information, as well as columns corresponding to the various common areas in which members' assistance might be sought.

I would appreciate any comments regarding both the format of the table and its contents. In particular:

  1. Is the new format easy to understand?
  2. Are there other types of assistance that should be included, or certain types that should not be?
  3. Is there any other information that should (or shouldn't) be included?

Any other feedback is, of course, equally welcome. Kirill [talk] [prof] 17:58, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

I like it - seems straight-forward enough, can't think of anything else vital to include. Was going to suggest maybe noting which Special projects or Task forces people are also in - to help find people quicker through sortable cols, than reading interests - but there are so many, there simply would not be room. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 18:12, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Looks good! Some questions however: (a.) Will the system set "inactive" to grey? (b.) The ADM column, will that be system populated or do we leave it to the user with no validation (it could be read as "I want to be an Admin)? (c.) I presume that save for user name, all other fields are optional? Conceptually - I fully support. Farawayman (talk) 19:21, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
In response to your questions:
  1. There's no way to set the activity flag automatically, but we can have a script to update it.
  2. The tick mark colors are based on the active/inactive setting; the template fades the marks for inactive users from green to gray. In a longer list with intermixed active and inactive rows, I think the different colors will be a useful visual aid for someone scanning down a particular column.
  3. I haven't found any way to populate the ADM field automatically (that is, in real time), but it's something that could be maintained by the same script that will check on user (in)activity.
  4. Yes, all the other fields are optional.
Kirill [talk] [prof] 19:31, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Thx. One more thought - it doesn't really help to have a column sort option on language if we have more than one language code in the column. Farawayman (talk) 19:35, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Granted, but I'm not aware of any way to turn sorting on and off for particular columns. It's either enabled for all of them or not present at all. Kirill [talk] [prof] 19:53, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
! class="unsortable" | Languages - that works in your Template when I Preview it. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 19:58, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I hadn't realized we had a class for that now. I've disabled sorting for the "Language" and "Interests" columns, since those aren't going to be easily sortable; I assume all the other columns should remain sortable? Kirill [talk] [prof] 20:00, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Nothing happens for me when I try to sort ticked cols - maybe not enough examples, or it doesn't recognise images? Might need a hidden span value in them to aid sorting? Ma®©usBritish [talk] 20:02, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Should be fixed now; I've added hidden sort keys to those columns. Kirill [talk] [prof] 11:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Yep, that works good - cheers! Ma®©usBritish [talk] 11:35, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
"There's no way to set the activity flag automatically, but we can have a script to update it." - Couldn't a bot be created to go through the list systematically, say once a week, to determine when each member last contributed to wiki - and if it was over 30 days ago, for example, it could automatically set their inactive to "yes", or even remove the "yes" in needs be? Ma®©usBritish [talk] 19:47, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, this could be done by a bot, although one would have to be custom-designed; I don't think any existing bot would be able to parse our template syntax "out of the box". It's certainly something to explore, but we'd need to be fairly certain that the format had stabilized prior to investing the time to create a dedicated update bot. Kirill [talk] [prof] 19:53, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Looks great to me. Only one question: is it worth including newsletter delivery options? I realise we'd still need to maintain our page for non-members who want delivery, but it may be worthwhile nonetheless. EyeSerenetalk 07:24, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
It would certainly be a convenient place to hold that data; but then we'd need the delivery bot(s) to be able to parse the tables, which I'm not sure is something their operators would be willing to code. Kirill [talk] [prof] 11:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
How would members add data about themselves to the table? It looks a bit complex, especially for new editors. The use of unfamiliar abbreviations is also a bit confronting. To be pedantic, 'able' should also be replaced by something like 'Interested in' so it's clear that editors are indicating what they're willing to do rather than what they theoretically could do. Nick-D (talk) 11:14, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Presumably we could have something like the B-Class checklist boilerplate in {{WPMILHIST}}, with comments indicating what different parameters mean and how they should be filled out?
The alternative might be to have a separate form for new members to use when they sign up; the form would leave their information (in prose form) on a subpage watched by the coordinators, who would then enter it into the directory. Kirill [talk] [prof] 11:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with that last part - "Able to take photos" literally means: have camera, ready to shoot. "Interested in taking photos" suggests nothing of preparation - could simply mean they have an interest in learning to take photos, but can't actually do it. For example, I might say - I'm interested in cooking, but I'm not able to cook. Interested in is more theoretical than able (ability). Ma®©usBritish [talk] 11:32, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

So, any other comments or suggestions? Kirill [talk] [prof] 02:13, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Have we decided how members are going to be added/add themselves to the list (you suggest a form or template above)? EyeSerenetalk 14:49, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, take a look at the actual code to generate a member's entry:
|location=United Kingdom
|interests=Nothing at all
Would the average new editor feel comfortable filling it out on their own, or is it sufficiently complex to discourage them from using it? In the latter case, it would be easy enough to rig a form to leave the information on a subpage somewhere, and let the coordinators move it into the directory format after the fact. Kirill [talk] [prof] 18:22, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
It shouldn't be complex if there are the usual hidden comments to aid completing the form. Where does this code actually go though? Ma®©usBritish [Talk][RFF] 18:53, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I suppose we could always offer both options. EyeSerenetalk 18:56, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I like the idea, but what if some people haven't been active and looks like they won;t be returning anymore? Plus, after how longg would you categorise someone as someone inactive? Sp33dyphil "Ad astra" 10:27, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
In the past, we've used three months as a threshold for inactivity; I'm not sure whether we should retain that or make it a shorter (or longer?) interval.
Anyone who leaves and doesn't return would presumably just stay inactive; while there are probably occasional reasons to outright remove people from the list (e.g. certain kinds of bans), that's likely something best handled on a case-by-case basis rather than by any regular update. Kirill [talk] [prof] 22:37, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Feedback on Article Requested

If anyone is able to provide some feedback on my potential academy article discussed at Asking for Help, I would be very grateful.LeonidasSpartan (talk) 07:00, 28 September 2011 (UTC)