The Star-Spangled WikiProject
Apple pie, baseball, and the American flag are cultural icons of the United States
indicating how heavily each US state is covered on Wikipedia (number of geotagged Wikipedia entries)
The United States is the only country to land humans on the moon, with Neil Armstrong
and Buzz Aldrin
(pictured) first stepping foot on the moon's surface in July 1969
As the United States of America celebrates its Independence Day, we sat down with two members of WikiProject United States to see how the world's last superpower fares on the world's largest encyclopedia. The project was founded by BrendelSignature in August 2006 and was rebooted from late 2010 to early 2011 by Kumioko. WikiProject United States is home to over 100,000 pages which include 235 Featured Articles, 133 Featured Lists, 254 pieces of Featured Media, 56 A-Class articles, and 396 Good Articles. The banner for WikiProject United States incorporates a growing variety of nation-wide subprojects ranging from American Television to the Library of Congress to State Legislatures. No individual states are currently included in the project's scope, although the project does support WikiProject District of Columbia. WikiProject United States maintains the United States Portal, a newsletter, and the U.S. Wikipedians' notice board. We interviewed project members Kumioko and Royalbroil.
Kumioko set out to restart WikiProject United States back in October 2010 because the project "was dormant for the last few years with almost no organized activity." In addition to rebuilding the project page, he led an initiative to centralize the banners of many fragmented projects that had become inactive in the past couple years. His most recent initiative is an effort to make Featured Media a widely used article quality classification. Royalbroil is a member of both WikiProject United States and WikiProject Wisconsin, one of the more active state-focused WikiProjects. He is an admin with 111 Did You Know? articles under his belt. Royalbroil praised Kumioko, saying he "did a great job of revitalizing the WikiProject by going to child WikiProject to solicit new members."
The project went through some revitalization and reorganization earlier this year. What are some of the project's new features? Were there any concerns brought forth by other projects and if so, how were they resolved?
- Kumioko: Basically we have restructured and rebuilt almost everything but here are some of the key improvements:
- We restructured the project page
- We automated a lot of the project tasks using bots. The full list of the bots in use on the project and what the do can be seen on the Members tab of the project.
- We restarted the project collaboration, portal and created a newsletter
- We were the ones that suggested creating the new Featured Media class that several projects have already started using.
- In regards to the 2nd question there were some other projects and editors who had problems with the broad scope of the project. These concerns still occur occasionally today but we continue to work through the concerns and discuss them as needed.
- Royalbroil: The biggest issues were "What is the scope of the WikiProject?" and "How should it overlap with state WikiProjects?" Some non-state WikiProjects were completely inactive so they were incorporated into WikiProject US.
What are some of the challenges of overseeing 92,000 pages? Have you borrowed any strategies from other large projects? Have there been any efforts to reduce overuse of the project's banner on articles?
- Royalbroil: A lot of the discussion during the early revitalization phase focused on deciding what belongs in the project so that WikiProject US is manageable. We could have included every state in the scope but decided against since it may have resulted in almost 1 million articles.
- Kumioko: Well on this one I would first like to clarify that the 92,000 includes a lot of templates, categories, files and the like that were added so that they can be more easily watched for changes (using a notification by Article Alert Bot). In actual articles we currently only have about 38,000 articles but that number does continue to grow. There are challenges to this but they are minimized through the use of bots and other tools. It also makes it easier to have the articles under 1 project rather than multiple projects that all need to be maintained and watched.
- Many of the tools and strategies we use in the project are borrowed from other projects. Most notably WikiProject Military History but we have also created several of our own as well that are being used by other projects. Some of the things we have used from other projects include automation of tasks by bot, creating a newsletter, the format of the project page, the collaboration and many others.
- As for the question about overuse of the banner we try to only add it to pages that meet one or more of a couple of criteria:
- The article is of National importance or interest
- it falls under one of the projects that are supported directly by WikiProject United States (like District of Columbia or United States Government)
- The article is part of an ongoing collaboration of the project
- The primary project that the article falls into does not support that class (some of the US related projects don't support all the assessment classes)
Does the project sponsor any monthly collaborations, drives, or newsletters?
- Kumioko: Yes, since restarting the project we have started to do many things of this nature, and we plan to do more in the future.
- We restarted the U.S. Wikipedians' notice board including redirecting several defunct US related noticeboards there
- We restarted the US Wikipedian's collaboration. It was formerly a weekly collaboration, but we changed it to Monthly in the reboot of the project. We have already made significant improvements to several articles and the United States Bill of Rights is the Collaboration for June. With this one we have reached out to the GLAM/National Archives project to collaborate with resources from the National archives to get this article to GA quality by July 4th.
- We are also currently working to get Portal:United States to featured portal status. This will hopefully be done in the next couple months.
Have you had a role in maintaining the project's portal?
- Kumioko: Yes, but only a minor one. I credit several of the other members like RichardF for doing the majority of the heavy lifting.
What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- Kumioko: I would say that there are several urgent needs that need more help:
- The most important thing is just to help improving the articles. It doesn't matter which one, just pick one that interest you and work on it.
- We are going to be working on a collaboration soon to either get all the states or all the presidents to FA status. Both of these 2 groups of articles are extremely high importance so any help on these would be hugely beneficial.
- Getting the Portal to featured status
- helping with the Collaboration of the Month articles
- We currently have about 1400 articles that need be assessed
- Royalbroil: Improve the articles. I'm sure there will be more discussion about which items belong in the scope. I suspect that more child WikiProjects will want to be rolled into the scope of this WikiProject.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- Kumioko: Over the past few months the primary focus has been on building the project infrastructure, membership, automation of tasks and establishing scope and guidelines. In the next few months we will begin focusing more effort on article improvement through drives and collaborations.
Next week, we'll show off our impressive collection of vinyl. Until then, enjoy our DRM-free content from the archive.
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