Lawn tennis on a grass court
in the United States in 1887
Convention dictates that two players shake hands at the end of a match
To celebrate the start of the US Open this week, we decided to hit some questions back and forth with WikiProject Tennis. From the project's inception in September 2006, WikiProject Tennis has grown to include over 17,000 pages including five pieces of Featured content and eight Good and A-class articles. The project is home to several sub-projects ranging from the Grand Slam Project to the Tournament Task Force. The project maintains the Tennis Portal and seeks to fulfill a list of goals. We exchanged volleys with project members Sellyme and Totalinarian.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Tennis? Are you a fan of a particular tennis player?
- Sellyme: I joined WikiProject Tennis as I'm an avid sports fan who's always watching sports and getting results through live feeds, so I thought I'd put my spare time to use by updating the tennis draws and results on Wikipedia.
- Totalinarian: For me, it was the history of the game. Tennis is one of those rare sports where a significant amount of history has been made available to the public via the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), but it is ignored more often than not. These public sources also fail to go far enough in dealing with the complexities of accepted professional tennis – that is, after 1968 – in its early years, so I decided to join the WikiProject to try and take the challenge on. Of course, this comes with its pitfalls...
How does the project handle the notability of tennis players? Have you had to deal with any editors creating articles for non-notable players?
- Sellyme: The project has a very clear set of guidelines for notability, which run across every form of competition and level of tennis, from the ATP World Tour/WTA Tour to the Challenger series and the Futures events, to international competitions and team events. It's a relief to have such clear notability guidelines, and I've only ever been involved in one or two discussions about notability due to this.
Like many sports-related projects, WikiProject Tennis often deals with biographies of living people. Does this place any extra burden on the project? How frequently do BLP issues arise for tennis players?
- Sellyme: I have never seen a BLP issue on this WikiProject, as the official sources (ATP and WTA) have in-depth biographies for every player who passes notability and more, and this information is frequently expanded on by third party sources. The biggest issue with biographies is debate over how the infobox should look!
The project has a very active talk page. What brings tennis enthusiasts together? What tips would you give to projects that struggle to foster discussion?
- Sellyme: Well, tennis is such a global sport, it allows for people from every culture and time-zone to come together under one banner, and this creates a lot of differing opinions and ideas. This creates discussion, and continual new outlooks on parts of the project, allowing for continuous improvement. Personally, I'd recommend that small projects get people from different backgrounds and cultures to look into it, instead of just the few Wikipedians the project members would already know. Search through relevant page histories for names that you may not recognise that pop up a lot, ask if they would like to join. Diversity creates a great environment and great improvements.
The Tournament Task Force was created this summer. What are the task force's goals? What resources are needed to reach those goals?
- Totalinarian: The Tournament Task Force strives to create guidelines for both new and old articles about tennis tournaments. The Task Force also maintains and improves current articles, and encourages anyone with reliable information to provide the Task Force with their input. At present, the resources required for the Task Force are a challenge – it basically comes down to other references, and not just what is publically available. The best references for tournament articles tend to be World of Tennis annuals, which summarise years in tennis and provide tournament histories from 1968 onwards. Older references are, sadly, far rarer to come across, which makes the challenge of writing about tennis prior to the Open Era almost impossible to meet. This particular editor, however, lives in hope...
What are the project's most pressing needs? How can a new contributor help today?
- Sellyme: At the moment, the project has a few issues with inconsistencies. If anyone had the spare time (or the scripting knowledge) to correct tie-break scores across nearly all articles, that would benefit the project greatly, as many new editors use the traditional ATP tie-break format (such as 7-64) without being aware of the project stance on tie-breaks. Due to some people who may not know how tennis scoring works, we prefer tie-breaks to be formatted like this: 77-64. This only became a solid guideline recently, so many hundreds or even thousands of articles have the previous format. Another important part of the project is the draw pages such as 2011 Australian Open – Men's Singles, which the members of the project keep almost completely live, most of the time updating even faster than the official ATP and WTA websites! However, sometimes the most frequent updater of a page has something important on, or the tournament is in a time-zone with few contributors, so the draw doesn't get updated.
Next week we'll find a faster way to commute to Westminster. Until then, take the tube over to the archive.