Task force/Recommendations/Wikipedia Quality 1
Global thematic projects
| This is a recommendation as submitted by the Wikipedia quality task force.
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Create global (Wikimedia-wide) thematic projects; these projects each focused on a particular topic or field.
Theoretically there is more expertise in all the projects together, than in any one project separately. Ideally there should be a way to utilise this, in a way that will help all projects that are open to participation.
Global thematic projects can look at quality of articles in a particular field, identify missing articles, evaluate quality between the projects and recommend on what to translate. This as opposed to the mindless translation of whatever is there on one project, which may well lead to a multiplication of poor-grade materials.
Global thematic projects can help get local high-quality users out of their isolation.
Global thematic projects can help reduce the erosion of locally produced quality content.
Once these thematic projects are in place they could be used to organize workshops to educate new editors in writing articles and selecting sources.
Strategy level 1
In its simplest form this could be a bulletin board, for the exchange of information, between various Wikimedia projects. This would facilitate information exchange and help out with some of the problems.
Strategy level 2
In a more advanced form it could be a meeting place at a Wikimedia-wide level, where experience is exchanged and planning is done. This may help coordinate between the projects.
Strategy level 3
Even more advanced would be to create expertise centers, where actual experts are brought in to allow for an external perspective.
Working on articles
The larger Wikipedias have collected much of the "low hanging fruit". The overview and special articles can be only written by or with considerable participation of dedicated experts. Many fields, especially specialized subjects in sciences, social sciences and humanities, are not common knowledge and are typically not mastered by amateurs. To write an overview article in a certain field, one needs to have an overview of the field and invest a lot of time. This can only be accomplished by dedicated users.
- Article-writing standards need to be improved, with an emphasis on the importance of the proper way to build an article. In particular, the academic approach to finding and using sources is important.
- Many editors, especially newbies and younger users, do not sufficiently understand the importance of fact-checking and can not separate quality sources from other sources.
- There are many users in the projects who possess this knowledge and can share it with less experienced users.
New and less experienced editors may be unaware of the importance of proper style of creating content and representing controversial viewpoints. Workshops may be organized for these editors to get them acquainted with best practice.
Many of our contributors are newbies who may well be very active but are not necessarily well acquainted with the best practices of writing articles.
Given the increasing barrier to enter Wikipedia, many external experts would be happy to participate in workshops if these have been provided.
Active academics can be involved by the projects to write articles in their fields and participate in planning and peer-reviewing content.
Those who choose to write articles are unfamiliar with the realities of the projects and need to be helped to clear the entrance barrier; the atmosphere helping them to contribute and not rejecting them must be created. Some academics come for pure self-promotion and creating NPOV articles; these need to be quickly identified by knowledgeable users found in the projects.
Many of the academics are too busy and are not likely to contribute to writing articles, but can participate in peer-review process.
They could list and discuss the best general secondary sources in the field.
Advance planning of content development is needed; this planning might work better if coordinated by joint forces, not just one language Wikipedia.
Many articles, especially review articles, are unlike to appear spontaneously and can be more easily produced if thematic projects point out the necessity to create these articles with a high priority.
After many years of development, many essential articles are still missing or are in a pitiful state.
One way of content quality transfer is translation between the projects.
Quality of articles varies between the language projects; the articles in English Wikipedia are not necessarily the best among the projects. For certain topics, users on other projects may well have a better grasp of the topic, better access to sources, etc and can create content more easily.
Wikimedia-wide thematic projects could play an important role in resolving disputes and educating less experienced editors in best practices in working on articles.
Disputes related to the content of certain articles arise pretty often; in many cases they should not be treated as disruptive behavior and thus can not be resolved by purely administrative means.
Quality of some articles can not be evaluated without attracting some experts, sometimes even experts in several fields. An administrator unacquainted with these difficulties may not properly understand the essence of the dispute and make a wrong decision.