Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Half project, half donkey

Baseball fans will get the reference. The rest of you can check this article. I'm using the phrase to introduce the wonderful and sometimes donkey-ish world of Wikipedia projects.

A WikiProject (cute name, no?) is a group of contributors who want to network, baby. All right, the stated goal of a WikiProject is to form a group of editors interested in improving particular types of articles. Like articles on midsized Chicago suburbs. That would be WikiProject Midsize Chicago suburbs, which doesn't exist yet but may be coming soon to a Wikipedia near you.

These folks like to tag articles, and you know my attitude towards taggers. At least WikiProjects usually leave their ugly calling cards on talk pages instead of the entries themselves. Here's an example from WikiProject Novels. The tags are often harmless grades doled out to articles by people who like to grade articles, for whatever reason.

I'm a member of one project, WikiProject Wikify. Yep, they tag articles for "wikification." I confess to being "casually active" on the project. But I don't attach tags; I remove them after (let's hope) improving articles enough to escape immediate re-tagging.

Some projects get the WP poobahs upset because they seem more like social networking than encyclopedia-writing. Many poobahs don't do much encyclopedia-writing themselves, but that's another rant. The biggest stink arose over something called Esperanza. The name alone grated on me. Sounded like $1.99 perfume.

Anyway, the Esperanzans awarded prizes for each other's user pages and other trivial pursuits. Sure enough, the poobahs cracked down on editors having, omigod, fun. The Esperanzans got their project canned, and most of them were sent to the WP Gulag, a.k.a. article-writing. This is where I'd like to send all the WP poobahs for thirty-year sentences, but that's another...

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