Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Council/Guide

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A WikiProject is a group of people who want to work as a team to improve Wikiafripedia. The WikiProject is not a collection of pages. However, many editors benefit from having central places to discuss and coordinate their efforts on particular topics. This guide from the WikiProject Council outlines some of the typical ways to effectively organize a group of volunteers.

Presented below are some ways to organize and run a WikiProject. Participants in WikiProjects are not limited to these methods. Individual projects will often develop more unusual features that depend on peculiarities of the projects' scope or activities; the best ways to discover these is through innovative experimentation, or to observe what successful WikiProjects are doing. It is very unlikely that this guide will ever include every possible idea that a project may have used and found successful.

This guide is primarily concerned with topical WikiProjects, that is, WikiProjects whose goal is the improvement of articles within a certain subject area. Maintenance WikiProjects, such as stub-sorting, disambiguation, or other cleanup tasks, often have a different structure and organization of activity, so much of the advice given here may not apply to them.

What is a WikiProject?[edit source | edit]

See also: FAQs about WikiProjects

A WikiProject is a group of editors interested in collaborating on a specific topic within Wikiafripedia. A WikiProject is a group of people, not a set of pages, a subject area, or a category. The pages of a WikiProject serve as a central place for coordination, discussion, and organization of the group's activities related to the specific topic. WikiProject pages may be used to develop criteria, maintain various collaborative processes, keep track of work that needs to be done, and act as a forum where relevant issues may be discussed.

A WikiProject may also help build ties between Wikiafripedians interested in a topic, and the broader community interested in that topic: establishing partnerships, mentoring new Wikiafripedians, etc. In this respect, the role of a WikiProject may overlap with the role of a Wikimedia chapter, thematic organization, or user group.

A WikiProject is fundamentally a social construct: its success depends on its ability to function as a cohesive group of editors working towards a common goal. Much of the work that participants do to sustain a successful WikiProject (quality assessment, peer review, coordination of volunteer editors, et al.) can be tedious, unrewarding, and unappreciated. To be effective, a WikiProject must foster an esprit de corps among its participants. When group cohesion is maintained—where, in other words, project participants are willing to share in the less exciting work—a WikiProject can muster the energy and direction to produce excellent articles systematically rather than incidentally.

Creating a WikiProject[edit source | edit]

WikiProjects exist in the project namespace and can technically be started by any auto-confirmed user. However, to avoid the proliferation of unused and underutilized WikiProjects, it is strongly recommended that those interested in starting a WikiProject read the guidance below and propose their project at the proposal page.

Before you begin[edit source | edit]

Interested in starting a WikiProject? First, check to see if the project (or related projects) already exists. You can browse existing projects at the manual directory and the automatically curated directory as well as the WikiProject list maintained by Bamyers99. Additionally, you can use the searchbox below to text search for existing pages in the project space:

If your project doesn't already exist, it's time to look for editors with similar interests. This is the most important step. You must find people who want to work together on the project with you. The first stop should be to look for projects with similar interests (if any exist). Use the directories above or check the talk pages of related articles for projects with interests that overlap with yours. Post at the talk pages for those similar projects asking if editors are interested in your starting a project focused on your topic. If you can't find other editors with similar interests, consider joining a current project instead. Single-editor projects tend to have short lives.

If your project idea fits within another existing project (e.g. you want to start Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Hockey Arenas when Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Hockey already exists), and you're concerned coordination on this topic would either overwhelm the existing project's talk page, or be overwhelmed by it, consider organizing as a task force under that existing project instead. This would drastically reduce the amount of setup and maintenance required to keep the project pages functioning.

If you're having trouble finding interested editors, consider that the scope of your proposed project may be too narrow. Wikiafripedia is a huge place with many draws on editors' attention; finding several long-term editors with a sustained interest in one topic may not be easy. Projects with overly narrow scopes tend to become inactive due to lack of editors, not enough associated encyclopedia pages for sustained effort, or competing with a broader-scoped more popular project that draws the time of interested editors. Broadening the proposed scope may help to bring in more pages and editors; although a scope too broad may fail to interest editors who wish to collaborate on only a subset of your topic.

Proposing a project[edit source | edit]

If the project doesn't yet exist, but you've found interested editors, it's time to propose your project idea! Go to the WikiProject proposals page and search that page and its archives to see if your project idea has been proposed before (if it has, be prepared to justify why you feel this time the project will succeed). Follow the instructions on that page to create a proposal. You'll need to list the pages and categories that are key to your proposed group, as well as current WikiProjects that relate to those pages. Then interested users will sign-up to support the project (feel free to advertise this at related projects or pages. Canvassing is not a concern here; however, filling the support roles with new accounts is unlikely to lead to a sustainable project). While there are no hard rules for what constitutes "sufficient" support, projects that are likely to succeed tend to start with at least 6 to 12 active Wikiafripedians. Once that threshold is reached, the proposal can be considered successful and the project created (see below). If there is insufficient support to start the project after a few months, the proposal will generally be archived for future reference.

Create the WikiProject[edit source | edit]

Creating a WikiProject is technically as easy as starting a page titled Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Your Favorite Topic. However, various tools have been developed to help WikiProjects keep track of pages of interest and to facilitate collaboration on improving the encyclopedia coverage of a topic area. Getting a new project set up utilizing these tools is a slightly complicated process; detailed instructions can be found at Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Council/Guide/WikiProject. Additionally, you may ask at Wikiafripedia talk:WikiProject Council where interested experienced editors may be willing to help.

Having identified the best scope for the project, the next thing for you and the other interested editors to consider is the best structure for the project. The typical structures are:

Topic coordination
This format is appropriate if you want to co-ordinate across about a dozen or so pages, or for temporary, one-time tasks. See the separate section below for details.
Task force
This format is appropriate if your scope involves a few dozen to a few hundred pages. A task force uses most of the administrative structure of their parent project, but works together as a smaller group. The fastest way to start a task force is to join the parent WikiProject(s), and ask if they can help you form a task force. Some WikiProjects have a more developed framework for dealing with sub-groups like task forces; others will be unfamiliar with them. However, most WikiProjects are happy to have someone who is keen to start a task force, even if the project doesn't currently have any task forces in place.
This format is best for topics with thousands, or at least several hundred, of pages in the proposed scope. You'll still want to investigate any related projects, because they may already have a task force covering the same topic.
Inter-WikiProject coordination
If the scope was too large, but you're still keen, you'll probably want, instead, to identify potential "child" WikiProjects, and try to help them co-ordinate; this doesn't require a WikiProject in itself. Talk to the potential child WikiProjects about co-ordination, and see what sort of response you get. Be careful not to try to dictate to them; they could be sensitive about your appearing out of nowhere and wanting to assimilate them. If this is the format you and the other participants choose, the rest of this document, while good background reading, is not essential (although it may help you all not to look like idiots).

WikiProjects[edit source | edit]

{{WikiProject}} is a boilerplate template to be used in creating a new WikiProject main page. For example, suppose the name of your new WikiProject is Foo. The first step is to create the page "Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Foo", and substitute this template in it by typing this text: {{subst:WikiProject|Foo}}. After saving, this code will be replaced by a skeleton for a WikiProject page which you have to adapt to the needs of your project. Some elements are in comments and will have to be uncommented, others that are unnecessary will have to be deleted or commented out. A few guidelines are also provided in the comments.

Task force[edit source | edit]

A task force is, essentially, a non-independent subgroup of a larger WikiProject that covers some defined part of the WikiProject's scope. For example, the United States military history task force of the Military history WikiProject deals with the military history of a specific country; and the Sega task force of the Video games WikiProject covers a single game developer.

Topic coordination[edit source | edit]

If you just want to do a little bit of topic coordination because you want to co-ordinate across just a few pages, you might find the ideas in the following sections useful. (This is especially helpful when a task force is involved.)

Talk page information[edit source | edit]

Naturally, when coordinating work on the talk pages of articles related to the project, you should follow the Talk page guidelines.

Having said that, it is often useful to alter the talk page to help focus on the improvements currently needed to that page (which may not be limited to your topic coordination, but may certainly include it). You may find the following links helpful in this:

Example: Topic coordination on a talk page[edit source | edit]

Here's one example of how to go about a topic coordination on a talk page. There are no doubt other ways; if you come across something else that works well for you, feel free to document it here. The example below uses Tulips.

  1. Post a note on the Talk:Tulip page (this being the primary page for the tulips articles), saying:
    1. Your goal: that you want to try to get at least a Start-class article on each of the different species of Tulip
    2. Your to-do list: list all the articles as intra-wiki links, and encourage people to put their name next to one that they're volunteering for, or have done. You will also want to see Wikiafripedia:To-do list
  2. Do a little networking: link from the other talk pages back to your section of the main one, using Template:Topic co-ordination link

Inter-WikiProject coordination[edit source | edit]

Article tagging[edit source | edit]

WikiProject banner tags or stub templates?[edit source | edit]

Templates for WikiProject assessment banners and stub articles often seem to serve the same purpose, yet they have distinct functions. While a banner template identifies articles falling within the scope of a WikiProject, the aim of stub templates is to uniformly mark small articles across the whole of Wikiafripedia. As such, there is a large effort to coordinate stub use across all WikiProjects and also those articles not covered by individual subject projects (this is the main reason why there is a semi-formal proposal process for stub templates and categories). Banner templates, on the other hand, can be altered as an individual WikiProject sees fit, and—since they can be used to tag all articles relating to a WikiProject, and not just stubs—they are the recommended tagging method for individual WikiProjects. See WAP:Stub § Stub types, WikiProjects, and assessment templates for more details.

Purpose of WikiProject banner tags[edit source | edit]

For articles within the scope of a WikiProject, a project banner may be placed at the top of the corresponding article's talk page. Although these banners may recruit new project members, project banners and the data they contain serve many other important functions as well:

  • Placing articles into categories that project participants use to find articles that they want to work on.
  • Enabling project-related recent changes (a sort of watchlist for the articles the group cares about).
  • Producing statistical reports about the quality of articles, which allow the group to monitor their progress.
  • Allowing the WAP:1.0 team's assessment process to measure the size/scope of projects and to rank articles for inclusion in offline releases of Wikiafripedia articles.
  • Enabling Article Alerts to produce an automatically updated list of WAP:Articles for deletion, WAP:Proposed deletions, and other time-sensitive news about tagged articles.
  • Enabling Cleanup listings to produce a comprehensive list of all clean-up tags in a project's articles.
  • Enabling Walls of Recognized Content to create lists of high-quality articles.
  • and several other automated processes.

WikiProjects do not own articles[edit source | edit]

For further information, see Wikiafripedia:Ownership of content

Many articles, portals and Wikiproject administration pages will be marked with the template for more than one WikiProject. This is particularly true of articles that deal with prominent people, as those articles may fall within the scope of WikiProjects for biography, places of residence, professional fields, and the subject's various activities. Placement of any relevant banner should generally be accepted, as each project may have unique resources and be willing to improve and monitor the article. One group may not prohibit another group from showing an interest in an article, and through collaboration articles will become better.

However, on occasion, someone clearly places the wrong banner on an article. When this happens, it is polite to ask either that individual or that project why the banner was placed. Doing so reduces the likelihood of inter-project animosity, and also could potentially help the article in some way. For example, a project's scope may have expanded to include the article; they might now be willing to work on the article. Also, when bots assign project banners they sometimes err. In all cases, civility, respect for others, and clear, unambiguous communications are essential to the overall project's success.

In 2007, some editors agreed to limit "WikiProject country" banners on articles about a city, especially if the city has changed hands several times over the course of history: if there is disagreement, then only the Wikiproject for the city's current country will template the article. For example, though the Germans occupied France during World War II, it would not be appropriate to put articles about French cities under WAP:WikiProject Germany. For more information, see the 2007 consensus discussion.

WikiProjects define their scopes[edit source | edit]

Many editors place banners on behalf of WikiProjects in which they are not participants. This practice is normally welcomed by WikiProjects as it brings to their attention new and interesting articles.

Please be judicious in making such placements by minimizing the number of outside banners that you place on an article and by carefully reviewing the scope of the project. Information about the project's scope is often available on the WikiProject's main page, and sometimes also on documentation associated with the template. If you are uncertain that the placement will be welcomed, then leave a note on the project's talk page instead of placing the banner yourself.

If you place a banner for a WikiProject in which you do not participate, and one of its regular participants removes it, do not re-add the banner. A WikiProject's participants define the scope of their project (the articles that they volunteer to track and support), which includes defining an article as being outside the scope of the project. Similarly, if a WikiProject says that an article is within their scope, then do not edit-war to remove the banner. No editor may prohibit a group of editors from showing their interest in an article, per Wikiafripedia:Requests for comment/Wikiproject tags on biographies of living people.

Overtagging is disruptive[edit source | edit]

All editors should avoid tagging an article with a disruptive number of WikiProject banners. Banners take up a significant amount of space on the talk page; this can be minimized by compressing all the banners in a "shell" template, as discussed in more detail at WAP:Talk page layout. {{WikiProject banner shell}} is generally preferred when there are about three to five project banners on the page.

WikiProject banners should not be used to duplicate the category system or portals. If an article is only tangentially related to the scope of another WikiProject, then please do not place that project's banner on the article. For example, washing toys for babies reduces transmission of some diseases, but the banners for WAP:WikiProject Health, WAP:WikiProject Biology, WAP:WikiProject Virus and/or WAP:WikiProject Medicine do not need to be spammed to Talk:Toy.

For projects involved in the WAP:1.0 assessment program, every banner placed is a demand for an assessment according to the project's guidelines. It is more friendly to omit outside WikiProjects that you think will rate the article as low importance relative to their specific field.

Inter-project collaboration[edit source | edit]

There may also arise situations in which it is beneficial for an article to be actively collaborated upon by multiple projects. A short article about a prominent scientist, for example, would probably benefit greatly from a project dealing with the scientist's discipline, his area of residence, biographies in general, and potentially even his time period. In instances like this, it may be a good idea to propose the article for the Wikiafripedia:Article Improvement Drive, and inform all of the relevant projects of the nomination. By so doing, it is more likely that the participants of the individual projects will interact beneficially, which could improve their mutual opinions of each other and likelihood of further interaction. Also, clearly, having high-quality content inserted from all relevant sides cannot be bad for the development of the article. Even if not nominated for the Improvement Drive, it is always beneficial to contact other projects, and inform them about your project's desire to expand the article. That way, other projects can provide copyediting for grammar and conventions, reference materials, or general advice about how to improve the article.

You could also approach relevant projects directly for pages of interest to discuss collaboration. You can use {{CotM}} on article talk pages to highlight a joint Collaboration of the Month.

Advice pages[edit source | edit]

For further information, see Wikiafripedia:Essays

Many large WikiProjects eventually collect some advice about how to apply Wikiafripedia's policies, guidelines, and essays to their specific subject area. This advice, sometimes in a separate advice page, sometimes in a section of the WikiProject's main page, is often excellent, and may helpfully consolidate and explain the specific details of many site-wide policies and guidelines, the application of which to a particular context might otherwise be a source of confusion among editors. A separate-page example is Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Cycling/Notability. A page-section example is Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Bibliographies#Recommended structure. Such advice material may interpret one or more important aspects of article writing, including content, notability, style, or article titling conventions.

Editors who are working on such an advice page or section are encouraged to carefully study the main policies, guidelines, and relevant well-accepted general Wikiafripedia essays. The good advice pages do not conflict with the site-wide pages, and avoid unnecessary duplication of material from them.

WikiProject advice can best help editors by providing: subject-specific considerations in applying site-wide standards; links to subject-specific templates; a list of information that editors should consider including in a given type of article; relevant examples; and clear explanations (e.g., reasons why editors recommend "this" instead of "that"). Well-written WikiProject advice material also takes into account the fact that most articles are within the scope of multiple WikiProjects, and seeks to avoid conflicting advice, which can lead to unproductive "territorial" disputes between projects, and between projects and editors with WikiProject-unrelated editing concerns.

However, in a few cases, projects have wrongly used these pages as a means of asserting ownership over articles within their scope, such as insisting that all articles that interest the project must contain a criticism section or must not contain an infobox, or that a specific type of article can't be linked in navigation templates, and that other editors of the article get no say in this because of a "consensus" within the project. An advice page written by several participants of a project is a "local consensus" that is no more binding on editors than material written by any single individual editor. Any advice page that has not been formally approved by the community through the WAP:PROPOSAL process has the actual status of an optional essay. Contents of WikiProject advice pages that contradict widespread consensus belong in the user namespace.

Some important site-wide topical guidelines, such as Wikiafripedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine), and Wikiafripedia:Notability (books), originally began as advice pages written by WikiProjects. However, after being adopted by the community, they are no longer WikiProject advice pages and have the same status as any other guideline. When this happens, the WikiProject's participants cede any notion of control over the page, and everyone in the community participates equally in further development of the guidelines. Such pages move out from under their original "Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Something/" path.

The following templates are available to WikiProjects for clarifying the distinction between WikiProject advice and Wikiafripedia-wide guidelines:

Role of the WikiProject Council[edit source | edit]

There may still arise situations when there is a seemingly intractable disagreement between projects. If that happens, you can ask for advice from the WikiProject Council. This group contains people who have generally shown some ability at working with and in groups. In severe cases, using formal dispute resolution channels are available.

Use bots to save work[edit source | edit]

Tool Supports task forces?
Article tagging tools: Several bots can automatically tag article talk pages with a WikiProject banner, as well as make some automatic assessments. See Category:WikiProject tagging bots for a list, as well as Category:Autoassessment bots. Yes
Finding new pages: AlexNewArtBot generates a report listing newly created articles that match criteria set by the project; this is particularly useful for catching new articles not categorised properly. Yes
Tracking recognized content: User:JL-Bot generates a subpage listing the Recognized Content (Featured Articles, Good Articles, In The News, etc.) of a WikiProject. See User:JL-Bot/Project content for details. Yes
Finding deletion and review discussions: AAlertBot generates daily reports of the deletion discussions (PROD, AfD, ...) and reviewing process (FAC, GAN, ...) related to the articles of a WikiProject. See WAP:AALERTS for details. Yes
Article statistics: WAP 1.0 bot generates tables summarizing article quality and importance statistics. It also produces daily logs of the change in article quality/importance ratings, as well as renamings, and banner tagging/untagging. Yes
Clean up listings: CleanupWorklistBot generates a list of all pages within your scope that contain maintenance tags. Yes

Dealing with inactive WikiProjects[edit source | edit]

For further information, see WAP:PRJDEL

Identifying[edit source | edit]

Inactive wikiprojects will have {{WikiProject status|inactive}} added, either directly or via the inactive parameter of {{Infobox WikiProject}}. There are several options in dealing with inactive wikiprojects. The usual procedure is to identify projects whose main page hasn't been substantively changed for several months, and whose talk page has received nothing other than routine or automated announcements, or unanswered queries from non-participants, for several months. Alternatively, you may wish to sort through the list of named participants, placing indefinitely blocked accounts and users who have made no edits to Wikiafripedia for long periods (e.g., over a year) under a separate heading (you may wish to notify the users that you have done so, in case they return). If no active participants remain in the list, then the project is inactive.

Although opinions differ, a WikiProject is likely to be considered inactive if any of the following conditions are met:

  • A completely empty list of participants.
  • A list of participants that has not grown beyond the initial 1 (or 2 or 3) founders in many months, unless clearly constructive work is being done despite the tiny membership (and in such a case, discussing a merger with a cognizable "parent" project may be recommended).
  • No changes to the WikiProject's pages (including any associated talk pages) for at least 3 months. Bot link/typo corrections and other similar minor activity are not counted as "changes".
  • There is no or very little evidence that the project is doing significant work in the area for which it was established, the point above notwithstanding. It is notable by way of analogy that the Wikiafripedia Administrators' noticeboard and Miscellany for deletion generally interpret a user's pattern of doing nothing but fiddling with their own user page for a long period of time as evidence that the user will not be a constructive editor, resulting in the user page being deleted. A WikiProject that does nothing but work on itself for months is evidence of a similar pattern of thumb-twiddling.

Revival[edit source | edit]

Any editor may revive an inactive WikiProject. There are a number of things you can do to help revive an inactive or semi-active project. If you come up with something new, please list it here!

  1. Update the project page as appropriate: update {{WikiProject status|inactive}} with |semi-active, or remove both. Archive old clutter (clean and simple is better for attracting new participants), use generic WikiProject templates appropriately to organise content (e.g., {{Infobox WikiProject}}) and make use of any helpful automation the project hasn't been using (see section above).
  2. Provide clear suggestions on what participants can do, using to-do lists, {{tasks}} and cleanup listings, and perhaps linking to relevant pages elsewhere. You can use the {{WikiProject help}} template, either directly or as inspiration.
  3. Create any missing userbox, project banner, or user invite templates. See whether the assessment system for the project banner works, and fix it if not.
  4. Notify existing participants of your efforts and invite them to contribute, to make suggestions, or to leave a note on the project's talk page about what they're currently editing.
  5. To try to gain new participants, individually invite active users who have been substantively involved with the topic to join the project or watchlist its page. This can be done with a personal, handcrafted message or a standardized invitation template.
  6. Use automation (see above) to ensure most if not all appropriate pages are tagged with the project banner, thus promoting the project to those who may be interested. (Don't go overboard with this... in general, don't tag a page not within the project's main category unless you could justify making it the project's Collaboration of the Month.)
  7. Provide a Special:RecentChangesLinked link on the project page, using the project's article category. (For project Wikiafripedia:WikiProject X, this will generally be Category:X articles, Category:WikiProject X articles, or X work group articles. Try it and see.) This gives an easy way to see recent relevant talk page discussions. Example.
  8. Seek out collaboration with related projects. Tell them that the project is active, invite them to help, and ask whether there is an article of mutual interest that both groups could collaborate on.
  9. Notify the Wikiafripedia Signpost WikiProject desk of your attempt.
  10. Respond promptly to queries and post occasional messages at the WikiProject's talk page to let people know what you're working on and how they can help.

If you have any questions about or related to technical issues, try the Help Desk.

Other options[edit source | edit]

If you (or someone else) has already done the above or it simply looks hopeless, consider one of these options:

  1. Merger. Consider proposing a merger with another WikiProject. This might be a related project of a similar type, with the two projects being reconstituted as part of a new one. More commonly it might be that the inactive project could become a taskforce of a parent project. See here for instructions on notification and merging projects.
  2. Mark as defunct. In some cases projects are simply superseded (e.g., merged elsewhere), have served their stated purpose, or have been inactive for so long that they are unlikely ever to be revived. These may be tagged as defunct rather than inactive; see the usage notes at Template:WikiProject status#Usage: Defunct projects. This tag should be used rather than {{historical}} which is reserved for failed proposals or deprecated processes.
  3. Userfy. When a project has only one active participant or was never so active as to justify keeping it for the whole community to refer to, consider userfication of the project to the organizer's userspace. This is particularly useful for recently created projects that never got off the ground as it can avoid being bitey.
  4. Deletion. In rare cases, deletion may be appropriate. This might be appropriate for completely inactive projects which have no substantive history and serve no residual purpose even with activity (e.g., due to automation or information presented). Projects must also meet the guidelines for being marked as defunct (see {{WikiProject status|defunct}}, the template's documentation is here). WAP:MFD is the appropriate forum to propose this. See Wikiafripedia:Project namespace#Deletion of project pages.

If you are considering taking any significant steps in this area which others might object to, take care to give appropriate notice to all parties of your proposals (including the WikiProject Council). Often it will be feasible to notify all listed participants who have been active on Wikiafripedia in the recent past (even if not recently active on the project). If proposing a merger, be sure to propose this at the merger target and do not take approval for granted.

Renaming a WikiProject[edit source | edit]

Renaming a WikiProject is not as simple as moving the WikiProject page itself. The steps involved would generally include:

  1. Ensure there is consensus for the rename.
  2. Rename the WikiProject page, moving all subpages with it (may require assistance from an administrator or page mover).
  3. Update the WikiProject template to point to the new WikiProject page, and to have it use a new category that matches the new name.
  4. Rename the relevant categories pages (also may require admin or page mover assistance).
  5. Ensure assessment data has been moved by querying for the new WikiProject at Special:PageAssessments. It may take a while for the data to be updated. If done correctly, no pages should be returned under the old name.
  6. If the WikiProject has a popular page report, update the configuration page accordingly (requires assistance from interface admins).

See also[edit source | edit]