Forum:Inducing Wiki Magic

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Forums: Index Community Proposal Inducing Wiki Magic

Recently, the idea of a system to encourage more active involvement in articles in need of attention was brought to light in this forum thread. I've had plans for something like this for a while now (~4 years) and felt the concept required a tad of explanation and possibly additional brainstorming to develop it further, if necessary. Subtank and Tuckerscreator suggested a banner or notice with pages linked via a specific category, which is a good idea, though what I've had in mind for a while is maybe a tad more ambitious and extensive.

In short, the goal is to come up with a more efficient way of bringing articles in need of repair to everyone's attention, and having them fixed through a collaborative process—essentially, channeling Wiki magic which doesn't quite work by itself with a userbase this modest. The concept should be relatively simple to implement and run, and potentially very useful if users pick up on it.

The concept

The core concept is a weekly list highlighting a batch of articles in need of improvement. All users may suggest and vote on potential articles for the queue on the talk page (not unlike our Featured Article system, though hopefully more trafficked), and articles are added to the list by a user or set of users charged with maintaining the project. The number of these "moderators" depends on general interest in the project, though I obviously volunteer myself. The suggestion doesn't have to come from the talk page, and the moderators may add articles on the list based on their own discretion, as long as the list stays coherent. The moderators also determine when a page has received sufficient improvement to have it removed from the list. While ideally, we would introduce a fresh batch of article every week, if there are still pages on the list by the end of a week they'll carry over to the next week and will not go away until they've been repaired.

Why have it be weekly and not just a list where the improved articles are consistently replaced by new ones? Because breaking it down into a weekly thing feels more rewarding. If users manage to clear the whole list in a given week, the sense of accomplishment is much greater than if the articles just kept coming endlessly which can be pretty overwhelming and easily lead to an air of futility.

To add on that, instead of removing the fixed articles from the list completely we could illustrate progress by dropping them in their own subsection or, better yet, have "check boxes" generated via two images - "unchecked" and "checked", corresponding to "not done" and "done". What constitutes as "done", then? A good standard by which to determine the quality of the article would be to ask yourself whether it needs any notice templates or not. If it's properly sourced, accurate, comprehensive and well formatted—in short, up to our general standards of quality—it can be considered fixed.


While users may nominate any article for the list, it would be useful to first consider the significance of the article in question. There doesn't need to be a strict guideline and basic judgment on part of the moderators should usually be enough. Still, as a general rule, it should be noted that canonically significant subjects with potentially higher page traffic should take precedence over lesser ones, e.g. supporting characters. People also tend to look up information from new subjects; right now, those are Mortal Dictata and Escalation and probably still Halo 4. So, if there are articles related to them in need of attention (and there are!) they should be pretty high up on the priority pyramid. Older material, wherever it needs improvement, shouldn't obviously be forgotten either, it's just that new content often tends to lay around unattended for alarmingly long periods of time before the recent information has been sufficiently covered, thus becoming "older" content itself.

Also, articles that require more drastic improvement should take priority over ones with less problems; a good rule would be that if an article can be fixed by a single user in a few minutes, it doesn't really belong on the list. On the other hand, if there's hundreds of words of writing to be done and tons of sources to be added, it's a pretty good candidate. Not everyone has time to make megaedits but the goal is to accomplish the same result through a cooperative effort. Another rule of thumb is to consider whether it's easier to just fix the article yourself or nominate it and hope others fix it, though it's true that not everyone always has access to the sources required for the job.

Categorization of issues

While the problems in articles (or the templates that indicate said problems) often speak for themselves, in order to direct editors to the specific matters in need of attention, the list would use a more or less flexible system to describe what needs to be done with a given page. On the most basic level, types of required editing can be divided into three categories (which often overlap):

  • Expansion: Your basic addition of content, from bringing biographies and histories up to speed to writing sections lacking in content or going more in-depth about a subject. May often require source material readily available. This type, in my opinion, tends to be our most pressing concern.
  • Cleanup: Grammar cleanup, rewriting, formatting - in general, emphasis on the improvement of existing content. Does not necessarily require sources at hand.
  • Fact cleanup: Citation of sources and the verification and potential correction of disputed facts. Obviously requires source material.

The categories are a basic tool to help editors identify the problems with the article and how suited the required style of editing is to their knowledge and present situation (particularly when it comes to access to sources). In addition to these basic categories, there should be a brief summary on the nature of the improvements needed for each page since, in some cases, those may not be immediately obvious (e.g. if more comprehensive information is needed from a given source).

Starting out

At the time we begin this project, I'd rather keep it as bare-bones as possible and run it for the first couple of weeks to see how it picks up. This helps us identify potential problems that may arise; for instance, if the initial one-week span is too short or the amount of work on the list is too overwhelming for that timescale, we'll make adjustments accordingly. In the beginning, I think ten articles per list should be a fairly realistic goal.

All we need is a catchy name. The ones I've thought up tend to come across as pretty dry, like "Collaborative Article Improvement Program" or "Weekly Article Improvement" and so on. Let's see if people have better ideas.

This mock-up should illustrate how a list (or a portion of one, depending on how long we want them to be) might look like, minus the flashy checkboxes and other trappings. We might also use a table for the list to make it look more organized.

  • Roland - Expansion: Information from the rest of Spartan Ops needs to be added.
  • Serin Osman - Expansion: content to be added from The Thursday War and Mortal Dictata.
  • Battle of Installation 05 - Formatting: Page cluttered by quotes and images, some of which unnecessary or incoherently placed. Writing should be tighter in places, more drawn-out parts (e.g. Battle of High Charity) should be summarized.
  • Battle of the Rubble - Cleanup/Fact cleanup: Content should be summarized and the writing should be brought up to encyclopedic standards. More sources need to be cited.
  • Daybreak - Expansion: Requires addition of gameplay info and strategies. (most post-Halo 3 MP map articles are awfully empty and would warrant inclusion on this list.)

To add on that, the articles on the list could also be rotated in a banner or small widget on the front page or recent changes with a link to the project page for the full list and further elaboration.

Future potential

While we should be off to a good start with the above, I have a few ideas we could gradually incorporate into the project in the long term.

  • The addition of rewards, possibly taking the form of "badges" awarded to users for participating in an improvement project? Or awarding distinguished editors, like the former HotM, but more specific and quantifiable?
  • Listing articles based roughly on a set of themes, instead of randomly. For example, each week we'd highlight a Character article, a Multiplayer article, a Gameplay related article, and so on. A lot of our Multiplayer and gameplay articles are pretty neglected right now and this project might help ameliorate that.


Woot! Bring it on.Sith-venator Wavingstrider (Commlink) 03:41, 24 February 2014 (EST)

This is an excellent idea to help improve our content. Perhaps to attract traffic to it, maybe create a module to be placed on the Main Page or the Community Portal, similar to the Featured Article module that randomizes the articles needing work? As for naming, how about Articles for Improvement?--Spartacus TalkContribs 15:02, 24 February 2014 (EST)

"Articles for Improvement" works great; I think we'll stick with that from now on. And yeah, the intent is to make this as visible as possible (to reasonable lengths of course), so links on the main page, community portal, and even recent changes (do people go anywhere else than recent changes?) would be welcome. --Jugus (Talk | Contribs) 00:32, 25 February 2014 (EST)

I can not wait to see this! I think this would be a fantastic addition. --Weeping Angel (talk) 23:36, 25 February 2014 (EST)

Agreed as well. This a great replacement for the barely helpful and dreaded "Need of Revision" template. Tuckerscreator(stalk) 15:38, 26 February 2014 (EST)

So I've made this. Currently the articles listed are randomized. It informs the reader on what aspect of the article requires improvement, as well as reminding them to follow the Manual of Style and Layout guide while doing so.--Spartacus TalkContribs 12:07, 28 February 2014 (EST)

Great! A question to the more code-savvy: would it be possible to have a notice template (cf. New Content, Cleanup) where you could type in the summary of what sort of improvement that page needs, and make it so that the summary would also automatically be placed into the applet linked above and even on the project page? Would be more handy if we didn't need to manually copy the summary in three different places and could just add or remove pages via a template. --Jugus (Talk | Contribs) 00:19, 3 March 2014 (EST)
It is possible. I'll see what I can do. :) — subtank 12:55, 6 March 2014 (EST)

I think I'm seeing a lot of changes now. Every time I make an edit, a little box pops up, telling me my edit was saved. I think I remember seeing this back when I used to help out on Halo Nation. Either that, or it's because I'm using a newer (?) version of Google Chrome, which I think is unlikely. I like it. Keep it coming! --Xamikaze330 [Transmission|Commencing] 13:06, 1 March 2014 (EST)Xamikaze330

Right, I'll place it in the Community Portal for now. Not a good place for it on the Main Page at the moment. As for the template, I don't see why not. @Xamikaze - Update to the interface, you'll see the same thing on Wikipedia if you ever happen to edit there.-Spartacus TalkContribs 13:43, 3 March 2014 (EST)
Looks like Porple updated the mediawiki recently. Yay for update! — subtank 12:55, 6 March 2014 (EST)

That's quite a good proposal there! I've updated our Projects page and added the project page. All that's needed is the content including a brief overview, mission and objectives, and guidelines.— subtank 12:55, 6 March 2014 (EST)

In doing so, I'm assuming that we'll retire the Cleanup and References cleanup? — subtank 12:57, 6 March 2014 (EST)
I wouldn't say we should get rid of the old templates - since this project is (in its present form) focused on a select batch of articles at a time, it still leaves plenty of other pages in need references and cleanup. Since said other pages total in the hundreds, the old notice templates are more manageable until—unless— the articles in question are picked to the project's "articles for improvement" queue. As for the actual project page, I've been working on it (mostly based on the above proposal), but I've kept it somewhat open so far in hopes of a more fluid and perhaps semi-automated info distribution system (as said in my above comment) and possibly other improvements people might point out. --Jugus (Talk | Contribs) 13:12, 6 March 2014 (EST)
Righty. I think such system is doable but I would need to experiment for a while. If this experiment doesn't go well, then we would need to put the automated task to a bot. — subtank 13:19, 6 March 2014 (EST)
So, I experimented with some scripting but I can't seem to get the exact results. Given my limited scripting knowledge, I guess we would have to resort to manual work. Sorry. :( — subtank 10:27, 7 March 2014 (EST)

It has begun. I decided to go biweekly (or one and a half weeks in the case of the current list) instead of weekly since I see it as a more realistic timescale for this sort of thing. To compensate, I increased the number of articles from five to eight, partially also to allow the inclusion of all members of Kilo-Five which I see as requiring special attention, being pseudo-main characters of a recent work. But as I said in the primer, we'll see how this starts out and then potentially experiment with the schedule and article numbers in the following weeks. I also omitted the categorization thing as I felt it didn't really add anything to the whole. --Jugus (Talk | Contribs) 11:23, 23 April 2014 (EDT)