Wikipedia:History of Wikipedian processes and people

The history of Wikipedia is more than the story of the development of its external face. There is also the story of the development of its processes and the people who contributed to that development. This is the part of the history that is likely to be of interest only to editors. This is still an incomplete history, and missing topics are continually added.


Wikipedia:Featured articlesEdit

  • Originally created in 2001, and moved from Wikipedia:Brilliant prose to the current title in March 2004.
  • Originally, anybody could add an article to the list; there was no review process at all.
  • Raul654 was ratified as the Featured Article Director in a poll ending 12 August 2004. Sixteen users voted to ratify Raul654 into the position he was already occupying, four voted for a community wide open election and four voted to have an election only if Raul654 didn't want the job.

Wikipedia:Featured article candidates was created as "Wikipedia:Brilliant prose candidates" by Eloquence on 24 June 2003 as a place to vote for or against proposed new featured articles. Updated every few days; articles now stay for 5 days or more (previously a week) and now use transcluded subpages

Wikipedia:Peer review was created by Wapcaplet on 17 July 2003 as a central place to list articles for comments from the community. It now uses transcluded subpages.

In June 2003, Wikipedia:Refreshing brilliant prose was created as the first article removal system for the "brilliant prose" page. On 25 March 2004, Wikipedia:Featured article removal candidates was split from the main FAC page by Timwi. On 12 June 2006, Raul654 merged it with Wikipedia:Featured article review, which was created by TUF-KAT on 8 November 2005.


Questions to answer: How did the term evolve, how it came to be split in topic stubs, when was the first substub discovered... Also, founding of WP:SFD.

According to Manning,

the term "stub" in the Wikipedia context was created by Larry Sanger, and existed since day one of the 'pedia.

Manning states that he began to collect a personal list of stubs in September 2001 and subsequently moved them to Wikipedia utilities:Find and fix a stub, later moved to Wikipedia:Find or fix a stub. The oldest surviving version of that page is from 21 November 2001. Wikipedia:Stub was created in October 2002 as a redirect to that page. In November 2002, Tarquin added a stub notice to the Wikipedia:Boilerplate text. It was eventually realized that editors were not consistently updating the "Find or fix a stub" page and in August 2003, Angela proposed that it be discontinued. Rather than making everyone update that page, she proposed that it be replaced by a list of links linked to Wikipedia:Find or fix a stub. This received support from MyRedDice, who noted that a similar system had already been implemented at Wikipedia:NPOV dispute.

Here is an example of a stub tagging in November 2003 by Mattworld. On 6 December 2003, Mattworld created a personal sandbox with the text:

This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by fixing it.

Three days later, Mattworld used this text to create msg:Stub (since moved to Template:Stub). The earliest discussion shows that it was widely adopted. However, it appears that it was at first substituted, not transcluded. (It is unclear when transcluding became the norm.) In March 2004, Ausir stated that he had created Template:Tolkienstub (since moved to Template:Tolkien-stub), what appears to be first stub for a sub-topic, and suggested creating more such sub-topic stubs, though this was not done in any systematic way.

On 17 June 2004, Ssd created Category:Stub. He took the lead, with help from Caliper, in lobbying to add the category to the template. There were technical difficulties - the database timing out before completing adding the category to all 15,000 stubs in existence at this time. It was not until after the technical difficulties were overcome that Sverdrup noted that it should probably be at Category:Stubs. (A category transition was finally made in December 2005.) In July 2004, Krik noting the creation of {{poke-stub}} and suggesting that other stub sub-types be created, following the categories already on the articles. His two suggestions were "{{lang-stub}} for stubs on languages or {{auto-stub}} for automobiles". This was basically a restatement of Ausir's earlier post, but seems to have been misinterpreted to be a proposal to create stub sub-categories. This de facto proposal was met with approval and its implementation largely brought stubs to their current form and structure.

On 20 July 2004, Mike Storm created {{Substub}} to tag those articles that were so short that they could not reasonably be called stubs. Critics immediately noted several arguments why the template and category were unnecessary. Despite being deprecated, use of the template continued. The Stub sorting WikiProject (see below) eventually moved all substubs to a stub tag and on 10 May 2005 a deletion discussion was started, resulting in the deletion of the template.

The proliferation of stubs prompted AllyUnion to start WikiProject Stub sorting on 15 November 2004, stating, "This WikiProject aims primarily to sort stubs and stub categories in the Wikipedia." In May 2005, WSS participant Sn0wflake turned Wikipedia:Stub from a redirect into a page using project content. Also in May 2005, the "stub types for deletion" process was started by Grm wnr.


Wikipedia:Collaboration of the weekEdit

Collaboration of the week (COTW) was created as Article of the week (AOTW) on 29 April 2004 following a proposal by Tom- on 26 April 2004. The first COTW (then AOTW) was Situs inversus, which was selected on 6 May 2004 having received 12 votes over 8 days.

The idea was to provide a central location to identify, select and improve non-existent (red link) or very short (stub) articles, mobilising the resources of the whole Wikipedia community to cooperate on a single selected article and create as close as possible to a featured-standard article within one week. Following a vote, the name of this process and the winning pages changed to "Collaboration of the week" after Diplomacy was selected as the last AOTW on 22 August 2004.

COTW has always used approval voting, that it only votes in favour of a nominee with votes against not being allowed. As of 21 April 2005, only one vote has been tied, when Renaissance was tied with Baghdad with 21 votes each. After an extension of 24 hours, Renaissance gained 5 more votes and was selected, although Baghdad was selected the following week. Following a close vote, the present procedure was adopted of extending voting by 24 hours, and then selecting the article by seniority (that is, the article that was nominated first).

Since June 2004, COTW nominees have been pruned (that is, removed and archived in Wikipedia:Collaboration of the week/Removed) if they fail to generate sufficient interest and votes. The pruning threshold is set at 5 votes per week, increased from the original 4 votes per week in late 2004 because there was consensus that nominees were taking too long to be selected as COTW, disspiating the goodwill of nominators and voters. Previously, nominees were pruned on an ad hoc basis.

Years before COTW was created, the very first organized collaboration to improve an article was started when a short "article-a-day" e-mail on the Milgram experiment sent on 30 August 2001, when only 145 people had user pages. Thus this article was the very first precursor to the Collaboration of the week (see Wikipedia:Announcements August 2001) .

Although COTW has proven to be an effective way to generate interest (with typically tens of votes for the selected articles, and tens or hundreds of edits to the selected articles) and expand articles (with most expanding by hundreds or thousands of percent), it has been rather less successful than hoped in producing featured articles: as of 21 April 2005, 49 articles have been COTW but only five been become featured (Academia, Siege, Space Race, League of Nations and Military history of the Soviet Union) .

Past proposals to improve COTW include having two COTWs, having subsidiary COTWs for special interest areas (many of which were created in fits of enthusiasm in late 2004, but few of which have retained enough interest to remain active), listing the COTW on the main page.

On 14 August 2006, COTW was merged with the Wikipedia:Article Improvement Drive to form the Wikipedia:Article Creation and Improvement Drive, which became the Wikipedia:Article Collaboration and Improvement Drive in May 2007, which has been semi-active at best since early-mid 2009. The last COTW article appears to have been Lee Smith (baseball).

Countering Systemic BiasEdit

Created by Xed on 22 September 2004 to identify and correct systemic bias in Wikipedia, manifested by the poor state of articles on important topics, such as countries and cultures in the Third World, and based largely on the theory that this neglect was a product of the demographics of the participants.

In September 2004, the foundations of CSB were laid at User:Xed/CROSSBOW (now located at Wikipedia:CROSSBOW), an acronym for Committee Regarding Overcoming Serious Systemic Bias Of Wikipedia. The page was the immediate result of a discussion on the Village Pump. Much initial work was done by User:Xed, User:Jmabel, User:Filiocht, and User:Solitude. A draft manifesto was produced by Jmabel at Sept 23, 2004. After a poll it was decided to remould the initiative into a Wikiproject and to name the project Countering Systemic Bias.

Although CSB has been focused mainly on highlighting areas and topics that lack sufficient coverage, early on there was much discussion of the possibility of this project being involved more in recruiting participants from currently underrepresented demographics.


Wikipedia:Article improvement driveEdit

Article improvement drive (AID) was created in early 2005 as a counterpart to COTW. COTW limits itself to non-existent or stub articles, and many articles, while wholly deficient in themselves, were rejected as COTW nominees for not meeting the relatively strict criteria. Non-stub articles in need of collaborative improvement

[process - TBC]

Wikipedia:Translation into EnglishEdit

Although translation of materials across Wikipedias has happened from early on, some discussions led to the February 11 2004 creation of the current Wikipedia:Translation into English (WP:TIE) page, which was created and continues to be informally managed by User:Jmabel; the related Wikipedia:Translators available was spun out in September 2004 by HappyDog. The page allows a systematic way for Wikipedians to request, coordinate, and announce translations of articles (or portions of articles) from other Wikipedias to the English Wikipedia.

At about the same time as WP:TIE was created, we also reworked Wikipedia:Pages needing translation into English, a place to coordinate work on material in foreign languages that is added to the English-language Wikipedia. This material is usually added anonymously; it can come in the form of new articles or additions to existing articles; and it contains a disproportionate number of copyright violations.


Articles for deletion (AFD), originally started as Wikipedia:Wikipedia utilities/Page titles to be deleted, went through many changes before reaching its present form of 3-level-templates.

The GRider case.


WP:CSD evolution



creation of MFD

current process is outlined at Wikipedia:Deletion process


An anon on 2 April 2002 notes on the historical page Wikipedia talk:Blocked IPs that Brion VIBBER, Lee Daniel Crocker, Tim Shell, Larry Sanger, Koyaanis Qatsi appear to be the de facto editorial/censor board. In the following exchange the anon noted Presumably some political process for deciding this must evolve... "electing sherrifs" or whatever...

Info from User:NoSeptember/crat stats#Adminship promotion history:

  • In the early days (2001 through early 2003) Jimbo approved sysop promotions. Requests were either emailed to Jimbo or done on the mailing list, a fairly ad hoc process during this period. (the actual flagging was done by a developer, this could be Jimbo, Eloquence, Ed Poor or others)
  • From March 2003 through mid-June 2003 promotions became more numerous and routine and were done through the mailing list (a request and few thumbs up were sufficient to get promoted by a developer). Ed Poor and Eloquence did most of these. Only the contentious cases with an objection to promotion required a final OK by Jimbo.
  • In mid-June 2003 the process was moved from the mailing list to WP:RFA and Eloquence and Ed Poor continued to do the flagging for a few months. Then the job of flagging new sysops was assumed by Tim Starling almost exclusively until the advent of the bureaucrat system.
  • In mid-February 2004, the new bureaucrats system went live and from that point until now it has continued. As can be seen in the chart above, Angela was the most active in the early days of bureaucrats, and then Cecropia became the most active until he resigned in 2006. Throughout the period many bureaucrats have participated in the promotion process, some more actively than others.

The records of early promotions from the mailing list can be harder to find. Links to the mailing list emails about promotions through mid-June 2003 can be found at NoSeptember/RfA chronological.

Bad image listEdit


See Wikipedia:Notability/Historical


Notable contributorsEdit

This section identifies editors who are prominent for something other than number of edits.

Other storiesEdit

  • The user whose only contribution to Wikipedia was to use his/her webpage to exchange flirtation with other Wikipedians.
  • The user who posted sexually-explicit pictures of (supposedly) herself sparking a lengthy debate.
  • An editor left a note that she was going to commit suicide, which prompted a flurry of concern on EN-wikipedia back in 2003. [4] [5]
  • In what some saw as a sign that Wikipedia had grown to a state where few could keep track of all of the goings-on, Michael Snow created The Signpost, a community newspaper, in January 2005. Pages that were previously used for this purpose included Wikipedia:Goings-on, Wikipedia:Announcements, and the village pump. The Wikipedia mailing lists were, and still are, used to make important announcements about Wikipedia.

See alsoEdit

Yearly timelinesEdit