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Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide

A WikiProject is a group of people who want to work as a team to improve Wikipedia. This guideline outlines the accepted practices for starting and maintaining WikiProjects, as well as some tips for how to organize WikiProjects effectively. For more detailed instructions on how to start a WikiProject, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide/WikiProject.

What is a WikiProject?

See also: FAQs about WikiProjects

A WikiProject is a group of editors interested in collaborating on a specific topic within Wikipedia. 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 Wikipedians interested in a topic, and the broader community interested in that topic: establishing partnerships, mentoring new Wikipedians, 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

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

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 Wikipedia:WikiProject Hockey Arenas when Wikipedia: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. Wikipedia 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

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 Wikipedians. 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

Creating a WikiProject is technically as easy as starting a page titled Wikipedia: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 Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide/WikiProject. Additionally, you may ask at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Council where interested experienced editors may be willing to help.

Task force

Based on discussion at a WikiProject proposal or at a given WikiProject, you may instead wish to start a task force under an existing WikiProject. A task force is a group of editors interested in a smaller part of a WikiProject's scope (e.g. United States military history task force is under the Military history WikiProject). Creating a task force gives those editors space to collaborate on the part of the WikiProject scope they are interested in, without drowning out broader discussion on the WikiProject's talk page. Additionally, task forces tend to have reduced administrative overhead, as they can use the tools and templates already developed for the parent WikiProject. Instructions for how to setup a new task force are at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide/Task forces.

General principles

Tagging pages with WikiProject banners

Many WikiProjects use talk page banners to mark certain pages as within the scope of the WikiProject. This helps the WikiProjects to organize their progress improving pages within the project's scope. Additionally, talk page banners may point interested editors towards relevant WikiProjects where they might become involved, or just ask a question about an article. Consequently, pages should only be marked with WikiProject banners for projects that intend to support the tagged pages. Pages of broad interest may fall within the scopes of several projects, and may therefore have several project banners on their talk page (these banners are often collapsed to be less visible with {{WikiProjectBannerShell}}). In general, one should not attempt to police which projects are sufficiently relevant to place their banners on a given talk page.[1] Conversely, projects that place their banners on a talk page have no special ownership over that page, and the consensus of project members can be overruled by a broader consensus at a more visible forum.

WikiProjects define their scopes

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. Be judicious in making such placements 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. All editors should avoid tagging an article with a disruptive number of WikiProject banners. If an article is only tangentially related to the scope of a 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 WP:WikiProject Health, WP:WikiProject Biology, WP:WikiProject Virus and/or WP:WikiProject Medicine do not need to be added to Talk:Toy. If you are uncertain that the placement will be welcomed, 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 without discussion. 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, do not edit-war to remove the banner.[2]

Advice pages

Many large WikiProjects collect advice about how to apply Wikipedia's policies and guidelines 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 cause confusion among editors. A separate-page example is Wikipedia:WikiProject Cycling/Notability. A page-section example is Wikipedia:WikiProject Bibliographies#Recommended structure.

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 Wikipedia 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 WP: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 Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine), and Wikipedia: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 "Wikipedia:WikiProject Something/" path.

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

Role of the WikiProject Council

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.

Tools for WikiProjects

The community has developed a broad array of tools to help WikiProjects manage the articles that they're interested in. Actively maintained tools are listed below, as well as instructions for how to utilize them:

Recruiting editors

General

Tracking progress

  • Tracking maintenance templates on project articles - CleanupWorklistBot produces a weekly report of all project articles tagged with various maintenance templates (example). Instructions for adding a project are here.
  • Tracking and displaying recognized content - JL-Bot can generate 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.

Dealing with inactive WikiProjects

Identifying

Many WikiProjects fall inactive after some time. While inactive projects do no harm to the encyclopedia, it may be beneficial to tag them as inactive, in order to divert interested editors to more active projects on similar topics. Projects are generally considered inactive if the talk page has received nothing other than routine/automated announcements or unanswered queries for a year or more. To verify that a project is inactive, consider posting on its talk page asking if anyone minds marking it as such. If there are no objections, you can add inactive to the {{WikiProject status}} template at the top of the WikiProject page. This will add the project to Category:Inactive WikiProjects and display a message at the top of the page notifying editors of the project's status.

Alternatively, a project that has gone inactive because it has served its stated purpose, had an unrealistic scope, or is otherwise unlikely to be ever revived can be marked as "defunct" per the instructions at Template:WikiProject status#Usage: Defunct projects. This will generate a more discouraging message, suggesting interested editors look for related projectcs. Sometimes small, inactive projects are simply merged into larger, more active projects. This could be good option if you wish for links to the smaller project to now point to the larger project. If there's still an active community at the smaller project, it could instead be merged as a task force of a larger project. Guidance on that can be found here. If an inactive project never seems to have grown beyond its founding, you may consider moving it to the founder's userspace or nominating it for deletion at MfD. In general, medium or larger projects are marked as defunct rather than deleted to preserve the project's history. For more, see Wikipedia:Project namespace#Deletion of project pages.

Revival

Any editor may revive an inactive WikiProject by changing the {{WikiProject status}} template parameter to active. The guidance for starting a new WikiProject applies here: WikiProjects are groups of editors; if you can't recruit other editors to the cause, the project will likely become inactive again. If you decide to revive a WikiProject, consider the following tips:

  1. Recruit other interested editors by posting on the talk page of similar WikiProjects, the community bulletin board, and the Signpost WikiProject desk. Also update the project's status in the directory.
  2. 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 tools the project hadn't been using (see section above).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Use automation (see WikiProject guide) 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 Wikipedia: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. 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.

Renaming a WikiProject

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 uses any of the tools referenced above, you may need to update the WikiProject listings used by those tools to ensure the tools will still work with the new WikiProject name.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ In 2007, editors agreed to limit "WikiProject country" banners on articles about a city if the city has changed countries over the course of history. If there is disagreement, then only the Wikiproject for the city's current country will template the article. For more information, see the 2007 discussion.
  2. ^ A large 2010 RfC concluded that removing WikiProject tags from talk pages (the RfC was specifically about BLP pages) without consulting the WikiProject is unhelpful.