Interviewee 2 from en-Wikipedia, USA

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Interview December 2009

Tell me your Wiki-autobiography: When did you get involved in Wikipedia and what were your personal reasons for starting to participate in Wikipedia?[edit]

Please tell me what for you are the most important or compelling aspects of Wikipedia and its mission.

His first involvement as an editor centered on his effort to stop a deletion. He stumbled across an article which someone believed better belonged at a higher level of subject matter. He assumed he had to be a registered user to be in the deletion debate, so he joined (and was subsequently accused of being a sock puppet). He had already started editing, and surfing Wikipedia.

He describes his AHA! moment that prompted him to join: it was the realization that he could change something he knew a little about, and it stuck. He had already been involved in web posting, and he liked Wikipedia for being a central repository of eclectic knowledge, as well as its capability to display the history of the articles and all the changes. Plus there was an experienced, well-thought-of editor who was kind to him early on, leaving good notes on his talk page, and mentoring him on his first big article. Consequently, he has tried to repeat that encouragement for new Wikipedians. He keeps a watch list with 2,000 entries, and when he sees a red link, he always goes to the user page and welcomes the newbie.

Another motivating factor for him in the early years of joining Wikipedia was the opportunity to contribute new articles that had not been conceived before. He found the recognition in the community and personal satisfaction he derived from it somewhat addicting.

He’s known for helping to improve articles through his facility with map making. There’s a social aspect of contributing to his interests like geography articles, and running into the same sort of editors. It creates a sub community – folks who aggregate around his own interests and who work in collaboration.

Do you contribute both in [native language] as well as English?[edit]

Any other languages? What are your activities in each language? Which is the most frequent after [native language], and so on?

He has a German account, but has offered very few edits in German. He did some translations to English. He also responds to requests from Germans to check on their English contributions or to translate their German articles to English.

How much time do you now typically spend contributing to Wikipedia each week. In what capacities?[edit]

He spends about 20 hours or more a week. He does less administrating compared to the peer reviews he takes part in. He works with two other editors to make sure all peer reviews in the backlog page get looked at. Most comments are twofold: some articles are just about good to go (nitpicky suggestions), then there are others that need substantive guidance. He also spends time taking pictures for the Commons, which he likes doing.

Have you ever recruited someone else to become a Wikipedian? If so, what typically convinces them to register and begin editing and writing?[edit]

He had a good friend whom he recruited from Germany who was a post doc, and who likes parks and photography. But he doesn’t think he became a contributor.

He thinks the community plays a key role, as well as demonstrating a welcoming attitude to new editors. But he sees a danger in losing new recruits when they add or edit in a factually correct manner, but are unclear on NPOV, which causes a deletion. So he thinks explaining and emphasizing NPOV and Verifiability is crucial.

When you talk to people in your country about becoming a Wikipedian, are there consistent reasons they resist converting from a reader to a contributor?[edit]

Please elaborate. How do you personally address those reasons?
No overarching reasons.

What anecdotal stories can you tell me about the experience new Wikipedians have in your [native language] Wikipedia community? Are there typical impressions, common feedback of any kind, positive or negative?[edit]

He underscores the need to emphasize and clarify the Wiki way of article writing and editing – following the rules. Again, he’s seen the phenomenon of new editors leaving after being put off from a deletion or a revert because they don’t understand the policies and guidelines.

One other major guideline that may differ in your community compared to the English-language Wikipedia community is Notability[edit]

Notability seems to be much more controversial and therefore more open to debate than Verifiability, No Original Research, and Neutral Point of View. I understand, for instance, that the bar is much higher in Germany for what is a notable subject than is the case in the United States. Please comment for your community.

He points out two ways to deal with a lack of notability. There can be a: speedy deletion, or a submission to the articles for deletion notice board.

In the States, he says that the standard for Notability has a default: congressmen, professional or Olympic athletes always qualify. If a topic has appeared in the news and coverage, it’s notable.

Regarding Verifiability, he also mentioned that German Wikipedia feature articles don’t have as many in line citations as the English Wikipedia. Germans just list sources at the end, only citing direct quotes, but not facts.

Consensus and conflict management (how to reach consensus / conflict management)[edit]

He states that he’s been lucky to work on obscure matters, which has avoided a lot of big heated discussions. He suggests that new editors can help themselves avoid conflict by working in a variety of articles instead of one subject. So they don’t go sour. It also happens, he says, that some people are so passionate about something that it affects their NPOV opinion. Or they don’t get the culture.