Recently I’ve been doing some freelance writing for various people via the online service UpWork. For the most part these have been product reviews of some kind, with odd jobs in between. Recently I had the opportunity to create a Wikipedia article for a musician.
In the past I have on occasion made corrections to Wikipedia pages, but never created a new one before, so it’s been interesting to see the whole process and learn all the checks and balances that Wikipedia tries to employ.
Wikipedia is constantly barraged with new articles, some worthy, some not so much. An army of well-respected Wikipedia users man the front, patrolling new articles, marking them for deletion, offering improvement advice, and in some small cases, approving the articles. The problem is, everyone thinks they deserve a Wikipedia page, but that often isn’t true.
Wikipedia has a number of guidelines for what it terms, notability. Especially when it comes to living persons, notoriety helps determine whether someone is deserving of a Wikipedia page. It’s also frowned upon to create your own Wikipedia page, or to even create one for someone else, with the expectation that you place such information into comments when creating a new page (see conflict of interest).
Regardless of all this, I set about learning all this information and creating a new page for this person. Wikipedia has created a Draft space for articles. It means you can create a page, work on it for as long as you want, and then submit it for approval through the articles for creation process. During this time, the site is live, but is not part of the normal Wikipedia Article space. So other’s can see and edit the page, but it isn’t listed within Wikipedia. The goal of the Draft article is to help people build a proper Wikipedia page, before it’s made live.
So this is what I did. Over several days I successively built up a Wikipedia entry for the artist, and when I was happy with the content and references, I submitted it for review as a draft. Here a draft can either be approved (which will make it live), or rejected. In my case the page was reviewed, and a user suggested that I require further references.
So I went and found further references, updated the comments and waited. But now the article falls into a major backlog that both Drafts submitted for approval and live Articles fall into. There are too many pages for the moderators to get through them all. Usually articles which are made live, or which request approval go to the top of a list, get reviewed and life goes on. But now my article was stuck in the backlog, never to be reviewed again.
So I took the power granted to every user, and made the page Live myself. Usually when an Article is made live, it will go to the top of a new list of new pages. But because my article had been created two weeks earlier, it fell into the backlog of another round of moderation, called the new pages patrol. This isn’t a major problem. An article doesn’t have to be patrolled to go live. So the article was live, you could link to it within Wikipedia, and it came up in Wikipedia searches. However if a page is not patrolled, it cannot be archived by Google, or other search engines.
This was a problem. At first I couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong, and eventually came across an article which showed that an article had to be patrolled before indexing is allowed. Fortunately the people who made these rules recognize some of the shortcomings of Wikipedia, and if an article isn’t approved after 30 days, it can start to be indexed.
30 days later, the page still hasn’t been patrolled, but it now shows up when you search for the artist on Google. It’s been a fun project, and makes me appreciate the tens of thousands of people involved in the Wikipedia project, I Just don’t understand where they find the time.
PS: It’s still possible that the page I created will be patrolled at some stage. Hopefully by then the page would have grown a bit and the artist would have built up a bit more notability (he was in a grey area when it comes to this).