Interview at Wikipedia

One year ago, in December 2013, the author of this history blog was interviewed at Wikipedia: WikiProject Military History. The WikiProject was composed of Wikipedia editors working on topics in Military History. It is not by chance that Filipino Military History was among the many areas that was of much neglect at the time, and the author was the only Filipino editor interviewed for the field of Filipino Military History (the other was American). This article shall feature the interview that took place a year ago. It is hoped that this would be of use to any reader.

A sample of my franchise:

The battles of the Philippine-American War in Wikipedia in 2012
This was before the author began his work in expanding its range

The battles of the Philippine-American War in Wikipedia in 2013
This was after the author finished his work in expanding its range
Battles added: Caloocan, Second Caloocan, Calumpit, Malolos, Marilao River, Olongapo, Santo Tomas
Battles improved: Manila, Tirad Pass

Q: Thank you for agreeing to answer some of our questions. Please tell us a little about your preferred subject(s) on Wikipedia...
A: I am a disciple of the History Department of the University of the Philippines and it is automatically a preference to work on Filipino-related topics in Wikipedia. I have found a nice leeway to work under the fold of this WikiProject, so there.

Q: How did you come to choose the area(s) you specialize in, or what drew you to the types of subjects you write about?
A: Only few Filipino editors are actually active in the areas I specialize in. I saw that many articles are in bad shape, or worse, non-existent. I know though that my contributions to my selected fields are not that significant as well, but I try.

Q: Generally speaking, what should be covered in an article on your preferred subject(s)? How do you structure your articles?
A: In this WikiProject, I usually deal with biographies and events. I believe that these articles should cover as much as it can about the person or event involved. Definitely, when you search Google or any search engine about biographies or events, Wikipedia comes out on top. I usually structure my articles chronologically, then put some issues or controversies, as well as commemorations if any, thereafter.

Q: What kinds of sources do you recommend using?
A: In my field, primary sources, though preferred, are rather scarce or hard to access. There are these long processes in libraries and museums to endure. Secondary sources, though more accessible, must also be filtered. From these sources, I usually get the data but not the analysis, because in some topics, analyses vary.

Q: Have you found it easy to obtain online sources? What about free images?
A: Online sources and free images, not really. I usually get images I upload from periods wherein it cannot be reached anymore by intellectual property rights, say, 100 years back.

Q: Biases exist in many forms -- how have you dealt with any biases in sources?
A: As I said a while ago, these biases usually exist among secondary sources. So, I usually dwell with the data. In times when bias cannot be excluded, I tend to include both sides of the coin in the article instead. And then, the readers go on and decide who to lean on. There will always be bias anyway. The best we can do is to minimize it.

Q: How do you deal with with language barriers in both the subject and the sources about it (e.g. a non-English source)?
A: I am adept enough when it comes to Filipino sources, usually Tagalog. When it comes to other languages, say Spanish, I still have to consult my translation dictionaries, or better, I'd go see if there are existing translations online. Better yet, I consult an expert in the language.

Q: What are the most common issues you strike when submitting your articles to formal review?
A: When I rush articles, I sometimes overlook my grammar and structuring. I also tend not to specify the pages in the book or journal the statements included can be found.

Q: Do you think that the Military history wikiproject's focus is too heavily weighted towards particular topics?
A: Not really. I believe we just lack editors to specialize on some fields.

Q: What suggestions would you make to editors considering working in a lesser-known field of military history?
A: References are important, it backs up the statements and data you put. Do not put your own analysis or view on the topic. Also consider structuring the article to be reader-friendly. Try also searching for images on the topic.

Q: Are there any other points you'd like to raise that we haven't covered in this interview, or parting advice that you'd like to offer?
A: Perhaps, more awards for new and young editors to encourage them to work better and heed advice from seniors. I'm sometimes lambasted by my parents why I put so much effort on a thing like this whereas I don't even earn any from here. When I show them some of the awards I gained from here, they ease their words on me. Thus, in my case, it worked so far.

Indeed, I was presented this WikiProject barnstar in December 2012 for extensive contributions in the project. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Interview at Wikipedia Interview at Wikipedia Reviewed by Al Raposas on Monday, December 08, 2014 Rating: 5

No comments