Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A discussion with Wikipedia editor Aridd

When Laura was commissioned in May 2011, to do a Wikimedia Foundation project wide survey of articles and media relating to Australia and the Paralympics, we discovered Wikipedia editors who had started several articles of interest to us.

One of those editors is Aridd, a prolific veteran contributor to not just the English Wikipedia. Arrid has started no less than 953 new articles or sections to articles, and 6 of them Australia related paralympic articles.

I contacted Aridd on his Wikipedia talk page, to see what I could find out about him, what his motivations are, and what we at HOPAU could do to support and encourage work like his.

Here's what Aridd had to say:

Hello. Thank you for your message; I'm always pleased to see people involved in better coverage in the Paralympics. A great deal still needs to be done on Wikipedia in that regard... It was particularly unfortunate that there was no article on Australia at the Sydney Paralympics, and the very brief article I started... still needs completing.

As you may have seen, I don't actually focus on Australia; I've been trying to add to Wikipedia's Paralympic coverage across all nationalities. My biggest "achievement" is perhaps to have started most of the articles on "[Nation] at the Paralympics", though it wasn't me who started Australia's...

To answer your questions (and of course I have no objection to you posting any of this on your blog): I'm from France, and have always lived there except for one brief year in Sydney eight years ago, during which time I was studying for my Master's (and also taught a bit of French for beginners as a tutor at Sydney Uni), though I also have British citizenship via my mother, thanks to which I'm bilingual (and able to contribute on both the French and English Wikipedias). 

I've written (or at least started) a great number of Paralympic-related articles on the English Wikipedia, almost all of which are either an overview of a nation's participation in the Paralympic Games overall, or of a nation's participation in a specific edition of the Paralympics, or an article about a particular athlete. To give you just a few examples, these are Paralympic-related articles that I wrote and which appeared on Wikipedia's front page in the Did you know? section: Trischa Zorn (most successful Paralympian ever in terms of medals won); Pál Szekeres (Olympic medal-winner who went on to win medals at the Paralympics after an accident and disability); Tofiri Kibuuka (first African at the Winter Paralympics); Lango Sinkamba (Zambian Paralympian and president of his country's NPC); Said GomezRhodesia at the 1960 Summer ParalympicsEdward MaaloufMarathon at the Paralympics; and Ukraine at the Paralympics

My plans for the future are rather vague, and subject to change; at present, I'm thinking of creating a few more of the many, many articles that still need to be written on nations' participation in specific editions of the Paralympics. I also hope to do more on specific Paralympians; there's still a great number of Paralympic medal winners, including many gold medal winners, about whom Wikipedia has no article. 

One day... I'll start doing the same for the French Wikipedia, which has virtually nothing on the Paralympics. So far, I've started a few articles there providing brief overviews of particular editions of the Games, as even that had not been done (for example, Jeux paralympiques d'été de 1984).) 

As for why I do it... I'm honestly not too sure. I enjoy contributing to Wikipedia, and there are topics I'm interested in which Wikipedia still provides comparatively little coverage of. Such as the politics of Pacific Island countries (especially in the French Wikipedia), or indeed the Paralympic Games. Call it, perhaps, trying to do my little part in balancing Wikipedia's content, and helping ensure that it's truly encyclopedic... 

I'm irritated at the fact that the Paralympics receive less media and public interest than the Olympics, despite the fact that they're a top-quality sporting event with some extremely impressive athletes. My wish is that Wikipedia should ultimately offer as much coverage of the Paralympics as of the Olympics (just as it should, ideally, cover the politics of, say, Vanuatu, as much as those of the UK).

Regarding what you could do to help... Well, maybe spread the word that there's heaps of work to be done in Wikipedia's Paralympic coverage! A good source to start with is the IPC website. It gives a fairly comprehensive database of results, which can be considered complete from the late 1980s onwards. Results for Australia, for instance, can be found here. That rough list can be refined and narrowed down by altering the research parameters. You can see here that Wikipedia has no coverage of Australia's participation in ten editions of the Paralympic Games, such as the Barcelona Summer Games of 1992. To find out how Australian fared in 1992, anyone can see the results here on the IPC website, and use them as a starting point to begin a Wikipedia article. Or, existing articles can be completed by adding results; the article Australia at the 1976 Summer Paralympics does not include results, which can be found here. The IPC database can also be used to search for results by athlete, and to start articles on Australia's (or any other country's) most successful or most notable Paralympians. (A list of all of Australia's gold medals can be found here.) Anyone who'd like to help can drop by the Paralympics taskforce.

Thank you for your interest, in any case! Aridd (talk) 11:36, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Well no!! Thank You Aridd, some wise words of advice, and very helpful links for us,. We really appreciate Aridd's perspective and contribution to not just Australia related articles to do with the Paralympics, but the Paralympics as a whole, and the symbolic relationship that has with issues of popular focus on one thing and not another. In saying that however, we hope our growing contribution of media to the Wikimedia Commons will compel people like Aridd to focus on Australian coverage for a while ;) because like he said, there's a hell of a lot of work to do. We'll have a think on what we can do to compliment the over all coverage of the paralympics and its athletes worldwide too.

Thanks again Aridd, keep up the great work!