NEH Reference materials grant application/Work Plan


The Wikimedia Foundation is already a fully functional organization that has proven its greatest strength to be the volunteers who work around the clock to build up the various projects. Our plan is to continue working in this same manner, while directing the efforts of contributors to those areas that the Foundation deems weak. This will be achieved by appointing a team of experts on various topics, who will not only assess the quality of the information, but point to the significant lacunae and help to identify people who can fill in the gaps.

Two projects, one proposed and the other already in existence, already provide the essential framework for this effort. The validation proposal recommends that we draw experts from our team of volunteer contributors, who will be asked to assess the quality of articles on various topics. They would also appoint people to survey the content for egregious (and not so egregious errors), and fix them. Once an article has been fixed, whether by the community or individually appointed editors, it would be rechecked and, if found to be comprehensive, factual, and well written, it would be marked as validated. Contributors would continue to be able to edit the article, however, their edits would have to be examined before they are incorporated into the validated version.

The structure for this would be based on the Wikiprojects model, by which groups of contributors with similar interests cooperate to establish a format and create/edit articles in that particular field. This ensures that related articles follow similar formats with identical (or similar) headings, taxonomy boxes, structure, and style. This is important to ensure that users will find similar groupings of information, while for the contributors it will ensure that quality is maintained throughout, even as the articles are being created and developed.

Throughout the course of this grant, we hope to implement this structure for approximately 500,000 articles on Wikipedia and to develop a similar structure for Wiktionary. The process, as a whole is intended to aid and direct, rather than hinder the phenomenal natural growth of these projects by ensuring that they remain on course. The structure for the various validation teams will be based on the "Categories" model already in place.

In the first six months (April-October, 2005) we will identify about 50 key themes and validators who can oversee work on them, employing the democratic model of all Wikimedia projects to select these people. Over the next four months (October-February) these validators will finalize their teams and, with the help of these teams, create lists of target objectives to be achieved. The validation process will begin in February and last fourteen months, with additional teams and sub-teams created as deemed necessary throughout the entire timeframe.

At the same time, the Wikimedia Foundation plans to create a physical center for all of its international projects, to be located in Florida. This center many be augmented by regional centers across the United States and national centers around the world as budget permits. The process of locating and staffing such a center would take approximately six months from the receipt of the grant.