Grants:IEG/Backlog pages for all WikiProjects

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Backlog pages for all WikiProjects

idea creator:


project contact:





The Category:Wikipedia backlog page quantifies cleanup templates for English Wikipedia, but WikiProjects don't have similar pages to know what needs improvement.

engagement target:

English Wikipedia

strategic priority:

Improving Quality

total amount requested:

1000 USD?

2013 round 1

Project idea[edit]

The Category:Wikipedia backlog page quantifies cleanup templates for English Wikipedia, but WikiProjects themselves don't have similar pages to know which articles should be prioritized to address marked concerns. This proposal seeks to create the code required to establish standardized backlog pages for all WikiProjects that are (largely) automatically maintained.

User:Jtmorgan has agreed to help me with a small prototype version for WikiProject Medicine, and he sees the potential for this idea to help WikiProject productivity.

Project goals[edit]

The main goal is to help all WikiProjects to have backlog pages that will help direct and prioritize edits. When a WikiProject has a backlog page, individual and group goals can be clearly understood and quantifiable. Progress can be tracked. Productivity in improving quality could increase. Even in inactive projects (of which there are many), a link could be prominently placed on each WikiProject page directing those with interest to the backlog page. This sort of prominence at inactive WikiProject pages would mitigate the potential for interested editors to feel there is only a disorganized and unmaintained remaining ghost town—and instead give them some ideas on what could be done.

A secondary goal of this project is to enable cross-WikiProject comparisons and competition. For example, with each category weighted, WikiProjects could be assigned a "grade" out of 100 possible points on their backlog standing. WikiProjects might organize to compete amongst themselves through improving backlog stats to climb the rankings towards the "cleanest" and most-issue free content.

Part 2: The Project Plan[edit]

Project plan[edit]


Scope and activities[edit]

My time will be spent "managing" and helping where I can to ensure success.

Tools, technologies, and techniques[edit]

Coding know-how will be the main tool used to help this project succeed. This is why I am working with Jonathan Morgan on a "beta"-version, because I lack coding abilities.


Total amount requested[edit]

$1000 USD, though this was a wild guess. If programming can be provided pro bono then I will donate the unused money back to the WMF.

Budget breakdown[edit]

  • $1000: Coding contracting.

Intended impact:[edit]

Target audience[edit]

Wikipedia editors who want to help improve the quality of articles in a specific subject area will benefit from backlog pages.

Fit with strategy[edit]

This project aligns with improving quality.


A sustainable system (with the potential for minor inputs when templates change, etc.) should be able to keep track of backlogs specific to WikiProjects. The system should ideally have the capability to be modified or built upon by others.

Measures of success[edit]

The code to perform the tasks and the quantity and quality of WikiProject backlog pages will be used to measure success.


Many details are available at my user page, but I am an active WikiProject medicine participant, I attended Wikimania in 2012 (where I met James Heilman and Jonathan Morgan, to name two examples), and I am an online, campus, and recent regional ambassador in the WMF US/Canada education program.

Part 3: Community Discussion[edit]

Nice. I wasn't aware of CATSCAN, but it looks like a very useful tool. However, I think the purpose of this project is to bring relevant data about backlogs to the WikiProject pages, making it more actionable and more visible. In other words, making it more like Article alerts or Hot articles. Beyond greater visibility, the other opportunity that using a bot provides is to make the process of cleaning up backlogs and increasing article quality more engaging: for example, the bot could keep track of how many articles had been improved within the past month, and display that info in a leaderboard. If we can attach a bot to CATSCAN, it might make the whole project simpler and more robust (HotArticles is also a bot-driven subscription service for a toolserver tool).
I should also state for the record that any work I do for this project is voluntary and uncompensated (I'm researching WikiProjects for my dissertation), and I do not have any say whatsoever in the decision to support or reject this grant proposal. Jtmorgan (talk) 23:47, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
So User:GoingBatty mentioned a desire for something like this a while ago. I informed him of this project, and he informed me of User:Svick/WikiProject cleanup listing. That's like the best thing since sliced bread. Is there anything else that needs to be done here? On another note, are we the only people unaware that this exists? I doubt it. This should be advertised in a watchlist notice or something so everybody can use it.Ryan Vesey (talk) 03:15, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Ryan, that's fantastic information, thanks. The real goal here, in my opinion, is to have Wikipedia pages similar what wikiHow does for each WikiProject, so I'd say there is lots to be done, but those links are great. Svick's information only updates once a week and is not accessible in WikiProject space on Wikipedia, unfortunately. I think having features like this will boost productivity and collaboration in WikiProjects. See related information here. Biosthmors (talk) 19:56, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, while it would be best if we could update more frequently than once a week, and it would be a good idea to get in touch with Svick and see what we can do there, perhaps an engagement grant could fund more server space if that's what he needs (disclaimer: I don't know what I'm talking about). Everything aside, I think the best way forward would be to create a bot that takes the data published by Svick, and updates pages on Wikipedia in whichever user friendly version that can be created.Ryan Vesey (talk) 20:39, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that's definitely a good start, though the ability to make an edit and see one's changes updated on Wikipedia is a powerful motivating factor we should try to cultivate too, I think. The wikiHow version updates automatically, as do normal category pages. Could we just create many more hidden categories, perhaps? Biosthmors (talk) 03:17, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I've contacted the founder of wikiHow about this, to see if they might help with the proposal. Biosthmors (talk) 20:21, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
This is quite an interesting proposal. Even having a detailed in-depth ui mock up (with photoshop made screenies!) of what would be wanted in this area by the wiki projects are interesting. More often then not there is a divide between users and devs, and devs don't make the things needed because they don't understand what is needed. As far as I can tell, there are two main things being proposed as needed here - efficient Category intersection (What CatScan or mw:Extension:DynamicPageList (Wikimedia) does) and a fancy ui for presenting this info to the user in an attractive manner. Also possibly a fancy interface to guide the user in addressing the back log item in question(?). Note, doing category intersection efficiently is not a trivial task (but one I and many others would certainly like to see accomplished.). From what I understand the most likely way to do it efficiently would be to do something with full-text search type indexes (lucene maybe?). A while back, WM-DE did a project related to efficient category intersection called cat-graph, but I'm not sure what the results were. Bawolff (talk) 22:20, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for that! Great info. The founder of wikiHow likes the idea of helping this out, and he sent me an email reply about some code and forking. I plan that Jonathan and I will talk about that tomorrow along with the beta version of this idea. And this proposal looks like it will sent over to the Idea Lab area instead of here, since it's more in the idea stages (per the talk page). Any other ideas? Biosthmors (talk) 05:12, 22 February 2013 (UTC)


Community Notification:[edit]

Village pump: [1]


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.