Monday, February 23, 2009

Community-Building Meeting Recap

There was a very cool, if small, community meeting in #wikibooks on Friday afternoon. Originally it was intended to be a live meeting for members from en.wikibooks to get together and work on a few issues and develop a few ideas. Very few members of en.wikibooks ended up attending (scheduling was a major hurdle in that regard, I think), however, but several members from other Wikibooks language projects did show up. I tried to log the meeting, but my IRC client apparently silently failed to save the file, so I didn't.

There was good representation from fr.wikibooks and de.wikibooks. We talked about several issues that seem to be affecting all Wikibooks projects, and didn't talk about issues that were restricted to en.wikibooks only. We all generally agreed that holding such meetings more regularly would be a good thing.

Some of the issues we talked about were:
  1. The problem of community non-involvement, where the vast majority of wikibookians are silent authors and do not participate in meta discussions with the larger community.
  2. The need for more multimedia. Science books need more diagrams. Language books need more audio clips. Several books need videos. Also, we talked about the idea of making screencasts about using Wikibooks to supplement our existing help documentation. We are looking for lots of help in this department from people willing to make and upload such videos.
  3. We talked about book donations and ways to pursue them
  4. We talked about finding ways to attract new contributors to Wikibooks, and how to retain them.
  5. We talked about a lot of small miscellaneous issues as well.
I would like to try to schedule a similar meeting for the en.wikibooks community only to talk about some of our specific issues, and I would also like to schedule a followup multilingual meeting for sometime next month to stay in touch with our international Wikibooks friends. Both of which, I'm sure, I will be writing about in the coming weeks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wikibooks Community Meeting Today

As I mentioned on this blog before, we are having a short community meeting today for Wikibooks. Earlier I mentioned that the time and date were not set in stone barring some objections, but there were very few objections to be seen. So, the meeting is:

Today (20th February 2009)
#wikibooks on
20:00 UTC

There is a short planning page and agenda at Meta. My sincere hope is that this meeting is the first in a regular series of meetings where we try to get more Wikibookians actively involved. I'll be sure to post notes from the meeting here on this blog afterwards.

I would invite all interested people, Wikibookians and well-wishers to attend the meeting and show some support for our little project. I don't suspect the meeting will be too large or too long, I envision that it will last about an hour or less. If you can't make it this time, don't worry: We are going to try to schedule another meeting in about a month or so to get more people involved.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Community-Building Meeting

Mike.lifeguard and I were talking about a few ideas we each had about community building and Wikibooks-specific outreach opportunities. Our little discussion turned into a complete online community-wide meeting for Wikibookians and other well-wishers. A planning page for this meeting and any other such events (I hope to have several this year) is located on Meta. The meeting will be at:

Friday 20 February

#wikibooks on

We know that this time and location is not going to be suitable for everybody. Of course, with worldwide membership we can't expect that any one time is going to be universally suitable for this meeting. I fully intend that other meetings we have in the future will be at all sorts of different times so other people can more easily attend.

On the agenda for this meeting (so far) is:
  1. Book donations, including the efficacy and benefit of donations, and like-minded organizations who might be willing to make some donations to us.
  2. Attracting more volunteers
  3. Discussing FlaggedRevs, and it's current implementation on en.wikibooks
I expect the meeting will last for about an hour.

I'll post more information here on this blog as I get it. I hope lots of people can attend!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Social Sciences

Continuing my organizational work, I hit the social sciences books pretty hard today. I noticed a few reoccuring problems in these books as pertains to categorization. Unlike the Humanities and Fine Arts books, which seemed to be characterized by category minimalism, the Social sciences books seemed to be in a constest to be in the most categories. Here is a line that was all too common in these books:

{{Subject|Social sciences|Sociology|Psychology|Cognition|Neuroscience}}

This shows several common problems that I've been cleaning up all day:
  1. People categorizing books in subcategories and their parent categories simultaneously.
  2. Mixing up subjects that are only peripherally related. The book in question was probably a sociology book or a psychology book, not both.
  3. Authors tend to get a little grandiose with their conceptions about a book. Just because a book deals with psychology, and a person's psychology is affected by their brains, that doesn't mean every psychology book is also a neuroscience book.
  4. "Cognition" really isn't a topic for a book, or is a very uncommon one if it is. People tend to treat a bunch of related-words as categories, and every book picks a different set of strange words to use. Categories are supposed to be a way to keep like books together, but that only works if books use a common set of subject names.
The sociology books are coming along nicely, but I could always use more people to double-check my work. Plus, if we could get somebody in here who actually is familiar with these subjects at a higher-then-gradeschool level, that would be good too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

10th Libre Software Meeting

I've received this notice from Sub, one of the users at Fr.Wikibooks. The 10th Libre Software Meeting is happening in Nantes France from July 7th to 11th. See this link for more information about the meeting.

The Libre Software Meeting is all about free and open source software, especially as it pertains to documentation and usability. It's the kind of thing that I really think a Wikibookian should attend, if anybody out there is willing and able.

Registration closes on 1st March, so anybody who is interested should definitely contact the organizers immediately.

Humanities Books Organized

I've undertaken a personal mission to fix the categorization system at Wikibooks. Last week I went through and recategorized all the Fine Arts books. Today, I've just finished going through the list of Humanities books. I had to create a number of new subject pages to hold the various books, although there are probably more that I could have created. I tried to weigh our need for precision against the number of books we had in various categories. The more books we had on a given subject, the more deeply I would subcategorize things.

Anybody who knows a thing or two about the Fine Arts or the Humanities subjects should go through and double-check my work. Also, anybody who is more aesthetically-minded then me could go through and make these pages look more pretty. If somebody wants to join in my organization crusade, I would love the help!

I don't know what subject area I will tackle next. I was thinking about doing Social Sciences, but I might also like to look at Mathematics. I was also thinking about moving the various Medicine and health related books out of the "Science/Life Science" subcategory into a top-level "Health and Wellness" category. I'd like feedback on that idea too.