Juliancolton: Hi Jamesofur, thank you for joining us today. To start off, when did you first join the Simple English Wikipedia, and was it your first experience with the Wikimedia Foundation?
- Jamesofur: Well the very first time I joined Simple was when I followed a link here in August 2009. I came over, tried to set up huggle (and set up my userpage) and then when I couldn't get huggle to work I left. That was actually one of the first things that led me to doing crosswiki work however. I followed a link looking at the global contributions for someone I had rolled back alot on English Wikipedia. When I got here it was already taken care of but it led me to look at other wikis and end up joining the Small Wiki Monitoring Team. I then ended up getting more involved in September because of a massive attack on the Simple English Wiktionary when I was the only SWMT member online (and without global rollback) I joined the Simple IRC channel and never ended up leaving. :) My first experience with Foundation itself, like many others, was just reading the English Wikipedia when I wanted to know something.
Juliancolton: Ah, interesting. When did you begin contributing actively to the project, and what motivated you to stick around?
- Jamesofur: On English it was partially me starting to follow Talk page links (I ALWAYS read the talk page on an article I'm reading; you can find out very interesting info) about project governance (mostly arbcom cases) which then led to me becoming more aware of the people involved in fighting vandalism that I never really thought about. On Simple I started doing the anti-vandalism thing soon after that Wiktionary attack I mentioned when I saw something pop up on the IRC channel. I have never been someone afraid to speak my mind though, and so when conversations started on Simple Talk or the Administrators Noticeboard I would read those too. And then if I felt something needed to be said I would say it, and then I would have to keep checking to make sure I didn't need to respond to a question and eventually I ended up spending more time over here than on English.
Juliancolton: What would you say your most significant contributions to the project are?
- Jamesofur: Hmm that is a tough question because I think in alot of ways I see my contributions as "supporting" rather then what I see as the most significant contributions that are given by the people who write alot more. If I had to choose something I would probably say it is my work trying to combat abuse (especially from people who decide that they should come and cause problems on Simple because they were banned from English). I also think, though it is harder to prove, that I have helped to change some people's views about the project. I think the Simple project is both good as it is and has a lot of potential to grow and get better. But, and I'm sure alot of contributers have seen it, we sometimes get a bad rap as the "little sister" project of English. I'm an outspoken proponent whenever I hear someone trying to down talk the project and I think that I've turned some around to at least understand where it is helpful. I'm also surprised at how frequently I see it at use, multiple times I've found out dumps of Simple are being used by companies and non-profit groups or that people used it. Just last weekend at a WMF meetup in New York there was a kid who is active at English but when he heard I worked at Simple got very excited because he used to use it alot for school and still goes there when we have an article he is looking for.
Juliancolton: Neat! Glad to hear our work isn't going unused. On the other hand, we do have quite a few issues to work out. What, in your opinion, is the most urgent problem with Simple?
- Jamesofur: There are alot of things (just like most projects). The big one that is always a problem is we need more article work (and I know this is coming from someone who doesn't do much article work ) The one that is more "Simple" based is we have a large tendency to get worked up over Drama where it isn't needed. And even the people who want to end the talk quickly "to avoid drama" tend to just want to block the user/ delete the article/ whatever to end it. It seems we have a problem talking about issues without getting emotional about it which in my mind is what leads to our long and emotional discussions that go nowhere. Talking about it, trying to find a way to come to an agreement or deciding that we are unable to do so can be done without name calling or anger but we have a problem with that. We want to copy the article quality that En can have, we don't want to copy their drama. :)
Juliancolton: Yup, definitely. What do you envision for the project in the coming, say, five years?
- Jamesofur: I think the stories of our demise are greatly exaggerated :) I think we will be going at least as strong as we are now, our job is to increase that and get even stronger. If we build it, they will come.
Juliancolton: Sounds good to me. :) Anything else you'd like to say?
- Jamesofur: Can't think of too much more :) I think we will keep going strong and we can use the talents and skills of everyone to increase both our project and others.
Juliancolton: Thank you for your in-depth and interesting responses, and we look forward to continue working with you in the future.
Join us next week for another interview!