Does Willipedia have a future? Good question. Below the break are excerpts from the call for applications to the Willipedia board along with my answers. Comments:

1) Willipedia seems to be dying. The main page still wishes us all a Happy Father’s Day. Nothing wrong with that sentiment, of course, yet it indicates a lack of involvement by whoever can edit that page. Why would any first year get involved with a project so out of date? The rate of edits seems to be much lower this year than last.

2) The members of the current board that I know are excellent Ephs, just the sort of people you would want involved in this project. If anyone can make a go of Willipedia, they can.

3) I applied for the board last time but was rejected. I have had my run-ins with the board about policies concerning campus controversies. It was amusing to read some of their discussion about me in the (now closed) archives of the mailing list. I will apply again. If they are smart, they will take me and pretty much any warm body with a serious interest in Willipedia. Without more involvement, the project is doomed.

4) I am proudest of the history of the elimination of fraternities. Yet it is endlessly annoying that I can’t edit it. (AWC logins still don’t work, I think, for older alumni.) I am about to move the entire page over to Wikipedia. Indeed, anyone wanting to ensure that his contributions to history have a permanent home would be well-advised to do the same.

My answers to the application below.


What do you feel are Willipedia’s strengths? Weaknesses? Areas of
greatest potential?

The basic idea of the project is genius. Weaknesses include a lack of alumni and faculty involvement, and an unnecessary separation from similar College projects. The most important change would be to get Williams itself directly involved. You need Williams staff, especially the librarians, to be on the board. You want the official Williams history pages to be incorporated in the project. You need the institution of the College to be an official part of the process. It can (and should) still be student-run, but official involvement would help.

What would you most want to improve or change about Willipedia? How would you seek to do it?

Sign up faculty/staff to the board. Move over similar projects done by the College to Willipedia. Perhaps convince the College itself to host Willipedia.

Why do you believe you can be more of a help on the Board as opposed to just as a dedicated editor?

Right now, I can’t edit. I need to pay/beg undergraduates to make the changes that I want. I believe that the same is true for all older alums, or at least alums with non-recently issued AWC logins.

If I were on the board, I would have an obligation to try and make some of these ideas happen. I have done a very small amount along these lines as an editor, mainly talking to College staff about some of these ideas. If I were on the board, I would do much more, and I would be speaking with some authority when dealing with College officials.

What are your favorite articles currently on the wiki?

Mine! ;-) I think My Dad is hilarious. The article on the elimination of fraternities is very high quality.

What do you think of Willipedia’s current Policies?

I have quibbles but have abided by them. I would still vote, for example, to include the names of students involved in major campus events, but would adhere to whatever the board’s consensus on this issue even if it differed from my own view.

I also think that some loosening over the restrictions in terms of content would be appropriate, at least until interest picks up. For example, something like Focus the Nation has lots of non-Williams content, but I think that that is fine.

How would you get more people involved in writing on Willipedia?

Hardest question! Some thoughts:

0) Previous comments still apply.

1) There should be a tighter connection between Willipedia and the Williams-related articles on Wikipedia. It would be good if members of the board were involved with both. There should be a natural migration whereby articles start out on Willipedia and then, after they are improved and edited “enough,” are promoted to Wikipedia. Such a migration path would encourage talented amateurs (people like Russ Carpenter ’58) to become more involved.

2) Alumni involvement is key and something that the College has an interest in encouraging. We should reach out to class secretaries with regard to articles which cover their eras at Williams. (Class secretaries are always looking for more material.)

3) One of my favorite contributions was the page devoted to co-op housing choices last year (see an old version to get a sense of how this was used at the time). I think that Willipedia could do more to solve these sorts of campus coordination problems.

Again, getting other people, especially current students, involved is hard. I can’t help much with current students but I could do more on the alumni front. EphBlog has demonstrated that hundreds of alumni have a deep interest in Williams. Many would love to be more involved, to share their knowledge with other Ephs. Willipedia would do well to harness that interest.

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