Over at BlueOregon blog, Kari Chishom posits a theory about why the Oregonian, which just announced 37 new layoffs, is dying. (See below for a summary.) Of course, at WikiProject Oregon, we’re often focused on a different (but not wholly unrelated) issue: the Oregonian’s unwillingness to develop a web site worthy of the modern Internet reader’s attention.

Kari points to the publisher’s inefficient set of offerings for potential advertisers:

Yesterday’s announcement of first-ever newsroom layoffs at the Oregonian included this statement:

The Oregonian, like all newspapers, has endured declining revenues the past few years, the result of the recession and the migration of advertising to the Internet.

That latter excuse, to be frank, is crap.

The Oregonian newsroom folks who were laid off – and those that have survived – deserve to know that OregonLive.com is running an online advertising operation that is so bad that there can only be one explanation: They’re actually trying to earn less ad revenue.

What do you think? Add your comments on the BlueOregon thread.

This week, I was interviewed along with several other WikiProject Oregon members for the Wikipedia Signpost, a newsletter for the Wikipedia editing community. Reporter Cryptic C62 asked some thoughtful questions, and gave us a great opportunity to talk about our work and why we think it’s important. We were asked about our outreach efforts outside Wikipedia, our collaboration in person and on this blog, and about possible policy changes like flagged revisions and tightening the reins on anonymous editing.

Read on for the full interview. (Please note, unlike most content on this blog, this interview is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.)

Interview from the Wikipedia Signpost

Here at the WikiProject Report, we generally conduct interviews with one interviewer and one interviewee. In this week’s issue, we bring to a special group discussion with five active members of WikiProject Oregon. For those readers who live outside the United States, Oregon is a US state in the Pacific Northwest region. Although the state has a population density of only 35.6 people per square mile, the project has more than 50 active members and 15 featured articles. Here to discuss the project are PeteforsythAboutmoviesEncMstrSteven Walling, and Esprqii.

1. While many projects have weekly or monthly collaborations on singular articles, most of WikiProject Oregon’s collaborations feature two or more articles. This process has generated at least 29 DYKs and 4 GAs. Why do you use a double collaboration system, and why does it work so well?

EncMstr: I’m not sure how two was chosen, but it works very well. Usually they are complementary—for example a biography and a piece of legislation—so if one article or task is somehow unappealing then the other is likely to be more interesting. (See here for previous collaborations of the week (COTW).) If the number of active members continues to increase, perhaps the right number would be three at once. I doubt the COTW is responsible for the majority of DYKs and GAs—it’s more often something that comes up on the project talk page that strikes a chord with several people. The best examples of this are Johnson Creek (Willamette River) and Cannabis in Oregon.
Esprqii: I think taking a rational approach to the collaborations has been a key part of it. For example, before the weekly collaborations started, we spent a long time rating every single article in the project both in terms of importance and in terms of quality. That left a matrix that showed, for example, which articles were of top importance but were still only stubs. Those were the first articles we collaborated on, and today, if you look at the matrix, there are no articles in that category.
In addition to the rational process, we maintain a wish list of future projects, which inevitably include pet projects of various members of the project. You can’t very well ignore it when your pet has the spotlight! Aboutmovies, who manages the whole collaboration process, has been very crafty about mixing up the rational and the irrational to make it fun, get a lot of people involved, and get a lot of good work done.

I’ll be on the radio tomorrow morning with Oregon Encyclopedia editor Bill Lang, discussing our respective online encyclopedia projects and how we engage with the people of Oregon.

Hope you can listen, and call in with questions! Check out producer David Miller’s excellent post introducing the show. And for those out of state, you can listen online (or check the post after the show for an audio archive).

Tomorrow morning:

Friday May 8, 9-10 AM PDT
Oregon Public Broadcasting
91.5 FM in Portland

It's so weird to see these in Portland, that people come out of their homes in below-freezing temps. to take photos of them.

It's so weird to see these in Portland, that people come out of their homes in below-freezing temps. to take photos of them.

It has been a banner year for the Collaboration of the Week at WikiProject Oregon.

With 32 seven-day collaborations, more than 60 articles have been worked on. There have been nearly a dozen Did You Know? entries from COTW appear on the front page of Wikipedia, and two Good Articles have been produced. Now, you have a chance to participate in one of the last Collaborations of 2008.

For Portland residents in particular, the weather these past weeks has been pretty unusual in Oregon. With freezing rain and much more snow than we’re used to, it seemed like the perfect time to have fun with Snow Bunny, the article for a recreation area on the south face of Mt. Hood. We’re also continuing to improve WikiProject Oregon’s already pretty spectacular political coverage with a focus on Margaret Carter, a Democratic member of the Oregon State Senate.

Please join us on improving these articles however you can. Even just a quick stop by to fix a typo or make discussion page suggestion would be a big help to all Oregonians. In the meantime, stay warm and dry!

Wikipedia now covers all Oregon state senators!

WikiProject Oregon just hit an exciting milestone: with Esprqii’s recent addition of a brief biography of Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, Wikipedia now has an article on every current member of the Oregon State Senate. Some have just the basics (we call them “stubs”), but others offer a pretty good introduction to the senator’s personal background and career, carefully sourced to the legislature’s web site and newspaper coverage.

We’ve been working harder than ever in the last year, and have lots to show for it. On the political front, we now have a solid overview of the upcoming Oregon state elections, and a summary of the events and legislation of the most recent legislative sessions.

Longtime project leader Aboutmovies has been running the Collaboration of the Week program for well over a year now, giving us a great excuse to focus our energies and build content together.

The federal Works Progress Administration built this stone structure near Balch Creek in the 1930s. The city maintained it as a public restroom until 1962.

The federal Works Progress Administration built this stone structure near Balch Creek in the 1930s. The city maintained it as a public restroom until 1962.

The unassuming Finetooth has been quietly churning out Feature-quality articles on Portland area streams and watersheds, setting a high bar for the entire Wikipedia community on this type of article. See the articles on Johnson Creek and Balch Creek for some of his better work; some day soon, hopefully, we’ll add the Columbia River article (which is visited over 25,000 times in a month) to that list.

New contributors keep joining our ranks, too. Tedder has done excellent work on the Gerding Theater article, and Tesscass is always quick to get the ball rolling on our collaboration projects.

There’s so much good work going on these days, that it’s impossible to extend enough recognition here. Katr67, EncMstr, Steven Walling, Cirt, Zaui, and many others continue to chip away at our project of expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of Oregon-related topics…and the results are really starting to shine. Want a good overview of what we have to offer? Be sure to check out the Oregon portal!

Finding a certain article on Wikipedia isn’t usually too hard — you just search for it. But what if you’re just interested in what Wikipedia has on a certain topic? For instance, would you have guessed that there are 44 articles on Olympic competitors from Oregon?

One of Wikipedia’s great strengths is the “category” system. At the bottom of every article, you’ll see a line that begins “Categories:“. The links on that line provide a really interesting way to browse the encyclopedia. For instance, if you’re reading up on one Olympic competitor, you might be surprised at who else you stumble upon by browsing categories.

Ever wonder about the history of bridges in Portland? Looking for a museum in Oregon, but can’t remember the name? Have some questions about Oregon state legislators? Browsing categories can help.

A final note — if you look at the last couple examples, you’ll see not only lists of articles, but lists of sub-categories. In fact, the category for Oregon legislators contains no individual articles; that’s because every legislator we have an article is further categorized as a senator, a representative, or both. So, to get to the individual articles, you’ll need to burrow down into the more detailed categories.

Finally, for a more visually interesting introduction to Oregon-related articles on Wikipedia, you could always try the Oregon portal! On that one, keep in mind that every time you refresh the page, it will load a fresh set of article previews.

The article on D. B. Cooper, a famous airplane hijacker who vanished near Portland in 1971, is featured today on the front page of Wikipedia!

This is an article that was developed mostly by people who aren’t involved in WikiProject Oregon, but as a Featured Article, it’s been peer reviewed by the community as one of the finest articles on Wikipedia. (Only about 2,000 articles have reached that status, fewer than a dozen related to Oregon.)

It’s also the subject of an interesting little tale, told in a couple of posts on my blog. Briefly: a Wikipedia editor who had worked on the article bought a book from Amazon.com, only to find that the book was an exact reproduction of an earlier version of the Wikipedia article. This appears to be legal, but raises some interesting questions. After my first post, the owner of the publishing company called me to give me his side of the story; the second blog post covers that discussion. Take a look at the full story.

But apart from all that, big congrats to the authors of the Wikipedia article — great job!