I feel like I have a lot of experience with wikis and Wikipedia, having run my Flashlight Wiki for several years now, plus editing a few Wikipedia articles, sometimes pretty extensively. Wikipedia is more challenging than my own wiki because there are a lot of rules there requiring you to cite sources, use proper formatting, proper grammar, proper commas, etc. I always feel like someone on Wikipedia will flag something I write as being bad, though I don’t think it has ever happened. With all of that oversight and rules, it is interesting that Wikipedia tells people to “Be bold” when editing.
Lately I’ve been dabbling in precious metals investing, starting out with the purchase of a gold coin, then a silver exchange traded fund, and then some individual silver coins. The coins are fun because they are tangible whereas stocks, mutual funds, and exchange traded funds are really just numbers. Those numbers represent real money, but it is kind of abstract. The coins are little pieces of artwork, with some national culture thrown in. And they are the most basic form of money. You can’t really do anything with them, and it will probably be a pain to sell them, but it’s like having a small supply of buried treasure.
My gold and silver coin purchases have included Vienna Philharmonic coins minted by Austria. These are popular due to the their low cost over the market price of silver, and the design, featuring musical instruments, is attractive (more attractive than Queen Elizabeth who appears on all of the coins minted by Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). The Philharmonics aren’t often the best-selling bullion coin in the world, but they are in the top 5 for sure (lately Canada sells the most gold coins and the United States sells the most silver coins). There are Wikipedia articles about a lot of the different bullion coins, but the Philharmonics were tucked into a very long article about all of the different coins minted in Austria, which include a number of commemorative coins printed every year. Some of them are very pretty, but they are for coin collectors, not investors (maybe). People who are just interested in bullion coins would probably rather see a separate article, but there wasn’t an article about the Philharmonics. Sort of. There was an article that I found later on about the silver Philharmonics, and there was an article in the German language Wikipedia about both the gold and silver Philharmonics, which makes sense because they feature the exact same artwork. I had Google translate the German article so I could read it, and there was a lot of good information there. I thought it would be good to start a new article on the Philharmonics in English.
If you have a Wikipedia account (they are free, and good to have if you ever edit an article), then you get a “sandbox” which you can use as kind of a scratch pad for ideas or to test things out without messing with a real article. One way to create a new article is to start it in your sandbox, so that is what I did. On the Flashlight Wiki it is easy to create an article, but for Wikipedia, you have to create one, then have it approved before it actually appears in Wikipedia.
I pasted the translated text from the German article into my sandbox and started fixing up the grammar sentence by sentence. A lot of the article was tables about minting history or dimensions, so I just had to change the headings. I had a serviceable article pretty quickly, helped by the fact that there isn’t that much to write about coins. But the German article was a little out of date, so I found some more information and added that. Also, a lot of the articles have an infobox about the coin, but I wasn’t crazy about the German infobox. I copied an infobox from the article about the American Gold Eagle coin.
Then I started fine tuning the article to make sure that everything was in the right format. Germans use a comma for a decimal place and a decimal place for a comma, so I had to fix a lot of the numbers right off the bat (Google translates the format for numbers in the text of the article, but it was easier to copy over the article’s source code for the tables which meant I had to change all of the values in the table). One of the contentious areas of writing style is when you spell out a number and when you use the digits. Another is when you add the comma. I was taught in high school that one thousand does not get a comma (1000) while ten thousand (10,000) does. I found Wikipedia’s guidelines on this and they let you do it either way, but you have to be consistent within an article. They said you should spell out numbers one through nine, but can use numbers for everything else (with some exceptions, like you wouldn’t write “between eight and 11 people attended”). There were also a couple of dates mentioned in my new article. I had dates using military format (16 May 2014), but after reading up on it decided to use regular formatting (May 16, 2014). Also for some reason I put the Euro symbol at the end of some numbers, but I think it is supposed to go in front just like a dollar sign. But if you spell out “Euro” should you capitalize it or leave it lower case? All of this took much longer than it took to come up with a serviceable article based on the translation.
Eventually I felt like I was ready to go live. There is an online request where you can submit an article. However, once I submitted, it told me there were 2,700 articles in front of mine and the time to approve an article could be weeks or even over a month. I was anxious for the article to be added, but I kept finding additions or corrections for the next few days, so maybe it is just as well. After a week, the queue doesn’t seem to have moved very much. The day after I submitted the article, a Wikipedia volunteer moved it into the official queue, so now it isn’t just in my sandbox anymore. I think anyone can edit it, but it has Draft: in its title right now.