It has been 14 months since the last blog post, in March 2014. At that time, we were celebrating completion of our newest project: adding links to all the poets' articles featured on The Poetry Archive. Two weeks later, TPA changed its database, and all the URL's changed along with it, making our work next to useless. At around the same time, Poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets (which we had added not long before), did the same thing.
So what to do? We could have gone back and painstakingly redone those links; but that would have meant a couple of months in which no new articles were added or old ones upgraded: lost time, and no fun. Accordingly, Penny and I came up with a different plan: Since the bulk of poets with those 2 sets of links were published in the 20th century, we revived the old, abandoned plan of upgrading all the links for 20th-century poets
That meant reviewing over 2,000 articles (1/4 of the site) and making the following improvements where necessary:
- Bibliography: adding publishers' information, new books, or even entire bibliographies as needed, to each poets' publications. We continued to use WorldCat to compile unique bibliographies, which seems even more essential than ever; even where we instead use an authoritative source like the Poetry Foundation, we find some books that weren't added.
- Book links: We didn't merely adding lists of books, but live-linked them as much as possible. In addition to Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive, we used Google Books, the University of Michigan, and the Hathi Trust. There are now hundreds of books that can be accessed and read from PPP with just a few clicks: something that can't be done from any other poetry site. While most of those are books published before 1923 (due to copyright restrictions), we found a couple of sources for newer books: the Australian Poetry Library was invaluable in that respect, of course. Another we discovered was the Eclipse Archive, which has an extensive collection of works by the Objectivist poets.
- External links: We also continued adding links to poems, on sites like Poets' Corner and PoemHunter, and to biographical sites (like NNDB and the Encyclopædia Britannica. It's amazing how many poetry journals and sites are online, allowing us to link poems and interviews; and we've tried to take advantage of all of them.
- Authority control info: We continued add VIAF (the most commonly used authority control) numbers, from Wikipedia and (where those aren't available) directly from VIAF.org. Only a few writers have no VIAF number online at all.
We also added two other projects to the upgradge:
- Audio / video: The 20th century is when poetry, after 500 years as a primarily written art, began turning into a spoken / performance art again. We already had the Poetry Archive and PennSound as sources, but this time around we discovered one we'd overlooked: YouTube has many videos of poems, interviews, and poets' profiles, many of which are now linked. A new innovation here at Wikia allows us to embed videos right into articles, and we began doing that as well.
- Pictures: This was the year PPP became an illustrated encyclopedia, with more than 5,000 pictures (more than one for every 2 articles). Our best sourse was, as usual, Wikimedia Commons; but (thanks to Wikia now allowing "fair use" of unlicensed photos), we've been able to illustrate a lot of articles using other sources. Where a picture of the poet was unavailable, we've used book pictures: Internet Archive was a great public domain source for pre-1923 books
Considering that the 19th-century upgrading (of 500 articles) took a year, we were afraid this could have taken up to 4 years; though, since many of the articles had already been upgraded, 2 years looked more likely. In the end, it took a bit under 18 months. (We'd originally begun the upgrade in January 2014.) Now it's time to start expanding again.