An introduction to our Bulbapedia team
Bulbapedia was founded in late 2004 by a team of staff from the Bulbagarden Pokémon forums, with the bold ambition of creating a comprehensive resource maintained by the community, for the community. It was formally unveiled to the public in February 2005; at least 21 new articles were created within the first 24 hours of operations, and within three months 1,000 articles had been compiled. With close to 50,000 articles as of late 2022, Bulbapedia alone makes Bulbagarden one of the world's most visited Pokémon websites. Given the franchise hadn't existed for even a full decade at launch, it's fair to say that even the brave initial scope pales in comparison to the humongous scale of modern Pokémon media!
Bulbapedia may seem monolithic at times, but the wiki's success rests upon the efforts of everyday contributors and especially the team of Researchers, Poké Maniacs and Super Nerds that run the site and manage those contributions. In this article we'll be speaking with some of those (very human) Admins and figuring out what makes both them and Bulbapedia tick, covering their day-to-day priorities as well as their future plans. Whether you're a seasoned wiki editor or have never so much as thought about getting involved, we hope you'll find it enlightening!
Please introduce yourself - what is your role with Bulbapedia, and how long have you been on the team?
Hello! I'm bthrussellUK, and I'm a Junior Administrator on Bulbapedia. I joined the team in March 2022, and first contributed to the wiki in October 2019.
Heya, I'm Spriteit, one of the Australian team members; I've been a part of the Bulba team since 2011. After being temporarily added to the team to assist with the release of Black and White, I recently moved up to being a member of the Editorial Board in 2021. I was an expat from Wikimon and general Wikipedia editing and I found Bulbapedia. My first big job was changing all the Japanese names of the Gen 5 starters to their English ones and it's what piqued interest in promoting me to staff.
Salutations, I am Frozen Fennec, an Admin on Bulbapedia. I have been with the team since 2020 when I was invited to join the team as a Junior Admin - I was promoted to Admin status later that year.
Hello! The name's ht14 (pronounced h-t-fourteen); most folks here call me ht! I have been on staff with Bulbagarden since 2009, mostly serving on the Archives (our image repository) and have been a staff member on Bulbapedia since 2020. I tend to focus on trying to keep things organized on the Archives and work on rather niche Pokémon-related topics, whether it be the Pokémon Adventures/PokeSpe manga, Pokémon Masters, or some of the Japan-exclusive arcade games (e.g., Battrio, Mezastar). In general though, I bounce around quite a bit between a variety of projects, so you may see me in many places on Bulbapedia.
bthrussellUK: Bulbapedia, like the rest of Bulbagarden, is run by volunteers! Anyone can edit the wiki, and it has grown into what it is today thanks to the efforts of hundreds of editors who have made thousands of edits. All contributions are welcome, even if it's just fixing spelling errors. Because the Pokémon franchise is massive, it does attract a lot of rumours and speculation so we try to stick to official sources for our information, and like Wikipedia, we encourage referencing wherever possible.
Spriteit: Users are the main method here, we have a lot of people new to the site who are unsure how they can contribute. We have categories of pages with incomplete information, but in general most users find a niche they may be interested in such as Pokemon Go, Masters or Unite, or a particular little project such as updating learnsets with new games or the move lists, and they go from there. As for how they get it, the tireless work of game dumpers on Twitter that they put up for the public to access is a huge benefit to everyone. When people come with questions, watching Let's Play videos on Youtube can always help confirm info. However, other research methods come down to playing/reading/watching whatever section you're editing.
Frozen Fennec: Fans of the series add new pages, info, images, and the such to Bulbapedia. The information comes from various sources from voice actors, to internal game data, to old or new news articles about various content in the series.
ht14: I believe Bulbapedia works when it's online! Haha, just kidding. But seriously, pretty much anyone with an account with Bulbapedia puts information up (that also could potentially include you, the reader!).
What’s a typical day’s work for a member of the Bulbapedia Staff?
bthrussellUK: Wake up. Coffee. Hours of existential dread... Then just getting stuck in! A big part of being a staff member is answering editors' questions and helping them so that they can get on with editing and improving the wiki. Other than that, we are editors ourselves, so we too are at the coalface making changes to the wiki so that it continues to be a great resource for Pokémon fans.
Spriteit: You primarily find me trying to respond to questions on the Discord, there's generally a scroll through the day’s recent changes to check edits that look odd or on pages that are of particular interest to me. As for the work I generally do, it's primarily grunt work; recently I went through all the existing learnset pages and ensured the move data was correct with a bunch of regular expressions I wrote. I also have historically gone through and updated the TCG pages with the new legality data with every rotation. Otherwise I also work to create basic templates that may be needed, as well as upgrading old templates to new styles.
Frozen Fennec: Generally I check Recent Changes maybe twice a day and help point users in the right direction if they seem to be having trouble getting the right idea of how to make edits (usually just reminding people to use Show Preview for articles to make sure the edit will not cause issues and to avoid making a lot of multiple edits to a page.) If I’ve come across information about beta content or other miscellaneous unknown data, I usually try to figure out where it will fit on Bulbapedia.
ht14: It honestly depends! We do sometimes have other things that may take priority, but there are many days in which we edit much like the average user on the wiki (adding quotes, fixing typos, etc.), and there are other days in which we go on Discord or the talkpages on Bulbapedia with users and staff to discuss a variety of topics about improving the wiki.
bthrussellUK: No idea, I'm looking forward to finding out.
Spriteit: Stressful to say the least - in the run-up I try my best to pre-emptively work on projects that we can do beforehand and preparing the data we already have. Once we get learnset data I generally work on creating the new templates for those and then distributing that to the appropriate Pokémon pages. I also monitor social media sites to add what data I can from users, though this is admittedly hard to balance in the rush of information that comes with everyone wanting to help.
Frozen Fennec: It can be a little stressful as a lot of information or misinformation might be floating around and it can take a couple of weeks both pre-release and post-release to make sure the information is accurate for the game in question. I generally try to filter out information from dubious sources known to promote misinformation; it can lead one to end up trying to verify game data that never existed.
ht14: One of the things we’ve done is to try to prep our templates and files to standardize for the newest release. It does admittedly get a bit chaotic at times, but the earlier the heavy lifting is done the more manageable it becomes upon release. We do our best to ensure we get the info from reliable sources and filter past a lot of rumors that come by, regardless of how seemingly accurate that information may seem.
What warrants a page on Bulbapedia? What level of depth is too deep?
bthrussellUK: Pokémon has been around since 1996 and is the largest media franchise in the world. From video games to airplanes, x-ray machines to vinyl records, and trading cards to macaroni & cheese, Pokémon has done it all, and while the wiki is pretty comprehensive, it certainly doesn't have everything! It can be a bit of a balancing act, but in general we try to stick to things that are official and approved by The Pokémon Company, or are major elements of the wider community. We want the wiki to be as complete as possible, but we're not likely to add a list of every store in the world that sells Pokémon cards...
Spriteit: I'd argue this is a question of perspective. A lot of information could be used to create pages - however, I think one of our biggest issues is completing pages and sections and it's why our coverage isn't as in-depth as we'd like. For example, the Mystery Dungeon community have voiced an issue that we don't have enough information on our pages about the games, and while we'd love to have more, it's a huge undertaking from our end to go through and not just find that information, but add it to Bulbapedia between other projects and real life commitments. If in doubt we always recommend creating pages within your userspace and going from there.
Frozen Fennec: If there’s more than three sentences of information and potentially a screenshot, logo, book/manga cover, etc. I feel it potentially warrants an article. When making new pages though, it is almost ALWAYS recommended you do it in your own userspace first, seeking out new potential information and checking with staff to make sure the article is of good enough quality to be added to the mainspace. I consider anything that goes into incredibly minute detail that adds nothing to the article to be "too deep" or "too superfluous”. For instance, noting how and when a character appears is fine but recording every single frame they appeared in and what pose they were in would be something that gets removed soon after.
ht14: We are quite open to development of new pages on the wiki. Although we have over 47,000 articles, we do acknowledge that there is still a whole slew of information out there that has yet to be covered. That said, we do hope to create articles that have a reasonable amount of content. As others have mentioned, if you are able to write out a few sentences and provide an image, chances are that it is relevant and could be a new article, but we highly recommend that you create it on your userspace first and bring it to the attention of staff members. As far as depth is concerned it definitely varies, but bear in mind the audience who may be reading the article or section of the article - it's helpful to be detailed and yet succinct.
bthrussellUK: Never. How very dare you! In all seriousness, at time of writing Bulbapedia has 47,814 articles. That is a lot of ground to cover, so while our Admin team is good it's likely that there are inaccuracies. That's either through editing mistakes, or often because Pokémon is ever growing and changing. An article that said there are 151 Pokémon would have once been correct, but things have changed a lot since then. That is why this is a wiki - anyone can edit it, so if they spot a mistake, they can fix it!
Spriteit: More often than we'd all like. Usually the truth is in the weeds, and inconsistencies across pages where information is displayed is the worst culprit. For example, a given rival’s team is usually displayed in (at least) three locations; the location page, the rival page and the walkthrough page. If one of these pages is edited there's no guarantee the other pages are correct and errors can then persist. Other issues emerge from fandom rumours - occasionally we'll have a well meaning user add incorrect info and it will go unnoticed, even if the information is somewhat benign it can proliferate into becoming a perceived truth.
Frozen Fennec: It varies, sometimes it can be information that was thought true by a majority of people at the time with little to no sources before it gets challenged by a PokeTuber or DidYouKnowGaming-type channel, after which the information is usually quickly corrected. In more recent times, we have cracked down on disinformation and have begun requiring sources for the more obscure details that might show up in the character infobox or trivia section of an article.
ht14: More than I would like to admit. It can be a source of frustration at times, but it is occasionally fun to do some detective work to uncover the actual truth. Sometimes, these errors come from an earnest user who may have quickly read a part of a section and may have misinterpreted what was said and was eager to change it without understanding the entire context.
We definitely sourced things in the past, but over the past five years or so we’ve been much more intentional with sourcing our material on the wiki directly. As a scientist, this gives me a lot of comfort and assurance that we are doing our best to be as accurate as we can with what we know.
What’s the one thing you think people don’t realise or understand about Bulbapedia?
bthrussellUK: This server ain't free. Everyone hates ads. Ads suck, and we spend more time than we'd like trying to ensure that they're appropriate for our users. But running a website this big costs big bucks; the Bulbagarden Archives alone hosts over 200,000 images. To pay for that there either has to be a fee to enter, or ads. And thus, ads.
Spriteit: So many things - the first is that everyone on staff is a volunteer, they have families, jobs and lives outside of Bulbapedia. We have to prioritise our time within our means and sometimes that means we aren't able to give Bulbapedia the love it needs, but that doesn't mean we don't love it as much as you do. The second is that we have just a single technician who services not only the whole of Bulbapedia, but the majority of the Bulbagarden network, as well as working for the overarching server company. They do what they can but there are certain things that take priority over others, and, like the staff, they aren’t available 24/7 either.
Frozen Fennec: I feel some people (not many even at that) don't realize that when new information drops or a new game is released that not every aspect of it will be IMMEDIATELY added to Bulbapedia, people have lives and it takes time to add things like screenshots, movepools, character story segments, etc. Some users will also tell others to add content without contributing themselves, and are then surprised when the information hasn’t been added a week later. If one has the information, screenshots, and whatnot, they are always welcome to make an account and help add the content to Bulbapedia; more editors are always welcome to join in, helping make the information more accurate and up to date.
ht14: Believe it or not, we don't know everything. We're also not perfect. As great as our staff is and as comprehensive as we try to be in our projects, there are bound to be blind spots (I don't know much about the Pokémon RéBURST manga or the PokéPark games, for instance). That’s also why it's really important that users respectfully bring issues and gaps to our attention so that we can be made aware.
bthrussellUK: It's been a little while since the help resources, especially for new users, have been updated. That’s the next project I’d like to work on, so that people who want to help make the wiki even better have everything they need to get started. As for the future, I think we have an exciting project in the pipeline that has the potential to make Bulbapedia even more useful (ooo cryptic).
Spriteit: I'd personally like to see the timeliness of responses and decisions improve. Due to an increasing amount of people using their phones to access information, we're trying to move towards CSS styles as opposed to the way we've currently been building templates, as well as keep future designs with mobile appearance in mind. As for future projects, there's one or two in the pipeline that will hopefully make our lives a bit easier in the future. There are a few other large long term projects we're working on but there's no saying when these will be started, let alone completed.
Frozen Fennec: I can’t think of much I would like to change about Bulbapedia, perhaps some old and untouched articles getting much-needed updates but otherwise things are going as well as they can be. I hope in the future we will have more editors, better ways to get information and pages out sooner, and more people looking towards Bulbapedia for accurate information about the franchise.
How can anyone reading this help contribute to Bulbapedia, or even join the Staff team one day?
bthrussellUK: Hit the edit button! Don't be shy! If you have knowledge that is missing, add it! Bulbapedia is a community resource, for the community, by the community. People around the world come to Bulbapedia for Pokémon knowledge and we need your help keeping it up to date. Anyone can become a staff member; regularly contribute to the wiki, make valuable improvements and follow the code of conduct, and you too could be promoted!
Spriteit: Saying where you get information from if you're adding something controversial or not easily reliable, assisting with semi-large scale projects, having technical knowledge of how things work is a huge help as well. Don't get discouraged, sticking around, helping out with tasks big and small. Taking on personal projects and following them through. We did have a staff drive last year and over half of the applicants didn't have an account, so that's also a good starting step.
Frozen Fennec: By helping with adding new and accurate information. As for potentially becoming staff, we have a staff drive every year and I’d recommend checking that out; being polite and helpful also goes a long way when being considered for staff.
ht14: You reading this is already a huge help! Our Getting started page is a great starting point. In brief though, we have many wanted articles and images to go along with them and given that there are so many articles out there, there is bound to be some niche that you can uniquely fill to assist. Alternatively, if you find stub articles, see how you can improve on the pages there. I encourage you to edit not with the intent of being on staff, but with the intent on improving the wiki. Consider that all of us who are editing with good conduct have a passion for Pokémon and a desire to help share information.
And with that, we'll let our hardworking Admins get back to the Bulbapedia coalface! We hope you've learned at least a little bit about how our wiki operates, the challenges we sometimes face, and the ways in which you can make a difference. If you have any further questions about it, please get in touch via our Discord or Twitter account - or leave a comment under this article!