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Wikipedia Wants More Contributions From Academics

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the professor-pitch-in dept.

Education 385

holy_calamity writes "University professors don't feel their role as intellectuals working for the public good extends to contributing to the world's largest encyclopedia, the Guardian reports. Wikimedia foundation is currently surveying academics as part of a search for ways to encourage them to pitch in alongside anonymous civilians and raise quality. The main problem seems to be the academic ego: papers, talks and grant proposals build reputation but Wikipedia edits do not."

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Isn't it obvious? (3, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 3 years ago | (#35671496)

You're asking an academic to write stuff in the same vein as John D Public.

Our Professors tell us to NEVER use wikipedia except as for a citation. Do you think they're going to then go do their edits? If wikipedia wants academics they'll need a nice clean slate for only academics to play in.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (4, Funny)

jdpars (1480913) | about 3 years ago | (#35671528)

A clean slate for academics... hmm. And maybe we could collect all of the academic-written articles into a book format to sell to raise money for Wikipedia? And since it'd be a lot of information, we could divide it into volumes! And we'd need to name them after Wikipedia, but more book-like. Encyclopedia, maybe?

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 3 years ago | (#35671554)

You had a Professor that said you could cite Wikipedia? Hell, I had a teacher said Wiki is a great place to start but if you ever cite it in one of your papers you fail the course not the paper the course; wiki is an encyclopedia and you are in college.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 3 years ago | (#35671674)

No, what we are told and what I presume the GP was talking about is going to Wikipedia and looking up the articles cited from there.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#35671698)

I once had a teacher that failed me for later telling him that I used Wikipedia's "references and external links" as a basis for my research. I actually had to issue an appeal just to get them to allow Wikipedia to be used as essentially a search engine.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 3 years ago | (#35671574)

If wikipedia wants academics they'll need a nice clean slate for only academics to play in.

Exactly. Because Academics went to school for all those years so their edits can carry the same weight as anyone off the street. Its an even better bonus that if the random dude of the street has been contributing longer they'll get a bump in credibility.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 years ago | (#35671792)

I don't see how it can be done at all in wikipedia's current state. You'd need something like protected edits or two separate pages for each subject. It basically throws the idea behind wikipedia into the toilet. It probably would be a good idea if wikipedia's house is in order, but the latest fiascos show that the whole thing is out of control and is being hijacked by some losers with inflated egos that go on campaigns against people. I personally can't even make an edit on a talk page without some self-important ass being rude to me. No academic who has spent years studying their subject is going to put up with that.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 3 years ago | (#35671842)

It doesn't matter who does the edits: an academic subject matter expert, or a random website visitor. The article will be deleted anyway. It's only a matter of time before wikipedia deletes itself down to 0 articles.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#35672022)

I don't care why academics went to school for "all those years". With the exception of a few fields, a non credentialed individual can have just as much credibility and experience and knowledge as someone with an institutional education.

Further, by that logic, you will then have to declare contributions from people with degrees from one educational institution as more valuable and meaningful than those from another.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (3, Insightful)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 3 years ago | (#35671578)

It also doesn't help when someone anonymous assumes "ownership" of an article and fights any changes you make to it. Then the whole thing turns into a colossal waste of time, even if you are an academic with something important to say. Unless you're contributing to a niche, your time is better spent working with students or writing for grants.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (4, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 3 years ago | (#35671586)

Unless Wiki has done something about the moronic system they have in place that allows people to camp articles and defend them by simply deleting anything that doesn't conform to their exact views I can't see why more professional people would be the slightly bit interested in wasting their time there. I corrected a few articles a few years back now where I had enough expertise to realise some mistakes only to see them deleted the very next day, consequently they were also the last contributions I ever made to wikipedia,

Re:Isn't it obvious? (2)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#35671668)

Don't worry. It's pretty much just like you imagine it [livejournal.com] . I haven't seen any changes in years of checking in even after reading what I link you to - and he's pretty much 100% accurate on how Wikipedia really works.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (2)

rilian4 (591569) | about 3 years ago | (#35671870)

Ditto here. I have a friend who went through pretty much the same thing you describe. He gave up just like you and no longer feels it is worth his time and effort to keep fighting the trolls who are camping certain articles.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (-1, Flamebait)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#35671728)

Not flaming or trolling, but that sounds pretty elitist to me.

If most profs refuse/hate Wikipedia, then maybe they should help make it worth using - the overarching goal of a prof is to educate and inform.

In the early days, I could understand why Wikipedia was actively avoided - it was inaccurate as hell most of the time (and back when I did the teaching thing, I also told students to stay the hell away from it - for exactly that reason). OTOH, quality has come up by quite a bit since 2004 or so, and while certainly not perfect, it is at least a great place to find references, and in the majority of cases provides a solid basic set of facts (esp. when properly cited).

Also, I don't think anyone is asking them to dumb it down any... just make sure it's correct, and correct a fact here and there when needed.

I understand the whole 'publish or perish' mentality, as well as the egos, the avoidance of the pedestrian/vulgar/whatever, but seriously? Maybe it's time for the professors as a whole to grow the hell up. The days of the Ivory Tower tenured professional metering information out to a fawning public? Those days have passed long ago - about when Phoenix University and similar schools began to gain some sort of recognition in the community at large.

Who knows? Wikipedia could even serve as a repository of sorts for the bleeding-edge research, where known facts on a subject could be stored after being agreed-upon, (so long as the edits were locked to only those professionals actively participating in studies of that subject).

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35671802)

I understand the whole 'publish or perish' mentality, as well as the egos, the avoidance of the pedestrian/vulgar/whatever, but seriously? Maybe it's time for the professors as a whole to grow the hell up. The days of the Ivory Tower tenured professional metering information out to a fawning public? Those days have passed long ago - about when Phoenix University and similar schools began to gain some sort of recognition in the community at large.

The problem is that Phoenix University has a reputation.

  Sure you can learn from other sources, but college remains irreplaceable in terms of learning how to deal with an evaluate knew information. It's been a really long time since you couldn't just go down to the library and gain the same information, the difference is that in a college environment that you've got the opportunity to debate, discuss and balance the information coming in. Such is really difficult to do outside of college, even today.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (2)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 3 years ago | (#35672014)

about when Phoenix University and similar schools began to gain some sort of recognition in the community at large.

The problem is that Phoenix University has a reputation.

Yes, that 16% graduation rate is widely recognized.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 years ago | (#35671850)

Most of the *good* academics that I have known would probably have no problems in contributing to such a project... as long as their work isn't nitpicked and second guessed by idiots. That why they and so many other people that know their subject won't participate. Who can blame them...

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

GreatAntibob (1549139) | about 3 years ago | (#35671860)

Or you know....maybe it's because the corrections are reverted within the hour by some zealous guardian who can't stand to see the article corrected. It's almost impossible to correct articles because some other wingnut will simply come by and delete your work. It's not worth the time, if the result is all your effort ends up edited out.

Edits locked on bleeding edge research? On Wikipedia? That defeats the purpose of open source knowledge. Maybe you should rethink your premise.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (5, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 3 years ago | (#35672006)

Maybe it's time for the professors as a whole to grow the hell upMaybe it's time for the professors as a whole to grow the hell up.

Or maybe it's time for morons to realize what professors actually do for a living. Sometimes you take weeks or months of your 'spare' time writing grants. You get a score in the top 6% in your field like my friend just did, and it still didn't make the cutoff for funding in his area. So all that time essentially went down the drain. Now he's writing another grant, to try to keep funding for his technicians, post-docs and graduate students. Oh, and he teaches classes in addition to all the other mentoring duties he has. Then of course there's writing papers for peer review publications. Those things that actually add to your CV and get you recognition in your field.

Think he really wants to spend extra hours of his precious time editing a wiki page, when a 12-year old with an attitude who has been on the wiki longer can just reject his edits or change them? Think again.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#35671828)

Oh noes lowering them out of their ivory towers down to the status of common mortal. I love knowledge, but acting as if you are too good to help in the same way others try to help is just childish.

Original Research? (5, Insightful)

Xgamer4 (970709) | about 3 years ago | (#35671502)

Or, perhaps, academics don't see any reasons to contribute to something that'll erase anything they might add because of Wikipedia's No Original Research [wikipedia.org] clause?

Re:Original Research? (3, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 years ago | (#35671558)

+1. Wikipedia has been on such a deletion frenzy lately that I would never want to contribute anything there. They delete all kinds of highly referenced and relevant articles simply because the editor does not know about the subject.

I will never understand why wikiepdia is so frenzied about deletions. If an article is relevant and of good quality, it should stay. It is not like they are going to run out of bytes, I just don't get it.

Re:Original Research? (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#35671786)

Agreed. The worst part is that they delete actually referential articles while allowing all kinds of fan-info pages to continue. To wit: there are 13 pages of "List of Pokemon", and 46 pages just for individual ones. Useful information? For some. However, given the rise of fandom wikis just for that type of information, it makes Wikipedia look far less professional. Especially since a good deal of it is written "in-universe", treating fiction as though it were reality.

Re:Original Research? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 years ago | (#35671822)

Agreed. Meanwhile you have actual real-life notable people like Laura Massey having their pages deleted for lack of notation, but keeping her co-hosts pages (and thus resulting in broken links within wikipedia), which is nonsensical.

Re:Original Research? (1)

rilian4 (591569) | about 3 years ago | (#35671912)

You think that's bad, try to find real biographical data on a pro wrestler for fun. Most of what you get is a blow by blow of their wrestling careers as if everything was real. Matches, feuds, story-lines, etc...You have to filter a lot out to get the sparse actual biographical data.

Re:Original Research? (4, Interesting)

timholman (71886) | about 3 years ago | (#35671950)

I will never understand why wikiepdia is so frenzied about deletions. If an article is relevant and of good quality, it should stay. It is not like they are going to run out of bytes, I just don't get it.

It's the Wikipedia "split personality" syndrome.

On one hand, Wikipedia wants to be taken seriously as an information resource, so the editors delete huge swathes of articles because they aren't "notable", i.e. "a real encyclopedia wouldn't publish an article like this, so get rid of it".

On the other hand, Wikipedia wants to preserve its culture of "any idiot with a keyboard and an agenda has just as much right to edit an article as an expert in the subject".

The problem is that those two viewpoints are in complete opposition to each other. Wikipedia cannot have its cake and eat it too. Frankly I thought it was a much better online reference when it allowed all those obscure articles, and didn't take itself so seriously.

Re:Original Research? (4, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 3 years ago | (#35671598)

Exactly, the entire premise of the thing precludes any actual academic content from actual experts.

Re:Original Research? (3, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | about 3 years ago | (#35671636)

Exactly. Wikipedia is expert hostile. There is no procedures for evaluating merit, and using simple logic constitutes research, the only valid arguments on wp are:
officially) who can find the most links on the web
unofficially) who has the highest authority as a wikipedia editor/closest to founders.

Both of these are stupid and unacademic.

Re:Original Research? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#35671694)

You forgot:
unstated but administratively sanctioned) which side has an admin willing to abuse his powers first to "win" the argument by banning the other side.

Re:Original Research? (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 3 years ago | (#35671826)

Well, that was I implied by the second point. Thank you for clarifying and improving my contribution ;)

I did forget one point though that counts for a lot:
c) Who has the least life and is willing to sacrifice most time.

The two listed arguments are only ever used if the issue gets to a debate, but that require one party to not already having quit

Re:Original Research? (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 3 years ago | (#35671854)

who has the highest authority as a wikipedia editor/closest to founders.

I see that you do not have a lot of experience with the academics and the politic around them.

Re:Original Research? (3, Interesting)

Jahava (946858) | about 3 years ago | (#35671662)

Or, perhaps, academics don't see any reasons to contribute to something that'll erase anything they might add because of Wikipedia's No Original Research [wikipedia.org] clause?

Why would this be any more of a problem? Academic authors ought to be able to cite research papers just like anyone else; in fact, they could even cite their own publications.

The goal isn't to use Wikipedia as a new publishing mechanism for academic papers. It's to get academics (who probably have a better understanding of a nice suite of topics versus their non-academic counterparts) to contribute material to the encyclopedia. The belief is that, in many cases, that material will be higher quality due to its academic origins. However, the material is still subject to all of the constraints that any other material is.

If Wikipedia didn't have these standards, it could not ever hope to hold its own as a legitimate source of quality research, which is the goal it seems to be striving for.

Re:Original Research? (1, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 years ago | (#35671710)

Except that you can not reference anything on wikipedia that is not on the web, and most academic papers on the web are behind paywalls. So the whole thing falls apart right there.

Re:Original Research? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35671840)

I've been working on a master's level certificate and finding information to cite has been a real challenge. A lot of sites want $30 for an article and I can't justify paying that for an article which may or may not be worth citing. On top of that my instructor would also have to have access to that information.

It's not that much of a problem if you're going to a big school that has a subscription, but if you're going to a small school, they frequently don't have much in the way of resources for things like that.

I've been lucky in that the instructions don't require us to use such sources, just so long as we properly cite what we use we're mostly good. But it gets really frustrating trying to write the paper we want since much of the information is locked up.

Re:Original Research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671712)

And then some moron will come along and edit it thinking they know more.

Re:Original Research? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671780)

The problem is that the no original research rule is widely abused. I've made contributions with references to some pretty uncontroversial ~30 year old papers in my field and they have been deleted because some editor isn't familiar with the field and mistakes my edits for original research.

A big problem seems to be that some "experts" on Wikipedia have gotten most of their knowledge about the field from Wikipedia itself. Never mind that Wikipedia has mistakes and gaps. When someone makes edits that disagree with what these people have read on Wikipedia or talks about extraordinary results that haven't made it into the project until that point in time, the NOR rule gets trotted out.

Re:Original Research? (1)

Kagato (116051) | about 3 years ago | (#35671696)

+1 No original research, and you're not supposed to cite your own work. There's a lot of Ego going on for sure, I don't think it's the Academics however.

Re:Original Research? (1)

takowl (905807) | about 3 years ago | (#35671732)

Academics can contribute plenty of general subject knowledge that isn't original research. And they're unlikely to want to contribute original research, because they'd rather get it published in a journal, where it counts for boosting their career. Once it's published there, it can be cited, so it's fair game for Wikipedia.

A much more plausible explanation is simply that academia moves slowly and ponderously, and won't really change to accommodate anything new until long after it's established in society at large. The generation that has grown up with the internet are still mostly undergrads and PhD students (like me). Come back in a decade or two, and I think there'll be a lot more experts contributing to Wikipedia.

Re:Original Research? (2)

GreatAntibob (1549139) | about 3 years ago | (#35671898)

Or none. The number of Wikipedia contributors has fallen over the last couple years. This is an attempt by Wikimedia to boost the quantity (and quality) of contributors. But it fails to address the basic flaw in having real experts come in. I can edit articles all day, but as long as some friggin' kid with an obsession can simply revert any edits I make, it's not worth the effort to monitor.

Re:Original Research? (2)

rmstar (114746) | about 3 years ago | (#35671940)

Come back in a decade or two, and I think there'll be a lot more experts contributing to Wikipedia.

I am sceptical. Primarily because while it is ok to be a content contributor, it is not nice to be a content defender. Arguing with uneducated (and possibly mean) people over the fine points simply lacks dignity and will lead any academic that has some vestigial self-respect running for higher ground. Having a 15 year old edit the prose of a famous professor simply makes no sense.

Besides, as a working academic you simply don't have the time to invest in such a low impact endeavour. What is more, a PhD student like you does not, in fact, have the time either, even though it seems you have it. I hope you realize that soon enough.

Ego? (4, Insightful)

Henk Poley (308046) | about 3 years ago | (#35671516)

Most I hear from academics is that they got annoyed with Wikipedia once somebody removes their well explained text, around a subject they know a lot about, once too often.

Re:Ego? (4, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | about 3 years ago | (#35671614)

Yeah, calling it "ego" implies that it's unwarranted. Professionals/experts in any field (including academics) often get sick of dealing with retards, trolls, under-informed know-it-alls, control-freaks with OCD, and your basic antisocial sociopaths... and Wikipedia has lots of those.

Re:Ego? (3, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | about 3 years ago | (#35671650)


"Hey you guys are really smart, right? Want to come hang out with a bunch of people who aren't? They aren't too annoying until they come by and start correcting you, when they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. C'mon, it will be fun!!"

I don't even like academics but the self proclaimed wikilords trying to attract knowledgeable people is pretty hilarious.

Re:Ego? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671734)

The less real worth a person has the more reason they have to defend it viciously. Truely skillfull people has little reason to carry big egos and doesn't give a shit about personal fights on WP over non-facts. The result of that is that the idiots will always rule the edit-wars, after everyone else tunes out(*)

(*) Except for a small handfull of valiant crusaders, but reason dictates that, for an outsider, they are indistinguishable from any other stubborn jerk.

Re:Ego? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671862)

Also there is a better reason.

Publish or die. Why spend time writing in wiki when you can spend time getting credit for it and money coming into your university?

Re:Ego? (2)

supercrisp (936036) | about 3 years ago | (#35671884)

Yep. That's why I stopped editing. I spent years studying a few figures in literature, reading in archives, talking to the actual people, reading every damn thing they ever wrote, and I write some text on Wikipedia. Then some bozo comes along and edits my work away. And, of course, all that wasted energy did absolutely nothing to advance my career. I know that everyone thinks we just sit around smoking pipes or something, but I'm busy as hell. And working on Wikipedia is basically charity work. Having your very hard-earned knowledge questioned or spurned by someone who actually might have a point is one thing. That happens all the time. But having it tossed by some knucklehead, again and again.... Why bother?

How to encourage them? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 3 years ago | (#35671524)

"Ever since the Phoenicians invented money, there has been only one answer to that question." -- Clarence Darrow

Re:How to encourage them? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671632)

Academics want to get promoted and tenured. Publishing in PEER REVIEWED journals with high citation and impact scores gets you promoted. Writing for online references that may be used by logarithmically more people does not. Change that reality and you can have all the contributors you can handle.

Set Wikipedia to be a peer-reviewed reference. Give citation credit for whole pieces or sections of articles, be able to get accurate numbers of users to the authors and you get useful stuff on their end.

Re:How to encourage them? (2)

supercrisp (936036) | about 3 years ago | (#35671930)

Maybe. If I write a bunch of reviews and encyclopedia articles, I'm not going to get tenure. That's considered more bush league than Ivy League. Peer reviewed journals and book publications will always be the way to tenure. And that's right. Academics at research institutions shouldn't necessarily spend time on presenting information to the public. It's good that some do, certainly. But if you spend your time writing popular pieces, it's hard to spend time running your lab, doing research, writing books and articles, presenting at conferences, reading other researchers' work, training the next generation of professors and researchers, looking for new blood in the form of grad students and new faculty, writing grant proposals, charming donors, teaching classes, working on committees, trying to keep the college from raiding your department's money, and, as always, finding a parking spot. You know, all that piddly stuff.

[citation needed] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671530)

[citation needed]

Not just reputation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671544)

Many academics may not like dealing with the Wikipedia community process. Say you add something based on your expertise, and somebody else reverts it, or says it's not neutral, or not notable, etc. It's like sending everything you do through peer review, except with far more "reviewers" and far fewer actual peers. Reputation aside, I think many would find journal publication to be a more rewarding process.

Revert wars and other Editor stupidity (5, Insightful)

still_sick (585332) | about 3 years ago | (#35671548)

A few weeks back there was a /. article about there were a sizable portion of wikipedia contributors who were just up and leaving because they didn't want to deal with that anymore.

I wouldn't expect a person who spends their days doing research / classes on their topic-of-expertise to have more patience than anyone else in dealing with that.

Re:Revert wars and other Editor stupidity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671882)

I wouldn't expect a person who spends their days doing research / classes on their topic-of-expertise to have more patience than anyone else in dealing with that.

Describes me pretty well.

If the wikipedants can't understand it, they delete it, with "citation needed" or "original research".

So I stopped wasting my time typing it.

Don't worry, you can read the research papers after a decade or so. Not on wikipedia, though, obviously.

If they want academics to dedicate... (4, Informative)

ferongr (1929434) | about 3 years ago | (#35671550)

... their precious time to editing Wikipedia, they should first up find a solution to shield them from the drama some Wikipedia editors, admins and ArbCom members love so much.

Re:If they want academics to dedicate... (2)

takowl (905807) | about 3 years ago | (#35671910)

This is a repeating theme in /. discussions of Wikipedia. But it doesn't fit with my experience. I've been editing for a few years now, and for the most part it's perfectly civil. I've had one or two arguments, but even those were fairly mild (no swearing or ALL CAPS). Admittedly I generally pick uncontroversial topics, but I think most topics in an encyclopaedia are quite uncontroversial. So why do other people's experiences differ? Is it just a few complaints getting amplified? Are the people who're complaining unwittingly being jerks themselves? Are technological articles more likely to get over-protective custodians?

Wikipedia Not Valid Resource Tool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671552)

Considering the fact that Wikipedia is not a valid research tool and the fact that it can be edited by anyone within the community, Wikipedia is simply not a serious tool since many of the pages are often vandalized.

I find it odd that Wikipedia wants to make it a required source to contribute to by College and University professors. The only way I see this happening is if Wikipedia permanently locks every page. Wikipedia simply is not a recognized tool and it's design leaves a lot to be desired.

Tenure, promotion (5, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 3 years ago | (#35671556)

More to the point, tenure and promotion depend significantly upon recognized publications. I'd speculate that there is zero incentive for an academic to spend time updating Wikipedia, but the traditional conference/journal/book publication path is required for advancement in the academic career.

To represent the disinterest in Wikipedia updates as "academic ego" is extremely misleading.

Re:Tenure, promotion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671646)

When you think about it, though, there also seems to be zero incentive for a layperson to edit Wikipedia. The question is how to get academics to feel the same type of intrinsic motivation to edit as everyone else does.

Re:Tenure, promotion (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#35671762)

When you think about it, though, there also seems to be zero incentive for a layperson to edit Wikipedia. The question is how to get academics to feel the same type of intrinsic motivation to edit as everyone else does.

But not everyone does. Only a tiny percentage of people feel the need to edit Wikipedia. Out of the billion or so people with the ability to edit it, that leaves you with plenty of editors. Out of the thousands of quantum physicists or neurosurgeons, it leaves you with maybe one, who is probably too busy to make frequent contributions.

Re:Tenure, promotion (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#35671972)

I've felt the need to edit wikis (including wikipedia) when I know stuff or see a grammatical or spelling error, but it's always reverted to the previous wrong text, and I'm not anal enough to fight an editing war with a mouth breather who got butt-hurt by having his errors corrected.

Re:Tenure, promotion (2)

questioner (147810) | about 3 years ago | (#35671654)

Exactly. When tenure is based on publishing, then teaching, then service, and editing/peer-reviewing journal articles *barely* counts as service, Wikipedia ranks somewhere between sleep and bathroom breaks in terms of priority. Academic ego has absolutely nothing to do with it: credit in a way that matters does. Academics are too busy doing 'real research' to bother editing an online encyclopedia for no benefit but warm fuzzies.

In other news, what's with posters adding their own personal bias to news articles on Slashdot lately? Just report the facts, thanks. I don't need your weird, slanted viewpoint on the issue, even if you think you're being edgy and smart.

It's the disrespect not the lack of recognition (3, Insightful)

lyml (1200795) | about 3 years ago | (#35671560)

Anyone contributing something to wikipedia is bound to get disrespected by the moderators with obvious personal causes.

Being overwhelmed by reverts by random internet zealot while having a degree in the field you are trying to work in can be infuriating and pretty hard to live with.

Ego my ass. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671564)

I'm a professor of mathematics, and in the past I've attempted to contribute to several math related articles on wikipedia. You know what always happens? Someone reverts all my edits within a day or so. It doesn't matter how meticulously crafted and referenced the added material is, my contribution gets removed.

I stopped bothering years ago, and it has nothing to so with my inflated "academic ego", a ludicrous concept itself. If recognition was largely important to academics, they probably wouldn't be academics!

Re:Ego my ass. (2)

Rhywden (1940872) | about 3 years ago | (#35671634)

And if that kind of stuff happens in mathematics, you can easily guess why the "softer" sciences like psychology or politics won't even begin to play.
You see it's both the boon: Anyone can contribute. And the bane: Anyone can "contribute".

Re:Ego my ass. (1)

Kagato (116051) | about 3 years ago | (#35671720)

Quite true, people who know about 1/10 of what you know about the subject are going to decide what's notable and what's not.

Re:Ego my ass. (4, Interesting)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 3 years ago | (#35671836)

THAT is Wikipedia's real problem. I'm afraid it might well be the harbinger of its demise if they do not quickly sort things out. Right now adding to Wikipedia is virtually impossible.

I'm a physics undergrad; I plan on moving on to a PhD and I would personally love to add stuff to Wikipedia. It's been a very resourceful starting point for a lot of information and details on courses and I'd be happy to give back. Unfortunately, articles seem to be set in stone by now and I'm not interested in having to fight for every inch of text I'd want to add.

Synonym for Tenure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671572)

Is "academic ego" a synonym for tenure? I don't think the Tenure and Promotion Board consider Wikipedia articles as either research or service.

Why Bother? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671580)

Wikipedia's a nice idea, but I find my motivation to contribute has been worn away through exposure to what I perceive to be the petty power politics, the roaming delete squads, the seemingly automatic undo zealots and the feeling that half the time I'm attempting to debate people who are more at home with truthiness and ad-hominem attacks than provable facts and logical discussion.

Sure, I could spend my time helping improve articles on IT security and disaster management. Without the feeling that I'm getting some sort of altruistic emotional glow/motivation from my work being useful to others, I might as well constrain my written work to journals and specific topic forums.

The Problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671604)

Ph.D. historians (and similarly, all other scientists) really, really hate it when their texts are edited by a highschool dropout who thinks he remembers a history channel feature broadcast three years ago which totally refuted the presented facts and conclusions written by the academic who only studied the subject for a measly twenty years.

Re:The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671984)

Last I bothered to look, they had a "traditional view" of history, which means bible stories. Most of this is not the view of modern historians, which is what Wikipedia claims to represent.

deletionists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671608)

Or, perhaps, they have spent weeks crafting thoughtful, insightful articles only to have them needlessly and permanently deleted for being insufficiently notable, or containing original research. I know I'd think twice about any further substantial contributions to Wikipedia until these policies are overturned and a sensible

(ninja'd, but oh well. Guess I'm not alone. ^_^)

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671618)

Pay them.

Jesus christ everybody doesnt fucking owe you something, even if you are Jimmy Wales.

You fat fucking mooch.

Problems with Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671644)

In one area of artificial intelligence I am aware of, case-based reasoning (CBR), academics had been trying to modify the Wikipedia entry for CBR to fix numerous factual errors in the article. Every time someone would fix the article a Wikipedia user would revert the article to the previous version claiming it was the correct version. After fixing the errors over and over, and each time having them reverted, the case-based reasoning community eventually set up their own wiki in order to have a factual reference on the topic. The Wikipedia version is just too error filled and too tightly controlled by someone who does not accept those errors.

ego? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#35671678)

Those things keep them employed. The guy with more journal articles and grants is going to get the job over the guy with more wkipedia edits.

arXiv (2)

Gripp (1969738) | about 3 years ago | (#35671688)

they already have their own wiki - arxiv.org. if the wiki guys want it, all fo the info is right there for the taking...

Re:arXiv (2)

j-beda (85386) | about 3 years ago | (#35671946)

good point

I've largely given up on contributing to Wikipedia. Over the past few years as I have put in a couple of hours of adding content to a variety of topics I have repeatedly found that content removed by someone claiming a lack of notability or usefulness or perceived advertisement or whatever. Wikipedia is great for keeping track of Dr. Who episodes and comic book characters, but the politics of adding useful information to actual real world places is just ridiculous. The "deletionists" have largely driven me away.

Good luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671690)

Nearly every time I've contributed to Wikipedia in my area of expertise, my edits have been reverted or mangled. What's the point when there are so many people out there who are out to destroy content because my citations aren't good enough for them (pfft!) or they don't understand what I've written? I suppose I could waste my time trying to defend my edits, but I have much better things to do.

Nothing is free (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | about 3 years ago | (#35671722)

I don't think it is ego as much as them wanting to be paid for their work. Most people edit Wikipedia want to see something they wrote on the internet and feel it is rewarding. Academics already get this. They get paid to write journal articles so they wouldn't see it as beneficial to start doing the same thing and not getting paid.

Re:Nothing is free (1)

Frequency Domain (601421) | about 3 years ago | (#35671934)

I don't think it is ego as much as them wanting to be paid for their work. ... They get paid to write journal articles so they wouldn't see it as beneficial to start doing the same thing and not getting paid.

No, we don't get paid to write journal articles. In some fields, the money goes the other way - there's a publication fee to get your article into print. The reason we publish in journals is that it's required to get tenure and promotions. Editing Wikipedia carries no weight when it comes to P&T, and fighting edit trolls can be a huge time sink so it just isn't worth it.

Re:Nothing is free (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 3 years ago | (#35671938)

no, unless you are a star in your field, you have pay to publish in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

What about anti-elitism? (2)

Zelig (73519) | about 3 years ago | (#35671740)

A founding principle of Wikipedia is the specific rejection of established credentialing.


Unless the wikipedians explicitly reject this principle, and somehow translate "real world" credentials into sway in the wiki, I don't see why any academic would bother.

Can we moderate the summary -1 flamebait? (2)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 3 years ago | (#35671752)

Because seriously, that cute little jab at the end reads more like a Wikipederast getting shirty over academics telling Jimbo and arbcom to take a collective flying leap, than it does as an actual criticism of their refusal to get involved.

Re:Can we moderate the summary -1 flamebait? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35671774)

If you were diligent about reading the firehose (aka "recent submissions") then it might have been rated too low to make it to the front page. Although I think it has to be -eleventy, because -1 stuff is getting through a lot.

Re:Can we moderate the summary -1 flamebait? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 3 years ago | (#35671928)

Alas, I'm not paid to play editor on Slashdot, any more than I am on Wikipedia. I have better things to do with my time, like drink from real fire hoses.

Re:Can we moderate the summary -1 flamebait? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35671996)

If you're not paid to play editor, then why did you use your red pencil to mark the summary with a question about its ratability?

And rating stuff on slashdot isn't worth money. You're paid in superiority points. So, like washing your dog or handing out donuts with the red cross, you do it for free. Unlike your profession, which you should get as much money for as you can.

Thanks but no thanks (1)

timholman (71886) | about 3 years ago | (#35671754)

Sure, I could contribute some detailed articles in my area of expertise - and then I would have to fight a never-ending battle to keep my contributions from being mangled by someone who thinks he understands the subject, but really is barely more than an addled sociopath with an agenda. Been there, done that - never again.

While Wikipedia is a great reference for pop culture, it is not the place for a serious academic articles - not unless some major changes are made to the way articles are edited and administered. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Pay us. (1, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35671760)

One of the reasons we know we're smart is we don't work for free, you dopes.

Re:Pay us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35671872)

Oh, pish. If I wanted to always get paid for my work, I wouldn't volunteer for Red Cross work. Give me the feeling as though my work is of some worth, and I'll be fine. Give me the idea that my work is being graded by grade-school rejects with the intellect of spoo and the knowledge content of hot air, and then yes, I want payment. After the cheque clears, feel free to use my work as a paper hat for all I care.

Re:Pay us. (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35671968)

I wash my dog for free, too. One of the reasons I know I'm smart is I know the difference between skills I've invested years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in with the expectation that it will pay my bills until 40 years after I'm retired, and stuff just anyone can do that isn't worth anything. Like handing out blankets and donuts.

Like I said. If they want me to improve their business in a way that nobody else can, I get money for that. Lots of it.

Create a "Validated Expert" mode (5, Interesting)

LordStormes (1749242) | about 3 years ago | (#35671788)

1. Hire a person or two to work @ Wikipedia (I live in town, Jimmy, hire me!) to accept and process documentation from users indicating them an expert on subject matter. So, I submit my PhD in Astrophysics, and I get the Astrophysics Expert flag on my account. I give my resume saying I've been a programmer for 30 years, and I get the Computer Programming expert flag. 2. Use the existing tag cloud-style architecture to tag articles by their subject matter (ie, this article on geostationary orbit goes in Astrophysics). 3. Any edits made by a Verified Expert to an article flagged as being part of their area of expertise must be voted down by multiple Wikipedians before they can be removed.

Re:Create a "Validated Expert" mode (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35672004)

3. Any edits made by a Verified Expert to an article flagged as being part of their area of expertise must be voted down by multiple Wikipedians before they can be removed.


papers, talks and grant proposals aren't ego (3, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 3 years ago | (#35671868)

Research papers, talks, and grant proposals aren't ego. They're what you get paid for. As a tenure track (around here) you have to average about 1 paper a year as your own, or a talk (depends on your field), or both, + supervise grad students who also publish papers. And you pay for all of that with grants which you get from having successful grant proposals. Once you have tenure the 'papers per year' metric drops a bit but the basic 'publish or perish' mantra applies.

Research and writing are work, they take time to do well. If I'm not going to get credit for it I have to do it 'on my own time'. I don't know a lot of people that work for 8 hours a day and then go home and try and do the same thing for another 6 hours for the fun of it. Some profs eat sleep and breathe their work though, but even then, if you have things like families an

With OSS you can contribute, and then write about your contributions or you can 'give it away' (say host on some website) for free. And the author gets credit for both the software and papers written about it. With wikipedia your changes could be tossed if some random admin doesn't like them, or if someone else comes along and decides to change it. Your name never shows up, and you don't get credit for it in any way that would go on a grant proposal or that you can say at a promotion and tenure meeting as meaningful work you've done.

I'm sure if there was a good way to give academic credit for contributions to things like wikipedia it would be a great place for people to start publishing work.

Don't want to contribute due to Wikipedia's rep (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about 3 years ago | (#35671916)


    I am not a professor, but I have a PhD.

    However, I don't want to contribute because of Wikipedia's reputation for arbitrary deletion of good contributions and other mistreatment/discouragement of contributors, such as reversions of good work because some idiot doesn't like it.

    I'm perfectly happy to write good contributions for the good of the people at large and no other reward than that, but not if the time I invest is wasted because of arbitrary deletion or other unjustified defacement of what I created.

    Wikipedia would be better served by some sort of slashdot-style community moderation than the current Gestapo of people in power at Wikimedia. And if you want to really have quality content, perhaps you should give contributors more weight in the moderation system if they have ACTUAL PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES PUBLISHED ON THE TOPIC.

    A brief survey of the other top-rated posts on this topic shows that no one has any confidence in the editors at Wikipedia because of their history of arbitrary actions and misconduct. You listening, Wikimedia? Get it? You have a really serious PR problem that you won't fix without serious reforms of your standard operating procedures.

    I really think that some other group needs to copy and fork Wikipedia lock-stock-and-barrel and administer it properly, effectively obsoleting the people currently running it.

    And one other comment, I second the guy who said, "Wikimedia, why are you so delete crazy? Are you afraid of runnnig out of bits?" If someone writes something for you, it's a creative work. Keep it, don't kill it, unless it's KNOWN WRONG.


Graduate Student Likes Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 3 years ago | (#35671926)

I've seen very few pro-wikipedia comments here but have read many decent wikipedia articles, so I think there may be selection bias going on.

Personally, I have edited various biomedical, biochemical pages and never had any problem. In fact the majority of future modifications only improved upon what I had created. I almost always use wikipedia as a starting point when learning about a subject. Often there is some random fact or connection someone has added to the articles that wouldn't fit well enough for a review article and I would have never thought to check on my own otherwise. Anyone who knows how to do actual research wouldn't really trust even a textbook or peer reviewed article 100% anyway.

I see no problem at all with double checking everything seen on wikipedia before taking it as "fact," this is what people should be doing no matter what the source is. Even if it is a primary source, you need to look at the data and decide for yourself. Of course, if you aren't an expert in an area then it may not be worth the time to double check everything. In that case peer review is more trustworthy than wikipedia, but there should still be a nagging thought in the back of your head that the info is beyond what you should feel "sure" about. Then it becomes important to know your boundaries.

Anyway, I have found reading and contributing to wikipedia a rewarding experience.

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