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Education Wikipedia News

Wikipedia Wants More Contributions From Academics 385 385

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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Wikipedia Wants More Contributions From Academics

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  • by ferongr (1929434) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @05:40PM (#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.

  • Ego my ass. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @05:41PM (#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!

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:07PM (#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.

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

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:22PM (#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.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:27PM (#35672064)

    "Maybe it's time for the professors as a whole to grow the hell up."
    Maybe the professors are avoiding contributing until wikipedia trolls grow the hell up.

    Why spend several hours of your time trying to write a careful, well referenced, measured piece if there is too high a chance that you'll come back the next day to find "u r gay" or something like that splattered all over it? Or somebody with little knowledge of your field picking a fight with you and re-writing your article without entering into measured debate before undertaking the edits? Some professors feel it's not worth the time contributing to a space that may require a lot of time fighting over for little gain. They might feel their time is better spent communicating through other media, say for example contributing to a popular science book, explaining what they are doing on their personal website, publishing in the academic media or doing talks in science festivals. Perhaps they feel the debate is of higher quality in these channels?

    Other academics do publish on wikipedia though, some academics do feel it's a place they can share ideas, e.g. in community informatics. Here's looking at you Mike and Larry [wikipedia.org]

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

    by recrudescence (1383489) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @08:06PM (#35673042)
    Or, something like Scholarpedia [scholarpedia.org], perhaps?

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