Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

London Wikimedia Academy notes

A few rough notes I made during the London Wikimedia Academy.

Charles Matthews

“Wikipedia is large enough that it has enough to annoy everyone.”

“There is stuff about Wikipedia that needs to be fixed.”

“Wikipedia suits the general reader well enough.”

“The public service broadcasting model works.” - people giving £20 each etc.

Timothy Garton Ash: Wikipedia is a small NGO (actually, technically WMF is). WMF has to do the same sort of things other NGOs have to do: make strategy, alliance etc. This seems quite important to do now.

“There are too many acronyms”

AGF: if you had to define Wikipedia’s culture, assume good faith. Academia does not do this! In academia, “there are minimum standards”.

The first expert reaction is to “paste an article” on top. But, people are trying to build the encyclopedia.

Transition from academic first reaction to working with the community: “way of the salami”.

Turning a bad Wikipedia article into a good one is like turning lecture notes turn into a book. You have to treat the notes with respect.

The alternative to the expert-driven route but rather show your working, show things that are verified.

Isaac Todhunter:

If he does not believe the statements of his tutor—probably a clergyman of mature knowledge, recognized ability and blameless character—his suspicion is irrational, and manifests a want of the power of appreciating evidence, a want fatal to his success in that branch of science which he is supposed to be cultivating.

No arguments from authority.

The good expert on Wikipedia: “An expert is someone who knows where to look things up.”

But the person who turns up and starts talking authoritatively is not an expert for WP. When Wikipedia says “experts are unwelcome”, they mean this!

For popular culture and current affairs, Wikipedia can’t get much better: it aggregates the mainstream media. Wikipedia can still be better with academic input.

Henry Rzepa

Rzepa’s talk is here

Alex Stinson

Half of students in the US always or frequently use Wikipedia.

“Students have to dig deeper and explain better” because they have to explain complex topics to a public audience.

Some examples of writing projects involving Wikipedia:

  • Indiana University: see User:Awadewit/TeachingEssay - Awadewit said it can be used for three things: copy editing (often on DYKs), source analysis, encyclopedia comparisons. It also has three goals: improving thesis-driven essays, basic writing skills and basic research skills.

  • University of Michigan, autumn 2008, over 100 students and 40 pages over 14 weeks. Many went to B, some to GA class.

This post is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence.

There’s more coverage here