Online encyclopedia Wikipedia has finally admitted that it needs real academics editing entries.
It has asked academic experts why they are not submitting papers and editing on the site. However they do not appear to have wondered if their own culture is responsible.
The outfit has teams of editors whose main qualifications appear to be that they are mates and have power complexes. One editor was caught out faking his doctorate, and another made it his life’s work to make Mike Magee and the Everywhere Girl disappear from history.
But Wackypedia’s editorial antics are also having an effect on the number of academics who are offering to edit the online encyclopaedia. Not surprisingly few are signing up when a day of contributions to a physics page can be wiped by a fake penis expert with a chip on his shoulder.
One edit I did on Magee was deleted because another editor could not accept that a person who set up IT magazines could possibly be an expert on Tantra. Other entries were cut because I was not allowed to cite interviews I had done with the subjects.
In the old days of the Inquirer there was a regular story about a woman called the Everywhere Girl. The Everywhere Girl became an internet phenomenon when a stock picture of her appeared in a wide variety of sites. It ran for several years and created an Internet phrase “the Everywhere Girl”. Someone put an entry up on Wikipedia to explain the term.
But it was spiked by readers of a rival magazine which called for the Everywhere Girl entry to be deleted. Their cause was championed by an editor who as far as we could tell had the same level of expertise as my cat. Her entry was deleted and there was a campaign to stick her in different parts of the site.
While this was going on I had a devil of a job editing a Canadian boxer called Nick Farrell’s entry which claimed he wrote for the Inquirer. Other hacks have seen their entries deleted by people who do not think they are important enough to warrant the bandwidth.
Dario Taraborelli, a research analyst for the Wikimedia Foundation told the Guardian that while there might be pockets of academics running very advanced projects and lots of academics contributing outside their fields of expertise, not enough are contributing to scholarly articles within their fields.
However Taraborelli, who is one of three members of its research committee running a survey of experts to try to understand both why they do and don’t contribute to Wikipedia, does not realise that the arrogant stupidity of the outfit’s select clique of editors is driving them away.
Having written papers on different Wikipedia entries over the last ten years and seen them slashed to hell because some self important jerk does not think they are important enough, only to be replaced by some other turd’s ill informed writing, why can’t they see it?
Academics get ahead primarily by writing papers and winning grant proposals. They don’t get any recognition for anything they do on Wikipedia. They do not even get any satisfaction if their contributions are slashed to hell by someone who is probably not qualified to be their student.
Suzie Sheehy, a researcher at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, said she has never contributed to Wikipedia because she worried about genuine, well-researched contributions being changed or overwritten by others.
Citizendium which was launched in 2006 by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger after an acrimonious split with fellow co-founder Jimmy Wales requires contributors to use their real names and contains expert-approved articles. While it is more accurate it does not have status of Wikipedia.
It seems fairly obvious that while Wackpedia gives editorial power to a select group of chums, who have power complexes, and no need to prove their qualifications on a subject, real experts will stay away in droves.