Talk:Why academics do and do not participate on wikis

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

New name?[edit source]

Are there any objections for renaming this resource to "Why are academics not contributing to Wikimedia projects?" The intension seems to be to cover more than just Wikipedia and to go beyond 10 reasons. -- darklama  12:25, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

Is there any real evidence that academics don't contribute to Wikipedia? Other than myself, I know a few academics who do, and the survey stats of Wikipedia activities show that there is a fairly high percentage of self-identified experts editing the project. I'm not sure that it can be assumed that they're not present. Perhaps it might be better as a more vague statement: "Top ten reasons why academics might not chose to contribute to Wikipedia"? - Bilby 00:15, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Better yet: Why are academics denigrated, vilified, intimidated, insulted, defamed, character assassinated, lied to, tricked, misled, censored [add what happened to you or that you witness happening], blocked, and banned from Wikimedia Foundation projects? Vapmachado 00:42, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Are they? Or at least, are they more than other editors? There are some issues, such as a general anti-elitism that emerges and has previously been identified. But I'm not sure that the issues academics face are generally different to the issues others face. - Bilby 02:03, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Evidence I cite alot: Vast Majority of Professors Are Rather Ludditical Leighblackall 00:11, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Neat. :) I lecture in computing, so I always find it amusing when other IT lecturers struggle to get a laptop working with a projector, or fail in some other basic task - although the incidence of this has fallen over the past few years. That said, the examples there only really hold for the "never heard of it" category - there are good reasons why someone would choose not to use most of those (I've attempted almost all, and some are at best only of value for particular courses and situations). - Bilby 08:30, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
For vagueness how about: "What contributing decisions do academics make online?" -- darklama  11:19, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
What about "Impacts on academic participation in wikis" ? --Draicone (talk) 11:21, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
The original idea was to have a top-ten list of reasons for academics not to contribute (which was not to say that there are none that contribute), but I agree that the current content goes beyond that and that a move to a new title is in order. I would favour something like Reasons that encourage or discourage academics to contribute to wiki projects - it is broader and not limited to a particular number of reasons, and it treats both sides equally. I think that the listed reasons can still be grouped somewhat even within the categories, and similar categories would probably also be of use for the pro reasons. As discussed in the next section, a further distinction between Wikipedia and other wikis would probably also be of interest, as would one between reasons for non-participation and for departure.
A major problem thus far is the lack of references, since most of the current entries are somewhat based on anecdotal evidence. --Daniel Mietchen (talk) 16:16, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Why academics do and do not contribute to wikis? If you are concerned by lack of references because your use to Wikipedia requiring them, don't be. Wikiversity allows original research and references are for when you are actually quoting someone, or basing an opinion on a work you read for example. If you want this page to only include opinions that can be verified from a source that is fine too though. -- darklama  00:59, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
I like this suggested title. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:28, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
In general I like the idea of a broader title and scope for this resource. The title above sounds good to me, but I would be open to other suggestions. --mikeu talk 13:41, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Why academics do and do not contribute to wikis resonates well with me. --Daniel Mietchen (talk) 00:49, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
I've moved it over to Why academics do and do not participate on wikis. Academics do not necessarily have to 'contribute' to a wiki: if an academic expert on a subject were to provide detailed feedback on an encyclopedia article or wiki page, they would still be participating even if they aren't contributing in the same way that a fervent Wikipedian is. –Tom Morris 21:06, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Broader than Wikipedia?[edit source]

I would just point out that in Citizendium, where academics have a privileged position, participation by academics remains low. This leads me to believe that the distrust of 'experts', anti-intellectualism, etc. found among editors on Wikipedia is not the controlling factor in poor rates of participation by academics on Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury 12:13, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

That is an assertion -- not even a testable hypothesis -- and deserves to be ignored. Far more useful than all this theorising would be to conduct quasi-random surveys of academic institutions where it is known that some had previously participated in WP but left, and try to identify any causal patterns that would distinguish academic departures from CZ from those of the general population.
In my case, I stopped working with WP for several reasons: (1) the idiots (who think they know everything) far outnumber the experts, and simply outvote them in settling disputes; (2) I objected to my own work being referenced by cretins who misinterpreted it, but refused to allow me as the author to explain what the research actually showed; (3) when my name (and academic reputation) was revealed, I was then attacked on personal grounds for - variously -- not having a PhD, not having the correct nationality, my published research not reaching the conclusions that semi-educated idiots thought it should have.. (4) having my objections to unreferenced nationalistic propaganda taken seriously, even though there was nothig to back up the populist claims; while my references to standard literature were pooh-poohed as "biased"; (5) continuous revert wars carried out by teams of people, so that I could not revert without breaking the 3-revert rule but they could.
Basically, the list is endless. Citizendium has none of these problems: it has rather different ones. On the other hand, it is likely that junior academics have career reasons not to waste time on WP or CZ, and more senior academics may feel that there is little point. However, it is useful to make a clear distinction between departure from a project as opposed to non-participation. 85.72.221.97 15:09, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Tag team reverting still counts as 3RR. And there are certainly cases where papers are cited to show something that they don't - I saw a likely one today, unfortunately it was a subscription only paper, so I had to let it ride. I would be interested to see the area where you had problems. Rich Farmbrough
Participation in Citizendium is low, but the proportion of academics with relevant expertise compared to the total of contributors to articles in a given field may well be higher than at most Wikimedia projects. Again, as stated above, adding in some references would be good. --Daniel Mietchen (talk) 16:24, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
I can present some basic numbers: CZ currently lists 4311 authors[1] and 467 editors (credentialed experts, primarily academics), of whom 51 are active[2] and 416 are inactive.[3] Many of the inactive editors have done nothing in CZ since applying for an account. In terms of article development, CZ currently has 15,266 live articles,[4] 1,038 developed articles (roughly equivalent to A or B articles in WP)[5] and 155 (editor-)approved articles.[6]
So, just under 10% of contributors who have signed up with CZ are editors (and most likely academics), which I am sure exceeds the participation rate in WP. However, only 11% of the editors are currently active (I haven't found a list of inactive CZ authors), and in 3 1/2 years only 155 articles have won approval from the experts in the relevant field(s). So why aren't there more academics active in CZ? Consensus being overwhelmed by partisanship and/or ignorance, distrust of experts, anti-intellectualism, etc. are not issues (or at least, not noticeable ones) in CZ, so I don't think they can be blamed for low numbers of academics participating there. -- Donald Albury 00:20, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Which of these reasons are Academic specific?[edit source]

I liked the "I do not want to argue with other contributors who have no understanding of the subject but are sure they have." - because this is something I have to do sometimes not only in respect to niceties of various WP templates and categories, which are at least "out there" for people to look at, but people who are convinced they know, on the basis of zero proof and usually no evidence, my methods, software, purposes and even attitude, emotion and state of mind! So this particular reason applies to all experts, not just academics.

Moreover the "it does not advance my academic credentials", "Does not go on my CV" etc. are true for more or less anyone whether they are lawyers, labourers or layabouts. Rich Farmbrough 19:59, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Question 2[edit source]

Who says academics don't contribute? Maybe they contribute in other fields than their speciality. Maybe they contribute to other resources which we use (the taxonomy databases, Sloane's integer sequences, Planet math, freely available papers and even subscription papers). Rich Farmbrough 19:59, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Can we design a simple survey for people in academic institutions to copy and use, and report back data on this? Perhaps just a simple yes/no to start? Leighblackall 00:19, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
We could probably use something like the securepoll extension and host it here, but there might be issues relating to who exactly is answering. --SB_Johnny talk 16:45, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Such a survey has now been set up (still in beta). Feedback welcome. --Daniel Mietchen (talk) 00:52, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Questions 3 and 4[edit source]

What can academics do for Wikipedia? What do we mean by academics?

If we mean only researchers - i.e. those who would be publishing in learned journals then possibly it is better use of their time to concentrate on their academic work - it will become available to us.

If we mean lecturers and other authors who are likely to write introductory text, they can donate text with little effort. Indeed anyone can release their text under CC-by unless they have a publishing arrangement that forbids it - and even they can lobby for more access to learned journals.

Some useful things might be providing pointers to suitable references, working on subject bibliographies, making themselves available via WikiProjects for expert advice.

Rich Farmbrough 19:59, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Re: Top reasons for contributing, from an academic's perspective[edit source]

You missed one: "My students are going to use Wikipedia for their research anyway, & it would help everyone involved if the quality of the information was acceptable to begin with." -- Llywrch 21:34, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

That was always my reason. Ottava Rima (talk) 21:53, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
I think it's somewhat contained in under "To gain experience to teach students how to use wikis." (currently number 7 of the for reasons) and "The quality of wiki articles in my field is rather low, which rarely brings me in anyway, and I value my time too highly to help fix that." (currently number 4 of the Disincentives) but it could probably be spelled out more explicitly. --Daniel Mietchen (talk) 13:59, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Conflict of interest minefield[edit source]

It's hard to make major contributions in articles related to your research for a living without running up against Wikipedia's Conflict of Interest guidelines. Sure, I can correct errors and fill in non-controversial missing information and I can write about my hobbies but if my paycheck comes from my research on this animal or that physical process, then it's a conflict for me to add substantial related conflict to Wikipedia.

When it comes to making substantial contributions related to my daily work I'm pretty much stuck drafting an article and submitting it through the Articles For Creation process or recommending changes on article talk pages. Davidwr 21:20, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

It depends on your view of WP:COI. If you're pushing your own viewpoint to the exclusion of others, that's clearly problematic but it's not a given that you won't be able to provide a neutral account of a subject in your area of expertise. The more you know about a subject, the more likely you are to have an opinion on it and of course it's not always easy to detach your edits from that opinion. But if you can, the input of an expert – who is familiar with the relevant sources and the background – can be invaluable. In a nutshell, the point of Wikipedia's conflict of interest policy is to so that people do not "promote your own interests, or those of other individuals or of organizations, including employers, unless you are certain that a neutral editor would agree that your edits are in the best interest of Wikipedia" (own emphasis added). WP:COI becomes problematic when it's assumed that anyone with actual expertise in an area is pushing their opinion; when applied in that manner it excludes those people best qualified to write an article. Nev1 00:34, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I always thought that Stan Shebs, another veteran Wikipedia editor who doesn't contribute as frequently as he used to, had the right strategy:
WP is an unusual challenge for experts, because you can't just say "X is true" and have a crowd of adoring students copy it down uncritically. It's much more like being the ringer at the pool hall, where you go in unknown and have to impress people with your present skill rather than your past reputation. I think it's a good challenge for experts actually - can you command respect for your knowledge using your words alone, without falling back on the CV? We have some pseudonymous experts in WP who are really world-class and receive considerable deference, so it can work that way.
While argumentum ex cathedra does have its tactical advantages (e.g., an instructor can silence a chronic nuisance & allow the class to get back to learning the subject), a true expert, by definition, never needs to rely on titles to win her/his argument. -- Llywrch 17:20, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Tweeted[edit source]

http://twitter.com/#!/Wikiversity/statuses/11187667970555904 -- Jtneill - Talk - c 22:40, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

"cites"?[edit source]

I just went over the history and saw edit comments (and edits) removing things that did not have a "cite". Is this resource related to an external class somewhere? As far as I can tell, there seem to be no references whatsoever (which is fine), so the "lacking a cite" stuff seems a bit odd. --SB_Johnny talk 00:51, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Handout anecdote[edit source]

During my time in university (BA in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at Heythrop College), only one academic gave out a Wikipedia article as a handout. That was in a first-year class about the history of philosophy, and the handout was a large chunk of the Hermeneutics article.

It'd be useful to know how much Wikimedia materials are being used in the classroom for this kind of purpose. —Tom Morris 21:01, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Reddit[edit source]

This page was discussed on Reddit here. Tom Morris 15:22, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

Removing redundancy[edit source]

I removed two redundant reasons for academic nonparticipation. They are:

  • It is not useful for my research.
  • None of my peers come here to read about my research.
  • The first of these two reasons was incorporated into the number one reason you aleady gave, and the second of the two removed reasons seems entirely redundant. Wikipedia has a penchant for lists that are two long. Also, I believe that "research" might not even be the primary reason, as important as it is. Many professors do little or no research, and they shy away from wikis. I would also like to add a short essay at the bottom of your list. It might help put this into perspective if we discuss everything at once.--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 16:03, 9 March 2015 (UTC)