Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/March 2007

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open access scientific research

An interesting article from the BBC at Push for open access to research. Also see Directory of Open Access Journals --mikeu 01:50, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I think we are building a database of those here--Rayc 21:33, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

"Please tell us about yourself..."

Since most people do not create a user page (the "about me" page), perhaps we can automatically begin the user page for every new user.

When someone registers at Wikiversity, we can put this on their user page:

"Please tell us about yourself. Simply erase this message and begin typing."

And perhaps a bot can do this for current uses who still have a blank user page. ~~~~ Robert Elliott 14:29, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

As a first step, I made a change to MediaWiki:Welcomecreation. Previously there was just a message about changing user preferences. I added two links to pages that provide information about user pages and editing pages. --JWSchmidt 16:24, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I see that the second line of the greeting has now been changed to this:

"Please tell us about yourself by editing your user page."

using the coding:

 "Please tell us about yourself by [[Wikiversity:Introduction|editing]] your [[Wikiversity:User page|user page]]."

however, I think it would be better to bring them directly to their "user page" rather than to "Wikiversity's user page"? Where does this greeting actually appear? Robert Elliott 18:51, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

The text at MediaWiki:Welcomecreation is shown to people right after they register a user name. One additional line of text is also shown that provides a link back to the page they were at before starting the process to create an account. I do not know how that link is generated. Maybe some other custodian can figure that out. Wikiversity:User page explains what a user page is, what to put on it and where the link to your user page is. --JWSchmidt 19:47, 5 March 2007 (UTC)


Is this in responce to the big "fake PhD" scandal over at En-wikipedia? Should we have some sort of formal request for credentials here, or should degree not matter?--Rayc 20:02, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I think not, but see below...

Why should anyone trust information at a wiki website? Wikimedia Foundation wiki projects rely on 1) citation of verifiable sources and 2) never-ending fact checking by multiple editors. In 2005 Jimmy Wales asked if it would be possible to generate more trust in wikis by allowing wiki editors to declare their areas of expertise and verify their credentials. Recently, a prominent member of the Wikipedia community was found to have falsely claimed to have a set of academic credentials. This prompted new discussions about how wiki projects should deal with editors who wish to make public their personal information such as academic degrees they have earned. See this discussion at Wikipedia.

Wikiversity is exploring the possibility that it might be possible to allow editors to participate in research projects. This would mean that some Wikiversity content would be original research and not be verifiable by citation of reliable sources. How can the Wikiversity community protect itself from cranks who might be tempted to fabricate bogus research results and post them on Wikiversity pages? Attempts are being made to answer this question at the multi-lingual Wikiversity hub. One suggestion is that it might be useful for the Wikiversity community to call upon experts to help guide the Wikiversity community in identification of bogus information posted to Wikiversity pages.

Would it help the credibility of Wikiversity if editors were allowed to declare their expertise and credentials and if there were a formal process by which the Wikiversity community could verify those claims?
--JWSchmidt 00:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

My personal opinion is to not do this yet. Wikiversity is supposed to be an experiment in a new style of learning. Learning isn't just about expertise, and expertise isn't just about academic paperwork. We definately do have to keep an eye on OR in our community, but does that mean we must restrict OR to those who are somehow experts? (I'd like to do some OR eventually ... mine might be very uncontroversial, but I am hoping we can allow non-experts who are persuing bonafide research to do so in the framework we establish).
I'm not against allowing experts to participate, but the only way to "help our credibility" by using a formal process is some kind of "stamp of approval", which seems to be the opposite of our experimental learning process. Historybuff 01:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
"does that mean we must restrict OR to those who are somehow experts?" <-- No. The suggested system for editors to describe their expertise and then have their claims about credentials be independently verified would be an optional system. An editor with verified credentials would not be allowed to make arguments from authority. --JWSchmidt 01:58, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it's an interesting idea, but it'd be hard to do for weird topics. Verification of credentials would best be organized on a School: or Topic: level—by those familiar enough with the subject to have a sense of what sorts of credentials are relevant, and what are not. But what about credentials which cannot be verified? Say, for example, you're a hobbyist with years of experience in a certain area? Another problem is keeping anonymity—do we want anonymity here, or do we, like at a real university, want everyone to be well aware of who we are? It's easy enough (though would still be a bureacratic hassle) to call up my alma mater and verify that I have received the degrees I have, but other issues are more difficult. And what about the bureacracy of it all? Who can verify these things? What happens if someone in the system uses position to "cheat"? The Jade Knight 09:08, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I would vote against verifying credentials - it is actions (or words) that count here not degrees (and I speak as one who has the full set of boxtops). The exciting aspect to wikiversity is the open-to-all feature. The challenge of original research is fascinating - and there the key will be how to guarantee the accuracy of the data not the credentials of the people doing it. By the way, when we have figured that out we will actually be ahead of the academics because other than being open to replication (which does not always happen) their data is also open to being falsified. --Vannin 17:33, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I think the idea of verified credentials is not meant to be of direct interest to experienced wiki users who all agree that what matters is the edits done by participants. However, some people are reluctant to participate in wikis because they see no evidence that experts participate. The question is if a system of verified credentials might have strategic effects such as increasing the confidence of outsiders who have doubts about the quality of information that is found on the pages of wiki projects. There is a possibility of a kind of snowball effect in which more outsiders see evidence that some experts are involved with wiki projects, more people come to have confidence in wikis, participate more, and help increase the quality of information at wiki websites. So if you "vote against verifying credentials" then are your actions limiting the quality and success of wikis? --JWSchmidt 17:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Or will more people feel insecure about contributing because they lack the credentials? I suppose we wont know until we try but it would be hard to step back from it once we focus on credentials (In my own field - Psychology - there has been considerable effort to ensuring gatekeeping to keep people out, and our listserves are limited to people in the profession, etc. which is why it is refreshing to have a venue where people are on equal ground)--Vannin 21:43, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
"will more people feel insecure" <-- Hopefully Wikiversity will always be welcoming to participants who range from beginners to experts. "focus on credentials" <-- I think Wikimedia Foundation wiki projects will always "focus" on the idea that "Openness and inclusiveness are ..... our radical means to our radical ends." (source) I do not see why an optional system for verifying credentials would change things away from a culture where "people are on equal ground". Nobody is suggesting that an editor with verified credentials would get special treatment. --JWSchmidt 02:43, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it depends on discipline. In my area I suspect people would be less interested in whether someone has a degree than in their publication record, and faculty status, so it would mean moving towards full use of names. This in turn would likely reduce the number of practitioners and students who would want to participate or they would opt for anonymity and lesser status.--Vannin 17:41, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

In this context, "credential" means something like a university degree that was conferred by an accredited educational institution. Anyone seeking to have their credentials verified within a Wikimedia project would have to declare their real world identity. A possible credential authentication methods is:
wiki user Foobar makes a link from the [[User:Foobar]] page to a webpage such as and claims to be Dr. Bar. In the wiki's "E-mail this user" system, user Foobar would use the email address The Wikimedia Foundation website would keep a public list of email confirmations such as:

Subject: Wikipedia user foobar
I, Dr. Foo Bar, edit Wikipedia as user Foobar. My academic credentials are described at

There could be a link from the [[User:Foobar]] page to the copy of the authenticating email at the website. --JWSchmidt 14:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

New policy proposals for verification of credentials are being drafted at Wikipedia, see: Wikipedia:Credentials and User:Jimbo Wales/Credential Verification. --JWSchmidt 18:06, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

"Let me see your credential score!"
Yes, we should have credentials. The credentials should be a score of the number of lessons written and the number of students who have completed the lessons and have learned something. Robert Elliott - 6 March 2007 (PST)
I view Wikiversity as as effort to discover good ways to use collaborative wiki editing in support of learning and education. Wiki-based modules that can be identified as "lessons" are just one way of using wiki technology to facilitate learning. It is difficult to measure how much use is made of learning resources that are located on on wiki webpages. It is possible for people to visit a wiki page and learn something without leaving us with any indication that they did so. Traditionally, wiki editors establish a reputation and become trusted within a wiki community by making what other community members view as "useful edits". Having peers in a wiki community read through someone's editing history can be a mind-numbing experience that might not efficiently result in an effective evaluation of the editor's value to the community. In the recent "scandal", the Wikipedia editor who made false claims about having degrees and working at a university was approved by the Wikipedia community as an administrator, a bureaucrat and was made an arbitrator by Jimmy Wales, all without anyone looking carefully enough at the editing history to notice the problems. Some wiki editors keep a list of pages that they are proud to have edited, essentially saying, "look at my contributions to these pages if you want to judge my contributions to the project." There is an editor review process at Wikipedia, but it is a rather informal system aimed at helping people improve as editors. I wonder if there are any wikis with a formal system for trying to evaluate/rank editors. --JWSchmidt 16:27, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Research scope and guidelines (part 2)

Disscussing meeting time upstream, was hard to notice. Moving the discussion down here (how do liquid threads work anyways?)--Rayc 20:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Rayc, well, I went bold and decided to move the whole thing down and indented it too. --HappyCamper 22:40, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Research scope and guidelines

Hi all,

(crossposted to Wikiversity-L mailing list, and main discussion fora of all Wikiversity projects)

I've just been notified that the board will be reviewing Wikiversity at its next meeting (on the 16th of March). The major question around Wikiversity at its setting up was about research. So far, scope and guidelines have been discussed at a multilingual forum, but there are new policy proposal developments at:

It would be very helpful to get some more feedback from English and non-English project participants - these were always meant to reflect the whole Wikiversity community (and is why the multilingual wiki was set up in the first place). Please translate, edit, and/or comment..

Specifically, I should say that one initial concern was how smaller, less-developed Wikiversity projects will deal with research. Another obvious concern is how will we deal with fringe groups (eg. Nazis etc) who want to use Wikiversity as a publishing house? If we deal with these questions at a minimum, we are a long way towards having a sustainable base of policies that all Wikiversities can work from. Thanks Cormaggio beep 14:39, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Does it mean we need to jump over to beta to have a discussion? --HappyCamper 14:48, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
That's the idea. :-) I'd urge anyone interested to monitor at least those two pages (and their talk pages), and pitch in if possible. The board will not be discussing the English Wikiversity's research scope/guidelines etc. - but rather the sustainability of the general guidelines with respect to all Wikiversity projects - present and future..
I'd also add (and I meant to bring this up in my original message - darn it!), but does anyone think it might be a good idea to have an IRC meeting in advance of the board's meeting? It could allow us to hammer out ideas before the possibility of getting landed with awkward questions. Thoughts? Cormaggio beep 15:00, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
That would be great. We could hold it at the underpopulated #wikiversity channel instead of wikiversity-en. What day/time/etc?--Rayc 16:18, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
I've set up a page to coordinate this meeting on Beta:IRC meeting about research (this lack of interwiki link still bugs me..) Cormaggio beep 17:27, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Might this be a good use of our new "speaker's corner" voice facility? Maybe we should think about inserting a topic about this prior to the board meeting. Historybuff 00:47, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Any progress on the time of the meeting? Looks like around 22 to 0 UTC is the best.--Rayc 22:22, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

There's been depressingly little feedback from non-English projects, despite posting to all Colloquiums and the mailing list. But yes, I think this timeframe might be best - now we need a day... Cormaggio beep 09:35, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
Make that day March 3rd. hmm.... --HappyCamper 21:55, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
That's this Saturday. Any objections? Fine by me - though is it too short notice? Cormaggio beep 23:11, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
We can do later too, I just picked a random date to get a sense of what people feel like. --HappyCamper 00:18, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Since we've left it pretty short notice (by now) to advertise this, should we wait until the following Saturday, 10th? (Saturday does seem to be the best common day.) In any case, we have to convene before the board do (on the 16th).. Cormaggio beep 12:03, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Might want to make this a new topic, I forgot that I even asked the date until today.--Rayc 20:38, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Someone mind leaving a message on my talk page when this is firmed up? The Jade Knight 09:09, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

OK, let's just say this Saturday (10th) @ 22:00 UTC (see [1], [2]) in freenode channel #wikiversity (not #wikiversity-en) - I'll email lists and wiki-message individual participants.. Cormaggio beep 21:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Just to make it clear, subtract (not add) the number from your present military time to get UTC. I was somehow planning in tibetian time. The meeting is at 4 PM CST.--Rayc 21:48, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


  • For those of you who can't make it, you can write about what you want to talk about here. I'm interested in how data collection will work and if the difference between a "learning project" and "research" is the intended outcome (publishable work). Should the restriction be no user generated data, or just recreatable data? If we allow publishing, who get to be the main author? Discuss.--Rayc 21:55, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think my interest is developing a flexible guideline for doing research on Wikiversity. In what sense of the word "research" are we really dealing with here? And to what extent do we give participants the flexibility to conduct their research here? --HappyCamper 22:09, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I just tried to join the #wikiversity channel using the web-based CGI client at [3] I kept getting an error message that said "*** Access to channel #wikiversity is blocked" I can join #wikiversity-en fine. The main wikizine page also does not list #wikiversity on the main page pull down list.--mikeu 18:42, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
I installed the ChatZilla extension to firefox. I can now join #wikiversity. I'll also leave a note at Wikiversity:Chat mentioning this for others who need a web-based client.--mikeu 19:24, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

computer networks

—BlueDolphin→I am kind of new here I would like to find some useful learning resources about computer networks and how to solve their problems —The preceding unsigned comment was added by BlueDolphin (talkcontribs) 14:37, 8 March 2007 (UTC).

Computer Networks is a large topic, which we've just started to touch on. You could check out Category:Networking, and if that doesn't provide anything useful, stop by School Talk:Computer Science with another question. Historybuff 14:40, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Learning by traveling...

If alternative learning is so important at Wikiversity, why don't you add a section for the most useful of all learning methods which is educational travel. (Or maybe there already is a section for educational travel but I do not find it in the main page of Wikiversity.)
While Wikiversity cannot afford to have their own sailing ships to travel the seven seas in search of knowledge from different cultures, it would be possible to have groups of travelers searching the globe for knowledge which is not in books or not on the Internet.
As an example, travelers can go in search of the most healthy foods in the world as measure by how beautiful it makes people. The FDA (USA - Food and Drug Administration) does not do this kind of testing. FDA will tell you how much calcium is in milk but it will not give you a list of foods that will make your grandchildren as beautiful as the kids in other parts of the world.
Yet, if you have ever traveled to remote areas, you will quickly see that diet makes some people look better than people in the USA. And some diets in certain parts of the world, allow people to live longer, healthier lives than in the USA.
You cannot see this by reading books or searching on the Internet. You have to go and taste the food for yourself. That is learning you cannot get anywhere else. Robert Elliott 8 March 2007 (PST)
We really can't ask people to travel that far. However, there are people from all across the world here. If I want to learn about British/Irish castles, it would be a lot easier for me to have Cormaggio go to the site and take pictures and samples then it would for me, and if Cormaggio wanted to get a sample of water from lake Michigan, it would be very easy for me to go and get one. SB_Johnny could have people from all around the world send him samples of leaves if he wanted too.--Rayc 19:50, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I started a page a while ago at Roadrunner 23:48, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it's a wonderful idea from Robert - there are some things that we can get other people to do, but there are some things that have to be experienced yourself. Learning by traveling is there to be explored... Cormaggio talk 11:03, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
So what school is that in? How will people find this page? (How do they access it? - Inderdicipline Studies maybe?) I am not sure where "World Exploration" should be. Robert Elliott 12:10, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

(How) is original research in Wikiversity going to be possible?

I suppose it would be naive to assume that there is just one science. There are many different research paradigms, especially if you move from the science side towards the humanities side of the spectrum. If the difference is in method, there is no problem, different schools nay work on different aspects of the same issue using different methods. However, different research paradigms may also differ in their basic assumptions (like e.g. darwinian vs. creationist approaches). If everybody can just edit everything, the result would be edit wars like they can be seen on controversial articles on Wikipedia.

The normal solution to this problem is to publish in moderated forums (journals, conference proceedings etc.). Each such forum has some guidelines (something like a constitution) and a board of editors who decide what comes in and what is left out. I suppose something like this would be needed in Wikiversity as well, or else researches will stay away from these pages. What would remain would be the fringe sciences, the pseudosciences, the people proving pi to be a rational number etc., and some ideologists. Wikiversity would just become ridiculous.

So I am a bit sceptical if the Wiki model can ever work to produce some serious research. What is needed is a mechanism that allows research communities to form and to protect their pages against people following another paradigm or ideology.

I propose the following: Users should be given the possibility to create a Community (there should be a namespace for this). Each Community would have content pages it "owns (tagged in some way)". In order to edit those pages, a user would have to have an account (editing without an account should be made impossible both on Wikiversity and on Wikipedia, IMHO) and would have to join that community. To join a community, you would have to apply. The members of the community can then vote if they let you in. Each community would have to describe its paradigmatic basis or "constitution", i.e. describe its scope, requirements, methods and basic assumptions. If you violate the communities constitution, you may be voted out (details may be set in the constitution or a general policy may be developed; for example, the users who where there first or who founded the community may have more rights. If a group of users conspires to take over a community, there might be a way for them to be thrown out with the help of administrators. How ever, these mechanisms need discussion. The question is, can such a democratic model of self defining research communities be made to work?). The admission and exclusion of users should be supported by the software, so communities can control who is their member.

Within a community, content could be developed in a wiki way, as a cooperative effort. However, once such a development has reached some satisfactory state for a piece of work, there should be a way for the community to "freeze" it as a fixed "Version". This would then become uneditable and remain unchanged and could be used as a citable publication. For further changes, a copy would be made with a new version number while the old version remains.

If users don't agree with what is going on inside a community, they would be free to form their own communities. Since the contents are free, the "break away" people could copy existing contents and develop them further into different directions within their own paradigm.

In such a model, the general policy of Wikiversity would not need to make any restrictions on the kind of research going on here (the fringe science will be here as well, the ideologists, even people just producing a satire of research for fun, but let them) but provide mechanisms for communities to form and to define their own research restrictions. This way, everybody can start something like a new scientific journal, and some of them might turn into respected ones.

If this would work, I don't know. but in my opinion, the present model where everybody can change any page is not going to work for research.Nannus 17:54, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Wow, long post. I was tempted to reply just addressing the title, but the reply I was thinking of had nothing to do with your text, so I'll try addressing that.
However, different research paradigms may also differ in their basic assumptions (like e.g. darwinian vs. creationist approaches),
  • There was some talk of this at the start of wikiversity, Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/August_2006#Food_for_thought, I don't know really what became of it. I think the scientific method should be used. Different assumptions could just be declared. If I'm assuming that the world is flat, than I should state so in the research.
The normal solution to this problem is to publish in moderated forums,
  • I am thinking that wikiversity should create material. If it is going to be "research", then the end result should be to publish in something that would be considered a reliable source by wikis. Whether or not we can find a blog or wiki journal up to that standard is another question, see this wiki and this list
Users should be given the possibility to create a Community,
(editing without an account should be made impossible both on Wikiversity and on Wikipedia, IMHO),
  • there was some talk about restricting access to only people involved with UIUC PHIL 270: Philosophy of Science, as this was a particular course at a particular school. However, after the course was done, the page was moved to a generlized page and anyone was allowed to edit. There was also some talk of differential login. However, I don't think anon editing will ever totally be done away with.
To join a community, you would have to apply. The members of the community can then vote if they let you in. Each community would have to describe its paradigmatic basis or "constitution", i.e. describe its scope, requirements, methods and basic assumptions. If you violate the communities constitution, you may be voted out.
  • This sounds too much like Esperanza to ever work. Though global rules and project scopes are good ideas.
there should be a way for the community to "freeze" it as a fixed "Version",
  • This is the concept behind stable versions. The german wikipedia was supposedly testing this. Don't know what happened to that.
If users don't agree with what is going on inside a community, they would be free to form their own communities.
  • Right now, there is such a small user base that we would never reach critical mass on any topic. Maybe if we grow as big as wikipedia this might work.
This way, everybody can start something like a new scientific journal, and some of them might turn into respected ones.
  • Right now there are too many real scientific journals to keep up with. The market is saturated. What would be great is if we could start producing content for these journals. Imagine, a 5th grader with a curriculum vitae because he took part in taking pictures for the Bloom clock project.--Rayc 19:33, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
The problem I am trying to address is: if you ar writing something about, say biology in a darwinian framework, and then a creationist comes along and starts editing his views into your course materials, what are you going to do? Is there a way to prevent that, i.e. create content in a wiki way, but prevent people destroying it because they follow a different philosophy. You said the scientific method is used. In physical sciences, that is probably unproblematic, but opinions about what is scientific are going to be more diverse the further you go towards the social sciences and humanities (or the more complex the systems are that you study). Even outside research, if you just compile course materials, you will be running into edit-unedit-wars in some controversial issues. These problems will keep people away from here or they will leave after some time.

In software development, the open source approach is working well because if the software has a bug, it would not run and if it is not useful, people will use and continue developing another one. But here, I am not sure it will be that easy. The current model of Wikiversity seems a bit naive to me. This works only if everybody agrees on some common goals. At the moment, there are some enthusiasts here and things seem to go on well. But if this community really becomes large, problems with different opinions and beliefs will start. However, these general problems might also keep people away or cause them to leave, so that the critical mass might not be reached. For relatively uncontroversial areas like physical sciences, Wikiversity might work, but for other areas, I am not convinced.Nannus 19:58, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

"a creationist comes along and starts editing his views into your course materials, what are you going to do?" <-- The proposed research guidelines try to deal with such problems. The guidelines include the idea that if a research project is exploring a topic from a particular point of view (say, according to the scientific method) then you can disclose your point of view and continue your project without having to engage in disputes over the methods you have adopted. I think the same basic strategy can apply to learning projects that do not involve research. Just state that your learning project will cover the published science of biological evolution and that it will not cover creationism. I think the proposed disclosures policy only works if it is coupled to a strict ethics policy. For wiki pages that involve original research, there could be a page protection template that would be used to explain the research approach being used and warning people who might have a different approach to the topic not to edit there. --JWSchmidt 23:11, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
There are some really interesting thoughts here - and Rayc has said a lot of what I was going to say. On the notion of versions of articles - individual pages in Wikiversity that represent one POV can easily be "forked" into a new version that reflects a change in style, pedagogy, philosophy, epistemology etc. Basically, it is good to think of an edit to an page not as a change, but as a modified copy of the page (think of the page's history as an incremental series of copies to the page, rather than the page as something which has been fundamentally altered). Viewed like this, multiple versions of an article can each become stable versions, and protected in a number of ways if so desired (notions of protection are still in development). How pages are protected is obviously a social issue - and I personally don't like the idea of fixed memberships and constitutions of groups - preferring instead a model of open debate. Otherwise, we would have a system whereby groups could form which could actively exclude anyone from their circle and publish whatever they want - clearly a situation we don't want on Wikiversity. Furthermore, if Wikiversity says that it will take any type of research, fringe et al, then its ability to present itself as a publisher and host of good, quality research is being undermined. I think that there will have to be some sort of judgment about what research to disallow on Wikiversity - otherwise we will just become a publishing house for people who can't get published elsewhere - usually for good reason. But many people cannot get rigorous research published simply simply because of the fierce competition to get into particular journals - so this is what I think Wikiversity should be encouraging, not just any old thing. Cormaggio talk 01:05, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
At the same time, I think this needs to be done on a School level. The Jade Knight 23:40, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
Just to chime in here. I really don't see wikiversity as a useful place to publish research. That space is already taken by the preprints databases like and SSRN, which I think are going to rapidly displace print journals. Wikiversity has been very useful to me as a place to edit drafts of research, and for facilitating the creation of communities. On my home page, I've put together some drafts of papers that I'm in the process of publishing and people are welcome to add their comments and thoughts, and the main reason that I've done this is to see if I can find coauthors and the like. Since what is posted on wikiversity is a draft and the final paper will be posted on SSRN, a lot of the issues that have come up aren't relevant., RESPEC, and SSRN deal with the "crank" problem by publishing so much good and relevant stuff that the cranks get ignored. Personally, what I'm trying to do is to use wikiversity as something of a large whiteboard and see if that will attract research communities here.
Roadrunner 00:01, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Research - final working details

The IRC meeting on Saturday was quite productive - see log (thanks to Michael Billington). Main points (for me) that we need to decide:

  • Is Wikiversity for educational research, or all types of research?
  • Should we go with the Review Board idea, or something akin to a "flagging and deletion" (ie VfD) process (or something incorporating both)?

We need principles in place for all Wikiversities (like WP has NPOV, for example) - however, we have been discussing if every project has to stick to exactly the same mechanisms for dealing with research. I think it's most practical if we distill these policies into key ideas that new projects can use without needing to translate all the English language pages. Other ideas about how to attract researchers to Wikiversity are great, but unnecessary to deal with for the moment in our common policies. Please help out with the final scope and guidelines - remember, the board meets this weekend. Thanks. Cormaggio talk 14:51, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't think it is too much to ask that someone conducting research take the time to include an educational component in the project they are working on. In my experience most researchers are eager to talk about the work they are doing and explain it to students. It is very common in the US for a grant to require an educational component. Take a look at just about any space mission website (ie. Cassini spacecraft) and you will find pages for educators and children. I think we should allow all types of research, but remind researchers of the WV mission statement and suggest they include more education oriented materials in projects where this is lacking. The review board sounds like a good plan. I like the way that it starts off with the goal of correcting problems, and only resorts to deletion if the problems are not fixed. It also involves the community in a discussion of the problems. I think it is also important to consider that in a wiki envrinment some of the best practices are reactive, not proactive. The documents created so far are a good start, and lay the foundation for developing a process to handle problems. But I suspect that the policy and procedures will develop rapidly once there are test cases that need resolution.--mikeu 15:31, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure there can ever be much of a distinction between research and education at Wikiversity.....find a page for a research project, click the edit button, start participating, learn by doing. --JWSchmidt 19:56, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with JWSchmidt. Also, consider that graduate education is comprised mostly of research at most universities, to boot, and often some part of undergraduate education includes this, as well. The Jade Knight 02:32, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Spring is in the air


At least in the northern hemisphere. It's warm outside, take a walk and get some fresh air. :) Historybuff 14:11, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Ahhhh :). --SB_Johnny | talk 18:20, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Lets go.--Juan 14:33, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

A (northern) springtime update on Wikimedia projects

As the weather turns to the warmer in the Northern Hemisphere, I wanted to remind everyone of all the wiki-projects out there having to do with plants.

On Wikiversity, there are some budding projects, including the Bloom Clock and Plant Identification. The Bloom Clock is a "research project anyone can contribute to", where contributors can record any flowers they see blooming on any particular day and in any particular region, with the eventual goal of creating a database of bloom times that will be informative both about the plants themselves and the regions they grow in. The Plant Identification project is aimed at creating learning materials for students of horticulture, botany, and agriculture by creating quizzes that make use of the vast resource of photographs on Wikimedia Commons.

On Wikimedia Commons, there are always plants needing identification and new images needed. Check in at Commons:WikiProject Tree of Life to see what's going on there.

On Wikibooks, A Wikimanual of Gardening has been growing be leaps and bounds, thanks in no small part to the Import tool, used to copy articles from Wikipedia. There are hundreds of pages (many needing help).

Last but not least, the Plants Wikiproject on Wikipedia is always active, with plenty of friendly and knowledgeable participants who are happy to help you identify photographs or answer questions.

So, while you might not be able to bring Wikimedia to the woodland, meadow, or garden, there are plenty of ways you can use Wikimedia to learn and teach others about the flowering plants which are so welcome a sight after a long cold winter.--SB_Johnny | talk

Spanish: An Introduction

An introductory course of Spanish looks for students and Spanish native speakers. The course is organized for the begginers and it will contain about 25-30 lessons, which can move students to a lower-intermeded level or A1. The comunication will be available with teacher via skype. If you are interested, subscribe yourself, please:

I put your announcement up on the Template:Spanish1-Announce.--Rayc 14:58, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Reproductive template

User:Juan/Teacher availability/template Is there anyone who is able to write down a reproductive template. I mean a table, which can show teacher availability from User:Juan/Teacher availability? I mean the box for the right side, which will show actual data from that page.--Juan 10:57, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

One possible format for a teacher availability "box" is shown to the right. This "box" is generated by placing {{User:Juan/Teacher availability/template}} in this page section. See User:Juan/Teacher availability/template. --JWSchmidt 14:11, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Combining pages

How do you combine pages, so that multiple smaller pages will all display on one larger page (such as found at Wikipedia's Articles for deletion pages)? The Jade Knight 09:28, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Hah! Looking at the above example has enabled me to figure it out by myself. Thanks! The Jade Knight 09:31, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
The only thing to remember is if you're including a page from the main namespace, use a colon before the page name. --SB_Johnny | talk 13:08, 16 March 2007 (UTC)


Please ban for inappropriate vandalism. --Remi 11:43, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Looked like just one (ugly) edit (he created an attack page), so I just deleted the page. It's probably better to use Wikiversity:Request custodian action for reporting vandalism. --SB_Johnny | talk 13:21, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

How is Wikiversity not working?

A suggestion by Andy Roberts on Talk:Developing Wikiversity through action research is for people to outline what their main problems with Wikiversity are (eg. technical, structural, social, pedagogical ...) in order to implement some action steps to address these problems. I think it would be best if we outlined clear details of what the problem is in one section, and then sections for discussion and suggested action below that (hmm, where does discussion about the suggested action go?). Preferably all comments should be signed. I'll get this started.. Cormaggio beep 10:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)


  1. I think the Main Page and "introduction" section to Wikiversity is confusing and unnecessarily overlapping - not all links from the Main Page are helpful, and the "message" of Wikiversity is diluted. I think there needs to be slight restructuring of some pages (eg. Main Page) and development of others (eg Wikiversity:Services) to help new arrivals understand how it works, and to get involved. Cormaggio beep 10:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
  2. There doesn't seem to be much emphasis on the context of materials - who they're for (ie what learner levels), who's creating them, where the ideas in the materials come from etc. Also, pages developed for face-to-face courses are difficult to see how they can be used by casual visitors. Cormaggio beep 10:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
    I think this might be a big problem right now. The Jade Knight 01:05, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  3. There isn't much (if anything) in Wikiversity for early or primary learners (ie children). Cormaggio beep 10:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
  4. I get the feeling that many people do not know themselves how to go about contributing to or participating in Wikiversity - mainly for the lack of a model of how Wikiversity works for the learner and/or educator. "Learning by doing" is not clearly explained (or, I think, understood). Cormaggio beep 10:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
    Also agreed. The Jade Knight 01:05, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  5. Definitely - the where can I start feeling is overwhelming --Vannin 18:15, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  6. Many people are still duplicating Wikibooks materials, as well. The Jade Knight 01:05, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  7. Is this really a bad thing right now? Maybe we desperately need content?--Vannin 18:15, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  8. I think we run the risk of losing potential learners and people who are exploring because there are so many stubs and so little class content--Vannin 18:15, 4 March 2007 (UTC)


Suggested action

  1. Simplify Main Page slightly - and ensure that every link from it is informative and motivating. Also, create and/or develop portals (and other pages) for teachers, students, and researchers, which will explain what they can get out of Wikiversity (and also put in) and how they can work and learn together. (As per Wikiversity:Main page design changes.)
  2. Metadata? Infoboxes on all pages? "Incorporation projects" - where materials from face to face courses are edited into commonly-usable materials? ...
  3. Invite more primary teachers to join the community? ...
  4. Learning by doing ...
  5. Be more emphatic about what kinds of materials belong here, and what on Wikibooks? Use more Wikibooks links?
  6. We need a page that says what people can start out doing - the Psychology wiki has a handy list of editing activities - looking for references, copying pages over from wikipedia etc that people can do to get started. This would provide a direction for someone who is overwhelmed by the thought of starting an entire class --Vannin 18:08, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  7. Getting colleagues involved - spreading the word would be good, particularly among academics who already have lecture notes - this could be added to the list of things to do --Vannin 18:08, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  8. Content is desperately needed so that we attract and keep learners. Rather than trying to make it all perfectly wiki-style we should start out with dumped materials, be it dumped lecture notes or even material from wikibooks. Then we can start to shape it and make it more collaborative and add dynamic learning activities etc. --Vannin 18:08, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  9. There are so many stubs of classes at the moment that we could be losing potential learners. How about a list on the main page of the classes that have content and people could actually get started with?--Vannin 18:08, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  10. I agree, get some content in and start getting people involved. I think as a dept. gets more people then they can start to think about organization. However, parallel to this, we should start to think up ideal templates for different kinds of content. In essence, we can co-evolve by adding content and completing structure at the same time. Mundhenk 08:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  11. I think this page also needs to be organized :) I think we have a few sub-topics in here Mundhenk 08:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  12. How about a prominent link on the front page to an excellent existing course? An example for others to follow. --Brent 06:37, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
    1. Right now we have "featured content" on the main portals and plans for featured content on the main page. See also Wikiversity:Main page design changes. --JWSchmidt 14:10, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

IRC meeting about research

A log of the meeting is now posted at IRC meeting about research/log. Are we going to try to produce a summary? --mikeu 18:10, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

10 of the best OER sites

A list of ten good OER (Open Education Resources) sites was posted a week or so ago on iCommons - unfortunately, Wikiversity isn't there. :-( Nevertheless, I think it might be good idea for us to look around various sites like the above (and others) to see what we can aspire towards in some ways, and glean some ideas. Cheers. Cormaggio talk 18:57, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Book content

Is it just me or do pages like this (fourier transforms) seem like book content not appropriate for Wikiversity, but quite appropriate for Wikibooks? --Remi 00:49, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

The Fourier transforms page seems like work in progress. My advice is that a link be made from Topic:Fourier Analysis to Fourier transforms and that something like Template:Welcome and advise be added to the Fourier transforms page. Also, the Fourier transforms page should be linked to related pages at Wikipedia and Wikibooks. --JWSchmidt 01:20, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Okay, that sounds good. Thanks. --Remi 01:27, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Mark for expansion or deletion?

As a general rule, should pages like this (scalar) be marked for deletion or expansion? ... Or maybe moving/merging/transwiking? --Remi 00:56, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

I'd say, personally, merge the content into something else (if there's anything relevant), and then delete. But I'm not speaking from any sort of sense of policy. The Jade Knight 02:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)


Is there any way to create polls or surveys? I think that this sort of thing would come in very useful—for example, if the French Department is wanting to know what content it could provide that would be most appreciated by visitors, having a way for people to vote in a poll would be very useful. The Jade Knight 04:45, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

The old fashioned way would be to create a subpage Visitor Survey off of the French Department page and encourage visitors to leave an opinion or answer a question. (The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) )
Yeah, but it doesn't have the same attraction as polls. There's something about polls that inherently makes people want to answer them. The Jade Knight 08:38, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
I bet there is but I do not know how. It is a great idea. Peace:)--Sir James Paul 02:23, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
This would be the logical next step after quizzes. Quizzes have little radio buttons for questions and submit buttons at the bottom, but no way of storing any data. A poll is just a quiz that stores data without having right answers. I know en-wikipedia votes using some sort of a poll for board members, but I don't know how they do that.--Rayc 16:25, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a mediawiki extension for polls ( ) but I don't suppose it's installed here. I just made this template for use in the Dutch Wikipedia. The problem with this template-based poll is that people who vote need to increase the total number of votes together with adding their signature. Freestyle 20:34, 22 March 2007 (UTC)


I have drafted a DR and started an AMA. Please comment. (WV:DR) -- Punk Boi 8 08:31, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Eventually, Wikiversity will need ways to help participants settle disputes. I wonder if Wikiversity will have fewer problems than Wikipedia since we can have more than one page for each topic. --JWSchmidt 14:06, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
The WV:DR page appears to be a cut and paste from wikipedia. As it stands the page needs serious cleanup because it implies, through the text near redlinks, that the references are to adopted policies. (ie. "...following the NPOV policy..." but wikiversity only has a proposal for Wikiversity:Disclosures.) A large portion of the page is good common sense advice and should be kept. But there is much that refers to wikipedia infrastructure which is not present here (ie. w:Wikipedia:Requests for comment.) --mikeu 16:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I have deleted the two pages and the category because they are clear copy & paste edits from Wikipedia. If a need exists for formalized dispute resolution, we should create our own page and start from scratch. Wikipedia's policies have developed over years into what they are now, always in response to actual needs in that community. The same sensible approach seems in order here as well. Let's develop our processes in a way that best fits the needs of the Wikiversity community. sebmol ? 10:38, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Not letting us take the quick and easy path, like Vader? The Jade Knight 10:50, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Mutual Back Scratching Project

I admit it, I am selfishly engaged in a project that I am interested in. I have two problems, however - I'm lousy at editing (especially my own writing) and I enjoy collaborating with others more than I enjoy working by myself. So here's the pitch: I will contribute 50% of my WV efforts to any project that can use my help in return for an equivalent amount of time (not a percentage as that may not be fair to you) spent working with me on Introduction to Programming and Introduction to Programming in Java (mainly editing and/or critiquing).

Due to the limits on my available time, I would prefer to stay focussed on a small number of projects where I can make a significant difference.

Dmclean 13:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Do we start a bidding war? :)
I'd like to see some work/mentoring done on XP. I know you've done some pair programming, I'm not sure if you are an XPer though. I'll start poking around on the Java intro stuff. Historybuff 15:09, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikiversity is Confusing at first!! but a little solution from me I hope will help!!

When I first started as a user on wikiversity I was very confused with how it was all organised! When there were portals and schools, topics, lessons and departments it does get very confusing!!

I have come up with a little suggestion which would help, but would be difficult (maybe) to organise (sorry!)

On some web pages your navigation is shown at the top like thus:

Home Page > Humor > Images > Funny Animals > uploaded by Mr. Bloggs

each of which are links (eccept for the last one which is the current page)

I think that this would Greatly help!! (as it would have helped me!)

for example:

Main Page > Portal for Physical Sciences > School of Chemistry > Department of Inorganic Chemistry > The Periodic Table

and why is the portal for physical sciences different to the faculty of science? they both include chemistry and physics but they differ significantly :s

Can some one get back to me :D PhilB 16:05, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Try reading Wikiversity:Namespaces. Feel free to make a link from Portal:Physical Sciences directly to The periodic table. Portal:Science was created as "a guide to Wikiversity learning resources that are about science in general". --JWSchmidt 16:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

new theory of origin of indian monsoon : radon gas theory

how does the origin of monsoon?

Naturally occuring radon gas has been proposed as a method of tracking monsoon circulation. [4] However, there is some doubt about interpretting these results. [5] The radon gas was never proposed as a cause (or origin) of monsoons. --mikeu 15:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Featured Units

Hi I would like to ask you if you can offer (links) here a few featured units (projects, subjects, lessons). I am preparing a poster about Wikiversity for the Polish Wikimedia Conference. Thanks.--Juan 11:47, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Wikiversity:Featured has a list of candidates for main page featured content and lists the portal pages that have featured content. --JWSchmidt 13:21, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks.--Juan 20:38, 28 March 2007 (UTC)


I would like to encourage active users to consider serving the community as a custodian. Wikiversity has a mentorship model which will allow candidates to get accustomed to the role of a custodian and the tools he has to fulfill that role. A few custodians have been inactive for quite some time so there is definitely a need at the moment to fill some spots. If you are interested or know users who you think would be great fits for that role, please consider nominating on Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask them. A list of current custodians can be found at Wikiversity:Support staff. sebmol ? 21:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

How do you go about nominating someone else? The Jade Knight 07:19, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I am reasonably certain that you just go to the Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship and list them. Dmclean 12:18, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps, it might be prudent to ask the user first before nominating. But other than that, you're reasonably right :) sebmol ? 13:30, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Motto and slogan contests: update on final round

Please participate in the final round of the Motto and slogan contests.

A favorite seems to have emerging in the slogan contest, "set learning free". This option has 59% of the support (16/27 positive comments) and no contra comments. The other two options have contra positions with substantive criticisms.

The motto contest is tied, with ten supporters each for "open learning community" and "free learning community". There is one well reasoned contra statement against using the "open" option and no opposing statements for the "free" option. Recently, the "free" option has gained ground with supporters emphasizing the meanings of "free" vs. "open". Since these recent comments, support for the "open" option has fallen flat. Discussion is needed from the "open" side. If not, the current trend would seem to favor the "free" variant.

I think it makes sense to leave both contests open for more input for a time. --Reswik 13:25, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Very Basic Information Needed

I'm new to Wikiversity.

How do I create a shortcut to my computer?

I'm afraid I don't understand what you're asking? Do you want to create a desktop shortcut to Wikiversity? AmiDaniel (talk) 19:38, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Some browsers, such as firefox, allow you to specify a home page. In Firefox go to tools, options and key in the home page in the appropriate box. Mirwin 21:02, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

All browsers that I am aware of allow URL icon dragging. Here's how: 1. open the browser to the Wikiversity home page you want. 2. size the browser window smaller so you can see some desktop real estate behind it. 3. put the mouse pointer on the "W" icon at the very left end of the Address URL box. 4. hold down the left mouse button and drag the W from the address box and drop it on empty space on your desktop. (the W icon appears on your desktop)


4. if your bookmarks toolbar is open you can drop it on that. (the page title appears in you bookmarks bar {and maybe the icon too})

5. after that: anytime you want to return to that page you double click that W on your desktop (or click the shortcut in your bookmarks bar) Carl McCall 16:21, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Excellent tip! I shall make heavy use of this in the future. Thanks! 04:10, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Death ray


Does this make radio buttons?

Yes, it does
No it doesn't

It works!--Rayc 21:16, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Where can I go to view the guts of the script? --Remi 20:57, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Here is a start: [[mw:Extension:Quiz]--Rayc] 22:27, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

So, what's the CORRECT Answer (in this case)? Can't we just have an 'accumulator' that tracks how many clicks on each radio button?

By the way: if it is a quiz you should use 'radio buttons' which allow 'choose only one' instead of 'checkboxes' which are often 'choose one or more'. If I had a quiz with the above logic I would check all the checkboxes on every question: I would get 100% of the correct checkboxes and deduct 0 times all the wrong checkboxes for a total score of 100% right all the time ;-) . Most of the time in polls 'radio buttons' are preferred: but some polls allow or encourage users to check more than one box (choose 3 hobbies from the below list comes to mind {demographics}). Carl McCall 16:46, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

It can make radio buttons... I just don't know how yet.--Rayc 19:55, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm writing documentation for this right now over at MediaWiki, and looking at transferring and expanding the documentation here somewhere. Where's a suitable place? Help:Quiz? McCormack 10:22, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Help:Quiz is now largely written. McCormack 17:02, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

research scope and guidelines

Was there any feedback from the board regarding the research guidelines?--mikeu 13:32, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I've seen no indication that the Board reached any conclusions about Wikiversity and research. --JWSchmidt 21:50, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah - I just asked about whether the board discussed the research guidelines and "beta" status - apparently, a three-day agenda had to be packed into one (due to flights being delayed), so the answer is "no" :-( Cormaggio talk 14:03, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Automatic archiving

I've ported my archiving bot from German Wikipedia to run on any English project. To find out how it works, check out Template:Auto archive. I've enabled automatic archiving for the colloquium for sections older than 7 days. Note that sections without a timestamp won't be archived. If you have questions, feel free to ask. sebmol ? 19:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I think 7 days may be a little quick here at University. Can you make it a month, instead? The Jade Knight 23:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah. It should be longer period in here.--Juan 12:03, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
You can do that yourself. The template ist right at the top of this page. Btw, the days are counted after the timestamp of the youngest contribution. So, it's 7 days after the last response to a subject. sebmol ? 12:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
This line: "{{auto archive|target='Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/((Month:Long)) ((Year))'|age=7|mincontributions=1}}" --JWSchmidt 13:18, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Done - the archiver is set to 28 days. Let's see how that works. Historybuff 22:50, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that we're still keeping around too much stuff. I'm mulling over dropping the archiver to 21 days. Comments? Historybuff 17:28, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Let's go with your idea. I think things are picking up around here. --HappyCamper 02:24, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Done - archiver set to 21 days. Let's see if that is better. :) Historybuff 14:07, 24 May 2007 (UTC)