Wikipedia in the Year of Our Ford 99


A discussion about Wikipedia really separates teachers. There are many teachers who don't like it, don't trust it and don't want kids using it. There are some who see value in it, but only with some guidelines and "read instructions before use." I haven't met many teachers who just flat out are for it. (This is not counting a much larger group that use it themselves all the time, but say "not for real research" - just for "looking stuff up fast.")

The students are pretty much unanimous in endorsing it and using it.

Even the Wikipedians are split.

Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia, has become something of a critic of the open-source encyclopedia. He left Wikipedia at the end of 2002 feeling frustrated by its leniency towards vandalism and its tendency to put off scholars.

Dolly the cloned sheepWhat he put online last year is called Citizendium. It looks like Wikipedia and it is also an online, interactive encyclopedia that is open to public contributions. But it has guidance from academic editors. The idea is to give academics more authorial control.

His plans include phrases like “representative democracy” - a place where self-appointed experts will oversee the editing and shaping of articles. Anyone can contribute, but the editors will be people “the qualifications typically needed for a tenure-track academic position.” They get to authorize changes in articles and approve new entries.

There's a lower level protector of the truth too called a “constable.” They are administrators (25 years old and up) with at least a bachelor’s degree who will carry out the marching orders of the editors.

Citizendium was followed by Scholarpedia. That's another Wikipedia open-source-principled clone that tries adding academically acceptable peer review. It's not Wikipedia -
  • Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
  • Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
  • Each article has a curator (typically its author) who is responsible for its content.
  • Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.
For now, the site focuses on only three areas:Computational Neuroscience, Dynamical Systems,and Computational Intelligence.

It's a brave new wiki world. I wonder which site would attract Helmholtz Watson, Alpha-Plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering's Department of Writing?


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