atom feed11 messages in edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom[Taxacom] "Why would you waste your t...
FromSent OnAttachments
Doug YanegaJul 30, 2008 11:43 am 
Shorthouse, DavidJul 30, 2008 1:15 pm 
Julian HJul 30, 2008 9:22 pm 
Una SmithSep 19, 2008 10:20 pm 
Jim CroftSep 19, 2008 11:52 pm 
Paul van RijckevorselSep 20, 2008 5:30 am 
Una SmithSep 21, 2008 1:38 pm 
Una SmithSep 21, 2008 1:43 pm 
Curtis ClarkSep 21, 2008 6:21 pm 
Paul van RijckevorselSep 22, 2008 7:22 am 
Una SmithSep 22, 2008 8:11 am 
Subject:[Taxacom] "Why would you waste your time editing Wikipedia?"
From:Doug Yanega (
Date:Jul 30, 2008 11:43:25 am

I just received a private communication asking this question. I think the answer, at least, can be said in public, and I can be fairly brief.

Let's face reality - whatever organism one considers, the number one link people will get in Google is pretty much going to be the Wikipedia link (as long as the organism is listed in Wikipedia). Now, and even more so in the future. Whatever other resources we may develop on our own, or as a community, I rather suspect Wikipedia will ALWAYS come out as the first link. As such, I do a greater public service by working to ensure that Wikipedia contains accurate information, since more people in the public will see it. I get dozens of questions a month regarding Jerusalem Crickets and Solpugids, for example, and it was suggested that I make web pages about them for our museum's website. I countered that since our webpages would rarely be visited, while Wikipedia's respective entries were both the top hits in Google, why waste my time and our resources to reinvent the wheel when I could simply keep an eye on the Wikipedia pages and direct people there? It also takes LESS of my time to help maintain a Wikipedia entry than it does to WRITE one myself and maintain it.

The standard horror story about Wikipedia is that since anyone can edit it, that it's full of nonsense edits, falsehoods, urban legends, and so forth - that vandals, ignoramuses, and fools determine the content. First off, it isn't true in general, and the "trouble spots" are not evenly distributed across all segments of Wikipedia (biological articles seem to have relatively few problems). Things that aren't legitimate get deleted as fast as they're spotted, which is generally pretty fast. Other disputes tend to be over matters of opinion, which Wikipedia policy is structured to avoid (two of the most important rules are "Neutral Point of View" and "NO Original Research"). Yes, Wikipedia has rules, and people who break them get banned all the time - it is not a free-for-all. It operates more like a ratchet - articles tend to improve steadily over time, but do not go DOWN in quality over time. Generally, the more editors, the better the article becomes over time, not worse. I've created hundreds of articles now (not so many any more), and very very few of them have not improved since I created them, even if I never personally touched them again. So, if someone tells you that any effort you expend on Wikipedia will be UNDONE or corrupted by those who follow you, DON'T believe it.

It is not a waste of time.