Conceptions and Misconceptions Academics Hold About Wikipedia by cdu16746

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									    Conceptions and Misconceptions
    Academics Hold About Wikipedia

                             R. Stuart Geiger

                  Georgetown University
       Communication, Culture, and Technology Program
                    sgeiger@gmail.com

Wikimania 2008 at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt                             19 July 2008
Dual-licensed under the GFDL 2.0 or later and the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 or later.
If you find anything inaccurate or wish to collaborate or contribute, send me an e-mail.
          Ethnographic Method
• Based on coming to understand a community:
  – Personal interviews, discussions, conversations
     • Undirected – let them choose specific topics
     • Confidentiality and respect make it problematic
        – Should not use private discussions for research w/out consent
  – Analysis of public discussions, essays, and papers
     • Academic newspapers – The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed
        – Comments on Internet-based publications
     • Academic listservs, mailing lists, and discussion forums
     • Academic bloggers
     • Academic journals
        – Peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed
          Ethnographic Method
• Not about surveys, statistics, and populations
  – Impossible to interview everyone
  – Difficult to interview randomly
• Accept biases present in research
  – Academics I personally know are:
     • More accepting and enthusiastic about technology
     • More “postmodern,” more willing to question academia and
       dominant, traditional models of education
  – Academics in general are:
     • Not as willing to be the subject of research
     • Incredibly diverse and have many different motivations
  – Selected academic sources are mainly:
     • Internet-based
              Initial Thoughts
• Much dislike of Wikipedia in academia
  – Old, elitist, computer-illiterate academics
  – Wiki model a threat to academic publishing
• Distrust of Wikipedia based on ignorance:
  – Permanent link and version history
  – Free in terms of cost and copyright
  – Editorial standards (NPOV, Verifiability)
  – Dependence on academic sources and citations
• If only they knew….
 Where are the angry academics?
• Many prominent critics of Wikipedia:
  –   Andrew Keen (author of Cult of the Amateur)
  –   Daniel Brandt (runs Wikipedia Watch)
  –   Larry Sanger (founded Citizendium)
  –   Robert McHenry (former editor of Britannica)
  –   Dale Holberg (current editor of Britannica)
  –   Andrew Orlowski (columnist for The Register)
  –   John Siegenthaler, Jr. (former editor of the USA Today)
• But few of the vocal, prominent are academics
  – Some have advanced degrees, but few are faculty or
    currently enrolled graduate students active in
    academia.
The “Ban” of Wikipedia by Middlebury
   University’s History Department
• Many students in a class by Professor Neil Waters
  incorrectly answered the same question on an
  exam because they studied Wikipedia instead of
  course materials.
• Waters complained, and his department held a
  meeting where they decided by consensus to
  “ban” Wikipedia.
• The story in the media: a great controversy
  erupted between pro-Wikipedia and anti-
  Wikipedia academics and students.
  – Many critics of the decision on academic news sites
    (mainly Chronicle and IHE) and blogs argued that
    Wikipedia should not be cited, but is a good resource.
The “Ban” of Wikipedia by Middlebury
   University’s History Department
• The actual decree:
  – Began by acknowledging that Wikipedia is
    extremely convenient and useful for academic
    research in certain situations.
  – Professors should not give students credit if they
    answer a question on an exam wrong because
    they studied an incorrect Wikipedia article
  – Professors should not accept Wikipedia as a
    reliable, authoritative source in research papers.
• Does not ban or discourage use of Wikipedia
The “Ban” of Wikipedia by Middlebury
   University’s History Department
• From Don Wyatt, chair of the department:
   – It was a compromise from professors who wanted to ban
     Wikipedia entirely from college campuses.
   – He claimed that the department is on record as supporting it as
     “entry point or as a way of finding other, more appropriate
     sources for citation.”
   – Chronicle of Higher Education:
     http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i24/24a03901.htm
• Yet even from Neil Waters:
   – “any general tertiary source, including the Encyclopaedia
     Britannica” can never be made into “a truly authoritative
     source, suitable for citation.”
   – “Wikipedia is a fine place to search for a paper topic or begin
     the research process…”
   – Waters, Neil L., “Why you can't cite Wikipedia in my class.”
     Commun. ACM 50, no. 9 (2007): 15-17.
            The Wikipedian Consensus
  • Yet most Wikipedians agree with this
      – (en) Wikipedia: Academic use1:
           • “Remember that any encyclopedia is a starting point for
             research, not an ending point.”
           • “While reading Wikipedia articles for research, remember to
             consider the information carefully, and never treat what is
             on Wikipedia as wholesale truth.”
      – (en) Wikipedia: Verifiability2:
           • “personal websites, open wikis, blogs, forum postings, and
             similar sources are largely not acceptable” as reliable
             sources for verifying content in Wikipedia articles.
      – Jimbo Wales has spoken out against citing Wikipedia
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Academic_use&oldid=216144835
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Verifiability&oldid=226345173
       The Academic Consensus
• Most “anti-Wikipedia” academics agree in part:
  – Wikipedia is not to be cited authoritatively
     • It is an encyclopedia, and students should use primary and
       secondary sources. Not a critique of the wiki model.
     • However: anyone can edit it, and that is troubling for
       anything claiming to be authoritative source.
  – Possibly useful for students
     • Students must be taught information/media literacy
     • Better than pulling from the Internet in general
  – Personally, indifference more prominent than disgust
     • Encyclopedias in general are usually not for academics
     • Editing Wikipedia is just not worth their time – too busy
     • Wikipedia is good for certain things, like popular culture
     Assigning Article Vandalism
• Some lecturers and professors have required
  their students to vandalize Wikipedia for class
• See the talk page for Wikipedia:School and
  university projects
  – Tim Pearce at Northern Illinois University
  – Alex Duensing at the University of South Florida
  – Other professors brag about vandalizing Wikipedia
    to prove that Wikipedia is not entirely accurate all
    of the time
      Assigning Article Creation
• Yet many more have integrated Wikipedia into
  their classroom (see Wikipedia:SUP)
  – Bryan Pfaffenberger at the University of Virginia
  – Elizabeth Colantoni at Oberlin College
  – Cory Doctrow at University of Southern California
  – Nicola Pratt at the University of East Anglia
  – Matt Barton at St. Cloud State University
  – Andrew Collins at University of New South Wales
  – Andrew Lih at the University of Hong Kong
     Assigning Article Creation: Short List
•   University of Pittsburgh sociology (summer 2008)
•   New Jersey Institute of Technology (Fall 2007-present)
•   Amherst College (Spring 2008)
•   American University (Spring 2008)
•   Columbus State University (Spring 2008)
•   University of Hong Kong (Spring 2008)
•   Gloucester County College, Library & Communications (Spring 2008)
•   New Bulgarian University, History of Culture (Fall 2007/Spring 2008)
•   ITESM Campus Toluca - Advanced English (Ongoing)
•   Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal (Spring 2008)
•   University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia (Spring 2008)
•   University of Karlsruhe, Institute for Geography Spring 2008)
•   Mercyhurst College Institute for Intelligence Studies (Spring 2008)
•   Savannah College of Art and Design (Spring 2008) (Ongoing)
•   Oakland University Department of Art & Art History (Fall 2008)
•   Leeward Community College Upward Bound (summer 2008)
•   Texas A&M University (Spring 2008)
•   University of Pittsburgh (Spring 2008)
•   University of British Columbia (Spring 2008)
•   Truman State University (Fall 2007)
    Assigning Article Creation: Short List
•   Barcelona University and Washington University in St. Louis (Fall 2007)
•   University of Washington (Fall 2007)
•   Ohio University (2007)
•   University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
•   The College of Idaho (Winter Session 2008)
•   University of Toronto (Winter 2008)
•   University of California, Davis (Fall 2007)
•   New Jersey Institute of Technology (Fall 2007)
•   University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky Fall of 2007
•   The College of Idaho (Fall 2007)
•   University of Pittsburgh (Fall 2007)
•   Oberlin College (Spring 2007)
•   Northwestern University (Spring 2007)
•   University of East Anglia (Spring 2007)
•   Brandeis University [[5]](Spring 2007)
•   University of Hong Kong (Spring 2007)
•   Cory Doctorow's USC COMM499 Class (2007)
•   Amherst College (Spring 2007)
•   Wayne State University (Winter 2007)
•   University of Minnesota (Spring 2007)
    Assigning Article Creation: Short List
•   MIT Music and Theater Arts (Fall 2006)
•   University of Iowa (2006)
•   University of Leiden, The Netherlands (2006)
•   Penn State University (2006)
•   Cornell University (Fall 2006)
•   University of Art and Design Helsinki - Media Lab Helsinki (Fall 2006)
•   Yale University (Fall 2006)
•   Indiana University (Fall 2005-Summer 2006)
•   University of Pittsburgh (Summer 2006)
•   St. Cloud State University (Spring 2006)
•   University of Hong Kong (Spring 2006)
•   University of Tartu, Estonia (Spring 2006)
•   University of Maryland (Spring 2006)
•   Harvard Extension School (Spring 2006)
•   University of California, Irvine (Winter 2006)
•   Dartmouth et al (2005)
•   Oregon State University (2005)
    Assigning Article Creation: Short List
•   Chilwell School (Autumn 2006)
•   University of Hong Kong (Fall 2005)
•   Georgia Institute of Technology (Fall 2005)
•   Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (Fall 2005)
•   University of Virginia (Fall 2005)
•   University of Vienna (2002, 2005)
•   University of Washington (Seattle, Spring 2005)
•   University of Georgia / Memento (Fall 2005)
•   University of Tokyo (Japan, 2004-2005)
•   Columbia University School of the Arts (New York City, Fall 2004)
•   Bad Mergentheim Business School (Spring 2004)
•   Norwegian School of Management (Norway, spring 2004, continuing)
•   University of Hong Kong (2003 - 2004)
•   University Saarland (Germany, 2003-2004)
•   Portland State University (Spring 2003)
        Conceptions of pro-Wikipedia
                 Academics
• Academics have expressed an interest or wrote papers
  linking Wikipedia or the “wiki model” to various
  theoretical or ideological movements:
   –   Open Educational Resources (countless)
   –   Social Constructivism (Barry McMullin, Alex Duensing)
   –   Radical Democracy (Edo Navot)
   –   Critical Theory (A. Michael Froomkin)
   –   Chaos Theory (Josef Kolbitsch and Hermann Maurer)
   –   Deconstruction of the teacher/student model (Lin Lin)
• How well do these characterizations match up with the
  goals and ideals of the Wikipedia Community?
   – Are they descriptive or prescriptive?
   – Have we thought out our relation towards them?
                Conclusions
• Wrong Conclusions:
  – There are no or few anti-Wikipedian academics
  – All or most academics are pro-Wikipedia
• Correct Conclusions:
  – Much criticism of Wikipedia is not from academia
  – There are many pro-Wikipedia academics
  – What it means to be pro- and anti-Wikipedia in
    academia largely does not correspond to the
    viewpoints of Wikipedians

								
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