Hi John -

Thanks for joining the conversation here. I'm not ignoring M Journal at all, but I think that it is being conflated. People cite Wikipedia in literature that is accepted and published after peer review. This happens. Whether you agree with it personally or not, it's a factual reality - well beyond the examples of those researching Wikipedia as an entity.

When an official account conflates the idea of citing Wikipedia as a source with the model of spoofing journal articles that M Journal has devised, it gives fuel to the fires of those that seek to discredit the cite broadly from within the academy.

The mission of Wikimedia reads "... to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally."

Making resolute statements about how that educational content can or should be used in any context from an official Wikimedia communication avenue is damaging to that mission. All you have to do is look at the twitter responses that it garnered.



On Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 4:20 PM John Lubbock <john.lubbock@wikimedia.org.uk> wrote:
Dear Kathleen,

I did not say that Wikipedia should not be cited in the literature, period. You are choosing to ignore this tweet in which I specifically said that a journal article about Wikipedia would be an appropriate context to cite Wikipedia:


There is also the wider context of a website which not only breaks WIkipedia's licensing rules, but does so in order to trick professors into thinking a Wikipedia citation comes from a journal.

I agree that Twitter is not the best place for nuance, and perhaps I would have been wise to specifically say that Wikipedia is not an 'academic level source' rather than simply a source. However, I stand by this characterisation, because the ultimate source for any of the information on Wikipedia is not Wikipedia, it's another source. Wikipedia acts as a source aggregator. 

At Wikimedia UK, we deal all the time with people who flat out refuse to use Wikipedia in academic and educational contexts because students use it improperly. We use the expression 'write Wikipedia, don't cite Wikipedia'. You may have a different context as a librarian, but I very much take exception to the way you have mischaracterised our interaction above.


John Lubbock

Communications Coordinator

Wikimedia UK

+44 (0) 203 372 0767


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Wikimedia UK is the national chapter of the global Wikimedia open knowledge movement. We rely on donations from individuals to support our work to make knowledge open for all. Have you considered supporting Wikimedia UK? Donate here.

The Wikimedia projects are run by the Wikimedia Foundation (who operate Wikipedia, amongst other projects). Wikimedia UK is an independent non-profit charity with no legal control over Wikipedia nor responsibility for its contents.

On Thu, 26 Sep 2019 at 17:53, Merrilee Proffitt <mproffitt@gmail.com> wrote:

I completely agree with Kathleen. I would assert that it is a lack of nuance around the nature of information sources and the research task at hand that has lead educators and others to wholesale "ban" the use of Wikipedia. 

Whether or not a source can be utilized in a research context depends on the researcher, and what information they are supporting with the citation. For my middle school daughter doing some investigation on an element in the periodic table (as she has been doing this week), the Wikipedia English article (or any encyclopedia article) is appropriate for her. For a graduate student in chemistry this would not be appropriate, but the grad student might (appropriately) cite Wikipedia for some basic definitional stuff, just as they might cite a dictionary or something similar. You see Wikipedia utilized appropriately in citations all the time -- why would we discourage this? 

Having conversations about the veracity of online information is tough. Wikipedia can be challenging because articles are at various levels of development. To my mind, this makes it something that those of us engaged in conversations around information literacy should steer towards, rather than away from, because a) Wikipedia is widely utilized in a variety of contexts and b) it is a great teaching tool for talking about when you can trust information online and when you should steer clear. But saying "no" to any information source without having a discussion about it seems lazy. It definitely does not reflect the type of discourse we should be having, especially now. 

I look forward to more discussion on this topic. 


On Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 9:02 AM Federico Leva (Nemo) <nemowiki@gmail.com> wrote:
Twitter doesn't facilitate reasoned arguments. I suppose as usual the
goal was to encourage greater use of the references and other
meta-content of Wikipedia articles, which are excellent tools for
critical thinking.


Kathleen DeLaurenti, 26/09/19 17:55:
> Hi all -
> As a librarian who uses and supports Wikipedia, I wanted to bring up
> some issues around the BuzzFeed article posted today about M-Journal
> that has led to some messaging from the WikipediaUK twitter account that
> I find concerning. I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to
> bring this up, but I wasn't sure where else to reach out.
> For those who missed, a citation cite is not manufacturing journal
> articles if a student submits a Wiki article so that it looks like an
> "official" citation in their school research papers.
> https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/wikipedia-fake-academic-journal?bftw&utm_term=4ldqpfp#4ldqpfp
> Clearly there are some nefarious potential uses here, but what's more
> concerning is that the WikiUK twitter account has come forward
> forcefully saying that Wikipedia shouldn't be cited in the literature.
> Period.
> https://twitter.com/wikimediauk/status/1177215917534711808
> I work very hard to improve the cite through my courses and academic
> advocacy as do many librarians. It's concern to me to see Wikipedia
> undermining its own authority in such a public way in what appears to be
> a misguided attempt to deflect association with the MJournal site.
> Would welcome any insight or ideas on how to navigate this discussion.
> The entire M-Journal use case exists, imho, because we are still
> battling for a critical (not blanket acceptance) view of Wiki as a
> resources, and I find this kind of public statement to be very damaging
> to the hard work so many are doing to create a quality information resource.

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