On 5/17/06, Stan Shebs <shebs(a)apple.com> wrote:
Right now I don't see that we have a "culture
of referencing" in
the same way that we have a "culture of completeness" organized
around lists of missing articles, or a "culture of image tagging"
that has become fairly effective at searching out and destroying
bad uploads. For instance, my own library is in some areas better
than what most universities have, yet I have no idea if there are
articles that need me to go pull a book off the shelf, check the
claims, and type in the reference if OK. I could also imagine a
future culture where an unsupported claim is handled like an
untagged image, and gets a seven-day grace period before being
reverted. As with images, good faith is helped along by having
a bit of incentive and punishment.
Right. And why is that? Because referencing is hard. Finding good sources is
generally difficult, and takes time and effort. And it doesn't have that
same neat, orderly feel about it that attracts people to tasks like filling
in red links, stub sorting or categorising. It takes all sorts to make
Wikipedia work, but frankly, we need a lot more of the people that like
finding sources on random subjects and researching them, to make Wikipedia
meet its goals.
It would probably be fair to say that there are a small number of people who
contribute significant amounts of material, an even smaller number that do
it outside their narrow fields of interest, but a much larger number who
categorise, order, shape, copy edit, structure and so forth.
If anyone knows how to get more of these people that we need (yes, we're
basically talking about university undergrads or grads, or even possible
retired academics...), it would be worth sharing them.