----- Original Message -----
From: "David Gerard" <dgerard(a)gmail.com>
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List"
Sent: Friday, October 01, 2010 9:43 PM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?
I predict Wikipedia's biology articles will far
philosophy articles for the simple fact that the biologists bother:
They bothered paying author's fees for publication in a peer-reviewed
specialist journal in their field, just to increase the quality of
Wikipedia articles in their field. They're hardly going to rack up
citation credits for an article on how to teach biology to the general
With some fields going to this effort and not others, ultimately it's
up to the specialists in the fields themselves to bother. So what do
the biologists have that the philosophers - or other fields that are
ill-represented in Wikipedia - lack?
(That article is great, by the way. It gives strong reasons for
experts to put in the effort to bother.)
So here am I looking for systematic reasons why philosophy, and humanities
in general are under-represented in Wikipedia and you are saying that it is
because philosophers - and by implication specialists in humanities - don't
bother? Interesting. I once got puzzled why certain plants wouldn't grow
in my garden. I got frustrated and thought perhaps the plants weren't
bothering. Then I found that because my garden is north facing and has acid
soil, the plants that like sunlight and don't like acid soil, weren't
Anyway David, I said earlier that there are several stages to the process.
The first is to see whether Wikipedia does have a problem with the
humanities in general. There needs to be a scientific methodology to assess
what counts as 'under represented', there needs to be a survey to determine
whether certain subjects are under-represented, and perhaps a paper in an
appropriate journal. That's step 1.
Step 2 - if the answer to step 1 is that there is a problem - is to
determine whether there are underlying reasons (similar to sunshine, acidity
of soil) that certain subjects are under-represented. It could be the
reason is chance (this seems to be what you are saying, that in certain
subjects experts bother, in others they do). If it is not chance, what are
Step 3 - is there anything the WMF can do - either directly or by persuading
the community - to address the problem.