Sarah, this goes back to our discussion at en:WP:V a couple of weeks ago -- when it comes
to humanities, en:WP doesn't emphasise the need for scholarly sources enough, and
instead produces something that is more like a press mirror. This starts a vicious
In de:WP, the [[WP:BLG]] policy (the German equivalent of [[WP:V]]),
states the following:
As a matter of basic principle, scientific sources should be preferred, especially
standard works and review articles that are relevant to the subject area in question.
It adds that where scientific sources are not available, or not available in sufficient
quantities, other secondary sources that can be considered as having been well researched
may be used as well.
It adds that where scientific sources and lay sources disagree, scientific sources should
generally be preferred.
I would be interested in hearing from other projects how you handle scientific and
Now, I do the major part of my work in en:WP, but my impression is that in de:WP, poor
humanities coverage is far less of a problem. To provide some anecdotal evidence, the
German article on Plato is a featured article that runs to the length of a small book:
Socrates is a GA. Philosophy itself is a featured article.
All in all, the WikiProject Philosophy page on the German Wikipedia
lists 33 featured philosophy articles, and 62 good articles. (And that appears to be an
incomplete list. I will ask the author of the Platon article to have a look at this
discussion, perhaps he can add some background.)
In comparison, en:WP has a total of 12 featured articles in the areas of philosophy and
psychology *combined*. They are:
Attachment theory · Conatus · Confirmation bias · Free will · Getting It: The Psychology
of est · Eric A. Havelock · Philosophy of mind · Hilary Putnam · Reactive attachment
disorder · Transhumanism · A Vindication of the Rights of Woman · Bernard Williams
There are 18 English GAs in Philosophy, and they are:
Adelman, Howard – Al-Kindi – Ayn Rand – Eckhart Tolle – Fodor, Jerry – Ramasamy, Periyar
E. V. – Ramprasad Sen – Sanger, Larry – Shah, Idries – Sun Tzu – (10 articles)
Philosophies and movements:
CrimethInc. – Cynicism – Power: A New Social Analysis – Two-level utilitarianism – (4
Alvin Plantinga's free will defense – Conscience – Consolation of Philosophy –
Eliminative materialism – (4 articles)
Eckhart Tolle, Larry Sanger and CrimethInc are not exactly ... how shall I put this ... I
shan't bother, you probably guess what I mean.
I do believe the fact that there is less of a culture of scholarly source research in
en:WP, and a preference of press sources over scholarly sources, especially in the
humanities, impacts very negatively on en:WP's performance in this area.
I accept that en:WP may have the opposite problem in some areas, where editors seek to
exclude notable views "because they were not written by scholars", but on the
whole I prefer the German system. The level of coverage becomes more serious, more
intelligent, and more encyclopedic.
This attracts like-minded contributors. The en:WP culture attracts a different kind of
editor, a type of editor who doesn't like scholarly sources very much, making the
problem self-perpetuating. Beyond a certain signal-to-noise ratio, knowledgeable people
will simply vote with their feet, as your colleague did.
If en:WP wants competent, intelligent coverage in the humanities, it needs to teach
editors the value of researching the most competent, most intelligent sources. These are
not generally found in the daily press.
--- On Sat, 2/10/10, SlimVirgin <slimvirgin(a)gmail.com> wrote:
From: SlimVirgin <slimvirgin(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List"
Date: Saturday, 2 October, 2010, 11:01
From: "David Gerard"
> That [...] doesn't answer the question I asked:
> *what* about the approach in this paper wouldn't
work for philosophy,
> in your opinion? Please be specific.
David, I think one of the reasons that biologists and
others may be
happier than philosophers to edit Wikipedia is that
they know something about the latter and don't need to
study for it,
whereas editors are at least a little hesitant about wading
subject that clearly requires a specialist vocabulary.
Looking at an area I edit in, animal rights, I'm aware of
editors in that area since 2004 who have studied ethics at
postgraduate level. You don't need an academic background
to edit all
those articles, but it helps for the articles where the
arguments have to be explained.
One of the editors with a background in ethics was a
philosopher who specialized in animal rights, and who
after deciding that "raving loonies" were in charge, as he
put it. And
the other is me. Expertise in that area is not recognized,
everyone who has ever read a newspaper thinks they
understand it. So
it is very frustrating, and if it's an area you specialize
professionally, editing those articles feels like a
complete waste of
Academics don't have the time or patience to explain basic
years on end to people who feel that reading books or
papers about the
subject is unnecessary. I'm sure the biology experts would
give up too
if their area of expertise were undermined in such a basic
This is just one of the reasons I think it will always be
recruit and keep philosophers.
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