I suggest that if we send out queries, we do so personally, not in the
name of Wikipedia. Someone might, for example say, I think your
accomplishments in your line of work are suitable for an encyclopedia
article--could you please confirm some of the basics beyond what is on
your web site., and tell me if you know of any newspaper or magazine
articles that have been written about your work. This is more likely
to avoid the tendency to spam (or over-modesty) that results from
actually expecting people to write about themselves.
We could assist this perhaps by having an explicit input form and
standardized layout for bio articles in various fields--essentially
this would be an extension of the infoboxes which already tend to
duplicate the text in large part. It seems a little absurd to do
everything twice, and I suggest that we perhaps adopt infoboxes as the
basic format for many types of articles, to be automatically turned
into prose if anyone really wants it to look like a conventional
encyclopedia--and, in many cases, supplemented by free-form more
conventional writing. This is in essence providing information for a
semantic web, not conventional writing--but it has advantages, such as
clarity, comparability, and search capability. If someone wants to see
articles for everyone born in Seattle in 1960, they could do so. They
could even print it out as a book.
The minority of wikipedians who actually have the skills to write
coherent prose, or who are willing to learn, would still have enough
scope in the famous people and the general articles. An actual printed
example of this is Louis Kronenberger's "Atlantic Brief Lives: a
Biographical Companion to the Arts." (1965) which consists of 1081
one- or two-hundred word fairly standardized biographies of famous
people writer by a small research staff--211 of which are supplemented
by one- or two-thousand word diverse free-structured essays on the
very most famous, written by distinguished critics or scholars.
Browning gets a bio; Tennyson gets a bio plus an essay. Just as in WP,
the choice depended considerably on whom the distinguished critics and
scholars wanted to write about.
David Goodman, Ph.D, M.L.S.
On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 7:44 PM, Lars Aronsson<lars(a)aronsson.se> wrote:
Thomas Dalton wrote:
Primary sources are useful, but only for certain
Linkedin could never be the main source for an article.
I think everybody agrees. But it is still interesting to ask: How
would we cite information found in Linkedin? Via some web archive
service? And have there been any widely reported cases of
Linkedin fraud, where somebody listed a PhD title that they really
didn't have? Or is that something very common?
What makes you think people didn't lie?
I can only speak for the Swedish Who's who ("Vem är det"), which
has been published 45 times between 1912 and 1999 (roughly every
second year), with the 46th edition in 2007 (an 8 year gap and
change of publisher, it was discontinued and then revived). I
haven't heard of any cases of fraud. Criticism was launched
against the 2007 edition, that it lacked several business leaders
and the prime minister, since people were allowed to opt-out.
The Norwegian ("Hvem er Hvem") has been published only 15 times
between 1912 and 2008. The most recent edition only listed 1000
people, but editions 1-14 listed between 3200 and 4900 people.
The Danish ("Kraks Blå Bog") has been published every year since
1910, with recent editions listing some 8000 people, meaning that
one in every 700 citizens (5.5 million Danes) is listed. Among
these three countries, the Danes have the best reference works
(closest to Germany), but the smallest version of Wikipedia.
It was very interesting to hear about the Russian version, and its
problems with post-Soviet denial.
What I'm coming to is that Wikipedia might have to adopt the
method of sending out forms to select people, asking for their
biographic details (or for verification or denial of what's
already in the Wikipedia article). That doesn't mean we should
trust such autobiographic information blindly, but allow this
input in a controlled form to make Wikipedia more complete without
encouraging the uncontrolled editing of your own article. Such a
suggestion of course begs many questions, e.g.:
* Who should send out the forms? How do we introduce ourselves?
How do we explain that all of Wikipedia's rules still apply
(no, you can't opt out; no, I can't edit to your favour), to
people who never thought of editing Wikipedia, and might have
no idea how it works?
* How should the received forms be stored and referenced?
* If we discover false claims or grave omissions in the received
forms, how do we handle the next contact with that person?
* Should the input perhaps be handled as interviews for Wikinews?
Somebody can do a detailed interview for Wikinews, and then
Wikipedia can cite (parts of) that interview. Does that scale?
We would have to explain to each person what Wikinews is, but
perhaps "an interview" is easier to understand than "a form
from Wikipedia" (the latter sounds like "you have won a lottery
from Microsoft", the typical spam scam).
In the case of Who's who, it's of course the editors employed by
the publisher that sends out forms asking for details. This only
highlights how completely different Wikipedia is.
It would be interesting to hear if anybody tried something like
this already, perhaps within a limited Wikiproject?
Lars Aronsson (lars(a)aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
Wikipedia-l mailing list