[Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?

SlimVirgin slimvirgin at gmail.com
Sat Oct 2 10:01:22 UTC 2010

> From: "David Gerard" <dgerard at gmail.com>
>> 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 everyone assumes
they know something about the latter and don't need to study for it,
whereas editors are at least a little hesitant about wading into a
subject that clearly requires a specialist vocabulary.

Looking at an area I edit in, animal rights, I'm aware of only two
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 philosophical
arguments have to be explained.

One of the editors with a background in ethics was a professional
philosopher who specialized in animal rights, and who stopped editing
after deciding that "raving loonies" were in charge, as he put it. And
the other is me. Expertise in that area is not recognized, because
everyone who has ever read a newspaper thinks they understand it. So
it is very frustrating, and if it's an area you specialize in
professionally, editing those articles feels like a complete waste of

Academics don't have the time or patience to explain basic points for
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 way.

This is just one of the reasons I think it will always be harder to
recruit and keep philosophers.


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