Monday, March 17, 2008

Linguistlist update

On the mailing list of the Linguistlist I read the following....

Dear readers,

This letter is a progress report on LINGUIST's Wikipedia Update Project. You may remember that Fund Drive 2007 donors voted to earmark some funds for a LINGUIST team to look into filling some of the gaps in linguistics and language articles that appear in Wikipedia. Our goal was to make Wikipedia an even better resource for our field and the general public by asking the linguistics community itself to help improve the reliability of information in the "encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Our mandate was to get the word out about which articles needed revision or completion and to issue periodic calls for volunteers to edit such entries and/or add new entries. Our role was to serve as a hub for facilitating such updates and to report back to you on the results of our efforts.

We began our project in earnest in the summer of 2007. LINGUIST's Wikipedia team logged itself in as a user Linguistlist and merged its project with the existing WikiProject Linguistics page. We found that Wikipedia administrators and editors had already identified some 700 articles as "linguistic stubs," flagged as being incomplete or lacking in some respect-needing fuller content, having content that was "contested" by some, lacking proper references or citations, or having missing or empty links. We put these stubs on a "watchlist" to keep track of what got updated and when. From this large list of stubs, we then
created smaller lists by linguistic subfield-these included biographic entries of linguists and specific articles in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and sociolinguistics.

We then issued calls for volunteers, one per month for a total of six through the end of December 2007. Each call included a report on subscribers who had responded to our calls. Some reported having edited or created new articles while others promised to edit specific entries in the future. Our respondents came from all over, as close to home as Chicago and New York and as far away as Serbia and the West Indies. All LINGUIST activities on the update project, including the full text of each call for action, are logged on our user page.

We are pleased to report the following activities concerning linguistics articles:
  • 13 articles were completed or newly created by subscribers
  • 12 articles had references added
  • 33 links were added to existing articles
  • 28 articles were de-stubbed by virtue of being judged self-sufficient
The Wikipedia team was able to devote six months to the project, given a timeframe that was necessarily limited. Because we are also involved in other LINGUIST projects, we are no longer recruiting participants for the update project.

The Wikipedia team is extremely grateful to all of you for your collective interest in the project and especially to those of you who made specific contributions to Wikipedia entries. Overall, we are pleased that we were able to perform a public service by calling attention to the quality of linguistics articles in Wikipedia and inviting you to join in as active Wikipedians for the greater good of our discipline.

In closing, we thank you, as always, for being there for us: we depended crucially on you for this particular project and could not have done it without you! We hope we were able to a small difference with this project. Please remember that when you donate to this year's Fund Drive, you are contributing to similar projects aimed at providing you with the broadest range of resources in the field of linguistics.

With best wishes,

The Wikipedia Update Team
Roxana Ma Newman
Hannah Morales
Luiza Newlin Lukowicz
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