Friday, June 08, 2018

#Wikipedia - where anyone can edit?

It used to be that anyone could edit Wikipedia. In theory this is still the case HOWEVER with university students increasingly refining their skills on Wikipedia, with scholars featuring as "Wikipedians Fellow" for particular subjects, the quality bar has been raised making the environment increasingly hostile for non scholars.

These scholars are active mainly on the English Wikipedia but the effects are felt everywhere; as it is perceived as the standard to aspire for. This is hugely problematic. Compare for instance these articles about Cyril Ramaphosa; the English and the Zulu article. There is little purpose in comparing them. There are hardly any editors on the Zulu Wikipedia and almost every subject is missing; so what to do what to write? When you then apply the scholarly standards of the English Wikipedia, it is akin to insisting on Nupedia standards and, as an aside how much different are the Nupedia standards when they are compared with current English Wikipedia standards?

What a Wikipedia like the Zulu Wikipedia needs is scaffolding for the information it wants to supply. Mr Ramaphosa is the current president of South Africa and a list like this would serve much better than the existing red link. With an English Wikipedia background you would not consider this because almost all basic information already exists.

In Wikimedia publications on scholarly editing almost always English Wikipedia is the platform. Arguably the kind of articles written by scholars would not even fit. They would exist in a vacuum. Arguably the kind of articles currently written by scholars have little context in a Zulu Wikipedia because the subjects have little bearing on what is relevant in an African context.

Given the state of a Wiki like the Zulu Wikipedia, we do not need scholars. We need high school students who write many basis articles. We need many high schools with all their students writing articles. If anything for the majority of Wikipedias we do not need scholars.

It would serve the Wikimedia Foundation well and consider less scholarly options.
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