Institutt for informatikk

Siv Midtun Hollup: Wikipedia - the missing link in science outreach?

The Wikipedia is probably one of the largest communal projects in the world, as it spans the globe gathering knowledge from many cultures. Anyone can add, delete and edit articles on any topic, regardless of whether or not they are experts or even knowledgable on the topic covered by the article. Many scientists are sceptical towards Wikipedia, in particular its correctness and fluid state, yet more and more people turn to Wikipedia for information and use Wikipedia as a source. Google any term and you will most likely find a Wikipedia article on the topic is among the top hits!  The time has come to stop complaining about the state of Wikipedia and start thinking about how to improve it instead, as it is clear it is here to stay.

As scientists, we should step up and not only show how to use a resource such as Wikipedia, but also shape this resource so that it suits our needs as a scientific community. I hope to create a discussion on how Wikipedia can be a part of the studies for students at every level in academia, and how we can improve Wikipedia's quality and how to use it as a venue to further our own research to new readers. I will try to map out ways to contribute to Wikipedia and what to watch out for in this process, and give some thoughts on the impact of this kind of outreach.