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Submissions/A Wikipedian content-expert soliciting expert editors

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
A Wikipedian content-expert soliciting expert editors
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Jane Richardson
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Duke University
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

After 3 years of enjoying being an en:WP editor and Commons contributor, I decided to run a session at the February 2012 Biophysical Society national meeting to start a WikiProject Biophysics, sponsored also by the Education Committee and the Early Career Committee of the society, and with Phoebe Ayers, a truly expert wikipedian, as a highly appreciated guest speaker.

The WikiProject page got up and running the week before the meeting. That page, and the meeting session, have attracted a small but very enthusiastic group of new editors from the society as well as existing wikipedia editors of articles in this general field. Several attendees said that this idea completely changed their perception of wikipedia from something out there in the world that they and their students used, to a resource they now feel empowered to influence themselves. By summer we will know how successfully this set of people will interact and produce results.

As in any field, there is great need for content, clarity, completeness, and correctness. When such articles are written by non-experts, they can often do a very good job of the primary text by consulting textbooks, journal articles, and web reports. Two things are very difficult for them, however: staying truly up-to-date, and especially finding open-license images and diagrams that explain the scientific experiments and results understandably. For subject experts who work in the field, however, both those things are very easy - for instance, they can upload a different but equivalent image to one they used in a paper, or get one from a colleague. Such illustrations are crucial both for non-scientist readers and for scientists in a different field to easily understand what is being explained, and there are currently a large proportion of biophysics-related articles with no images at all.

In the other direction, subject experts have great difficulty adapting their language for clear encyclopedia style rather than the often pedantic and jargon-ridden style of scientific papers, and also find it hard to avoid including what is really original research. Therefore, as well as involving new people, the aim of this WikiProject is to help develop a tradition of clear, encyclopedic, and well-illustrated biophysics articles.

If the WikiProject Biophysics is successful, I would hope to see other professional societies launch such efforts, either for the several societies I belong to or for others that catch the idea from us, as I was initially encouraged by seeing that there was a WikiProject Neuroscience.

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Yes, would use slides
Special request as to time of presentations

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  1. Amir E. Aharoni (talk)
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