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User:Jackiekoerner/Resources for Hesitant Participants

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(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

This essay is a collection of resources and suggestions for working with hesitant participants to the Wikimedia community. This information was collected from my own search into related topics as well as communication with other members of the Wikimedia community who have dealt with hesitant participants. New information will be added as it is collected. Please do contribute to this content as well by posing a discussion topic on the article talk page.


Some people who work in academic environments have concerns regarding participating in Wikipedia and sister projects. This concern is most often a continuation of the reliability argument. While this was an accurate argument in Wikimedia's youth, it is no longer as rampant of an issue. A 2005 study published in the scientific journal Nature found Wikipedia to only be slightly less reliable than the print version of Encyclopedia Britannica.

Concerns about contributing[edit]

Some people in academic fields have expressed concerns over contributing. The following sections are some of the noted concerns, and information explaining these concerns.

Individual value of contributions[edit]

For some academics, they must publish and contribute to the current knowledge in their field. If they are contributing on a platform anyone can edit, and for free, there is uncertainty of what can they add to their professional experience to quantify this contribution. Additionally, not all institutions appreciate or understand Wikipedia, the community, and the value of free knowledge. While individual contributors might see participating in content creation as highly valuable, their superiors may not, and, thus, the value to the individual remains exclusively personal and not professional. Some academics see contributing as related to their work, but do not quantify it as their work. They find contributing helps them engage more diverse audiences, as they get accustomed to teaching and engaging with others in their direct field, and limiting the true reach of their knowledge. This section is tangentially related to the section below.

Intellectual property[edit]

Academics are concerned about contributing to Wikipedia as being an academic is their profession. Their developed knowledge, research, and other scholarship are their main job duties. To provide the content for free goes against years of socialization about the academic profession. It is a very progressive academic who contributes to Wikimedia projects. Other academics might be bound by contractual stipulations by their institution, whether it is a college or university, research organization, or other organization employing academics. In these cases, the work of the academic might belong to the institution and not be the academic's to share freely.

Appearance to others[edit]

In one study, Wikipedia at university: what faculty think and do about it, academics indicated they used Wikipedia, but would not openly mention they did so. This was considering the perception that other academics and faculty had a negative view of Wikipedia. The majority of participants in this study would not acknowledge using or recommend Wikipedia openly to other academics or faculty.

Policy as obstacle[edit]

Academics often work in subject-areas where knowledge is emerging or still being constructed. Some policies in Wikipedia create challenges for academics working with and contributing to marginalized social and cultural groups. WP:Notability and WP:Verifiability pose challenges for these topic areas. Notability is relative, and while a person or subject might be notable to a group or culture, content often is at risk for deletion if notability is not proven per the community approved standards, which generally follow mainstream ways. There is also a bias in the community against using local, social, and community-written publication sources to prove notability or ground information. Verifiability proves challenging since some of the content is only contained in oral history or tradition or in primary sources.

Community concerns about academics contributing[edit]

Some people in the Wikimedia community feel academics have no place contributing. Their concerns stem from the application of traditional knowledge development methods and the historical education system, as these were made for the elite class by the elite class. The concern is that academics would not write an encyclopedia, or other free knowledge resources, accessible to everyone. The content would be for their own use, own benefit, or for their students.

New contributors are not always welcomed by all members of the community. Academics new to contributing are not excluded from this potential obstacle. Academics contributing content regarding marginalized social and cultural groups may find persisting on Wikipedia and sister projects to be challenging among a community generally unaware of the systemic bias pervading in content and policy.

While this may be the case for some, there are no quantifiable metrics on such contributors. Arguably, the academics currently contributing, and potentially teaching with Wikipedia and the sister projects, create and improve content in gross ways for the intended purpose of the projects.

Suggestions for engaging hesitant participants[edit]

The Wikipedia and the sister projects do have their challenges. But not contributing to the available knowledge is not a solution to these challenges. Academics are further isolating themselves from the masses. By publishing in the open and contributing to free knowledge, the material is being consumed by more people than if kept behind paywalls or not shared at all. No, there is no paycheck, but education is a mission good, not always a revenue good, especially if we as a society hope to affect the opportunity gap.

Traditional publishing methods only value the finished, published product. Wikipedia and sister projects value the background knowledge, the supporting information, and the constructed knowledge.

Benefits for the academic contributing to Wikimedia[edit]

  • Sharing knowledge with a broad audience
  • Expanding the awareness about a person or subject-area
  • Connect with collaborators from across the world
  • Increase the speed at which new knowledge is constructed
  • Inspire further research in the area
  • Develop and improve ability to explain content for broad audiences
  • Create stronger content freely available to increase the understanding of the true depth of the field

Benefits of using Wikimedia in the classroom[edit]

  • Expansive resource content
  • Collaboration amongst classmates, colleagues, and cultures
  • Navigating discussion and communication with a broad spectrum of people
  • Critical thinking and decision-making skill development
  • Media literacy in content creation and consumption
  • Writing meaningful assignments instead of essays bound to be recycled after the semester closes

External links[edit]

Whose Knowledge
Wiki Education Foundation
What students learn from contributing to Wikipedia

Helpful Publications on the Subject[edit]

Student Learning Outcomes using Wikipedia-based Assignments Fall 2016 Research Report
Aibar et al. (2015). Wikipedia at university: what faculty think and do about it
Cacciatore et al. (2012). Another (methodological) look at knowledge gaps and the Internet’s potential for closing them
Carroll et al. (2013). Collaboration and competition on a wiki: The praxis of online social learning to improve academic writing and research in under-graduate students
Chatterjee and Bhattacharyya. (2017). Judgment analysis of crowdsourced opinions using biclustering
Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning
Freire and Li. (2014). Using Wikipedia to enhance student learning: A case study in economics
Higgins. (2014). Critical thinking for 21st-century education: A cyber-tooth curriculum?
Kimmerle et al. (2015). Learning and Collective Knowledge Construction With Social Media: A Process-Oriented Perspective
Knight et al. (2017). The relationship of (perceived) epistemic cognition to interaction with resources on the internet
Lim. (2013). College students’ credibility judgments and heuristics concerning Wikipedia
Phetteplace. (2015). How Can Libraries Improve Wikipedia?
Polk et al. (2015). Wikipedia Use in Research: Perceptions in Secondary Schools
Samoilenko and Yasseri. (2014). The distorted mirror of Wikipedia: a quantitative analysis of Wikipedia coverage of academics
Soules. (2014). Faculty perception of Wikipedia in the California State University System
Xu and Li. (2015). An empirical study of the motivations for content contribution and community participation in Wikipedia
Vetter. (2015). The Pedagogy and Politics of an Open Access Writing Community
Zhao et al. (2012). Investigating the determinants of contribution value in Wikipedia