ASCB Newsletter Nov 2013 - page 17

17
NOVEMBER 2013
ASCB
NEWSLETTER
available on the Wikipedia site there are other
websites and YouTube videos that will easily
walk you through the process.
Here are a few key points to
ask yourself before committing
to the many hours of work it
takes to create a profile or any
other Wikipedia article: Is the
subject worthy of an encyclopedia
article; is it notable (will anyone
want to read about the subject)?;
and is it verifiable (is the content
referenced elsewhere)?
The Disadvantages of
Having a Wikipedia
Profile
Why might having a personal Wikipedia page
be a bad thing? Because Wikipedia is an open
forum and you cannot control the content. Just
because you feel you are the leading authority
on a particular topic does not mean that others
feel the same way. It may take a few months to
put together the perfect profile, but it can be
destroyed in minutes by one negative comment.
If this does not sound so bad then think about
the effect popular media has had on celebrities’
images. Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods are
two of the world’s most talented and best-
known athletes, but due to some negative
publicity many will remember them foremost
for exploits in their social lives.
All content written for Wikipedia must be
in neutral format, which includes the good and
bad, and because they fall under the Creative
Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 and FNU
Free Documentation license, “any contribution,
including public page comments, can be freely
copied, modified, deleted, reproduced, altered
and quoted by third parties for both commercial
and non-commercial use with the sole
requirement that these contributions be properly
attributed to their author on Wikipedia.”
9
So
what does this mean to you? Basically, once
your profile goes live, it’s open game. There have
been instances where inaccurate or misleading
changes have been made to selected Wikipedia
profiles, such as that of an eminent woman
scientist who has been outspoken about the
challenges to women’s success in science.
However, malicious edits such as these have
become less common due to changes in the
editing process whereby suggested changes are
reviewed before being uploaded and anonymous
edits are rejected.
Damage Control
How do you go about damage control if
someone creates a flawed profile about you?
Because Wikipedia has an open
source format, once negative or
incorrect information is posted,
requests for edits or deletion
are granted only when a reliable
source of information that disputes
the posted material is presented.
In addition, if a site appears to be
self-promoting or commercial it
will be blocked. But once items
become vandalized, edited, or
blocked there are still online
locations where the information
is held and is accessible through Google
searches, so it never really goes away. There
have been documented stories of individuals
who have suffered personal attacks and
defamation leading to requests that pages be
deleted.
10
What Else Should Be Published
on Wikipedia?
Wikipedia has been around for 12 years
and is intended to be a repository for the
world’s knowledge in one location that is
freely accessible by anyone. For many years
educators have questioned the accuracy of
its content and whether students should be
allowed to use this resource for their
research.
11, 12
A study described in
Nature
in December 2005 compared the content
of Wikipedia to the same topic areas in
Encyclopedia Britannica and found that they
had a similar level of accuracy.
Although there are still many instructors
who do not allow their students to use
Wikipedia, it is a resource that is not
going away soon. Due to its wide usage by
students, some educators have chosen to
correct poorly written entries. Similarly,
many professional societies have decided to
adopt portions of the relevant site(s) and to
become editors of specified content. In 2009
the Society for Neuroscience launched an
initiative to improve and expand the areas
in Wikipedia that contain neuroscience
content. It was seen as an opportunity
to share and broaden understanding and
knowledge of neurobiology. In addition to
adding material, various committees were
assigned to specific areas and asked to watch
over the content to ensure its accuracy. Other
... Wikipedia
is an online
encyclopedia,
not a forum for
advertising or
self-promotion.
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