Just a quick follow-up to my recent post about Wikipedia. Wikipedia has been in the news recently, with the BBC highlighting Cancer Research UK’s Wikipedia activity and the Guardian editorialising on the survey that the Wikimedia Foundation is running.
The BBC website story points out that if you put ‘Breast Cancer’ into a search engine the results show information from CRUK in eighth place, whereas an article on Wikipedia comes up in second place. Henry Scowcroft, scientific communications manager at CRUK, said: “Wikipedia is nearly always at the top of an internet search for cancers. It’s not always that easy to understand and sometimes it can be inaccurate or not completely up to date. We want to increase the accuracy and clarity.”
The Guardian editorial talks laconically of the tendency of science to “throw barbed wire” around itself and the need “to lure big brains into the world’s biggest seminar”, by which I think they mean Wikipedia.
We have started looking at Wikipedia and it has been suggested that we (that is, I) should write some biographical articles about some of our leading scientists. The only trouble with this idea is that biography, and particularly autobiography, is rather prone to ‘point of view’ problems. Wikipedia have strong guidelines on this, advising against autobiographical articles because they are prone to bias, or lack of balance. Wikipedia is a secondary source, so it is not the place to publish new information rather it is a place to draw together previously published information. I am not quite sure whether pages on institutional websites about staff count as unbiased sources but I rather suspect not.
It will be interesting to see how I get on with this project.