Wikipedia and Libraries: The Afterwebinar

At 556 attendees strong the recent OCLC Research Webinars “Librarians are Wikipedians Too” and  “Wikipedia and Libraries: The Connection” piqued the progressive, exploratory minds of Librarians worldwide. Conviced tech managers at independent research libraries asked for help to jump onto the Commons mass upload bandwagon. Reference Librarians started to dream up combined workshop / editathons, from the explanation of the two.  As well workshops and edithons the webinars outlined the 5 classical points of collaboration between the two communities, and how to forensically evaluate which areas of Wikipedia are fertile for Library linking.

A webinar is nothing without it’s audience and their questions.  We answered as many as we could at the time, but there were some more difficult questions to answer, which now clear of time restraints, I’ll answer in full.

Where to go next:

The answer of where to go next is somewhat of a mantra we hope to impose: “the wiki”.  The Wikipedia Loves Libraries portal is a growing base of related materials, ideas, and links to the subject. We recognize that using a wiki to get help with wikis can be somewhat of a contradiction, and have set up a simple form to get paired with Wikipedians in a more traditional way.

Unanswered questions from Chat:

Question from Bob Kosovsky to All Participants (02:54:43 PM):

Max: WP is 6th most used website; but acc. to visualizations I’ve seen, DPpedia is THE most used data source; can you talk about the implications of DPpedia being the MAIN source of data/information for numerous websites?

I think you’re referring to this image,

Linked Open Data

which shows DBpedia as the center of the Linked Open Data universe. DBpedia is a database of information scraped and infered from Wikipedia. It being this large has the implications that Google searches will be eerily smart, and occasionally possibly wrong. Beyond that it signals that despite some best effort to deride crowdsourcing as untrustworthy, the internet are utilitarian.

Question from Madeline Wagner to All Participant

I would like to know more about how “minority” views on a subject are handled : ie the recent article by a scholar who tried to edit the entry on the Haymarket affair.

This question leads to an advanced and philosophical design choice of Wikipedia. The controversy arond the Haymarkey affair on Wiki (chronicled here) highlights, that Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia of truth but an encyclopedia of proof . That is, by design, the facts that belong on Wikipedia are the ones that can be sourced, and true-but-no-provable statements aren’t valid Wikipedic content. Wikipedia is this way for practical reasons. For a full justfication read the essay “Wikipedia:Truth – A place for minority views.”

Question from Michele Combs to All Participants (02:58:36 PM):

Rule of thumb seems to be “no institutional WP accounts,” only individual ones so that there is a single responsible person for each edit; would you advocate permitting creation of institutional accounts for creation/editing so as to make edits more credible/authoritative?

Let us be pragmatic. It’s highly unlikely that Wikipedia would ever change it’s policy to allow group accounts, because if you are looking to make a user account’s edits more authoritative then we’ve lost the equity granted to anonymous users – a very historic tenet. To achieve a unity and community respect for a library’s editors as whole I’d suggest using a naming scheme in the vein of [name]+[institution]. For instance in my personal life I am User:Maximilianklein but when I edit for OCLC I use User:Maximiliankleinoclc which knots mine and my institution’s reputation.

Question from Kjerste Christensen to All Participants (02:33:07 PM):

If your library has a strong focus in a particular area, what about partnering with a WikiProject related to that subject area to look up information or scan media as needed?

This isn’t really a question at all but a fantastic comment. Click here to view the directory of Wikiprojects.

And remember — it’s  not confusing



About Max Klein

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