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Smithsonian and NIH Are Contributing to Wikipedia, But Will Professors?



(p. B2) Professor Jemielniak in the passage quoted below, asks why professors would ever contribute to Wikipedia since they already can get published in academic journals, and also have a captive audience at their lectures.

Based on that reasoning, Professors likewise would have little motive to blog---yet many do. Why? Perhaps because there is something satisfying in reaching a wide audience of readers who are not required to read, but who choose to read.

(Readers of academic articles are often few, and students at academic lectures are often captives whose bodies are present, but whose minds are somewhere else.)


(p. B2) In the United States, the Wikimedia Foundation has sponsored an academy to teach experts at the National Institutes of Health how to contribute to the site and monitor what appears there. And Mr. Wyatt said that other institutions including the Smithsonian had inquired about getting their own Wikipedian in residence to facilitate their staff members' contributions to the site.

One talk here by a Polish professor, Dariusz Jemielniak, took a jab at the idea of experts as contributors. He said he had noticed that students often remained contributors to Wikipedia but that professors left quickly. His explanation was that Wikipedia was really just a game for people to gain status. A teenager offering the definitive account of the Thirty Years' War gets a huge audience and respect from his peers. But, Mr. Jemielniak asked, why would a professor stoop to edit Wikipedia?

"Professors already get published and can lecture and force people to listen to their ideas," he said.



For the full story, see:

NOAM COHEN. "Link by Link; How Can Wikipedia Grow? Maybe in Bengali." The New York Times (Mon., July 12, 2010): B2.

(Note: the online version of the article is dates July 11, 2010.)





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