UC Berkeley gets its first Wikipedian in Residence


Integrating wikipedia into course assignments is an excellent way to get them giving back and all, but term papers actually serve a function and that is teaching students how to write. You (and they) may never want to read them again but it constitutes critical practice so eventually they will be writing something that everyone will want to read.

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At this, they usually do a terrible job. Unless the course is on writing, there tends to be very little feedback on writing quality.

In my experience term papers are there to teach students how to think coherently about a topic. Writing is just a convenient means of forcing that.

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To amplify Craig Campbell’s point: The research paper (or any other college-level writing assignment) is about the entire process, perhaps especially turning a set of observations, vague impressions, and research notes into a coherent piece of prose. There’s much to be learned from vetting and improving Wikipedia articles, but that is far from the sole function of a writing course–or at least of the writing course as conceived fifty years ago, when I started college, or for the twenty years I spent teaching comp.

A fringe benefit of Wiki-editing, though, will be a grounding in the irrationality, childishness, egotism, credulousness, and general folly available on the internet. And one hopes that the bad writing won’t rub off on the kids.

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I would hope that any course involving Wikipedia editing includes these two points:

Wikipedia allows undisclosed paid editors;

Most people cannot afford to view more than the abstracts of papers cited because they do not have access to journals through top-tier, first-world universities. Or well-funded sock puppetry firms.


Gorman is the first to serve at an academic institution

The UK’s Royal Society also has a Wikipedian in Residence, recently appointed in Jan 2014, though apparently it’s only one day a week.

They’re running a wikipedia edit-a-thon in two weeks time (8th March) in the rather plush buildings on Carlton Square, if any limeys are interested.

About that “gender diversity” goal, how does a guy go about getting women to participate?

And what does it tell us about the evils of the patriarchy when women don’t appear to give a fuck about something that has absolutely no social barrier to entry? Put it another way, how can it be WP’s problem that women don’t participate when they don’t appear to do anything to deter them, whether purposefully or not?

Believe me or don’t, I’m all for women (and anyone, really) participating in WP. I’m just extremely wary that, as usual whenever anything approaches “gender studies” these days, and on this site in particular, the moralistic conclusions precede any rational analysis. In other words, “why don’t women participate more in WP” is a legit, scientific question that “the patriarchy!!!1!” doesn’t answer, even if it actually existed.

Without knowing directly more about what his goals are, the article doesn’t get particular, it could be anything related to gender diversity which is a wide topic.

At a glance, if it is a goal then achieving wider student participation in editing likely works toward it. If the gender diversity in question is limited to male/female -editing- in balanced numbers ( It probably isn’t limited that way, just for discussion ) consider that the undergraduate breakdown at Berkeley is 52% female, 48% male.

If the goal is balancing Wikipedia content to recognize a wider spectrum of subject matter in anyway related to gender, that may still contribute to the goal but it is overall a much more complex question.

I can’t help you with most of what is below that first line of yours. It’s too loaded with your own estimations, not mentioned or alluded to in the article at all (“the patriachy!!!1!”)

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That’s probably because many survey classes are taught by either grad students, lectures, or adjuncts, who probably are overworked. I find myself frustrated when I can’t give back comments on all the stylistic issues, but I just can’t do that, even for one class.

But I think this is right on the money. I always put essay questions on my exams for just this reason–to see if they can synthesize some of the stuff we discussed in class into an argument of some kind.

Well, you know. we’re too busy staring at pretty shoes and putting on our make-up to worry our pretty little heads over something so complicated as “wiki-pedia”… what is that even? Does it have shoes? Can I get shoes there? If so, I’m so all about that… Maybe some pretty dresses too? I really need to spend my husbands money on shoes and dresses.


Wikipedia editing generally requires at least very basic coding knowledge, so how about you look at some of the gender issues in computing fields…

Before getting involved with that dreadful Wiki stuff, don’t forget to ask for his permission first.

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Oh, you are soooooo right. What the hell was I thinking, I had the right to make my own way in the world… clearly I need a man to tell me what to do.

Fact: women don’t edit Wikipedia.

I’m not saying they sould not, I’m not saying they’re too stupid to do it, and I’m not saying that shows that women are inferior because of it. I’m asking why that is. You’re the one who’s turning that into some bizarre strawman.

As for shoes, well I must admit I’m about as puzzled with most women’s obsession with shoes (walking through Paris with a woman can be a slow process because of all the shoe stores) as I am with most men’s obsession with sport results: I don’t fucking get it. Apparently you’re very proud of the fact that you don’t care about those, and let me tell you what: good for you. Now consider telling someone who cares.

That’s the thing: nobody’s required any permission. And especially not mine. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re a girld, you can claim to be a man or a dog, or even simpler yet, you can be just an IP address. Yet women don’t participate.

So what are you getting at with that generic feminist quip? As always with you postmodern gender studies types, the reality is indiscernable from the parody.I’m sensing I’m three keystrokes away from being called a men’s rights activist – that’s how that usually goes.

Maybe it is how you put it.

For instance, that fact is not a fact.

But you knew that.

Are you referring to the fact that it’s merely less than 10% of edits being done by women rather than no edits at all? Are you pleased with yourself for coming up with such a pointless rebuttal of what was obviously hyperbole?

I wasn’t talking about the fact, I was talking about the hyperbole.

Besides, you seem in your language to be supporting a position that holds that women should change.

I’d ask you why you think that the user should change for a system when successful development/re-development usually involves a system changing for the user. The latter is what Wikipedia has selected you know.

Well that’s rather useless.

No, you see, unlike you folks I’m not a moral crusader. I don’t get off telling people what they should be doing. There is no inherent evil at work here as far as I’m concerned, there is merely an interesting, scientific question (why aren’t women more interested in editing WP?) and there is an anti-scientific approach to it (“teh patriarchy!!11!”).

I never said I thought the user should change.

Your first post stands as far as I’m concerned.

I mean c’mon, you wonder how a man (the wikipedian in question, or any other man engaged in any other thing?) can raise participation rates among women? Really you wonder? I notice you didn’t respond to my reply.

You emit several question statements that encapsulate my previous post. Followed by a disclaimer that you mistrust anything related to gender studies, which encompasses practically all social interaction, institutional, public, private, in any system in society, citing conclusions that weren’t drawn about an analysis that also doesn’t exist in relation to the topic.

I don’t believe you.

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