[Taxacom] Wikipedia rewrites

Kleo Pullin kleopullin at pacbell.net
Thu Feb 5 22:23:27 CST 2009

--- On Thu, 2/5/09, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:

> Kleo Pullin wrote:
> >I like contributing to a free knowledge base, so I do
> edit Wikipedia 
> >articles, mostly California native flora and fauna
> pages, plus 
> >marine life.  However, I don't edit microscopy
> articles because it 
> >is frustrating seeing accurate information deleted,
> revised, and 
> >dumbed down to incorrect, or seeing inaccurate
> information carefully 
> >watched and maintained.
> >
> >There are areas on Wikipedia where experts don't
> stand a chance.
> I have to ask, though: upon encountering the deletion of
> accurate 
> information (presumably by a single specific editor), did
> you raise 
> the issue with an administrator? 

I raised the issue with other editors, who alerted an administrator, who, admittedly without any topical knowledge of the issue, sided with the edits of the problematic editor.  I questioned this as I was providing a group of solid references for the edits I felt were necessary for the article, but the administrator told me that the other editor had a long established editing history while I was editing from an IP.  When I registered with a user name and attempted to make similar edits the same administrator interfered with the edits.  

The bulk of my edits to Wikipedia have stood the test of time, remaining in their articles for years.  I mostly make corrections and add current references from review articles in the peer reviewed literature.  The small number of articles I have started still exist.  For me, it's just in this one area where editors are entrenched and will allow no outsiders (non-owners as Wikipedia describes them).

I think if I had aggressively pursued the issue, or asked editors who were willing to read the literature I used to support the accurate description of the topic, that I would have prevailed.  However, it was a lot of work dealing with this issue, and I was editing articles for fun.  

I simply stopped editing in my area of expertise to no longer encounter the problem.  I continue to edit in other areas, and my articles withstand the scrutiny of other editors, including resident experts in the fields. 

Like Tony (below),  I had reached my limits

>"I have argued the toss in a few cases, but mostly reached the limit of >effort I am prepared to expend arguing against the more persistent (there >are always one or two...) and walked away, on the basis that someone else >can always go in to bat later if the argument is defensible."

>from Tony
> I would strongly encourage folks like Kleo, or Paul, who
> have 
> obviously had negative experiences on WIkipedia, to look
> over the big 
> "List of Policies" 
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_policies)
> and see if 
> that looks like a system where "anything goes".
> There is nothing that 
> they have not thought of and do not have a policy to deal
> with - 
> ingenious fools may have their day on Wikipedia, but
> that's ALL they 
> get. Ultimately, they will lose, *unless* no one opposes
> them.

Although I had a negative experience, I enjoy contributing to the knowledge base for accessible, current information about my local floral and fauna, and in a couple of other areas.  I think the idea is sound, and I think that the critical mass of having a good encyclopedia may eventually weed out the usefulness of the Wikipedia nerd over editors with limited time but genuine knowledge of a subject area.

I consider my contributions worthwhile.

> Sincerely,
> -- 
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology
> Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype:
> dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are
> mine, not UCR's)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful
> disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby
> Dick, Chap. 82
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