University Web Developers

University Web Developers

There has been an interesting discussion about the pro's and con's of updating your school's entry on Wikipedia. Here is a cautionary tale from Dan Lovejoy:

"From someone who has been burned, then very stupidly drawn into that cesspool, I suggest staying as far away from Wikipedia as possible. Don't even revert vandalism - it will be used against you.

If you bother to read any of that, look at my Edit history, then compare it to what the "adversaries" claimed I did. It's terribly frustrating and I handled it completely wrong. (Note that I posted under my real name - I think everyone should, but it didn't work very well for me personally ;-)

Nevertheless - It doesn't matter if you are right - if all the facts are behind you - if you only edit provable facts or only remove vandalism and edit in your own name publicly. It doesn't matter if you know all the rules and the person with whom you disagree knows none of them. It doesn't even matter if you are willing to compromise. The person with the most time on their hands and the most lurid sounding accusations will "win" simply because they can keep going. And the formal complaint process is the most arcane, convoluted nightmare you could possibly imagine.

I don't believe Wikipedia is salvageable, but I believe its successor will be awesome! Let's hope for that."

Your thoughts?

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I'm going to re-post what I wrote in the Email group :3

I have pretty strong opinions on Wikipedia.

First and foremost is the Wikipedia "conflict of interest" (or COI) statement that says that pages shouldn't be edited by the people they reflect. This I feel is complete b.s. because the people who run wikipedia consistently break this rule. In fact, they even change the rule around every now and then so that certain users can get away with it in certain cases. You don't really need to worry about breaking the "rules", I think. What you do need to worry about is angering the "unwashed masses", as I like to call them, of editors who like to make other people follow "the rules" but actually know nothing about what the page is about anyway.

See, the problem of COI is that it puts the creating of the pages into the hands of people who know nothing about it. For instance, if I, as a researcher at the Institute of Researching Type B Anaidni, I might make a really good article about it with lots of information about what it is and all that. But then some college drop out living in his mother's basement who's never even heard of it before can come into the article and say "well, you work for an Anaidni institution, so you have a COI because you're trying to promote Anaidni to get more funding" so he gives the article the Axe. Then, a highschool who is doing a book report on Anaidni takes his report and puts it on Wikipedia and the Wikipedia community gives him lots of props and power because he wrote such a good summary of it.

Another problem is that there's absolutely no way to stop me from going home and logging into my home computer, or loading up a Proxy program, and making the edits without telling anyone I was an Anaidni researcher, and everyone would like me, until caused a "scandal". I don't know if any of you read any tech journals online but they are full of just such Scandals, such as the ones related to Jossie Fresco, Judd Bagley, EssJay, and the current one involving Jimbo Wales.

So who's more likely to have their addition to Wikipedia stick, and who's should stick: a disgruntled student, or a knowledgeable professor/HR rep? Sadly, in the case of Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit, the answer is the former.

So what you have to ask yourself is "Do I want to follow the (totally made up) rules and let any old yahoo edit my university's website?"

If the answer to that question is "No" (as I feel it should be) but you still want to look good, one thing you can do is release press releases, then cite those. Wikipedia loves citations. You can say whatever you want as long as you can back it up by saying "I know it sounds crazy but look it's true!"

Anyway, please note that these opinions are not those of my university but merely those of a student employee. But I hope they've helped you :)



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