Supporting the University of Edinburgh's commitments to digital skills, information literacy, and sharing knowledge openly

Month: May 2023

Reading up about… Wikipedia

The Solace of Oblivion

  • Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, 29 September 2014.
  • Really interesting article. Toobin addresses a decision by the European Court of Justice that prohibits Google from linking to certain stories and highlights the distressing Catsouras case as a worthy discussion point: “There is an inevitable conflict between two distinct social values”–privacy and free speech… The question is how do societies value those competing rights. Technology didn’t create the tension but just revealed it in a dramatic way.”

Wikipedia warns against French attempt to extend EU privacy law globally

  •, 10 June 2016.
  • Short article warning about technology being censored by judicial restrictions in certain countries.

Jeffrey Toobin Suspended From New Yorker

  •, 19 October 2020.
  • Interesting follow-up on the author of the 1st article and how he may now wish for this alleged incident to be removed from web search results.

Google And The Right To Be Forgotten

  • Julian Vigo,, 3 October 2019.
  • Short article following the story about Google delisting web results.
  • “Breyer went on to say that supporting Google’s right to break privacy laws outside the EU would “fracture the internet and raise more borders online.” Obviously, where information is available elsewhere, one need not travel to access it. When I am blocked because of GDPR rules in reading an online American publication, I simply change my VPN location to the US and I have immediate access. Hence, the notion of geography determining access and privacy right, given current technology of VPN for starters, makes a mockery out of legal data protections. “

Is Wikipedia a good source? 2 college librarians explain when to use the online encyclopedia – and when to avoid it

  • The, 20 March 2023.
  • Really good and concise opening introduction to Wikipedia and some perceived pros and cons.

Wikipedia is 20, and its reputation has never been higher

  • The Economist, 9 January 2021.
  • Two years old article (Wikipedia is 22.5 years old now) but excellent summary of where we are with Wikipedia 20 years on and you can also listen to this story in an engaging audio in 14 minutes.
  • A former president of the American Library Association in 2007: “A professor who encourages the use of Wikipedia is the intellectual equivalent of a dietician who recommends a steady diet of Big Macs with everything,” he sneered.
  • “Toby Negrin, chief product officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, the San Francisco-based charity that provides the site’s infrastructure, describes the online encyclopedia as a “guardian of truth”. That sounds grandiose. But other tech behemoths now use it as a neutral arbiter.”

How Wikipedia gets to define what’s true online

  • Ethan Zuckerman, Prospect magazine, 3 March 2022
  • “Who gets to define what’s true online?… In practical terms, truth is what Google’s knowledge graph—the massive database of facts that allows the powerful search engine to answer most questions—can deliver to its users. Google’s knowledge graph is descended primarily from Wikipedia and Wikidata, an open-source collection of facts derived from Wikipedia, the remarkable participatory encyclopedia that, in the past 20 years, has become a core part of our collective knowledge infrastructure.”
  • “Somehow, verifiability and neutral point of view work together to gradually produce articles that reflect consensus reality. Nonsense, argues Ford. The formation of truth on Wikipedia is as political as it is anywhere else in the world. Her book centres on the creation of a single Wikipedia article about the Tahrir Square protests that ultimately ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. By following the editing of this single article, Ford documents the tension between activists who want to recognise and celebrate history in the making and those who argue that “Wikipedia is not a crystal ball” and should be slow and cautious in writing history.”

  • “Wikipedia is a roadmap for co-operation and collaboration at scale. As we mourn the apparent impossibility of keeping YouTube free of flat Earthers or Facebook free from vaccine disinformation, the fact that Wikipedia remains an anchor for consensus reality seems worthy of close study. “

Students are told not to use Wikipedia but it’s a trustworthy source

  • Rachel Cunneen and Mathieu O’Neil of University of Canberra, The, 4 November 2021.
  • “For popular articles, Wikipedia’s online community of volunteers, administrators and bots ensure edits are based on reliable citations. Popular articles are reviewed thousands of times. Some media experts, such as Amy Bruckman, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s computing centre, argue that because of this painstaking process, a highly-edited article on Wikipedia might be the most reliable source of information ever created.”
  • “Wikipedia can be a tool for better media literacy. Research suggests Australian children are not getting sufficient instruction in spotting fake news…. Our students clearly need more media literacy education, and Wikipedia can be a good media literacy instrument. One way is to use it is with “lateral reading”. This means when faced with an unfamiliar online claim, students should leave the web page they’re on and open a new browser tab. They can then investigate what trusted sources say about the claim.”

How many Wikipedia references are available to read? 

  • The Wikimedia Foundation,, 20 August 2018.
  • 6 minute read. The article discusses measuring the proportion of open access sources across languages and topics.
  • Less than half of the official versions of scholarly publications cited with an identifier in Wikipedia are freely available on the web: 29% are free-to-read at the source, while an additional 10% have a free-to-read version available elsewhere.

Wikipedia is open to all, the research underpinning it should be too.

  • Tattersall Andy, LSE Blogs, 21 February 2022.
  • Our sample indicated that around half of all academic citations on the platform are paywalled. This is a major flaw in the Wikipedia model. Openly available published research helps support the development of Wikipedia. This in turn assists Wikipedia’s ultimate goal of access to transparent and evidence-based knowledge. It would also lower barriers to access research, which ultimately is good for academics and society.

    We appreciate that not everything is open for the rest of society and it might be some time before that happens. But, given Wikipedia’s global influence and stated mission, the research that underpins each entry should be as open and accessible as possible. To take full advantage of this it requires a greater understanding amongst academics and Wikipedians as to the importance of citing open access works over those behind a paywall.

‘Disrupting the Publisher-Academic Complex’

  • a talk by scientist Peter Murray-Rust at the British Library on 21 April 2018 (45 min video) about the ‘dystopia’ of the current scholarly publishing model.
  • Disruption does not mean illegality – it can be new technology, new philosophies, new people. We need a “Knowledge Spring” to break free of licences and all the other restrictive rubbish. Today’s publishers are like Bradbury’s firemen (Fahrenheit 451) – their role is to prevent reading.”
    Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge and ContentMine Ltd.

Closing the Gender Gap

  • Wikimedia UK, 30 December 2019 (19 minute video).
  • Wikimedia UK is the national chapter for the global Wikimedia movement which supports Wikipedia and its sister sites. This video showcases the work of Wikimedia UK and the community of Wikimedians in the UK as they try to address gender bias and a lack of content on Wikipedia about women.

Science Is Shaped by Wikipedia: Evidence From a Randomized Control Trial. 

  • Research paper about how Wikipedia actively influences science development, providing evidence of causality, instead of the usual correlation. (Video presentation summarising the paper)
  • “As the largest encyclopedia in the world, it is not surprising that Wikipedia reflects the state of scientific knowledge. However, Wikipedia is also one of the most accessed websites in the world, including by scientists, which suggests that it also has the potential to shape science. This paper shows that it does.”

‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap

  • Heather Ford, Judy Wajcman, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 47, No. 4 (August 2017), pp. 511-527 (17 pages)
  • Less than ten percent of Wikipedia editors are women. At one level, this imbalance in contributions and therefore content is yet another case of the masculine culture of technoscience. This is an important argument and, in this article, we examine the empirical research that highlights these issues. Our main objective, however, is to extend current accounts by demonstrating that Wikipedia’s infrastructure introduces new and less visible sources of gender disparity. In sum, our aim here is to present a consolidated analysis of the gendering of Wikipedia.”

Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales On The Future Of The Internet, Bitcoin, Web3, Cryptocurrencies And Encryption

  • Roger Huang,, 16 December 2022.
  • Fairly interesting wide-ranging chat with Jimmy Wales about all of the above.

Wikipedia on Olive Schreiner, like it or what?

  • Professor Liz Stanley, University of Edinburgh, Whites Writing Whiteness: Letters, Domestic Figurations & Representations of Whiteness in South Africa 1770s-1970s, 18 July 2019.
  • UoE Professor Liz Stanley grapples with what ‘expert’ academics role should be when it comes to ‘non-expert’ Wikipedia editors (potentially) getting things very wrong in such commonly visited web pages on their specialist subject. Asks some interesting questions.
  • “Do these ‘hidden’ editors know about the topics under consideration, do they have a good grasp of what the current state of knowledge about something is, and do they understand how to evaluate the quality of different positions, ideas and claims? The bottom line is, are these editors able to detect serious issues in what an entry represents as knowledge?”

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets

  • Katrina Brooker, Vanity, 1 July 2018.
  • “Initially, Berners-Lee’s innovation was intended to help scientists share data across a then obscure platform called the Internet, a version of which the U.S. government had been using since the 1960s. But owing to his decision to release the source code for free—to make the Web an open and democratic platform for all—his brainchild quickly took on a life of its own.”
  • “He fully recognizes that re-decentralizing the Web is going to be a lot harder than inventing it was in the first place. “When the Web was created, there was nobody there, no vested parties who would resist,” says Brad Burnham… has started investing in companies aiming to decentralize the Web. “There are entrenched and very wealthy interests who benefit from keeping the balance of control in their favor.” Billions of dollars are at stake here: Amazon, Google, and Facebook won’t give up their profits without a fight.”

The Jimmy Wales interview

  • Ann-Marie Corvin,, 23 February 2023.
  • At OpenUK’s inaugural State of Open Conference, Wikipedia’s founder talks ChatGPT, the Online Safety Bill and the site’s ongoing diversity imbalance.
  • Wales “acknowledges that the UK government’s troubled-but-well-meaning bill – which has passed through the hands of four prime ministers in as many years – is trying to hold big tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter to account. The entrepreneur himself has been the subject of vile slander and abuse on Twitter, but he argues that the Online Safety Bill in its current form is harmful to the open internet and that the government’s “simplistic, top down approach” ignores the way that the wider web works.”

Wikipedia’s Plan to Resist Election Day Misinformation

  • The, 26 October 2020. May be paywalled.
  • The encyclopedia is determined to emerge from the insanity of a pandemic and a polarizing Biden v Trump election with its information and reputation intact.

‘What Counts as Information: The Construction of Reliability and Verifiability’

  • Z.J. McDowell, and M.A. Vetter,  (2021). Wikipedia and the Representation of Reality (1st ed.). Routledge. [Download and read Chapter 2]
  • In essence, the encyclopedia decides “what counts” as knowledge as it evaluates, processes, and consequently validates information… In many ways, reliability in Wikipedia is a double-edged sword, as it is accompanied by both advantages and disadvantages. Verifiability, for example, helps to validate information and promote accuracy and trust in the encyclopedia. At the same time, the focus on print or written secondary sources, to the exclusion of other types of knowledge, limits Wikipedia’s ability to fully become reliable in terms of coverage of marginalized topics, or topics which have been developed through knowledge-making practices beyond print. These lessons are important for the general public that consumes and uses the encyclopedia, as well as for anyone that identifies as a newcomer to Wikipedia. Understanding even a small piece of how information becomes knowledge in Wikipedia can increase information literacy skills across other digital platforms.”

Should you believe Wikipedia? : online communities and the construction of knowledge.

  • A. Bruckman (2022).  Cambridge University Press. Read pages 64-90 [Chapter 3]
  • What does it mean for something to be “true”? How is the internet changing how we understand truth? This chapter explores how theories of the nature of truth and knowledge can help us to understand the internet.

Students’ use of Wikipedia as an academic resource – Patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness.

  • N. Selwyn & S. Gorard (2016). The Internet and Higher Education v.28 pp 28-34
  • Survey data examining 1658 undergraduate students’ uses of digital technologies for academic purposes found 87.5% of students report using Wikipedia for their academic work, with 24.0% of these considering it ‘very useful’.

  • Use and perceived usefulness of Wikipedia differs by students’ gender; year of study; cultural background and subject studied.

  • Wikipedia mainly plays an introductory and/or clarificatory role in students information gathering and research.

“You get what you need”: A study of students’ attitudes towards using Wikipedia when doing school assignments.

  • M. Blikstad-Balas (2016). Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 60(6) pages 594-608.
  • A discrepancy between students’ positive attitudes to including Wikipedia in their school-related literacy practices and their teachers’ lack of approval of this knowledge source is discussed.

Changing the Way Stories Are Told: Engaging staff and students in improving Wikipedia content about women in Scotland.

  • E. McAndrew in Wikipedia and Academic Libraries: A Global Project (2021).
  • Overview of the how & why of five years’ work at the University of Edinburgh targeting improved diversity of content and editors contributing to Wikipedia inc. Scottish suffragettes, Scottish witches and the Edinburgh Seven, the first female undergraduates to study at any UK university.

The Gender Divide in Wikipedia: Quantifying and Assessing the Impact of Two Feminist Interventions

  • I. Langrock & S. González-Bailón, Journal of communication (2022).

Wikipedia is the last bastion of idealism on the internet

  • Barbara Speed,, 22 January 2021.

Academia and Wikipedia

  • Professor Danah Boyd,, January 4 2005.
  • Very early dissection of the tensions between academia and Wikipedia from way back in 2005.

Wikipedia, academia and Seigenthaler

  • Professor Danah Boyd,, 17 December 2005.
  • Seigenthaler’s concern that “irresponsible vandals [can] write anything they want about anybody.” Much to my complete and utter joy, Jimmy Wales responded with a fantastic structural comparison that i felt should be surfaced and shared to the world at large about comparing Wikipedia as a steak restaurant. Worth a quick read.

Wikipedia: The Most Reliable Source on the Internet?

  • S.C. Stuart, UK, 3 June 2021.
  • Professor Amy Bruckman states the answer to “should you believe Wikipedia?” isn’t simple. In [her] book she argues “that the content of a popular Wikipedia page is actually the most reliable form of information ever created. Think about it—a peer-reviewed journal article is reviewed by three experts (who may or may not actually check every detail), and then is set in stone. The contents of a popular Wikipedia page might be reviewed by thousands of people. If something changes, it is updated. Those people have varying levels of expertise, but if they support their work with reliable citations, the results are solid. On the other hand, a less popular Wikipedia page might not be reliable at all.”

Wikipedia, research and representation

  • Amy Burge, 404 error.
  • Was a lovely article written by a medieval historian and member of staff here at the University of Edinburgh BUT doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It’s just gone. An internet full of memory holes 🙁

Mary Susan McIntosh and the Women in Red

  • Lorna Campbell,, 11 May 2017.
  • Our Lorna Campbell writes a short post for International Women’s Day about the impact you can have from writing a page that does not yet exist and then publishing it and nominating it for mention on Wikipedia’s front page as a ‘Did You Know’ fact.

What do you do with a dead chemist

  • Anne-Marie Scott,, 11 May 2017.
  • Our Anne-Marie Scott reflects on how sometimes when we talk about Wikipedia with colleagues they can quickly get as passionate and engaged as we are. That happened when Ewan went to visit our colleague in Chemistry, Dr Michael Seery and Michael got very upset that 19 brilliant women chemists has been refused Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry and had to petition them in 1904.
  • Reader: all 19 have a page on Wikipedia now.
  • Well, 18. One got deleted. So we need to write that page again so it remains this time!

Wikipedia and Student Writing

  • Andrew Stuhl, Wiki Edu blog, 14 October 2014
  • Almost 10 years ago but it reflects on what students get from contributing to Wikipedia.
  • “Students said that simply knowing that an audience of editors existed was enough to change how they wrote. They chose words more carefully. They double-checked their work for accuracy and reliability. And they began to think about how best they could communicate their scholarship to readers who were as curious, conscientious, and committed and as they were.”

Vandalism on Collaborative Web Communities: An Exploration of Editorial Behaviour in Wikipedia

  •  A. Alkharashi and J. Jose in: 5th Spanish Conference on Information Retrieval (CERI ’18), Zaragoza, Spain, 26-27 Jun 2018.
  • University of Glasgow researchers preliminary analysis in 2018 revealed that ~ 90% of the vandalism or foul edits done on Wikipedia were by unregistered users due to nature of openness.
  • The community reaction seemed to be immediate: most vandalisms were reverted within five minutes on an average.
  • Further analysis shed light on the tolerance of Wikipedia community, reliability of anonymous users revisions and feasibility of early prediction of vandalism.

‘Shiver-inducing contacts with the past’

  • Martin Poulter, CILIP Update, November 2015.
  • Bodleian Wikimedian Martin Poulter says that the digital world can
    play a crucial role in sharing those shiver-inducing moments of contact
    with the past, such as seeing Charles Darwin’s actual handwriting,
    and libraries can involve more people in that authentic experience.

Covid-19 is one of Wikipedia’s biggest challenges ever. Here’s how the site is handling it.

  • Travis M. Andrews, The Washington Post, 7 August 2020.
  • More than 67,000 editors had collaborated to create more than 5,000 Wikipedia articles in 175 different languages about covid-19 and its various impacts.
  • Jevin West, a professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, said not to worry, that the Wikipedia has handled the virus “overall, exceptionally well. It’s not only what people go to and read,” West said. “It’s what feeds a lot of the major search engines, too. So it sort of has double impact. As someone who studies misinformation and disinformation, it’s kind of a ray of hope in a sea of pollution,” West added. “It’s almost like people’s passion to get things right and to be these curators of human knowledge makes them even more careful.” He also cited Wikipedia’s transparency. Certain discredited sources aren’t allowed, and the entire website’s edit history is readily available to the user. Finally, every fact is plainly sourced. “That level of transparency provides trust,” he said.

Majority of Wikipedia editors are still men – so how is the online encyclopedia addressing the issue?

  • The Evening Standard, 8 March 2023. Recent article.
  • The proportion of so-called “Wikipedians” who identify as women is now around 15 per cent. Almost 20 per cent of biography articles on English-language Wikipedia are about women. That compares to around 15.5 per cent in 2014. The most recent data from 2020 shows that newcomers to Wikipedia editing are more likely to be women.
  • “If society were to write more – historically and presently and in the future – about women, if journalists wrote as many paragraphs about a woman as is written about a man, there’d be more information that editors could put into Wikipedia articles. You know, we don’t come up with anything out of thin air.”

The Wikipedia rule that makes it harder to create entries about lesser-known but important women from history.

  • Stephen Harrison,, March 2019.
  • Gender bias on Wikipedia received media attention in 2018 when Donna Strickland won a Nobel Prize in physics and, at the time of her award, did not have a Wikipedia page. The problem wasn’t lack of trying: Before the award, a Wikipedia contributor attempted to create a page for Strickland, but a separate editor declined the article because Strickland had not yet received significant coverage in reliable publications like major newspapers. In retrospect, this seems like a bad ruling. Even before she won the Nobel Prize, Strickland was widely considered a leader in her field.

Who Updates Celebrity Deaths on Wikipedia?

  • Stephen Harrison,, 16 August 2018.
  • Meet the editors who race to be the first to declare a famous person dead.

Travel down a Wikipedia rabbit hole with the mastermind behind DepthsOfWikipedia Instagram

  • Elena Cavender,, 24 October 2021.

The Depths of Wikipedia creator on finding the goofy corners of the web

  • Kristina Bravo,, 10 March 2023.

Monitoring changes in Wikipedia pageviews could help save wildlife

  • Researchers have developed a new tool called the Species Awareness Index (SAI), which can track the real-time rate of change in online biodiversity awareness. The index looks at the monthly change in average daily page views for around 40,000 species (under reptiles, ray-finned fishes, mammals, birds, insects, and amphibians) across 10 of the most popular Wikipedia languages.
  • ‘Being able to see in real-time how a population’s interest in biodiversity is changing can help organisations make conservation management decisions on the basis of those changes.’ says Joseph. ‘But if, for example, you see in real-time that there is a growing interest for bumblebees, perhaps driven by a viral video, conservation charities could then make a deliberate effort to increase advertising to help protect that species.’

Russian court fines Wikipedia again for article about war in Ukraine

  •, 27 April 2023.
  • Wikipedia is one of the few surviving independent sources of information in Russian since a state crackdown on online content intensified after Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.

Russian court fines Wikipedia for seventh time over Ukraine invasion article

  • Kurt Robson,, 27 April 2023.x
  • Wikimedia’s fines now sit at a whopping Rbs8.4m ($103,000).Leighanna Mixter, Wikimedia’s senior legal manager, previously said: “These orders are part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to limit the spread of reliable, well-sourced information in the country.”

How Wikipedia became too powerful

  • The Telegraph, 28 April 2023. May be paywalled.

The Hunt for Wikipedia’s disinformation moles

  •, 17 October 2022. May be paywalled.
  • AS SOCIAL PLATFORMS such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have struggled with the onslaught of fake news, disinformation, and bots, Wikipedia has transformed itself into a source of trusted information—not just for its readers but also for other tech platforms. The challenge now is to keep it that way.

2022 wasn’t the year of Cleopatra – so why was she the most viewed page on Wikipedia?

  • Taha Yasseri, The Conversation, 12 January 2023.
  • Researcher Taha Yasseri gathers statistics on the most viewed Wikipedia articles of the year.
  • Most articles at the top of the 2022 list are related to major world events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the death of the Queen and the men’s football World Cup. Elon Musk and Johnny Depp also made the list. In addition to perennial favourites such as the Bible and YouTube, there are a couple of surprises that were probably influenced by external factors like media and popular culture. For example, the article about Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious US serial killer who died in 1994, had more than 54 million views, coming in at number two.
  • However, the massive interest in the article about Cleopatra remains a mystery…. the Google Assistant app, which uses voice recognition to allow users to interact with their phones through conversation, may be responsible. One of the prompts the app provides to demonstrate its capabilities is “Try saying: Show Cleopatra on Wikipedia”.
  • The Cleopatra example highlights the impact that seemingly small decisions by designers can have on directing collective attention to certain topics and issues, sometimes with more serious consequences. Google has been criticised for ranking search results in a way that prioritises its own products.

Friday essay: shaping history – why I spent ten years studying one Wikipedia article

  • Heather Ford, The Conversation, 24 November 2022.
  • It has been over a decade since Ford started studying this single article on English Wikipedia about the 2011 Egyptian revolution. At the time of writing, it runs to almost 13,000 words and more than 400 citations.
  • Rather than rational negotiation and broad consensus, I learned that Wikipedia articles about historic events are often the result of passionate struggle over representing what happened to whom and its consequences… Wikipedians shaped the representation of the event not by inserting falsities but rather by framing and selecting facts that supported certain narratives rather than others.

UK readers may lose access to Wikipedia amid online safety bill requirements

  • Dan Milmo, The Guardian, 28 April 2023.
  • Lucy Crompton-Reid, the chief executive of Wikimedia UK, warned the popular site could be blocked because it will not carry out age verification if required to do so by the bill. Crompton-Reid told the BBC it was “definitely possible that one of the most visited websites in the world – and a vital source of freely accessible knowledge and information for millions of people – won’t be accessible to UK readers (let alone UK-based contributors)”.

AI Is Tearing Wikipedia Apart

  • Claire Woodcock,, 2 May 2023.
  • Volunteers who maintain the digital encyclopedia are divided on how to deal with the rise of AI-generated content and misinformation.
  • “Like people who socially construct knowledge”, Professor Amy Bruckman says, “large language models are only as good as their ability to discern fact from fiction.”
  • The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind the website, is looking into building tools to make it easier for volunteers to identify bot-generated content. Meanwhile, Wikipedia is working to draft a policy that lays out the limits to how volunteers can use large language models to create content.

How Wikipedia can shape the future of AI

  • Alek Tarkowski, blog, 4 May 2023
  • Creative Commons has been exploring how copyright law and tools apply to the generative AI space. Additionally, Mozilla has recently announced the launch of And Wikipedia is already deeply embedded in the emergent AI systems, as a key component of many of the AI training datasets. 
  • Wikipedia is radically setting itself up for its own replacement by generative AI. Especially if the very models trained on Wikipedia begin to create content for the encyclopedia — quickly pushing human editors out of the loop. However, this situation can also be seen as an opportunity.

Wikipedia’s value in the age of generative AI

  • Selena Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer of the Wikimedia Foundatrion, 13 July 2023.
  • “In an internet flooded with machine generated content, this means that Wikipedia becomes even more valuable.”

Using Artificial Intelligence to Fix Wikipedia’s Gender Problem

  • Tom Simonite,, 3rd August 2018.
  • A software program from Primer scours news articles and scientific journals for female scientists who don’t have entries in the online encyclopedia.

Should ChatGPT Be Used to Write Wikipedia Articles?

  • Stephen Harrison,, 12 January 2023.
  • Wikipedians like Knipel imagine that ChatGPT could be used on Wikipedia as a tool without removing the role of humanity. For them, the initial text that’s generated from the chatbot is useful as a starting place or a skeletal outline. Then, the human verifies that this information is supported by reliable sources and fleshes it out with improvements. This way, Wikipedia itself does not become machine-written. Humans remain the project’s special sauce.
  • Andrew Lih, the Wikimedian-at-large at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and a volunteer Wikipedia editor since 2003, agreed that much of the potential for ChatGPT lies in overcoming that initial inertia and finding the “activation energy” to write a new article for the encyclopedia. “Wikipedians are not lacking for motivation or passion, but just the time,” he said.
  • “We always have imperfect information, and then we correct it,” he said. “If the issue is the original sin of using A.I., well, I don’t believe in original sin.” Perhaps that’s not a bad way to conceptualize this issue overall. Because generative A.I. is here to stay, it makes sense to adopt best practices and to stress the need for human supervision—not ban it from the outset as the fruit of the poisonous tree

Will Wikipedia be written by AI? Founder Jimmy Wales is thinking about it

  • Simon Hunt, The Evening Standard, 30 March 2023.
  • “The discussion in the Wikipedia community that I’ve seen so far is…people are cautious in the sense that we’re aware that the existing models are not good enough but also intrigued because there seems like there’s a lot of possibility here,” Wales said.“I think we’re still a way away from: ‘ChatGPT, please write a Wikipedia entry about the empire state building’, but I don’t know how far away we are from that, certainly closer than I would have thought two years ago,” he said..
  • “One of the issues with the existing ChatGPT is what they call in the field ‘hallucinating’ — I call it lying,” he said. “It has a tendency to just make stuff up out of thin air which is just really bad for Wikipedia — that’s just not OK. We’ve got to be really careful about that.”

And some (lying) advice from ChatGPT itself:

There are several recent articles about Wikipedia that could make for an interesting book group discussion. Here are a few options to consider:

“The Co-Founder of Wikipedia Has a Plan to Fix the Internet” by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker (published on April 12, 2021). This article explores the vision of Larry Sanger, one of Wikipedia’s co-founders, for a new decentralized internet that would be less susceptible to manipulation by corporations and governments.

“Wikipedia’s Plan to Resist Election Day Misinformation” by Amanda Hess in The New York Times (published on October 29, 2020). This article examines Wikipedia’s efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation during the 2020 U.S. presidential election, including the use of “edit-a-thons” to improve coverage of election-related topics on the site.

“The Uneasy Future of Wikipedia” by Tom Simonite in Wired (published on November 15, 2021). This article explores the challenges that Wikipedia faces as it seeks to maintain its status as a reliable source of information in an era of “fake news” and increasing skepticism towards traditional media.

“What Does Wikipedia Mean Now?” by Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker (published on February 17, 2020). This article reflects on the role that Wikipedia plays in shaping our collective understanding of the world, and considers the site’s limitations and biases.

Each of these articles offers a different perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia, and could spark a lively discussion about the site’s impact on the way we access and consume information online.

Reader: these sources do not exist.

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