iKnowHow: building a wiki for the voluntary sector (part fourteen) Academics and wiki's
After last week's blog you can see that not all of our contributions to iKnowHow have been, well...useful. Spamming of wiki's like Wikipedia have unfortunately been one of the biggest deterrents for experts (academics, professionals or enthusiasts) in contributing their knowledge. The fact that there aren't more academics embracing our largest online encylopedia has undoubtedly been a hot topic for 'wikipedians' given what the impact that their expert knowledge would have for the online encyclopedia. I want to dig a little deeper...why are they really put off and can these relate to the users or non users of iKnowHow?
The five reasons why academics don't contribute to Wikipedia
This discussion was all over the internet including Guardian online last year: Wikipedia wants more contributions from academics. So, after further research I summarised the most common reasons to why academics have been so reluctant.
- Not enough time
- Issues over self promotion - how can I talk more about what I do?
- Worried that their work will be edited/distorted
- Why should I give it away for free when I can get paid?
- Wikipedia not valuing there 'expert' status - offering them different rights from 'regular' users etc.
These issues have been addressed by Wikipedia in many ways including the encouragement of collaboration projects amongst sets of subject experts; and allowing academics more opportunities to promote their own particular projects. The trouble is, is that Wikipedia is used by the general public and it's not clear whether they are asking them for detailed analysis or a just a brief summary of quantum physics and given the freedom of Wikipedia i'm not sure there is an answer to that.
Why is this relevant to iKnowHow, you ask?
Well, given that iKnowHow only attracts those already in the voluntary sector, we shouldn't have the same problem of spammers or amateur charity professionals (is there such a thing?). And before I go any further please don't get me wrong I am not comparing charity professionals to that of the physists referred to in the Guardian article; but I am sure many still have similar quibbles over allowing other people to add to or edit their work and if we are taking time out of our day is it enough just to be done in good faith? Well this was a big reason why I put together the previous blog - the purpose behind the persuasion, listing seven points why iKnowHow is for you. Would academics and experts be so fussy about there content if they really knew how it could help them professionally as well as the rest of their industry/sector.
What do you think?
There are alot of questions here, and since we have spoken so much about engagement I believe it is important to discuss these issues as possible barriers to the wiki model being a success for us.
It would be great to hear:
- whether you agreed with any of the reasons listed?
- how precious you are about your content?
- do you believe taking more of a project orientated approach might be more successful?
- are charity professionals that different from the academics in the article? (We say YES)