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By Tilman Bayer

Proof-of-concept for expert reviews: Encyclopedia of Life curates Wikipedia articles

"By Wikipedia authors, reviewed by EOL curators": Wikipedia book consisting of the species articles marked as "trusted" so far
Example pages from the book

The idea to have expert-reviewed versions of Wikipedia articles goes back to the very conception of Wikipedia almost ten years ago. On the Wikimedia Foundation's blog, Deputy Director Erik Möller described an ongoing cooperation that is one of the most advanced efforts to realize this vision: The Encyclopedia of Life (a project to document all known species, announced in 2007 and estimated to cost over $100 million) incorporates Wikipedia articles in its entries, and has them classified as "trusted" or "untrusted" by its curators – contributors who are "to have specific expertise in the organisms they wish to curate", to be documented by credentials, either as faculty, staff, or graduate student in relevant institutions, by peer-reviewed publications, or by membership in professional organizations. As explained by Möller, the classification relates only to factual accuracy: "trusted" implies that the revision is "not deemed to contain substantially incorrect information", and "untrusted" that it is "deemed to include incorrect or unverifiable information"; but the Wikipedia article can also be classified as "inappropriate" for inclusion due to other reasons, e.g. being too short.

Unreviewed Wikipedia article versions are displayed with a yellow background (example – click "Wikipedia" in the sidebar); for trusted versions, this changes to white (example: Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)/trusted version). An example of "untrusted" revision can be found in the version history of the article Eriogonum giganteum.

New assessments by the curators are collected in an Atom feed which currently contains 219 entries, going back to 8 January 2010, with 132 changes to "trusted" status, 31 changes to "untrusted" status and 56 changes to "inappropriate" status.

EOL's curation guidelines for Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons content encourage curators to fix errors they encounter directly on Wikipedia, and then import the fixed version back to EOL.

Longtime Wikipedian and MediaWiki programmer Magnus Manske (who, as a biochemist, recently coauthored an article in PLoS Computational Biology providing Ten simple rules for editing Wikipedia to experts, cf. Signpost coverage) has assembled the trusted revisions into a Wikipedia book. He programmed a tool called Sifter books that automatically generates an updated version of such a book consisting of reviewed versions – apart from the EOL reviews, it can also use the assessments by two other expert groups, Rfam and Pfam (for RNA and protein families). A user script adds a tab to articles, displaying revisions of the article that have been reviewed by either EOL, Rfam or Pfam, if available.


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Does Commons have a WP:NLT policy? Sounds like somebody didn't read the licensing fine print. --Orange Mike | Talk 03:58, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Go ask the Italian chapter how useful a NLT policy is when you're in court. --Elitre (talk) 09:54, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

"The idea to have expert-reviewed versions of Wikipedia articles..." Wow, Nupedia has returned from the dead to visit Wikipedia. Or am I the only one to see the similarity? -- llywrch (talk) 17:20, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

You are not. Note what Magnus called his script? "Sifter." (Those of you who don't get the reference, Google it. :-) --Eloquence*
I'm having trouble finding a relevant entry on Google. Powers T 21:04, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Wow, it took me a while, too. Seems Larry Sanger proposed a Sifter project in 2002. There was even a Nupedia project mailing list on it. (I scammed my way onto Nupedia, and don't remember any of this, to be frank. Apparently I haven't been around here long enough!) -- Zanimum (talk) 18:47, 15 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Well Zanimum, I've been around for a little longer than you, but I never heard of "Sifter" either. Although I always knew that Wikipedia was originally intended to be the farm league for Nupedia, which instead became an even bigger success & put Nupedia out of business. (Anyone else still active on Wikipedia who actually remembers? The mailing list archive has been a dead link for a long time & the website no longer exists.) -- llywrch (talk) 21:00, 15 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I'm surprised and troubled to see that WMF chose to forge a cooperation with EOL when WMF can look within their projects and contact Wikispecies for help. OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:41, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

It seems to me that Wikispecies is already helping, and that the cooperation with EOL is mainly for EOL's benefit, not ours. I'm not sure why this troubles you. Powers T 21:04, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
No, we were never asked to help in any proof-reading or similar. This announcement came out of the blue. We often feel that WMF has forgotten us (by chance or not) OhanaUnitedTalk page 21:14, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Nothing's stopping you from proofreading. Why would you not already be working on Wikipedia articles? Powers T 21:35, 14 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Because we got some editors and admins that actually don't know what is Wikipedia? They will be the best candidate to pitch in because they already understood and accepted the wiki model. OhanaUnitedTalk page 05:22, 15 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
What I'm saying is that this doesn't seem like a case in which the Wikimedia Foundation went to the EOL and said "We need to improve our coverage of life forms but we need more expertise, can you help?", but rather the EOL coming to Wikimedia saying "We think your articles are great, can we use them in our project and contribute improvements back to Wikipedia?" Powers T 11:38, 15 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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