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What if experts just want to get their links into Wikipedia?; brief news

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By Tilman Bayer and Tinucherian

As Wikipedia tries to encourage contributions by academic experts and seeks collaborations with academic and cultural institutions, two examples reported last week illustrated that one of the most popular forms of such contributions seems to be enriching Wikipedia or Commons with links to one's own website.

In a letter to The Guardian, responding to an editorial that had called "academics serious about public erudition" to contribute their expertise to Wikipedia (see below), three UK professors from "an independent network of nearly 300 historians" wrote that they had "discussed the pros and cons" of doing so, and "decided to insert links in the references of Wikipedia entries" to their own website, "The result was startling: a few dozen links increased visitors from Wikipedia to H&P significantly, moving the online encyclopedia from below 10th to the third most popular source of traffic to our site. We intend to continue embedding links to our papers in relevant Wikipedia entries."

And as reported by Inside Higher Ed, librarians from the University of Houston described at the annual meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries "how they had recently enlisted a student, Danielle Elder, to evangelize the content of their Digital Library on Wikipedia, the eighth most popular website in the world ... Wikipedia quickly became the No. 1 driver of web traffic to Houston's online collections, surpassing both Google and the university's home page." For example, the student contributed to the article about former US president George H. W. Bush, adding a link to a photograph showing Bush shaking hands with former University of Houston chancellor Philip G. Hoffman.

But if the goal is to increase overall exposure of the content in an institution's collection rather than traffic on its own website, uploading it to Wikimedia sites might be even more effective than inserting a link there. Last September, the Dutch National Archives and Spaarnestad Photo had donated more than 1000 images depicting significant events and people in Dutch politics, mostly since World War II (Signpost coverage). A report published last week (summarized in Dutch here, and in briefer form but in English by User:Ziko on his blog) found that the donated photos had been viewed two million times within five months, more than 500 times as often as on the original site. In January 2011, 52% of the uploaded images were in use on Wikipedia, a ratio that the authors compare favorably to the images uploaded by Deutsche Fotothek (3.42%) or Tropenmuseum (7.40%).

Banksia, one of 53,000 taxa whose entries on Wikipedia and the NCBI database have been linked

Links to databases maintained by GLAMs or academic institutions can carry additional value for Wikipedia as identifiers. A recent article titled "Linking NCBI to Wikipedia: a wiki-based approach" in the scholarly journal PLoS Currents: Tree of Life (abstract, full text) by biologist Roderic D.M. Page (User:Rdmpage) from the University of Glasgow described a project ("iPhylo Linkout") that has connected 53,000 biological taxa between Wikipedia articles and a genetic database from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, which now links to Wikipedia articles (example). However, on the Wikipedia side the insertion of these links in a prominent place, the Taxobox, has been controversial. In a Nature article last year, Page had explored the idea that "Wikipedia has emerged as potentially the best platform for fulfilling E. O. Wilson’s vision [of] 'an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth'".


Antonio Spadaro SJ (2008)
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Yes I have been seeing more an more of this. People from other sites not here to improve Wikipedia content but only to add links to their own sites. Something may need to be done to prevent this... Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:03, 13 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The worst part of this problem, believe it or not, has already been handled successfully with the "no follow" tag implicitly added to all external links. That deterred the professional spammers. As for the rest -- well, our only tools remain education, reverting undesirable edits, & user sanctions. -- llywrch (talk) 16:33, 14 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The current offline Wikipedia release has 47,000 articles. I wonder how it compares to th Britannica Concise. Rmhermen (talk) 00:43, 15 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

If people have been entering references to their own work on the History & Policy site, they are doing so against our conflict of interest and reliable source policies, as the papers there are not peer-reviewed, though they must be " based on peer-reviewed or published historical research" (from that site's papers/submit page -- it is now on our external links blacklist) . They ought to, first, use instead their relevant work that has actually been published in a peer-reviewed journal,but suggest the reference on the talk page & ask it be exempted from the blacklist, (they might also include the history & Policy link if it closely corresponds to their paper, & is the most accessible source) and see if someone else moves it to the article. Of course, some may be experts to the unusual extent that even their unrefereed work is a reliable source, but then all the more it should be suggested only on the talk page. DGG ( talk ) 21:47, 15 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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