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  Review of wiki edits or articles – would it be appropriate?

+ 3 like - 0 dislike

Sometimes I made edits to Wikipedia (including en.wikipedia) that reflected more personal opinions than reliable sources. It usually occurred when I ran into what I deemed a complete rubbish and then tried to replace. But I am a self-educated physicist, so… would this community help me to review several texts that I once inserted into Wikipedia? Can I start a review referring to two Wikipedia articles on quantum particle statistics, not an arXiv paper or similar?

I am also willing to discuss quality control techniques on wiki sites in general, but it probably extends beyond the scope of this venue.

asked Aug 11, 2014 in Discussion by Incnis Mrsi (-15 points) [ revision history ]
edited Aug 12, 2014 by Incnis Mrsi

I feel that such "reviews" are okay, but should go into the Q&A instead. As a normal question.

Or could they go into dedicated chat rooms too ?

If the Wikipedia material is research level, it would go on reviews. But there is no research level material on Wikipedia, and given their decision to use source-polling as arbiter of accuracy, there never will be, because original research is only vetted by actually looking at the guts of the stuff and talking about it at length.

2 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

I am generally sympathetic to the idea and I also like what Ron said about starting a competitor to Wikipedia by using our software some time in the future. However, right now some things have in my opinion to be considered when thinking about what we can do for such a project here right now:

  • PhysicsOverflow is meant to be a graduate-level upward physics site, whereas in a Wikipedia things are explained at all levels at the same time. So the acivity and posts in any potentially new WikiReview part of the site should meet this level too. This post already looks slighly like a boundary case to me, because it is more focused on undergrad physics.
  • We recently had to deal with some non-mainstream issues, so as the idea of maintaining a non-mainstream section on PhysicsOverflow was dismissed in earlier discussions, a potential WikiReview section should not undermine this decission and only contain by the "real-world" community of physicists accepted mainstream physics.
  • If we want to harbor the seed for a competitor to Wikipedia by means of this WikiReviews part with its own rating or voting system, it should for reasons of implementation probably become a whole new third section, which whould be at the same footing as the Q&A part and the Reviews section. I am not quite sure how happy our system development team (@Polarkernel) would be to implement this ...

To me personally, reviewing Wikipedia entries and start building up a Wikipedia competitor, together with the high-level Q&A and the paper reviewing we already do, seems quite ambitious. So I like the idea of forking this business off, if it starts to become very active and serious. For now I have made a new WikiReviews sub-category for the Q&A section to contain posts that deal with reviewing Wikipedia entries, but in particular the concerns about the level and mainstream should be kept in mind IMHO.

answered Aug 12, 2014 by Dilaton (6,240 points) [ no revision ]

You said “more focused on undergrad physics”? If so, then relevant publications might exist and be widely available. Could you make a reply to said posting providing references to textbooks or well-known papers that clarify problematical cases referred there? I had little access to English-language textbooks (for various reasons) and had conversations mostly with physicists from Russia. I’d not say that such physicists generally have much insight in these questions; proposed interpretations I largely invented myself.

I don't thin the WikiReviews section is needed. Setting up a competitor to wikipedia or whatever; we could think about this at a later stage.

Also, I don't think it is necessary to set up any new software for a competitor to wikipedia if we do decide to do so in future, I think that software-wise, mediawiki is good enough for it's purpose (and it's developing fast (obviously)!).

I didn't mean to do it here. I meant for someone else to do it on their server on their time, using our software and the content from Wikipedia.

+ 0 like - 0 dislike

Right now it goes in ordinary Q&A, and the answers should reflect reasonable scholarly consensus (when there are enough knowledgable people here).

But one can be more ambitious. When thinking about what a site like this could do, early on, one of the inspirations for me was not just stackexchange politics, but fixing the broken political system at Wikipedia. The peer-review process on a site such as this can vet for accuracy much more accurately than spot-citations and wiki-politics, because it is not delegating accuracy vetting to an external agent, we do our own physics and our own vetting.

Wikipedia will most likely not accept the consensus of this site to overturn arbcom decisions (in practice, it won't actually accept anything to overturn arbcom decisions). There is no way to insert new text in Wikipedia now, at least not on articles with Wikitrolls making sure that everything has spot-cites, and that their favored text is defended.

This means that the best way is to fork Wikipedia (on another site, not here, on your own time, not ours), take all the material, and start a site with a system such as this used to vet page submissions, as opposed to the arbcom/administrator political system there. They can't be fixed, and they need to die.

Once the site is established, perhaps one can use the code from here and the Wikipedia material until now to fork Wikipedia and this time, to do it right.

answered Aug 11, 2014 by Ron Maimon (7,730 points) [ revision history ]
edited Aug 12, 2014 by Ron Maimon

The "code from wikipedia" is just the open-source mediawiki software, there are many forks of it too. I had tried to start a wiki devoted to mathematics and physics based on my own content (and that of others who were interested) at wikipedia, but it wasn't very successful (only about four contributors since more than a year). 

No, they have now a hell of extensions to a plain MediaWiki. Wikidata and Scribunto make most complications for eventual forking of the site.

The way to avoid the chicken-egg no-users problem is to really fork: copy ALL wikipedia data, including user data, without administrator data, and work hard to keep it synched to present (to the extent that it's worth it), and rolling back the pages to their best form. Dimension10 has been working hard to do this with respect to physics.stackexchange for this site, and it gives people incentive to migrate quickly, since this site then just becomes value added.

I agree that the time for a fork will eventually come. But as of Wikipedia, such thing cannot be achieved like a cavalry charge. A great amount of work might precede it. @Ron Maimon, I could say more but if you really want to hear what do I think.

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