Teaming up for Wikipedia – organizing the public knowledge on minority communities

The presentation of knowledge on the culture and history of a population group should not be left to non-experts or complete foreigners of the respective cultural heritage. Unfortunately exactly this is the case with most of the Wikipedia articles – one of the most important sources for public knowledge – which are not written on a solid, concerted knowledge basis but more or less extracts from often randomly selected sources. Experts and members of the respective minorities should therefore consider to form qualified working groups in order to author articles which are comprehending the basic and referenced knowledge.

Despite its public and easy accessibility Wikipedia is not extensively used for cultural presentations. There are two main reasons for this lack of interest: despite everybody using this encyclopedia on a daily basis it is still having a huge image problem. Wikipedia does not contain referenced knowledge, i.e. information which is reviewed by scientific experts, and is therefore not quotable and inferior to any scientific publication (may it even be of very reduced quality). Secondly the “flaming” of other authors and unqualified, sometimes not well intended and no further discussed manipulation of well written and documented articles is another problem which is impeding many authors to become regular contributors.

However the formation of an organized team of experts who are specialized on certain subjects and can therefore write/rewrite qualified articles could achieve a considerable impact and productivity if it is proceeding according to an adapted strategy. First of all the following questions should be answered:

I. Which sources are to be used, i.e. which already existing and printed encyclopedias are containing trustful, referenced knowledge?

II. What is the current state of the already existing articles: do the existing ones have a sufficient quality or do they need to be partially or completely rewritten? Are there any hints that the articles were deliberately influenced in order to produce a certain image of the minority (positive or negative)?

III. Where are the priorities? Which personalities, institutions and time periods represent a priority? To which degree the respective minority should be presented as linked to other communities, to which degree as separated in order to better underline its uniqueness? Which languages are most important for writing articles?

IV. Which visual materials should be added to Wikimedia Commons in order to properly tag the respective minority?

V. Does it make sense to found a separate Wiki?

Departing from this assessment of the current situation the team can devise a coordinated strategy which will integrate the articles into a broader corpus and make linking between them easier. Regular workshops of the authors and eventually a blog on this topic would greatly contribute to the the improvement of quality and to the general success of this undertaking.

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