There are reasons I don’t allow students to cite Wikipedia articles


This is one of them.

Strickland is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo and former president of the Optical Society, but when a Wikipedia user attempted to create a profile for her in March, the page was denied by a moderator.

“This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article,” said the moderator.

Donna Strickland won the Nobel in Physics this year, the first woman to win in that category since 1963. Physics really does have a bias problem. I guess they’re in competition with Wikipedia!

The episode also cast light on Wikipedia’s own gender bias: just 16% of the site’s volunteer editors are female and only 17% of entries dedicated to notable people are for women.

Comments

  1. chrislawson says

    Christ on bike. Even I have a (small, not entirely accurate) Wikipedia page and I’ve done nothing even remotely as impressive as Donna Strickland.

  2. nomdeplume says

    I became disillusioned with the academic side of Wikipedia in its very early days when I tried to correct an error in an article on a project I had run and was told I was not permitted to!

  3. says

    Donna Strickland won the Nobel in Physics this year, the first to win in that category since 1963.

    I suspect there’s something missing from this sentence.

  4. says

    “Donna Strickland won the Nobel in Physics this year, the first to win in that category since 1963.”

    You mean they have not awarded a Nobel in physics in 55 years?

  5. says

    That’s bad, but I reserve final judgement until later.”This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article” could just mean that the references were just not good enough.

  6. robro says

    I use Wikipedia as a starting point, but it isn’t the final word. One of the well known problems with Wikipedia is that much of this kind of decision making is handled by volunteer moderators who have their own biases. Some years ago I took an interest in the historicity of Jesus, and other New Testament characters, but I kept running across the “most experts agree” statement in the Wikipedia articles. I was confident that wasn’t defensible, but it only took about a minute on the discussion page to see that the moderator wasn’t opened to discussing that claim…again.

    Looks like the attempt to add Strickland was made in 2014.

    The talk page on the new article has this comment: “A lot of the coverage around her Nobel prize has centered around Wikipedia’s anti-woman bias. May be worth a mention in the article itself.” That wasn’t added to Strickland’s page, but they have added a note about Strickland to the article “Gender bias on Wikipedia.”

    Someone else in the thread states (sans evidence) that the deletion was “entirely proper and within wikipedia policy.” Someone else points out that of 212 Nobel laureate, 69 had no article when their prize was announced, and of the 48 Physics Nobel laureate, 17 had no article when the award was announced.

  7. chrislawson says

    robro@8–

    The question of bias can’t be answered by pointing out examples of male Nobellists without prior Wikipedia pages. We need comparative data.

    In this case, we have a good comparison. The Nobel this year went to Donna Strickland and Gérard Morou for work they did together to develop extremely high-energy lasers using chirped pulse amplification. Their key paper was published in 1985 and is well worth a look. At only 3 pages including references, it rivals a certain famous DNA paper for concision. Same work, equal credit, and for what it’s worth Strickland was lead author. So how did Wikipedia treat them? Strickland’s page was rejected for only having three references. Morou’s page had zero references and was accepted.

    (Further reading: Writing Women in Mathematics into Wikipedia.)

  8. chrislawson says

    Also, robro@8–

    Actually, someone did try to add the bias issue to Strickland’s page in the last few days, but it has been edited out despite being supported by references from The Guardian and other independent resources. Seems like some Wikipedia editors would prefer to delete evidence of bias than to address it.

  9. wzrd1 says

    Indeed, the nomination for deletion edits are suspiciously stricken through and inaccessible to registered editors.
    Still, my biggest contribution has largely been to revert vandalism and slap citation needed tags in places that need them. On occasion, I’ve removed citations, paring the poorer quality ones away and discussing which should next be removed, such as a recent RfC on Same Sex Marriage (where one sentence had 21 citations in it). Were it not the subject of an RfC, I’d have tossed the lower quality citations and pared it down to three, maximum.
    Notable though was, since the Nobel announcement, feverish activity was present fleshing out a proper article on her and again, feverish activity since the nomination for deletion was entered. An understandable nomination, as there have been many stub class articles created, with the promise that rarely gets fulfilled, to add to the article and supply citations.
    Wikipedia, read for the article and a grain of salt, stay for the citations. And please, feel free to throw a citation needed tag in, or even better, add a citation.

    Oh, PZ wouldn’t be permitted to edit his own article or articles about any projects or studies he ran. However, he could offer suggestions on the talk page that other editors would happily consider.
    But never fear, Donald Trump isn’t allowed to edit his article or the articles about his businesses or presidency either. That’s indeed a good thing, as Wikimedia’s servers would’ve overflowed with rubbish and childish sentences.

  10. Erp says

    Wikipedia has issues and it has far fewer people editing the physic related articles than the sports related articles. It can be difficult to judge notability if not experienced in the field. This is not helped by the Physics culture not being exactly known for its lack of bias.

    I note she has not been elected to the Royal Society of Canada/Société royale du Canada or any significant honor society except as a Fellow of the Optical Society which does make it difficult for people outside the field to judge whether she is notable. So it isn’t only Wikipedia which has been ignoring her. Admittedly the draft author didn’t help by not giving enough info to show that the Optical Society Fellow is an elected honor (admittedly one that is fairly widely given). I note for her OSA fellow year (2008) that those who have the same superlatives (i.e., pioneering) or even more (pioneering and outstanding) don’t seem to have English Wikipedia articles (e.g., Cornelia Denz [though she has one in the German Wikipedia], Serge Luryi).

  11. angela78 says

    The episode also cast light on Wikipedia’s own gender bias: just 16% of the site’s volunteer editors are female and only 17% of entries dedicated to notable people are for women.

    Uhm. I’m in that 16%, actively contribute since 2008, and never experiences problems due to being a woman.
    Of course Wikipedia is not perfect, and its publishing rules are an attempt to create a decentralized, unmanaged cooperative model -which is no easy task in a world where ignorant, stupid or biased people are quite common.

    So instead of complaining about Strickland’s treatment or saying that Wikipedia should not be used, I say: stop telling us what’s wrong, get your ass off that couch and start contributing to Wikipedia to improve it.

  12. John Morales says

    angela78:

    So instead of complaining about Strickland’s treatment or saying that Wikipedia should not be used, I say: stop telling us what’s wrong, get your ass off that couch and start contributing to Wikipedia to improve it.

    I’ve had occasion to peruse the “talk” pages, and the process of creating or amending an entry seems to me to require a rather significant investment in time and effort to understand the myriad applicable (and arcane!) requirements and guidelines. And, apparently, a good working knowledge of the tools and processes available with which to do so, as well.

    (In short, far too much upfront work to even begin doing it, unless someone has serious motivation for so doing)

  13. chrislawson says

    angela78@15–

    So instead of complaining about Strickland’s treatment or saying that Wikipedia should not be used, I say: stop telling us what’s wrong, get your ass off that couch and start contributing to Wikipedia to improve it.

    I’m all in favour of Wikipedia. The “Writing Women in Mathematics into Wikipedia” article I linked to above was written by an active Wikipedia contributor encouraging others to help. But in this case people did get off their asses, contributed a bio page about Strickland back in 2014, which was rejected by an editor. Drawing attention to unfair treatment is part of the process of improving Wikipedia.

  14. chrislawson says

    dannyschiel@19–

    A suggestion: rather than conjecturing, maybe you could find out how the policy changed and when. And even if it turns out that there was a relevant change in policy between page submissions, you will then have to explain:

    1/ why someone thought Morou was worth a bio page but his equally important co-inventor wasn’t;
    2/ why Morou’s bio page was not deleted if it no longer met Wikipedia standards.

  15. angela78 says

    @chrislawson

    Drawing attention to unfair treatment is part of the process of improving Wikipedia

    For sure it is. What is wrong is attacking Wikipedia saying “don’t use Wikipedia” without actually knowing how it works.
    Another thing that is wrong is claiming this is a case of sexism without actual knowledge of what happened:

    The draft wasn’t declined because she was claimed to be non-notable but because the submitted page had no independent sources. The decline box clearly stated the reason and made a resubmit button. The three sources were a paper by the subject, a biography at a society she had been president of, and a profile at the university she works for. If the author or somebody else had added independent sources and resubmitted, it would probably have been accepted. The decline also linked to relevant Wikipedia guidelines.

    Please, if you want to help us, do it fighting sexism when it shows up: there are so many opportunities to do so. Claiming sexism when it’s not the case only strenghtens the sexists.

  16. robro says

    chrislawson @ #11 & #12 — To be clear about my post, I realize that citing those numbers in the talk thread didn’t answer any question about bias. It just seemed like a snipet of one of the ways any of us justify ourselves when we get caught at something. Statistics! Also, the argument of “see, we treat everyone the same” is no answer, even if that were true which I doubt.

    Similarly, the “we followed policy” justification for deleting the 2014 article is mere hand waving begging many questions: who wrote the policy, whose biases does it favor, what is the policy, how is enforcement handled, how are disputes arbitrated.

    The debate about where to put the note about the bad publicity was pitch perfect. There is no reason it couldn’t be in both places…they do that a lot…as well as be a separate article on it’s own. I suspect that the gender bias article will get a lot less traffic than the new Donna Strickland article in the next few weeks, particularly given that the award announcement is at the top of the “In the news” section and features Dr. Strickland’s picture.

  17. angela78 says

    @chrislawson 20

    1/ why someone thought Morou was worth a bio page but his equally important co-inventor wasn’t;

    You want a reason for a fact that never happened.

    2/ why Morou’s bio page was not deleted if it no longer met Wikipedia standards.

    Because this is not how Wikipedia works. FFS, stop complaining against something you don’t understand and you don’t want to take the time to learn. RTFM, please.

  18. angela78 says

    Just to be clear: Wikipedia is a collaborative platform. Admins are not moderators: they are administrators. There is no one going around Wikipedia checking if the content is relevant or not, adheres to new regulations or not, apart from the contributors. You think Morou’s page should not be there? Register on Wikipedia, learn how to use it, then propose Morou’s bio removal. Don’t go around whining.

  19. randall says

    No offense, but she’s a victim of two biases: one, LASER physics in general is devalued, and women, in science, are nearly universally devalued. Casual inspection will reveal women being ignored at all levels.

    I have stories…

  20. elmidae says

    Wikipedia does have a gender bias (officially acknowledged and subject to at least some mitigation efforts) – however this submission rejection was not an example of it. The sourcing provided for the draft (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Draft:Donna_Strickland&oldid=842614385) was not sufficient to demonstrate academic notability as defined in the applicable guidelines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(academics)). Had I come upon this article during new page patrol, I would have shoved it out of mainspace as well, pending provision of better sources.

    This was an example of the Wikipedia process working as it should: preventing flooding of the encyclopedia with vanity biographies, which typically fall at the “sufficient references” hurdle. Better sourcing => acceptable article. Keep the outrage for cases where it is warranted please.

  21. elmidae says

    Oh, and regarding “early version was deleted from history to hide evidence of bias”: that version consisted of one big copyright violation (pasted from her uni website, or so I understand); these are deleted as a matter of course, since WP cannot host copyrighted material under its license.

  22. nastes says

    I think she just did not have the right promotional video like G. Morou (link from his wikipedia page):

    Warning, the induced cringe might just distract from the objectification of women.

    nastes

  23. zenlike says

    angela78

    What is wrong is attacking Wikipedia saying “don’t use Wikipedia” without actually knowing how it works.

    Putting something between quotation marks means you are quoting someone. No one said you shouldn’t use Wikipedia. I hope you put more due diligence in contributing to Wikipedia than you show here.

  24. John Morales says

    zenlike, yes, and in this case it’s quoting a paraphrase of the gist of what people are saying.

    I hope you put more due diligence in contributing to Wikipedia than you show here.

    Communication is more important than grammar pedantry, and I for one understood angela78 perfectly. And I reckon you did, too.

    (And, as angela78 noted, “Wikipedia is a collaborative platform.”)

  25. chrislawson says

    No, John, nobody said “don’t use Wikipedia” so angela78’s comment was defensive bullshit, not a minor grammatical error, and her defence was the feces-ejecting strategy of the pygmy sperm whale. You should also note that she said this in response to my comments when I have already said I support Wikipedia and linked to an article by a Wikipedia contributor highlighting sexism but wanting to get more women involved in the process.

  26. John Morales says

    chrislawson, apart from the many times I have had people reject information simply because I cited Wikipedia (I won’t if I think the article is weak or misleading, but generally I use it and Wiktionary as default), note the title of this very post.

    Sure, it’s “don’t use it for this particular purpose” rather than “don’t use it at all”, but still.

    (And I’m sure you noticed what I did there)

    Also, though angela78 was responding to your comment, there is no indication she was purporting to quote you, rather than addressing a claim that I hope you don’t dispute at least some people make.

  27. zenlike says

    Basically, what chrislawson said. No, John, this is NOT the “gist of what people are saying”. And grammar pedantry? Really? Words have meaning, you know. What Wikipedia being a “collaborative platform” has to do with any of it is anyone’s guess.

  28. zenlike says

    John
    “note the title of this very post.”

    Jeebus. Don’t cite Wikipedia in an academic context is not only not the same as don’t use Wikipedia at all, it is common practice you will find being supported by almost everyone in academia.

  29. John Morales says

    zenlike,
    @34
    1. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22don%27t+use+wikipedia%22
    But yes, I should have written “some people”, instead of merely “people”.
    (Existence claim vs. universal claim, absent other context)
    2. Quotation marks are not words.
    3. It means that if angela78 misuses quotation marks when creating content, someone else will attend to it.
    @35, I quote myself: ‘Sure, it’s “don’t use it for this particular purpose” rather than “don’t use it at all”’.

  30. chrislawson says

    John, I am more than happy for you to cite or link to Wikipedia. I often do it myself in blog comments. But I would never refer to Wikipedia in an academic paper unless the paper was about Wikipedia itself or public perceptions. This is not anti-wiki. It’s the same reason you won’t find many scientific papers referring to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica or Asimov’s Guide to Science — they’re secondary sources and should only be used to discuss the way a concept has been represented in secondary sources.

  31. zenlike says

    Oh look, people on other blogs are saying “don’t use Wikipedia”. This is totally relevant when someone says people on this thread are saying don’t use Wikipedia. Jeebus. Fucking, Christ. On a stick. WLC has nothing on this level of apologetics.

  32. John Morales says

    zenlike, thank you. That was informative.

    I no longer think that you understood angela78.

    chrislawson @37, I am entirely in accord with you on that.

    And, to be on-topic, nobody here has disputed the gender asymmetry of Wikipedia contributors (whom I thank for that wonderful resource), nor that that asymmetry is bound to be reflected by a gender bias from their aggregate. So, there’s that.

    And, having done a bit of reading, I agree that “Claiming sexism when it’s not the case only strenghtens the sexists.”, and find angela78’s claim that the adduced refusal to accept the article was not apparently biased persuasive, and her proposed solution excellent, but much more so in principle than in practice.

    (Thus my oblique counter that it’s damn hard to meet all the appropriate criteria for a beginner, and now add that after a rejection or two on appropriate but pernickety grounds, it is understandable that someone might become discouraged by the process and just give up, unless highly motivated)

  33. zenlike says

    Right back at you John, you clearly did not understand what she was saying, that she was referring to what people said on this very page. It is funny how you put words in her mouth, quite literally changing what she said in a clear misguided effort of apologetics.

  34. angela78 says

    @34 zenlike:

    Don’t cite Wikipedia in an academic context is not only not the same as don’t use Wikipedia at all […]

    This is not a proper sentence. You should have written:

    “Don’t cite Wikipedia in an academic context” is not only not the same as “don’t use Wikipedia at all” […]

    You clearly don’t know how to use quotation marks: therefore anything you wrote in this thread is wrong and meaningless.
    …because this is how you reason, you pedant asshole. Now, leaving apart silly remarks on grammar and going back to the actual content of this thread: @26elmidae and John Morales already explained very well my position.

  35. ajbjasus says

    WRT to the 16% female volunteers – is there some evidence that this is due to discrimination in the approval process ?

  36. Porivil Sorrens says

    Oof, I don’t use Wikipedia much anyways, but this is even more of a reason to keep off of that terrible site.

  37. angela78 says

    @42 ajbjasus

    is there some evidence that this is due to discrimination in the approval process ?

    Not for this case. See previous comment: it is very clear that Strickland’s bio was submitted in a form that was against Wikipedia rules and this is the reason for the reject.
    Then, Wikipedia is not immune to stupidity, sexism and biases, and there is a lot to do to improve it. But this is up to the contributors, and the right way to make W a better platform is to contribute to it, not denigrate and avoid it.

    @Porivil Sorrens

    Oof, I don’t use Wikipedia much anyways, but this is even more of a reason to keep off of that terrible site.

    Wikipedia is not a site, and it’s not terrible. It’s not a good strategy to take decisions based on what you hear from uninformed people, whoever they are.

  38. Porivil Sorrens says

    Uh, nah, Wikipedia very much is a website, even going by Wikipedia’s own page on Wikipedia, lmao.

    There is no variation of the facts presented in PZ’s post, including the ones offered by people defending wikipedia, that makes it not seem scummy as fuck.

  39. zenlike says

    Actually, angela78, you don’t know the use of quotation marks. As the name suggest, they imply they contain… a quotation. But good job on taking the high road here. Asshole.

  40. Jupiter9 says

    “it is very clear that Strickland’s bio was submitted in a form that was against Wikipedia rules and this is the reason for the reject.”

    Only if other articles about men inevitably receive the same treatment.

    Don’t rule out selective enforcement.

  41. numerobis says

    Wikipedia is invaluable, and allows fixing the biases you’re worried about.

    The fact that Strickland’s article was shut down on procedural grounds is evidence not so much of explicit sexism, but of systemic sexism. More telling than that it was shut down in 2014 is the fact that her article wasn’t even attempted until 2014. More women as editors would probably help prevent that from repeating too often.

    And there are some moves to make that happen: to convince more people (women and minorities in particular) to take the small step to become an editor. It’s actually pretty simple for making small fixes: click the “edit” button and start modifying the page — start with fixing typos and confusing turns of phrase as you see them, then move up to adding citations. Wikipedia is by design not centralized enough to block individuals from whispering improvements into the encyclopedia.

    Doing major edits takes a while to get used to (I’ve never quite gotten there) and there’s lots of gatekeeping (good and bad: you need some way to keep quality up, but clearly it isn’t presently inviting to non-white-males), but you can work up to it if you want or stay at an easier-to-manage level of editing indefinitely.

    On another point: Can we agree that zenlike’s behaviour is pretty disgusting right now? Shutting down a dissenting woman’s voice by ranting about the supposedly proper use of quotation marks, seriously?

  42. angela78 says

    @45 Porivil Sorrens

    Uh, nah, Wikipedia very much is a website, even going by Wikipedia’s own page on Wikipedia, lmao.

    No it isn’t: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia#Methods_of_access
    The website is one of the way to get access to Wikipedia content. It’s not the only one. It would be like saying that beer is a pub…

    @47 Jupiter9

    Only if other articles about men inevitably receive the same treatment.
    Don’t rule out selective enforcement.

    No: it is sexist bias only if there is a significant difference in the number of bios which are rejected under the very same conditions, with the only difference of the gender of the submitter. Which you cannot prove, I guess, even if Wikipedia actually has some bad issues with sexism that give this kind of biases. Only, not this one in this case.
    Even more: specifically for the assumptions in PZ’s post (that Strickland was treated differently from Mourou) you should prove that Morou’s bio violated the same policies of Strickland’s -and it doesn’t.

    So your post only shows a bias in finding sexist behaviours. And it’s so weird that a woman has to tell you this…

  43. Porivil Sorrens says

    @50
    Lol, literally in the heading of that setting “The content of Wikipedia has been published in many forms, both online and offline, outside of the Wikipedia website.”

    Wikipedia.org is a website. That is a fact. The fact that there alternative means to reach that data doesn’t change that. The fact that the wikipedia article on wikipedia treats the phrase “this/the site” as being synonymous with “wikipedia” only furthers my case.

    That said, it’s also irrelevant. Wikipedia, as a whole, is a scummy mess that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  44. angela78 says

    @51

    “…both online and offline, outside of the Wikipedia website.”

    Yes. Wikipedia has a website (*). Wikipedia is not a website. In the same sense in which you probably have a leg, but you are not a leg. It’s not that difficult to understand…

    (*) Wikipedia actually has lots of different websites.

    That said, it’s also irrelevant. Wikipedia, as a whole, is a scummy mess that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

    I think I can manage to sleep well tonight even knowing what you think about something you don’t understand.

  45. Porivil Sorrens says

    Wikipedia, the website, is a website. I am referring to that. The fact that you can be so pedantic that normal language conventions flies over your head is actually kind of astounding.

  46. angela78 says

    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, isn’t a website. The fact that you call it “a terrible site” only demonstrates that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or maybe that you don’t like wikipedia websites (which one of them?) independent of wikipedia in itself.

  47. Porivil Sorrens says

    The fact that you can be so pedantic that normal language conventions flies over your head is actually kind of astounding.

  48. chrislawson says

    angela78@50–

    Even more: specifically for the assumptions in PZ’s post (that Strickland was treated differently from Mourou) you should prove that Morou’s bio violated the same policies of Strickland’s -and it doesn’t.

    Eck! I reported from Wikipedia’s history pages that Strickland’s bio was rejected for only having three references while Morou’s was accepted and maintained as an active page for 14 years with zero references. You know this because you responded to my specific comments.

    Quite evidently Morou’s bio was held to a different standard than Strickland’s. The question is why. I have no reason to think the specific admin who rejected the Strickland page was being sexist. As numerobis@49 points out, though, it is supporting evidence of systemic bias against women in Wikipedia. And most of the defences I’ve seen here have been of the “it’s not sexism, it’s the process” variety, an argument that seems blind to the fact that sometimes the problem is with the process itself, not the people who implement it.

    This is not entirely Wikipedia’s fault. Since Wikipedia (rightly) aims to limit itself to well-sourced information, it is inevitable that its content will reflect the publication biases of the culture it draws from even as it strives to be perfectly even-handed with the information available. But this case is an example of Wikipedia’s editorial bias being greater than the scientific community it reports on.

  49. angela78 says

    @Porivil Sorrens
    You are actually right. My pointing out that wikipedia is not a website was, in fact, a pedantic observation.
    It’s just that I cannot bear stupid people making stupid remarks about things they don’t understand. And it’s a fact that you are just taking PZ’s words as The Truth without analyzing the facts. Because, you see, the facts here clearly demonstrate that there was no sexism involved, only the proper usage of Wikipedia rules.
    So yes, I was being pedantic on purpose, because there is nothing you can say to someone who completely ignores evidence. Childish on my side, probably, but stupid behaviours like yours have this effect on me sometimes.

  50. Porivil Sorrens says

    I’m not actually taking PZ’s words as truth – I did granted that even were the formulations of this matter offered in the comments correct, I would still have a problem with Wikipedia.

    I also alluded to the fact that this was merely an additional factor on top of other reasons for disliking Wikipedia (the site, encyclopedia, and the various other manifestations thereof).

    PZ’s words are, at best, contributing evidence to my opinion that Wikipedia is a garbage heap.

    Pedantry is a poor substitute for reading comprehension.

  51. consciousness razor says

    angela78:
    A thing with a URL is (somewhat figuratively) located at a site on the web. Simply put, it’s a website, a bunch of pages with web addresses that are connected together in a particular way. (But computing experts, please feel free to demolish this simplistic presentation. I’m not trying to be too precise about it.)

    The point is that it’s a thing with pages that a person might “go to” (or “not go to”), so to speak. This is what the person said and wanted to convey to their readers, and they did so effectively. Such people are not wrong to communicate this in perfectly ordinary language, and your attempt to “correct” it is just bizarre. There was no mistake, even if the thing to which they refer isn’t to be identified with some other thing, like an abstract concept of wikipedianess, or the content which is put on such a site, or the form of the website that exists in Platonic heaven, or whatever you wish they were talking about instead of the website that they did talk about. People can talk about the websites that they do or don’t use, even if you’d rather they talk about something else.

  52. angela78 says

    @56 chrislawson
    You should spend time understanding how wikipedia works. I suggest you to register and try and edit a very minor page, something you master well. You’ll soon learn how difficult is to make W. grow trying to keep it neutral.
    In particular, the rules applied to reject Strickland’s bio did not exist when Mourou’s one was submitted and accepted. And it’s much more difficult to remove an already established topic than to reject a new one (the difficulty is not technical: there is a specific process for this, called BLPPROD: it’s more difficult because few contributors go around deleting entire topics without a very specific reason, like inappropriate or defamatory or false content, which were not present in Mourou’s bio).

    So what you are actually comparing are two completely different situations, and -as I wrote- Mourou’s bio submission didn’t violate the same rules that Stricland’s one did. Your demands that the two situations be compared against each other only demonstrate that you do not understand what wikipedia is and the effort that contributors must put in it to keep it free and neutral.

    No. Sexism. Here.

  53. John Morales says

    Wikipedia is an encyclopedia first and foremost, just like Encyclopædia Britannica.

    In this case, the medium is not the message!

    (EB also has a website, but nobody would claim it’s a website because of that)

  54. Porivil Sorrens says

    Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia, primarily accessed through its website of the same name. Anyone who’s not needlessly pedantic understands that saying “Wikipedia” in common parlance is short for “That site what shows up when I type wikipedia.org into my search bar, and the content therein”.

  55. Holms says

    What a train wreck of a comment thread. Such amazing pedantry! And nearly buried amongst said pedantry we have “Communication is more important than grammar pedantry…” From none other than

    John Morales!!!!!!

    Will wonders ever cease?

  56. says

    The original draft article on Dr Strickland was not rejected because she wasn’t notable. From the current Wikipedia article on Dr Strickland:
    “The draft [1] wasn’t declined because she was claimed to be non-notable but because the submitted page had no independent sources. The decline box clearly stated the reason and made a resubmit button. The three sources were a paper by the subject, a biography at a society she had been president of, and a profile at the university she works for. If the author or somebody else had added independent sources and resubmitted, it would probably have been accepted. The decline also linked to relevant Wikipedia guidelines. PrimeHunter (talk) 12:20, 3 October 2018 (UTC)” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Donna_Strickland

    To be clear, Wikipedia has a problem in terms of who gets an article and who doesn’t, but the rejection of Strickland’s article wasn’t part of the reason – if anything it was an example of how the editors try to maintain standards.

    There is in fact a Wikipedia article on criticism like this. It’s not as if the editors aren’t aware of the problem. Solving it is apparently not easy. — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_bias_on_Wikipedia

  57. angela78 says

    @64 Helge
    Very good and clear description of the situation, thank you.
    In fact Wikipedia’s main goal is to distribute open knowledge in a neutral way. This is extremely hard -each human being is biased in more than one way, and rules cannot completely avoid misbehaviour-, but still it’s the most succesful attempt to gather a huge number of unknown and very different contributors to this effect. And it’s mostly working, and where it has issue the community is looking for ways to improve.

  58. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    Waterloo hasn’t made her a full professor yet either. WTF are they waiting for?

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