As Michael Fischer observed elsewhere on the OAC, Wikipedia coverage for anthropology is dismal in comparison to other disciplines due to lack of participation by anthropologists. As Rex noted at Savage Minds some time ago, the same holds true for Citizendium. Any ideas as to why this might be the case?

Citizendium even has a program, Eduzendium, where they partner with university programs to create high-quality entries by allowing students, under teacher supervision, to write public entries about key terms pertaining to their discipline. This would be a great project for undergraduate anthropology courses.

Tags: citizendium, wikipedia

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I keep wondering what would happen if a loosely-organized group of 2000 anthropologists set their minds and skills to improving the Anthropological entries on Wikipedia...
This is an interesting post in a way. Across the web there are literally millions of articles relating to anthropology as well as many articles of and from many groups originally the subject of anthropological gazes, speaking for themselves. There has been quite a bit of work done on identity, nationalism and the web etc. As for wikipedia it is true if you type anthropology you get a set amount of responses that some might find "dismal". But anthropology as a subject to type is a bit weird in that it doesn't really mean anything - perhaps why many people wouldn't immediately tag something as anthropology. However if you type subjects like culture, or Yolngu or ritual or genealogy or politics or god forbid Kant, you get heaps of articles on the web and in wikis and other encyclopedias. Also an important point to think about is that there is a limit to information that can be provided on the web though, such as obviously state secrets, some chemical and biological, physical formulas, patent protected information, legally protected information and stuff such as mens or women's private/clan business from aboriginal Australia for example.

But the problem with the question is that it is too broad - it is like saying there is not enough anthropology in the library or something. I think we need a little more to go on, such as what specifically is it that you cannot find on the web that you think should be there? That would be a good starting point for a discussion - but then why bother, why not just post it yourself if you see it is not there XD :)
I wonder what might happen to this network if two dozen members of the OAC put their minds and skills to developing the resources available here. Why build up Wikipedia when most of our activities are languishing and the rate of growth of visits is negative? This is not a criticism of Justin and Paul who, god only knows, do plenty to organize and animate the OAC, or of a handful of others who do their best. But we lack a critical mass of activists on this site, a fact that is disguised by the steady recruitment of new members. It goes back to the old issue of whether chat has a value in itself or only durable products, like Wikipedia articles or the Archive. We have just launched an editorial team for the OAC Press, but I wonder how many of them realize that, unless our products are organically linked to discussion on the main network, the publishing initiative may fail. I understand that the whole trend in academia is towards producing objects and against rewarding less tangible contributions like teaching. But the idea that teaching and research should be combined was always a good one and it has applications for us. Anyone who cares about the OAC's development needs to think deeply about how our scarce energies can best be deployed for the common good. It is not obvious because no-one has been where we are before. There are precedents we can learn from, however.

Paul Wren said:
I keep wondering what would happen if a loosely-organized group of 2000 anthropologists set their minds and skills to improving the Anthropological entries on Wikipedia...
The motivation for posting this discussion was twofold. Firstly, I was reflecting on a post by Judd Antin made in 2005 concerning anthropologists' general reticence to thinking and writing in public, and making use of blogs, wikis or places like the OAC. His post is in response to the then recently published AAA report on anthropology and open source.

This speaks to Keith's concern about the recent lack of activity in the discussion groups despite the OAC boasting 2,000 plus members and averaging about 400 daily visits. It also reminds me of Keith and Anna Grimshaw's inaugural Prickly Pear Pamphlet, "Anthropology and the Crisis of the Intellectuals," and also Patrick Wilcken's "Anthropology, the Intellectuals, and the Gulf War."

There are exceptions, but I was wondering if the digital landscape had changed since 2005, and if not, why? Also, see Kerim's recent post on Savage Minds, "Anthropology 2.0: For Real?"

Secondly, I wanted to make reference to Larry Sanger's Citizendium project, especially the Eduzendium program, for those who did not already know about them.
It seems a pity to let this thread drop, Justin, since you bring up several interesting themes.

Do you think that anthropologists' "reticence about thinking and writing in public" is a universal feature of our discipline? If so, why? Thomas Hylland Eriksen has approached the question in some depth through his brilliant Engaging Anthropology. There he singles out British anthropologists, with some reason, as being particularly reticent compared with their Scandinavian counterparts. Would you say that the US is uniformally more like Britain than Norway or are their variations?

Justin Shaffner said:
The motivation for posting this discussion was twofold. Firstly, I was reflecting on a post by Judd Antin made in 2005 concerning anthropologists' general reticence to thinking and writing in public, and making use of blogs, wikis or places like the OAC. His post is in response to the then recently published AAA report on anthropology and open source.
This speaks to Keith's concern about the recent lack of activity in the discussion groups despite the OAC boasting 2,000 plus members and averaging about 400 daily visits. It also reminds me of Keith and Anna Grimshaw's inaugural Prickly Pear Pamphlet, "Anthropology and the Crisis of the Intellectuals," and also Patrick Wilcken's "Anthropology, the Intellectuals, and the Gulf War."
There are exceptions, but I was wondering if the digital landscape had changed since 2005, and if not, why? Also, see Kerim's recent post on Savage Minds, "Anthropology 2.0: For Real?"

Secondly, I wanted to make reference to Larry Sanger's Citizendium project, especially the Eduzendium program, for those who did not already know about them.
Keith Hart said:
Why build up Wikipedia when most of our activities are languishing and the rate of growth of visits is negative?
Excuse me, as I am new to the OAC and do not know if it is out of place for me to speak.
I think we've a responsibility to make Wikipedia as complete an encyclopedia as possible. Last I checked the section on kinship was pretty rudimentary. Obviously there is a lot of anthropological information out there on other sites. That is fine, especially for those who are engaged in the field. But those who would like to introduce themselves to anthropology or to some topic in anthropology are likely to do so through Wikipedia. It is the world's encyclopedia, a project of almost indescribable significance.

But I do not see this as a situation in which one has to choose one but not the other. Can't wiki-content developed here, or some abridged version of it, be transferred there if all parties are willing?
Not out of place at all, Jacob, and you are right. Paul has built up the OAC Archive and it is underused at present. Perhaps a focus on Wikipedia would give it a new direction. I believe that we should try to develop synergy between the various activities here which range from fleeting conversations to more durable resources. Maybe a discussion group devoted to the Wiki would allow a few people to pool ideas about fruitful topics for development and ways of improving the infrastructure. John McCreery has pointed out elsewhere that it takes a few activists to animate any organization. We have an amazing variety of voluntary initiatives here already, but it is also the case that the number of active members and the range of their activities could do with being expanded.

Ours is a unique experiment in the history of anthropology and it will take time for us to discover how to make it grow fruitfully. Over at the OAC Press, the editorial team has been discussing how to slow down our exchanges so that we can get to know each other better and allow a more democratic process of consultation to emerge. At the same time, some of us are keen to get the next publications out! These are still early days. Your enthusiasm for improving the development and diffusion of anthropological knowledge is surely valued here. Justin drew our attention to these possibilities. It was churlish of me to suggest that they might dilute our limited energies. Thanks for the correction.

Jacob Lee said:
Keith Hart said:
Why build up Wikipedia when most of our activities are languishing and the rate of growth of visits is negative?
Excuse me, as I am new to the OAC and do not know if it is out of place for me to speak.
I think we've a responsibility to make Wikipedia as complete an encyclopedia as possible. Last I checked the section on kinship was pretty rudimentary. Obviously there is a lot of anthropological information out there on other sites. That is fine, especially for those who are engaged in the field. But those who would like to introduce themselves to anthropology or to some topic in anthropology are likely to do so through Wikipedia. It is the world's encyclopedia, a project of almost indescribable significance.

But I do not see this as a situation in which one has to choose one but not the other. Can't wiki-content developed here, or some abridged version of it, be transferred there if all parties are willing?
I am not an anthropologist by trade but ready to help should any of you consider doing some coursework via Citizendium. For current courses, see Appetite and Obesity and US Political Parties and Interest Groups.
I now looked around a bit on this site and agree with Justin that - while everybody is always free to contribute to wikis of their choice - the impact of such activities would be higher if coordinated. A first step to this end may be to compile an overview of the coverage of anthropological topics in wikis. I did such an overview for permafrost a while back. As for anthropology, my knowledge of the field is not developed enough that I could do it alone, but if some of you would join the endeavour, we might come up with something useful.
As a starter for the overview of coverage of anthropology in wikis, could any of you point me towards an ontology of anthropological topics?
As far as I know, I'm the only person with any real training in anthropology who is currently active at Citizendium. We had a biological anthropologist who was pretty active for a while, but he hasn't come by the site for a little while now. The monumental task of describing the whole field (in my free time) is a bit overwhelming, I'm afraid. I'd love to see more anthropologists get involved in the project. I think we could produce a really valuable resource with a little more help.

I'm in the middle of putting together Ph.D. applications and working with Daniel and some others to draft an official charter for Citizendium right now, so I don't have tons of extra time, but I'd love to help others get started with Citizendium. I promise I'll work on more anthro topics soon if I have some help! In the mean time, you can check out the style I've developed for cultural anthropology articles at Citizendium if you have a look at the articles about folk saints, milpa agriculture, and Tecum Umam.
Daniel Mietchen said:
I am not an anthropologist by trade but ready to help should any of you consider doing some coursework via Citizendium. For current courses, see Appetite and Obesity and US Political Parties and Interest Groups.

There has also been one biological anthropology course that used Eduzendium: a list of articles created by the students is on the course's Citizendium homepage.

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