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Spurred by: Help me out here: what is "non constructive" about this question?

How can we best tap the collective knowledge of the users of the site for purposes of editing Wikipedia or the like? In this particular case, the domain experts (a lot of them anyways) are going to be on Stack Overflow at some point (most likely all during one day). How can we encourage and solicit those domain experts to help on a targeted campaign to improve specific articles.

Stack Exchange Inc. has long held the motto "We believe our mission as a company is to make the Internet better" and this is one way of doing so. Granted, it is not the responsibility of Stack Exchange Inc. to ensure that Wikipedia is kept up to date, but sometimes it takes domain expertise to really ensure that an article on Wikipedia is all that it should be.

Is this something that we users of the Stack Exchange network can work together on? Is there some way we can use the Stack Exchange sites to improve targeted wikis on a campaign basis? Could we possibly use the same advert model as the open source adverts on the site? That way it could be upvoted as well by the community to prove a request has worth.

Please don't focus on "HOW CAN WE MAKE WIKIPEDIA BETTER" but instead focus on "Since list type questions don't belong on Stack Overflow (or any other stacksite) but they do perfectly well on Wikipedia (and yet still don't exist on Wikipedia), how can we get domain experts to flow that knowledge into Wikipedia so that we don't waste everyone's time on the closing of list questions for topics that do not yet exist on Wikipedia".

For all that this site is full of geniuses, how you people are missing the point and thinking I'm asking everyone to go run over to wikipedia and edit all the articles I don't know. Lists belong on Wikipedia, let's make lists on wikipedia without cluttering the stacks. How do we make lists and not clutter the stacks?

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I think people here are already aware of wikipedia and have already made their decision to help or not as best they can, so you might want to be careful with how anything like this is done. If you bug people too much to do something they don't want to do then your efforts will end up being counterproductive. –  RobM Jun 23 '11 at 18:18
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Wikipedia lacks merit based editing. It is usually a hassle to keep a page correct over there. When Wikipedia boasts merit based editing I may go back to helping it out. –  user7116 Jun 23 '11 at 18:27

4 Answers 4

I don't know about other SE users, but if I wanted to edit Wikipedia, I'd be spending my time on that and not on SE.

To me, "make the Internet better" refers to building a better mousetrap/information resource. It is not our place or mandate to edit other sites. Information is accessible from SE sites and if someone with an interest in maintaining Wikipedia wants to update it based on that... that's cool, but I don't think that an organized "drive" to update Wikipedia is a good use of SE experts' time. I think that time would be better spent on asking and answering more SE questions.

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I concur for the most part but I feel that there are sometimes actual holes of information that need to be filled in. Since we can't ask list-type questions, and since we sometimes need those lists, and in the case of the spawning Q it was for a definitive list on a topic that was duly suited for WP, then I can foresee a potential future need. So as an alternative, can you provide a way to gather the information from the domain experts that does not require a list-type question on a stack but that does actually increase useful knowledge on the internet? –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 17:39
    
@jcolebrand I still don't think that's our problem here on SE. Some questions aren't suitable for the SE model and I don't think it's up to us to find a way to answer them anyway somewhere. There are other sites like Quora that are more tolerant of list questions and I think sending people over there is a reasonable approach. Experts here already increase useful knowledge on the internet by participating on SE. Answering another SE question is preferable to contributing to a list or an article outside of SE from that perspective. –  Anna Lear Jun 23 '11 at 17:48
    
@Anna ~ Ok, fair enough. My last riposte is this: Why should we encourage users to use another Q&A site instead of the stacks, when they may not return to bring their domain expertise with them? What's wrong with asking them to edit Wikipedia via a community upvoted ad to help all the internet? I'm still asking for a burden of proof, I'm still asking for people to collectively agree that there is a definite need, I'm just trying to find that way to help via a not-a-question. Your encouragement to have users leave the stacks seems counterproductive to me. –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 17:54
    
But I recognize your point "We don't have to answer everything". –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 17:54
    
@jcolebrand How would saying "see Wikipedia" be any different from saying "ask this on Quora"? In either case, we're telling the user to seek answers elsewhere. I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with your ideas, I just don't think encouraging people to edit Wikipedia is necessary. In your words, I don't see that there's a definite need for it. –  Anna Lear Jun 23 '11 at 17:57
    
Fair enough. Thanks :D –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 17:57

Could we possibly use the same advert model as the open source adverts on the site?

I like this idea. The duration of the ad could be much shorter than the open source version, since a Wikipedia article doesn't require as much extended maintenance as a software project.

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That's what I was thinking. Therefore it lets the community handle the request instead of it resting on SEI in some way. –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 15:54

[...]how can we get domain experts to flow that knowledge into Wikipedia so that we don't waste everyone's time on the closing of list questions for topics that do not yet exist on Wikipedia.

There was a point someone was making about game recommendations on Gaming. We have a habit of giving suggestions in comments while answering them - as we disallow them for mechanical reasons, not because we loathe them in concept. But what does this mean? It means we're giving them answers - they may not get mechanically sound answers, but what they want is being found, at our expense, with little more than altruistic satisfaction as our reward.

Extending this to where we don't simply give an example of one item, but go so far as to use encourage our own users to put this information on a different site entirely... it makes you wonder, why have that middle man? If we are willing to get that information for people, then why not take the effort to redesign the site in a way that lets us keep the information we created?

Moreover, if they can get their answers, and if our people are willing to go this degree of distance for random questions even when our engine can't handle it, why should they bother asking elsewhere? Even if we don't redesign the site, we're implicitly allowing them to get answers to these kinds of questions - that means we just attract more of these questions. It means we'll have to spend more time closing list questions - time compounded on top of all the time we're spending to create these lists for them.

It definitely feels good to be able to provide help for subjects that we can't cover on our site. But remember that in perspective, they are getting help for this. What we don't get as a reputation for the direct provider of knowledge, we instead develop a reputation as a guide to where the knowledge is found. If we become adept to the point that we can provide an excellent service towards guiding people towards knowledge, this only serves to increase the frequency at which we on our Q&A sites will get people asking these items for the purposes of guidance. When all you care about is getting an answer to a question, then it doesn't matter how much red tape you face on the Q&A site if it'll still result in us doing all the leg work for them.

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There is a major problem to import from Stack Exchange to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and Stack Exchange is a Q&A site. The audience on Wikipedia is intended to be non-specialist by nature, so we would need to transcript expertise talk to target broader audience. And also broaden the topic, because questions are usually targeted at one specific issue, but an article on Wikipedia should be oriented to a generic explanation.

Maybe if someone would be in charge of gathering people based on particular question/answer to form some kind of Wikipedia editing team, it may work. But it won't just be a copy/paste. Maybe it would be some kind of challenge for a user to propose a list of questions and answers on a meta site to be aggregated to improve a given Wikipedia article?

Another idea that pops to my mind would be to turn some questions to Community Wiki. Then, when this Community Wiki question is mature enough, propose its migration to Wikipedia. But even in that way, Stack Exchange Community Wiki would not reflect the same scope as Wikipedia.

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That's why I want to target the experts in the field and have them contribute directly to wikipedia. Wikipedia is not the domain of SEI, and SEI is not responsible for Wikipedia, and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly –  jcolebrand Jun 23 '11 at 16:01

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