A Twitter discussion this weekend between Ed Yong, Christie, and Sci Curious pointed out that Wikipedia’s list of science blogs is seriously lacking. If I’ve learned anything in my year in the blog-o-sphere, it’s that there are a lot of excellent blogs and bloggers out there. From reading the Wikipedia entry, you would think that there are only eleven.
Two questions arose from this discussion. First of all, is it a problem? Second of all, if it is a problem, should we solve it? I think that the answers to both questions are yes, but as always, I’m interested in your feedback.
I think this is a big problem. While it doesn’t prevent anyone truly dedicated from finding a blog they’d be interested in, an unscientific poll of my students shows that Wikipedia is often the first place that people look for information on a topic, and many times people don’t look anywhere else. In short, if a given blog was listed in a Wikipedia entry, more people interested in what that blog has to say would become readers.
I also think we should fix it by updating the Wikipedia article. The whole point of Wikipedia is allowing people who know a lot about a given subject to update the entry to make it as correct as possible. Who knows more about science blogging than science bloggers?
The Twitter discussion showed that people have some reservations about updating the Wikipedia entry because it would appear to be self-promoting. I think these concerns are baseless. We wouldn’t be forcing anyone to read our blogs, we would be merely making it easier for people to find them. No one would come across the update list of science blogs on Wikipedia unless they looked for it (or hit “random article”, which has wasted an alarming amount of my life).
In the interest of disclosure, my views on this should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt since I’ve been accused of being a spammer in the past (most recently by some jerk who introduced my presentation at Science Online).
I am interested in what other science bloggers think about this, and I am also interested in what our readers think. Let’s discuss this issue in the comments below. If there is a lot of support in the science blogging community for updating this Wikipedia page, I will volunteer to become a Wikipedia editor and will work closely with any blog authors who want their blog included on the new list.
My goal for this is a main page with a list of all science blogs categorized by field (conservation, ocean blogging, space, earth science, etc), a separate article for each field that again includes a list of every relevant blog, and a separate article for each blog with a brief author bio and a list of their 5 favorite posts. That’s also open to discussion, though.
Please let me know what you think!