Finding information on Wikipedia is similar to paying for a car wash: the service is only worth as much as the detailing. With new discoveries in science happening daily, it’s important to not only have a Wikipedia page about a subject, but also to make sure it’s as thorough as possible. Unfortunately, not all pages are created equal. While pages on subjects like DNA or photosynthesis are well fleshed out, many topics are merely given a brief overview and a picture, a few citations, and then published and left to become outdated. For example, the page on the lipid transporter protein Flippase was created in November 2006 and is still only 8 sentences long.
Enter Edit-A-Thons: ambitious gatherings of amateurs and experts with the singular goal of improving the quality of topic-specific articles. These events are not limited to science: the 2012 World War I Edit-a-thon in London created 7 new articles and improved 25 more, while the 2015 Art+Feminism Edit-a-Thon in New York saw approximately 1500 participants in 75 locations (spread across 17 countries on four continents) generate nearly 400 new articles and significantly improve 500 more.
ASBMB will host our own Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the 2016 Annual Meeting in San Diego, sponsored by the Simons Foundation as part of the Wiki Education Foundation‘s Year of Science 2016. This session will take aim at improving biochemistry and molecular biology articles on Wikipedia. We invite all attendees of Experimental Biology to join us as we tackle a range of topics, including (potentially) cytoplasmic streaming, immunocytochemistry, and of course, flippase. Or submit your own below!
Edit-a-thons are not meant only for experienced Wikipedia editors; at most edit-a-thons, experts are merely on hand to teach novice participants everything they need to know about editing Wikipedia. In fact, Wikipedia has even developed resources on how to best edit specific subjects for beginners. At the ASBMB edit-a-thon, we will have table leaders who are experienced in Wikipedia editing and experts in various fields of biochemistry and molecular biology to guide participants through the event. We are still looking for participants to join us! To learn more and to sign up to participate visit our website.
Post by former ASBMB Outreach Intern Travis Radford