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Difference between revisions of "CZ:How to convert Wikipedia articles to Citizendium articles"

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== Improving Article Accuracy ==
 
== Improving Article Accuracy ==
  
Citizendium's not snobbish-- though we keep experts around, we want the participation of enthusiasts and amateurs too! Though we're not hung up on academic titles, we do pride ourselves on our reliability.
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Citizendium's not snobbish-- we keep experts around, but we want the participation of enthusiasts and amateurs too! Though we're not hung up on academic titles, we do pride ourselves on our reliability.
  
 
If you are thinking about importing content from Wikipedia, consider doing some fact-checking to ensure that our encyclopedia is the most reliable it can be. General reference works such as the ''Encyclopedia Britannica'' are a good way to check basic facts about a subject. Specialized reference works are even better, though. The standard reference works of a discipline are what experts themselves consult, and tend to reflect current scholarship much better than general works.
 
If you are thinking about importing content from Wikipedia, consider doing some fact-checking to ensure that our encyclopedia is the most reliable it can be. General reference works such as the ''Encyclopedia Britannica'' are a good way to check basic facts about a subject. Specialized reference works are even better, though. The standard reference works of a discipline are what experts themselves consult, and tend to reflect current scholarship much better than general works.

Revision as of 14:14, 6 November 2008

We can use Wikipedia articles as places to start our articles here on the Citizendium. But we should bear in mind that the Citizendium is a different project, for which we are creating a new culture. To the extent that any Wikipedia articles exemplify a user-unfriendly culture that we want to reject, we absolutely must revise these articles entirely--or start over from scratch.

The advantages of writing from scratch

Maybe you should simply write an article from scratch. There are many advantages to doing so:

  • Editing Wikipedia articles can be a pain. Wikipedia articles might appear to be impressive on first glance, but we have found that many are in fact poorly-written and need huge amounts of revision. It can be faster, and certainly more pleasant anyway, to start over.
  • Editing Wikipedia articles tends to lock you into things that need redeciding. Editing someone else's article usually means you retain the structure/outline of the article, the writing style, and in general everything that you do not specifically choose to undo. If the article you're editing happens to be of high quality, this is not a problem; but if not...
  • Writing from scratch is more motivating. If you write from scratch, you experience the joy of creation in a way you do not if you merely clean up someone else's article. Furthermore, if an article originated with the Citizendium, then other people arguably will be more interested in joining in; it's more interesting to collaborate with the original author(s) of an article than on a neutral article for which no one in particular is responsible.
  • Writing from scratch allows us to avoid using the GFDL. We are releasing our own articles, i.e., those with no Wikipedia content, under the Creative Commons CC-by-sa license rather than the GFDL. Arguably, this makes it easier for other people to use those articles. (Notice: the licenses are intended to be made compatible and in future Wikipedia might change its licensing scheme; for the moment there is no formal compatibility.)

Should you really upload that Wikipedia article to the Citizendium?

Maybe, maybe not. Your answers to the following questions should all be "Yes":

  • Is the Wikipedia article reasonably good? In other words, to create an expert-approvable article, in your judgment, it should be more efficient to edit the article than start over from scratch. If the Wikipedia article is mediocre, we would prefer that you start over from scratch.
  • Do you actually intend to do significant work on the article sometime in the next hour? If not, don't upload it, or not until you actually want to start working on it. We are not creating a mirror of Wikipedia here. If you merely want your brilliant work on Wikipedia to be reprinted in another, more credible source, then you must make up your mind: are you really going to maintain and develop the article here on the Citizendium or not? If not, stick with Wikipedia.
  • Have you actually bought into this Citizendium thing at all? If not, leave well enough alone, please, and stick with Wikipedia until you're actually convinced. This means, among other things, that you are committed to working in a collegial, mature atmosphere, guided gently by expert editors. It also means that you are actually using your own real name; we do take that policy seriously here. More generally it means you accept our Statement of Fundamental Policies.

Should you check (tick) the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box?

The very first step, after you copy a Wikipedia article's text here, is to check the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box, which appears just below the edit summary. This is a box that appears only on the Citizendium, so Wikipedians may not be familiar with it. But it's there and it is waiting to be checked, if you use any text from Wikipedia!

There are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. if you copy only what you personally wrote. If you are the sole author of the version of the article that you are importing, then you need not check the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box. In that case, please place the WPauthor template at the top of the talk page (see also WPauthor2 template).
  2. if the Wikipedia material is itself a completely unchanged copy from some third source (like Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition (1911) which was the source for thousands of historical articles); make sure you cite the third source; Wikipedia does not get any credit.

Also, first save the copy from Wikipedia without making any changes. This will allow others to see how many changes you've made, when they look at the page history.

The "Content is from Wikipedia?" box is for the article as a whole, and not just the current edit.

Are you the main author of that Wikipedia article?

We have a number of people who have uploaded anywhere from a handful to many dozens of high-quality articles that they originally wrote for Wikipedia. We welcome this, with the following understanding: first, again, we don't just want to be a mirror of Wikipedia, so please, don't upload an article unless you intend to work on and maintain it here yourself. Second, do make sure that the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box is checked if you or anyone else added any other Wikipedia content to the version you've uploaded—even one comma necessitates checking this box. Third, you might want to put a notice at the top of the talk page, using either {{WPimport}} or {{WPauthor}}, so people won't constantly ask whether this came from Wikipedia, and whether anyone is maintaining it here.

Improving Article Accuracy

Citizendium's not snobbish-- we keep experts around, but we want the participation of enthusiasts and amateurs too! Though we're not hung up on academic titles, we do pride ourselves on our reliability.

If you are thinking about importing content from Wikipedia, consider doing some fact-checking to ensure that our encyclopedia is the most reliable it can be. General reference works such as the Encyclopedia Britannica are a good way to check basic facts about a subject. Specialized reference works are even better, though. The standard reference works of a discipline are what experts themselves consult, and tend to reflect current scholarship much better than general works.

  • Classics: the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed.
  • Christianity: the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed.
  • Philosophy: for facts and figures, Thomas Mautner's Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy is usually very reliable, however, it reflects only a conservative view of the subject and so may distort by ommission or by giving undue weight. (It highlights the Anglo-American tradition and downgrades all the others.) Another good source on individual philosophers, drawing on primary research, is Dan O'Connor's Critical History of Western Philosophy. For Eastern Philosophy, Great Thinkers of the Eastern World (edited by by Ian McGreal) makes up for many gaps in other philosophy reference books.

Improving articles stylistically

Many Wikipedia articles have certain stylistic problems. When you rewrite them:

  • Make sure that the articles are well-written and unified, following a coherent, well-organized narrative, not grab-bags of unintegrated facts. The purpose of an encyclopedia article is not just to list out information about a topic, but to contextualize general information about a topic in a single readable "story," as it were.
  • Craft your sentences using engaging language, not the typical vague, unadventurous, and sleep-inducing prose that some people seem to think is required for encyclopedia articles. Avoid stilted or hackneyed expressions.
  • Generally, keep your audience in mind. Our goal is to express, not merely impress. Bear in mind that articles on the Citizendium are written first and foremost for the educated person who needs an introduction to the topic--and not for the author to catalog very impressively everything he knows on the topic. More particularly, bear in mind that your audience is university-level, unless your topic itself absolutely requires a higher-level treatment (cannot be understood "at the undergraduate level"). You might have to rewrite completely those articles that appear to be written by people more concerned with showing off what they learned in their graduate seminars than actually introducing a topic to people who need an article about the topic.

Also see Differences in style, approach and tone

Improving article mechanics

While we follow many of Wikipedia's conventions of mechanics, such as bolding titles---our own are being developed at CZ:Article Mechanics--we are stripping down many others. In particular, we are removing many templates, virtually all categories, and all interwiki links.

Templates

Templates should "pay their own way" by actually helping the user rather than distracting the user from important information.

Delete many template messages--particularly the ones that are for contributors and are self-referential. This includes timing-related messages, expansion requests, and all Wikimedia sister projects.

Other templates to delete include: requesting sources, deletion, disputes and warnings, maintenance, cleanup, and lists. Presumably, we will want to rewrite our own such templates--if we have any at all--and place them on talk pages, not on the articles themselves.

If you do retain a template in an article you're working on, for an infobox for example, then be sure to upload the template from Wikipedia. Sorry, no, we will not be uploading the entire Wikipedia template namespace; that's too much of an inducement for people to replicate Wikipedia's overuse of templates here.

Many infobox templates and navigational templates need to be completely revisited. Many are useful, but many are not.

Categories

Delete all categories that were not specifically added for the Citizendium. That means virtually all categories. Categories not to delete include "workgroup" categories, [[Category:CZ Live]], and occasionally some other extremely well-chosen categories.

There is an excellent chance that we will replace subject categories with an in-line system of "Subtopics" and "Related topics"; see this Forums post. So, please do not create new categories.

Interwiki links

Delete all of these. They will be broken, and many Citizendium articles will have different titles from Wikipedia articles--in all languages. On the other hand, internal links to other articles in English should remain.

Images

Please, if you like, do upload all usable images from Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons. But note that some images are not usable. Make sure that you also upload all licensing information as well!

In particular, do not upload images (and delete links to these) that were created by someone who on Wikipedia was evidently using a pseudonym. We must be able to locate the original uploader of all media, and a real name is a minimum requirement for this. You might be able to get the person to reveal his or her name for our use here on Citizendium; you can attempt to contact the person on Wikipedia.

Also, do not upload images that do not have clear licensing data. And again, copy that licensing data.

See also


Citizendium Content Policy
Approval Standards | Article Mechanics | Subpages | Importing material from other sources | Citable articles | Other
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