September 27, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Worried about inaccuracies in Wikipedia? Try Scholarpedia, a peer-reviewed encyclopedia, with articles written by experts in their field.

Currently, it covers four areas:
- Neuroscience
- Dynamical Systems
- Computational Intelligence
- Astrophysics

The content for many articles is still in development, especially in Astrophysics; however, there are still plenty of interesting articles in progress. Here is the list of finished articles; here is the list of ones that are finished and peer-reviewed.
posted by Upton O'Good (26 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
"instead of covering a broad range of topics, Scholarpedia covers a few narrow fields, but does that exhaustively."

This is a nice idea, complementing and expanding upon Wikipedia information, but it seems to me the project requires a new moniker.
posted by Curry at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2007

Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public)

Like Wikipedia, more or less.

Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.

Like Wikipedia.

Each article has a curator - typically its author -- who is responsible for its content.

Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.

Oh, I get it--they added a petty dictator to each page. Yes, this should improve things enormously.
posted by DU at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2007 [7 favorites]

No way. I'd much rather rely on company PR departments, Capitol Hill staffers and 16 year olds masquerading as Ivy League professors.

Peer reviewed? That's come kinda elitist old media crap.
posted by rhymer at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

sorry - some.
posted by rhymer at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2007

So it's... an encyclopedia. The Britannica with a suggestion box.
posted by ormondsacker at 11:54 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Authors of Scholarpedia articles are either invited by the Editor-in-Chief or other curators or they are elected by the public, thereby ensuring fairness in assigning articles to corresponding experts in each field. (The first elected author was Gyuri Buzsaki for Hippocampus.)

Oh, cool! I'll click on Hippocampus! I wonder what array of scholarly facts I'm about to learn!

From Scholarpedia
This article has not been peer-reviewed or accepted for publication yet; It may be unfinished, contain inaccuracies, or unapproved changes.

Author: Gyorgy Buzsaki, Rutgers University
More on Hippocampus

Dr. Gyorgy Buzsaki accepted the invitation on 7 February 2007 (self-imposed deadline: 7 March 2007).


posted by Greg Nog at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2007 [5 favorites]

I have a couple friends who work in mathematical biology that would love this. Their major complaint about wikipedia is that for more esoteric subjects, the number of experts is inherently limited. Too often wikipedia experts come by and change large portions of the article that seem either extraneous to a non-expert, though like all complex topics not extraneous at all, or come in with a "I read a popular book that mentions this and will rewrite your entire page now that I am expert" types. They lament that they might spend several hours on a page and that Wikipedia's peer system seems to revert to the mediocrity instead of nuanced.

This looks like a good alternative from what I've read so far. Keep in mind this is in addition to, not replacing Wikipedia, and to me more and varied information is a good thing. I would love to see links on Wikipedia that say something such as "Click here to view on Scholarpedia", as I doubt I'd use Scholarpedia as my first source.

In summary: You don't need or want an expert to write Hillary Clinton's page on Wikipedia. Nor are there a shortage of grad students willing to write about the theory of relativity. Non-linear stochastic processes in cell reproductions might need a more learned hand to get correctly.
posted by geoff. at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

My new goal in life is to create the "Things I'm pretty sure are true"-i-pedia. It'll be like the missing link between the wikipedia and the uncyclopedia. Every section will be filled out with unresearched gut instinct.
posted by drezdn at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Drezdn, I've got a bad feeling about that.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2007

Easier to say out loud than Citizenizidovudineacamproblahblahblahapedia...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2007

I agree with everything DU said. I think Wikipedia works. In many cases it is the ONLY resource for obscure material. It's not where I go to find information about Dick Cheney or Thailand.

My main beef with Wikipedia is they're about as ineffectual against vandals as a baby with a pack of pit bulls. If someone replaces a page with profanity, you get to put one warning on their talk page. Oooh!
posted by rolypolyman at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2007

My new goal in life is to create the "Things I'm pretty sure are true"-i-pedia. It'll be like the missing link between the wikipedia and the uncyclopedia.
Don't bother. I'm pretty sure someone already did that.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2007

I don't really see the point. Surely the only people to whom it might be of interest are better served by traditional methods of research?
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2007

I do believe I will steer clear of this discussion. It just brings pain.

But I will say that "more is better".
posted by jscott at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2007

My new goal in life is to create the "Things I'm pretty sure are true"-i-pedia.

Let's call it... um... er... I know! The Internet!
posted by lagavulin at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

My general rule is that if something appears on the net it must be true and worthwhile.
posted by Postroad at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2007

I don't really see the point. Surely the only people to whom it might be of interest are better served by traditional methods of research?

There are people like me who like to look into complex things sometimes but don't take traditional research routes to do it.
posted by drezdn at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2007

Yeah...this is like Nupedia, which failed due to a lack of what they considered reputable scholars willing to donate their time to it. My first reaction was, this is going to turn out the same; but it's possible that there's now beginning to be enough focus on and acceptance of open-source type journals and things that they may be able to find enough people in the academia willing to volunteer for it.
posted by frobozz at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2007

I think Wikipedia works.

So long as you and lots of others keep thinking that - what happens when the next generation rebels and rejects it as "poo". Wikipedia will become a tab on Google like Usenet discussions from the 80s and 90s (now called "groups"), lost to the world.

I've seen so many people get fed up with it and leave - it took me about 3 years of daily use and I eventually realized how bugaboo it is and now I rarely edit, putting my energies and time elsewhere. Of course it is cool to have so much of my work actually being read, which is better than many published scholars can say, so I may return for that reason alone, but that's ego talking, not a very integral position to come from.

There is a place for Wikipedia, but it has a lot of systemic problems, as it becomes more important in culture, people will want and demand better. Projects like Scholarpedia and Citizendium are trying to address the problems of Wikipedia. I'm fascinated by it all how people are working together on collaborative text editing, it really is something new under the sun and suspect we are still in the early stages of where it will lead. Saw recently some town was using a Wiki to write its laws!
posted by stbalbach at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2007

Hippocampus is where university hippos hang out.

Now can I write for Scholarpedia?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2007

I just wanted to say that I happened to like the article on ant colony optimization. I, however, didn't like the one on particle swarm optimization.

That is all.
posted by the cydonian at 8:20 PM on September 27, 2007

Scholarship is serious business and this site seems to be shooting for an academic and intellectual level that is, well... un-scholarly. If that's the case, then why not choose wikipedia?

Access to any university or even a half-decent public library will provide you with infinitely more accessible, reliable, and thorough information on those topics than this site.
posted by willie11 at 9:57 PM on September 27, 2007

Wikipedia would be great if it wasn't lousy with editors who are there primarily to get the only taste of power and authority they will ever have in their sad little lives. It's like a bueracracy RPG.

The only reason to delete an article or a section from wikipedia should be if it's insanely POV or if it's libelous. A page can't be "too long" as there's no paper cost. Trivia is a good thing. In-depth analysis is even better. More should always be preferrable to less. Give me the whole salad, not just a stale crouton, you would-be county commissioners.
posted by bunnytricks at 1:18 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Holy cow -- at the very least, they need a new logo. And I thought Wikipedia's jigsaw globe o' letters was annoying.
posted by aught at 6:45 AM on September 28, 2007

Bunnysticks, starting in 2006 or so Jimbo said Wikipedia should be focusing on quality not quantity and from that point on the friendly nature of Wikipedia changed. No longer was it the good natured project of filling up space because something is better than nothing, it became a subjective call of what "quality" means, of which there is no general agreement. Normally a collaborative publication, like Encyclopedia Britannica or the New York Times Book Review, has an editorial board and senior editor who make the final call. No such position exists on Wikipedia and it's created a power vacuum which breeds the type of person you describe. If these people were experts in the field, no problem, we can trust them and learn something. Citizendium addresses it directly by having two classes of users, the expert with final judgement functions as a (traditional) editor.
posted by stbalbach at 11:44 AM on September 28, 2007

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