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Letter sent to The LINGUIST List, by Dr. Barbara Partee:

Moscow, March 9, 2007
Subject: Getting linguists organized to improve Wikipedia linguistics coverage

Dear Linguists,

Linguists in Moscow are getting organized about filling in gaps in linguistics coverage in the Russian-language Wikipedia, and working together to standardize entries on languages and language families. It seems to me that the English-language Wikipedia also needs some effort to improve linguistics coverage. It's currently somewhat spotty, with a lot of gaps in content and in biographies. Having fuller linguistic coverage would be one good way to reach out to prospective students and to help educate the broader public, as well as providing resources and links for all of us. Is there a chance that Linguist List could help coordinate such an effort? You have the optimal channels and the breadth to reach everyone, if you could possibly take it on - to get the word out and ask people to suggest what new entries are needed, and then to call for volunteers to write new entries and improve existing ones. Not that you guys should try to write or edit or screen articles, but to be a hub and a prod and a facilitator. The "community" should do the editing.

Yuri Koryakov, who is coordinating the Russian linguistic wiki work, noticed that there does exist such a project in principle, but it seems to be quite dormant and not really organized:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Linguistics

I think it needs more coordination and communication - and Linguist List would be ideal if you could do it! Could one of your young people collect suggestions, solicit contributions, keep track of who is doing what, send out tips and reminders, and offer to help with uploading? Faculty might even be encouraged to give wiki-writing assignments to their students - I know that happens in some fields. If I understand how wikipedia editing works, the nice thing is that the first efforts don't have to be perfect, because it can always be further edited. You could broadcast periodic calls asking people to look at articles in their fields and help edit them and add links to open source material.

I know your team has a huge amount of work already - we all appreciate it! But I'd like to think that in this case a modest additional effort could have really great value both for linguists and for our efforts to educate young people and the public.

By the way, my Russian colleagues and students really value Linguist List! It really connects the world!

Very best wishes,
Barbara