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Wikipedia Update Project

The LINGUIST List's Wikipedia Update Project was an experimental project offered as a community service to its subscribers. Its major goal was to organize a community effort among linguists worldwide to update Wikipedia articles focused on linguistics and languages. Many of these articles needed to be expanded, merged with other articles, or have references and citations added to make them more complete and coherent as stand-alone articles. Since the fundamental tenet of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit its articles, it seemed natural for LINGUIST to encourage its subscribers to participate in this way for the greater good of the discipline.


In early 2007, The LINGUIST List was nominated by Barbara Partee of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to undertake the task of updating linguistics articles in Wikipedia. At the time, she was in Russia advising linguists there on certain entries on semantics found in the Russian language Wikipedia, and thought it would be natural for LINGUIST to coordinate a similar update in the English edition. During Fund Drive 2007, LINGUIST asked subscribers to vote on the merit of such project by earmarking donations to launch it. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

The Project

In summer 2007, LINGUIST's project team created its own User page within Wikipedia to manage the project. Every three to four weeks, the team sent out periodical calls for volunteers to update specific Wikipedia pages in need of attention or to create new articles to fill gaps that were missing. The areas identified included biographies of famous linguists and specific articles on phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and sociolinguistics that had been flagged by Wikipedia as being "stub" articles. Readers were also informed about which linguists had participated or were planning to work on which pages. All calls for partiipation were uploaded to LINGUIST's User page for subscribers to check for themselves. The project began in June 2007 and concluded in January 2008.

For the Future

Although LINGUIST is no longer actively involved in organizing these updates, it strongly encourages others who seek to improve the quality and accuracy of linguistics articles in Wikipedia to become involved. Individuals may join the larger WikiProject Linguistics page and contribute to making Wikipedia a truly valuable and reliable resource for the discipline.

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