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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

Sustainability wikis such as Wikia Green or Appropedia have an important role to play, in the gathering of solutions for a sustainable future. The big challenge of course, is how to engage contributors into volunteering free content. As a content creator in the sustainability field, with hundreds of articles to my credit, all on blogs, I yet have to contribute to a collaborative platform. I started sharing some of my reasons in previous posts, here and here. In a nutshell:

  • I am comfortable with blogging. It is what I know, and past the initial hurdle of setting up a blog, which by the way is very low, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
  • I like the feeling of being in control, and of having all my stuff in one place.
  • When I contribute to other blogs, it is usually a boost for my recognition and helps enlarge my audience.
  • Contributing to other blogs is a no brainer; hardly any setup is required, and I usually do a slight rewrite to address issue of duplicate content.
  • I love the creative freedom of writing whatever I want whenever I want.
  • My blog is also a social place to meet cyberfriends I have made along the way, and who keep coming back for more discussions.
  • I get tremendous satisfaction from direct feedback from readers, particularly when something they read on my blog, either from me or other readers, is making an impact on their thinking or behaviors.
  • There is lots of reciprocity going on amongst bloggers, thanks to linking, trackbacks, and pingbacks. As a result, the give and take feels very fair.
  • Although I am very familiar with wikis, have consulted for wiki startups, and have started several private wikis of my own, I find making the move from blogging to contributing to public wiki platforms a huge step.
  • First, there is the issue of time. If I could somehow export content that’s already on my blog, automatically, I would consider it.
  • Second, is the problem of attribution, and ownership of content. Although, I am not one to hang on to my creative product with steel claws, it is very important to me that I be given credit for it.
  • Third, is the issue of duplicate content, and how that might affect ranking of original content with search engines.  If content is going to be exported automatically, and frequently, I would not have the time to do rewrites to avoid duplicate content problem.
  • My blog is not my only source of content either. There are quite a few projects I have been working on, that are sitting either in some files on my desktop, or in Google groups discussions, and that I wouldn’t mind sharing, if I could just turn those over with one click.

The bottom line is, if you want my content, make it super easy for me, and make sure I get credit for it.

There is a huge pool of potential content providers like myself, scattered all over the Internet, and elsewhere, who could share their knowledge, under the right conditions:

Marguerite Manteau-Rao)

Sustainability Wikis - Contributors' Engagement Map (Marguerite Manteau-Rao)

I will end by sharing my dream of the perfect sustainability wiki. Imagine a place where you can find nearly all that has been published about sustainable solutions all over the world. Imagine that contributors would not have to worry about adapting their content to the specific wiki requirements. Wiki editors could take care of that chore. Imagine that contributors could get credited each time, with ample linkage back to their original websites. Imagine a widget that would allow contributors to send their content automatically to the wiki in one click. Imagine that getting my content on the wiki would be all benefit for me, in addition to the reward from helping the greater community. Imagine . . .

Maybe this discussion can be continued at the upcoming Open Sustainability Network Camp that will take place in October, in San Francisco?

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Jimmy Wales, the founder of  Wikipedia, has just launched Wikia Green, a project to build a community generated online resource that is home to the best information about green topics and issues. Based on the wiki platform, Wikia Green is an ever-evolving, community-focused repository of content that can be instantly molded or changed by anyone to reflect the most current topics of interest and latest information in the green arena.

“Today we are formally inviting anyone who is interested and knowledgeable about ecological issues to join us in creating something that we hope will become a valuable resource for society,” said Jimmy Wales, Co-founder and Chairman of the board, Wikia, Inc. “As the whole notion of ‘going green’ has exploded, so too has the volume of related information floating around out there on the Internet. It has come to a point where, for the average person looking for tips on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, it can be somewhat difficult to know where to start and Wikia Green is looking to be just that place.”

I invite you all to contribute. This is an important collective effort, that should help citizens, with finding the practical green information they need to make informed decisions.

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Back in May last year, a conversation on NPR, between Robert Siegel and E.O. Wilson got me excited about Wilson’s upcoming Encyclopedia of Life project. Of course, I was amongst the flurry of folks who tried to get on Tuesday, the day the Encyclopedia went online. Here is the rest of the story:

The concept of a comprehensive encyclopedia of life on the Internet proved too popular. Its computers were overwhelmed and couldn’t keep it alive when it debuted Tuesday.

The encyclopedia, which eventually will have more than 1 million pages devoted to different species of life on Earth, quickly crashed on its first day of a public unveiling, organizers said.

Scientists at the Encyclopedia of Life sought help from experts at Wikipedia for keeping their fledgling Web site going despite massive – and anticipated – interest. The site went back up Tuesday afternoon, but with expectations of more problems, although only temporary ones.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by traffic,” encyclopedia founding chairman Jesse Ausubel said. “We’re thrilled.”

The encyclopedia’s Web site logged 11.5 million hits over 5 1/2 hours, including two hours of down time, according to organizers.

Tuesday’s unveiling included limited Web pages for 30,000 species. There are also “exemplar pages” that go into more depth with photos, video, scientific references, maps and text of 25 species ranging from the common potato to the majestic peregrine falcon to a relatively newly discovered obscure marine single celled organism called Cafeteria roenbergensis. Eventually, planners hope to have all 1.8 million species on the Web and already have set up 1 million placeholder pages.

The most popular of the species for Web searches is the poisonous death cap mushroom, which may say something about people’s homicidal intentions, joked Ausubel.

All the pages have been made by scientists, but in a few months the encyclopedia will start taking submissions from the public, like Wikipedia.

Maybe one of the ways to people’s hearts in respect to the climate fight, is through the life sciences? After all, one of the most viewed videos on YouTube is the ‘Kruger‘ video:

Animals also come up second in Yahoo 2007 Top 10 Kids Searches.

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