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Continuing community engagement: Communities of interest and Quarrying

Posted by Manasa Rao at Apr 18, 2017 12:00 AM |
In telling the stories of Indian Wikipedians, we bring to you the story of Dr. Diptanshu Das, a doctor and avid Wikipedian, working with WikiProject Medicine who recently approached CIS-A2K with a technical request.
Continuing community engagement: Communities of interest and Quarrying

Dr. Diptanshu Das at TTT 2017/ Image by Saileshpat/ CC-BY-SA 4.0


CIS-A2K has always believed in continuing our engagement with the communities and individuals we work with. This year in particular has been special to us thanks to our Train The Trainer alumni steadily achieving the goals they set out to achieve and continuing their Wiki journeys with more vigour. It is especially significant to us when our alumni come back to our resource and idea exchange platform to help develop their pet projects. For the first time, one such alumnus, Dr. Diptanshu Das, a doctor by profession and avid Wikipedian approached us in April 2017 with a request to our technical team. He wanted to know the number of articles that were tagged in both Category:WikiProject Pharmacology and Category:All WikiProject Medicine.

To provide some context, WikiProjects are generally article development projects undertaken by groups of editors on Wikipedia whose aim it is to achieve goals on specific topics and subjects on Wikipedia. For example, WikiProject Medicine manages and helps curate medical articles on Wikipedia. Similarly, WikiProject Pharmacology states that it "coordinates the development of Wikipedia articles and lists relating to the pharmacology and science of medications and other pharmacology-related topics." Working to define clearer guidelines for WikiProject Medicine of which he is a member, Dr. Das intended to find out how many articles were listed under WikiProject Pharmacology that were also tagged under WikiProject Medicine. As these two are closely related topics, the former being a sub-specialty of the latter, he felt it could cause an overlap which would mean that most of the sub-specialty articles would get lost in the "parent" category i.e. WikiProject Medicine.

CIS-A2K ran Dr. Das' request on Quarry, a public querying interface that lets one raise queries regarding databases in addition to managing them as an SQL(Structured Query Language) software would. Dr. Das had begun discussions with fellow Wikipedians to get their thoughts on the matter and wanted to provide data-specific points but was unable to gather consensus on developing a guideline. However, when CIS-A2K reported back to him, he realized that the overlap was not as significant as he had feared. WikiProject Medicine had 34,475 articles, WikiProject Pharmacology had 10,721 articles; only 2002 of these were tagged in both. Dr. Das, while relieved, believes that sub-specialty tagging would go a long way in helping improve articles such as those of WikiProject Pharmacology, many of which are still in Start and Stub classes.

"While collaborating on wiki is always good, it is important that an organization like CIS contributes its expertize," he says. CIS-A2K's presence as an idea exchange platform hopes to generate debate and discussions in addition to the physical resources and support we provide to communities. Dr. Das is also of the opinion that domain knowledge experts could make a real difference to Wikipedia by engaging with or creating WikiProjects that are specific to their interests and collaborate with other free knowledge champions around the world. CIS-A2K has attempted to encourage such communities of interest in the past so as to find an easier way to engage members of the general public and educational institutions as they are more likely to edit Wikipedia articles based on their personal hobbies and interests. 

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