User:MartinPoulter/Psychology on Wikipedia 2011

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My talk at the WikiConference 2011 in Bristol on 16 April 2011 was entitled Psychology on English Wikipedia: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


This talk is about the quality of psychology content on English Wikipedia and the lessons learned from some attempts to improve it. Psychology is about human beings; how they think, feel and interact. It's a subject whose teachers and researchers include a relatively large proportion of women. Unsurprisingly, it's not one of the subjects that Wikipedia does well. The vast scientific, experimental literature on psychology has counterparts in commercially lucrative pop-psychology and fringey para-psychology. It pains me to see some of the misconceptions spread about psychology through its 5000 enwiki articles. In this talk, I will make you feel that pain.


My slides do not have much text, so rather than share the slides, here are the links I talk about in sequence.

  • Asperger syndrome and Autism: examples of Featured Article-rated, professional quality content, on topics where psychology overlaps with medicine.
  • Memory navigation template: An impressive map of the entire topic of memory: processes, theories, people...
  • Assessments of Psychology articles: at the time of the presentation, more than 6500 articles but fewer than 3000 with any kind of assessment, and a worryingly large proportion of High importance articles in a Stub- or Start-class state.
  • Two columns by Mahzarin R. Banaji, President of the Association for Psychological Science, in which she reviews Wikipedia coverage of psychology and calls for experts to get fully involved: "There is something very important going on here and I want to be a part of it" (September 2010) and "Anyone can edit Wikipedia: have you?" (December 2010)
  • Self and Identity task force: educational project in which students, working in groups of three, improved articles relating to the self.
  • Psyc3330_w11 and Psy3330_W10: Two years of an educational project which overhauled articles related to memory, getting many from a very bare state to quite well-developed and encyclopedic.
  • Wikipedia:INTEGRATE: an essay that deserves a lot of attention. It argues that we can make quality overview articles by merging together lots of short, stubby articles, thereby making a big change in the ratio of useful to poor articles.
  • Perception: An article that was overhauled by merging in related stub articles such as distal stimulus, proximal stimulus, percept and copying small amounts of content from a range of sub-articles such as Speech perception
  • Psychology wikiproject: Has been overhauled and given new aims in an attempt to re-energise the subject
  • Psychology Barnstar: Barnstars - awards given from one user to another - are just one of the ways it's possible to be nice to people on Wikipedia. I created one for Psychology and User:Orionist helpfully gave us a graphic in which the barnstar is an optical illusion.
  • How to write a Psychology article for Wikipedia: a guide I have written for students and academics