Whether librarians and faculty like it or not, Wikipedia remains at the heart of the research process for many undergraduate students. Rather than trying to stem the tide, the University of California (UC) Berkeley is trying to make students there into more responsible and effective users of the online encyclopedia. To that end, the university’s American Cultures program has hired alumni Kevin Gorman (pictured) as the first Wikipedian-in-Residence at a U.S. university.
Why is it important to make more students into better Wikipedians?
Wikipedia has an interesting demographic problem. More than 550 million people view Wikipedia every month, but just 30,000 edit the English version of the site more than five times a month. Of the people who edit, most are white folks with tech backgrounds. They write about what they’re interested in and have introduced a systemic bias into Wikipedia. If something isn’t on Wikipedia, it’s approaching a form of erasure, so we want to combat that by bringing in more editors.
Yes, this is an actual professional position.
We have hosted a Wikipedian in residence as well, check out our Wikipedia project page.