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NDSA-STANDARDS  September 2013, Week 3

NDSA-STANDARDS September 2013, Week 3

Subject:

Digital Preservation Wikipedia initiative

From:

Stephen Paul Davis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Stephen Paul Davis <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 16 Sep 2013 08:55:01 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

Folks: Dina and I wanted to provide a summary of where things stand
with the Digital Preservation Wikipedia article and what our
recommendations are for moving forward.

We believe we have gone a significant way towards the goal of updating
and reframing the article in such a way that brought it into line with
current standards and best practices. A quick comparison of the state
of the article when we began work in Sept. 2012 and the current state
will give a sense of how far we've come.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_preservation&oldid=509775646
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_preservation

Our specific work is documented both in NDSA and Wikipedia pages and
also in the article's revision history. There is more to be done -- how
much more is a topic for further discussion.

(FYI: There have also been some recent, problematic "3rd-party"
additions since our last work with the article that have not yet been
addressed.)

Our recommendations at this point are twofold: one, that we hand over
our role in the project now to a person or group that has more time than
we will for the next period; and two, that we find time for a real,
in-person discussion of some of the issues that have arisen in this
project, some of which I've listed below.

One process-related issue: for one reason or another, we weren't able to
effectively enlist others from NDSA Standards or elsewhere to
participate either in writing or review of content. This is something
that will also need to be addressed, since this effort is more than a
two-person (actually 1 and 1/8 person, since Dina has increasingly been
carrying the effort!) job.

Issues for further consideration / discussion:

  * "Digital Preservation" is not just a single article, or a one-time
    effort. Digital preservation in Wikipedia is represented by a
    complex set of articles, some long and detailed, others short; some
    woefully out of date, peculiar, poorly-written, biased, or coming
    from a non-library perspective; (a few) others well written.

  * It's not clear how many subsidiary articles should be rewritten,
    deleted, or otherwise fixed, or how detailed the main article should
    be in areas where there are no subsidiary articles but should be, or
    whether we should go ahead and write subsidiary articles where they
    are needed. The process of working with "other people's" articles
    and contributions in any significant way in theory requires using a
    Wikipedia protocol that involves notifying the other authors and
    giving them a chance to respond (although they usually don't).

  * Wikipedia's digital preservation articles need ongoing oversight.
    During the course of our work, individuals have added content that
    was inappropriate, plagiarized, poorly written, or just not
    integrated in a way that harmonized with the article's basic outline
    and structure -- at least as we have conceived it.

  * One key editorial principle in Wikipedia was one we weren't entirely
    aware of before this initiative, namely, that you aren't 'allowed'
    to include _new_ findings or information. You aren't 'allowed' to
    write based on your own knowledge and experience. Instead, you are
    asked always to summarize information that has been published or
    established elsewhere. All assertions need to be footnoted. This
    one issue turned our effort into more of a research project than we
    had anticipated, requiring us to scour the literature for authors
    who could be referenced to support things we considered to be
    widely-accepted best practices and standards.

  * It's not clear how well the current effort addresses the original
    need identified by the Standards and Best Practices group, namely to
    have a concise, definitive list of relevant standards and best
    practices. This may not have been a useful or viable goal on its
    own, but a Wikipedia article -- as we have learned -- isn't a place
    for lists. Generally you add only a few external references to a
    single section. Oftentimes the appropriate place to mention
    existing standards would be in a subsidiary article. Oftentimes a
    link to an external published article about relevant standards is
    the best way to guide users.

FYI: We will carefully document our working editorial strategies for the
next person or group to take on this project.

/Stephen and Dina


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