Wikipedia:Expert editors

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"WP:EXPERT" redirects here. For page about retaining expert editors, see WP:Expert retention.
"WP:EX" redirects here. For the external links guideline, see WP:EXT.

Expert editors are of value for Wikipedia because of their in-depth knowledge of subject matter. Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia, stated in an article published in Nature:

Greater involvement by scientists would lead to a "multiplier effect", says Wales. Most entries are edited by enthusiasts, and the addition of a researcher can boost article quality hugely. "Experts can help write specifics in a nuanced way," he says.[1]

However Wikipedia is The encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and it does not make a distinction between editors based on their expertise. Wikipedia has no formal structure to determine which editors are experts or not (and on which subjects), nor is there the intention to develop such a structure. Nor does Wikipedia grant users privileges or respect based on subject-matter expertise. This philosophy has resulted in public criticism of Wikipedia alleging that Wikipedia is hostile to experts, and accusing the encyclopedia of anti-elitism. One critic who has offered public comment along these lines[2] is co-founder of Wikipedia Larry Sanger, former editor-in-chief of Nupedia and founder of expert-oriented Citizendium encyclopedia project.


  1. Subject-matter experts are well-equipped to identify gaps in articles, or places where ideas are over- or underemphasized, and to identify appropriate sources in their fields. (See Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine))
  2. No editor is exempt from fundamental Wikipedia policies; in particular, the policies of no original research and verifiability along with guidelines such as reliable sources apply to expert editors just as well. Although other encyclopedias might have articles based on personal "expert opinion" or unpublished conjecture, Wikipedia requires all text to be verifiable to published sources.
  3. Experts, of course, can be wrong; and different experts can reasonably disagree on the same topic.
  4. Wikipedia does not grant additional powers or respect to subject-matter experts. Wikipedia does not have a process for determining (a) who is a bona fide expert and on what subject(s), and (b) in which articles a given expert should edit. Given that many editors, including experts, post pseudonymously, vetting users as experts (identity, credentials or experience) is not practical, even though it is technically feasible to verify user's identities if disclosed.
  5. In discussions with expert editors, lay editors are encouraged to use experts as a new source of information. Knowing why things are written as they are by the experts will facilitate future discussions.
  6. Despite claims to the contrary from Wikipedia critics, experts (or other editors) do not need to appeal to Wikipedia administrators or arbitrators to remove patent nonsense from the encyclopedia. Unsourced claims which are challenged can easily be removed, though they may be reinserted later by others.

Advice for expert editors[edit]

  1. Experts can identify themselves on their user page and list any credentials and experience they wish to publicly divulge as it may help fellow wikipedians who seek advice or expertise. Experts should be aware there is no personal advantage and considerable risk in divulging one's identity and expertise in this way.
  2. Editing an article in Wikipedia is not like writing an original research article for a scientific journal, nor it is like writing a literature review article where you synthesize a story from original research papers; instead, it should be a solid review of the subject as a whole, summarizing what published reviews say. Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research, nor your own synthesis of the research literature, even if it is brilliant. The genre here is "encyclopedia" - each articles is meant to provide "a summary of accepted knowledge regarding its subject". (see WP:NOT)
  3. Expert editors can join the WikiProjects concerning their areas of expertise. WikiProjects help articles on related subjects to be coordinated and edited by a group of identified interested parties. All editors are free to join any WikiProject in which they are interested, regardless of expertise.
  4. Experts do not have any privileges in resolving conflicts in their favor: in a content dispute between a (supposed) expert and a non-expert, it is not permissible for the expert to "pull rank" and declare victory. "Because I say so" is never an acceptable justification for a claim in Wikipedia, regardless of expertise. Likewise, expert contributions are not protected from subsequent revisions from non-experts. Ideally, if not always in practice, it is the quality of the edits that counts.
  5. Expert editors are cautioned to be mindful of the potential conflict of interest that may arise if editing articles which concern an expert's own research, writings, or discoveries. Wikipedia's conflict of interest policy does allow an editor to include information from his or her own publications in Wikipedia articles and to cite them. This may only be done when the editors are sure that the Wikipedia article maintains a neutral point of view and their material has been published in a reliable source by a third party. If the neutrality or reliability are questioned, it is Wikipedia consensus, rather than the expert editor, that decides what is to be done. When in doubt, it is good practice for a person who may have a conflict of interest to disclose it on the relevant article's talk page and to suggest changes there rather than in the article. Transparency is essential to the workings of Wikipedia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nature special report
  2. ^ "Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism". Larry Sanger editorial on Kuro5hin. Dec 31, 2004.

External links[edit]