|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
- 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.
On the other hand, 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 suggesting that the encyclopedia is hostile to experts, and accusing the encyclopedia of anti-elitism. One critic who has offered public comment along these lines is co-founder of Wikipedia Larry Sanger, former editor-in-chief of Nupedia.
- Subject-matter experts, on any encyclopedic subject whatsoever, are allowed to edit Wikipedia, and to contribute material on their area(s) of expertise. Experts can locate sources for articles (from their familiarity with the literature) and understand the subject matter. The coverage of subjects in the popular press is not necessarily up to date with the recent technical or academic literature (see also: Wikipedia:Reliable sources).
- No editor is exempt from fundamental Wikipedia policies concerning acceptability of contributions; in particular, the policies of no original research and verifiability along with guidelines such as reliable sources still apply. Although other encyclopedias might have articles based on personal "expert opinion" or unpublished conjecture, WP requires all text to be verifiable to published sources.
- Experts, of course, can be wrong; and different experts can reasonably disagree on the same topic.
- Wikipedia does not grant additional powers or respect to subject-matter experts. Wikipedia does not have a process for determining (a) who is a bonafide expert and on what subject(s), and (b) in which articles a given expert should edit. Given that many editors post pseudonymously, and that it may be difficult or impossible to verify the identity, credentials or experience of an editor who posts under his or her real name (or claims to do so), vetting users as experts is not practical.
- 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.
- Despite claims to the contrary from Wikipedia critics, experts (or other editors) do not need to appeal to Wikipedia mediators 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.
Warnings to expert editors
- Experts can identify themselves on their user page and list any credentials and experience they wish to publicly divulge. It is difficult to maintain a claim of expertise while being anonymous. In practice, there is no advantage (and considerable disadvantage) in divulging one's expertise in this way.
- Editing an article in Wikipedia is not like writing an original research article for a scientific journal; instead, it should be a solid review of the subject as a whole. Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research – even if it is brilliant. Wikipedia's No original research policy does allow an editor to include information from his or her own publications in Wikipedia articles and to cite them. However, 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.
- 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.
- Experts do not have any other 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. In short, "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, nor is there any mechanism to do so. Ideally, if not always in practice, it is the quality of the edits that counts.
- 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. 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.
- Wikipedia:Expert retention
- Wikipedia:Competence is required
- Wikipedia:Randy in Boise, a class of incompetent editors particularly frustrating to experts
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia editing for research scientists
- Nature special report
- "Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism". Larry Sanger editorial on Kuro5hin. Dec 31, 2004.