User:Michael Snow

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My name is Michael Snow, and I have been contributing to Wikipedia since 2003. I am currently on the Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation and previously served as chair of the Board of Trustees. Although it has occasionally produced some confusion, I am not Michael Snow, the Canadian visual artist.

About me (or, why I contribute to Wikipedia)[edit]

Although no specific expertise is necessary to contribute to Wikipedia, I'll share a little about myself for anyone interested in my qualifications, or lack thereof. Sorry if it resembles a résumé.

I work for the central research office of a major American university. This is not to say that I am a scientist (well, I studied political science if you want to count that) or that I conduct research myself. Rather, by profession I am a lawyer, so in this context my role is to negotiate the legal framework within which specific research proposals are funded and sign contracts related to these projects.

When I was a university student myself, I also majored in history, which is really the field of study I love best. Part of my interest in history, however, is that I consider it a field with the potential to incorporate all human knowledge (though other fields might also make that claim). So naturally I find the objective of Wikipedia worthwhile. My legal training also gives me a perspective on the problem of balancing opposing positions (and having to present arguments for a position one does not agree with). I fully support the NPOV policy.

In a project of this nature, I expect that people will pursue personal interests in their contributions. That is much of what I do with my own contributions, although I will not trot out here a list of everything I'm interested in. As I indicated before, I'm interested in everything; it's just that some of my interests have been developed to a greater extent. I recognize that contributing based on enthusiasm for the subject is itself arguably a form of bias, whether in myself or others, but I don't consider that a problem here. If Wikipedia is to be a true encyclopedia, and it would be the first, then it simply needs to attract more enthusiasts until all subjects are covered.

The Signpost[edit]

Before joining the board of the foundation, I started The Signpost, a weekly community newspaper for the English Wikipedia. As you might guess from the information above, journalism is a field in which I did not have any particular experience prior to doing so (but for a little work on a single issue of a high school student newspaper). Nevertheless, many people seem to have appreciated the endeavor. I am grateful to Ral315, who took over as editor when I could no longer fill that role, along with the many others who have kept it going since. For anyone who wants to see better, more complete coverage of important news in the Wikipedia community, I strongly encourage them to get involved in The Signpost.