User:Misza13/Nobody cares about your credentials

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"Credentials are useless" or "Nobody cares about your credentials" is a counter-proposal (or rather, a bunch of thoughts) to some recent ideas of verifying user's claimed credentials so that scandals such as the Essjay controversy never happen again on Wikipedia. It refers to both the credential verification idea as well as the admin accountability proposal, both of which I believe to be fundamentally flawed.

Yes, it's an essay, so that nobody can mess with it, making it {{rejected}} or something. You are welcome to make a useful policy out of this though (just don't steal my credit... or do, whatever floats your boat).

For the ease of reading, I have set it up into a Q&A format. If you would like to add a question to the list, post it on the talk page and I might decide on adding it. Typographical corrections are always welcome, but please leave the merits to me (and fork if you wish).

But I have a PhD in <field of study>! Doesn't that matter when writing articles?
No, it doesn't and for good reasons:
  • It's not easily verifiable. Don't accuse me of not assuming good faith here (and assuming you're lying), but fake identities are very easy to create (and the Essjay scandal proves that best) and maintain too, with a little effort. So, to set up a truly reliable verification process/web of trust would require a significant effort from the Wikimedia Foundation - remember that there are academics all over the world; just imagine the paperwork. So, instead of dealing with this hell, why not approach the problem from a different angle?
  • Even if we took the effort and finally proven that you are who you claim to be, let us not forget that this is an encyclopedia (or at least it should be), not a venue for academics to publish their original research. Remember that everything on Wikipedia needs to be verifiable and properly and reliably sourced. So, in the context of being a primary source, your expert knowledge is useless to Wikipedia (Wikipedia is not a primary source).
But I'm really sure my degree means something!
Oh yes, it does. As a qualified academic you should be at an advantaged position for finding external sources for articles. Use that! Make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia and everyone will be grateful. For reasons named above however, your credentials will not give you any upper hand in content disputes (unless of course you manage to find external sources backing up your claims, but how's that different from anyone else providing them?)
What about academics linking to their own publications?
Don't we have that problem already? Conflicts of interests here happen all the time, be it with spam, self-promotion or research promotion. Yet, we somehow deal with that more often than not. And even if something slips by, it's not that great an issue if the reference is actually worthy of inclusion. Use your common sense.
And 13-year-olds blocking professors' accounts?
We choose our administrators believing they are capable of good judgment. And if they are, it doesn't really matter how old they are, where they live, what the color of their skin is, what do they call their god(s) (if at all), now does it? So, if a 13-year-old "basement nerd" (as some try to portray our admin corps) blocks a professor, I first assume that the latter was making an ass of himself and pretty much deserved it. If not, because either the admin made an error in judgment or was in a content dispute with said professor, then their credentials still matter little - the admin should be reprimanded, professor unblocked, RfA criteria perhaps hardened and let's continue our joyful encyclopedia creation, shall we?

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