I am Martin Walker from Newcastle, UK, and I teach organic chemistry at the State University of New York at Potsdam. My interests include green chemistry using lanthanide salts, as well as organofluorine chemistry using fluorous biphasic systems. I am also interested in how organic reactions can be represented online.
I have previously worked on improving the chemical compound pages on Wikipedia, and I am a participant in the Chemicals and Chemistry WikiProjects, though I've been somewhat inactive of late. I am also aware that we need to improve some of our general articles on chemistry, and to organise what we have more effectively. Unfortunately my teaching load at work keeps me from contributing as much as I would like!
An ongoing priority is to get A or B-Class articles on some of the major chemistry topics, and I would like to see some more of the chemicals pages reach A-Class. Also important is updating compound articles so they have active supplementary data pages.
Some useful chemistry pages
Here are some of the useful pages on chemistry topics:
- Portal:Chemistry A great place to get started.
- Chemistry WikiProject articles sorted by overall score (on Toolserver)
- Chemicals WikiProject articles sorted by overall score (on Toolserver)
- List of organic compounds, List of inorganic compounds and List of biomolecules. If you write a new page on a compound be sure to add it to the list.
- Category:Chemistry (work your way down through the hierarchy to find other categories).
- Category:Chemical_compounds_by_element is one of the most useful category lists.
- WP:Chem style guide
This group is trying to find articles suitable for collections of Wikipedia articles distributed on a flash drive, DVD or paper. For this we need to know which are the best articles, and which topics are important. To that end, we have worked for many years to put together a system of manual assessment which is now widely used on the English Wikipedia, as well as in French and some other languages. We have also collaborated with WikiProjects to put together collections such as VERSION 0.7 (Talk), a DVD release version of around 30,000 released in 2008, and VERSION 0.8 (Talk), a collection of 47,300 articles, released in 2011. These are now available for download, for example from , and these collections have already found use in schools where the internet is unavailable. This is what our mission is all about - bringing free knowledge to the world!
Other assessment activities
Besides my work at WP1.0, I am interested in assessment issues generally. I've been excited to see the bot take off, with over 2 million articles assessed from hundreds of WikiProjects since the effort began in 2006, though I'm aware that many assessments need updating! Along with Good Articles and WP:FA, these initiatives help editors focus on raising quality levels. I'm also interested in the pending changes feature.
Although the terms validation and assessment are often confused on Wikipedia, I prefer to keep the narrower meaning for validation, i.e., checking for accuracy; much of this is also referred to as fact-checking. Are the data correct? Is the reference given correct, and do our data match the cited article? I think Wikipedia:Pushing to validation shows the direction things could go in, also see this 2006 Wikimania abstract.
In chemistry, WP:CHEM has established quite a successful validation effort to check content in Chemboxes. For example, the formula for water doesn't change! This project involves checking content in a systematic way, and has involved collaborations with ChemSpider and Chemical Abstracts Service. The substance identifiers are checked against these sources manually, then after validation articles are tagged as checked with a green tick; [] makes sure that any edits to the checked fields are flagged with a red X, so readers are aware of possible vandalism. Even structural images stored on Wikimedia Commons are validated via this list.
Spreading the word/meeting Wikipedians
Besides spreading the more traditional gospel, I also want to tell others about the exciting things going on at Wikipedia, as well as some of the problems. I'm also an advocate for the use of wikis in teaching. Since 2006, I have given presentations about Wikipedia to the wider chemistry community, such as this technical talk in 2012, or this talk for educators, also in 2012.
Using open wikis for chemistry
For my sabbatical, I worked with RSC on developing the Learn Chemistry wiki for chemistry educators to share their resources under a Creative Commons license. The site was done in collaboration with ChemSpider, which supplies a lot of the data used on the site. Wikipedians may be interested to see that RSC developed a MediaWiki extension that can input chemical structures for perform structure searches or [Quiz:OrganicR001: Formation of alkenes quiz questions] - wouldn't it be great if we could do structure searches like that here! There is also extensive use of the quiz extension and form extension, for example here. You can see how it comes together in one of my tutorials for teaching NMR spectroscopy. The site doesn't get the billions of hits that Wikipedia does, but it has nevertheless proved popular.
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