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 important to Wikipedia. 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]

Wikipedia has no formal structure with which to determine whether an editor is a subject-matter expert, and does not grant users privileges based on expertise. This has resulted in public criticism of Wikipedia, alleging that it is hostile to experts and anti-elitist. One such critic is Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, former editor-in-chief of Nupedia and founder of the expert-oriented Citizendium encyclopedia project.[2]


  1. Subject-matter experts are well-equipped to help articles achieve a truly neutral point of view by identifying gaps in articles where important ideas are not discussed, or places where ideas are over- or underemphasized, and to identify optimal and recent 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 Although other encyclopedias might have articles based on personal "expert opinion" or unpublished conjecture, Wikipedia requires all text to be verifiable to published sources.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. However, please see WP:REALNAME, and think carefully before you do this. Do not publicly identify yourself if this could put you at harm in the real world, e.g., from stalkers. It may make more sense to declare credentials without self-identifying. Wikipedia is based on consensus, not on credentialism, so the fact that yours won't be directly verifiable isn't really important. We assume good faith, and generally trust you to be honest.
  2. Editing an article in Wikipedia is not like writing an original research article for an academic 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. Wikipedia has its own article titles policy and manual of style, geared toward making the encyclopedia as reader-friendly as possible to a broad, general audience, without dumbing down content. These Wikipedia-internal best practices are a careful balance of compromises, and they generally do not match in every detail what is preferred in any particular discipline, since stylistic preferences vary in ways that conflict between different fields. Experts are already familiar with having to adapt their writing style for whatever publication to which they are submitting material, and should approach Wikipedia with the same mindset.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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]