Professor’s Wikipedia Contributions Help Him Get Tenure
Wikipedia gets an unfairly bad rap in academia: Sure, its content shouldn’t be accepted as gospel, but it’s about as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, and it represents an amazing concentration of knowledge in one place, including links and footnotes to primary sources, generally compiled by fairly knowledgeable people. Which is why it’s encouraging to hear that when an English professor at Auburn University named Michel Aaij let his colleagues know about his extensive contributions to Wikipedia, he wasn’t weeabooed out of the room: In fact, they appreciated his work, and he says it helped him get tenure, for which he was unanimously approved recently.
“I quickly found raised eyebrows and skepticism,” Michel admits. But he won his colleagues over by showing them the peer-reviewed aspects of Wikipedia, like the Good Article and Featured Article processes. And he contributed to articles particularly useful to Auburn University Montgomery, including the article on the school and a biography of a colleague, who told Michel that was really cool.
“I’ve written articles in many areas, and in many cases I could show my colleagues what I had done in their field,” Michel says. “I’d like to think that by now most of them have a favorable opinion of Wikipedia. Let’s face it: Guillaume de Dole, now a Good Article, there’s no database entry or encyclopedic article anywhere that compares to the Wikipedia article on that poem (and I realize that that says as much about Wikipedia as about the anywhere else).”