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Thank you for dropping by my user page. My name is David Mark Purdy and my username on Wikipedia is Neelix.
I consider myself an academic and love working in academia, but I choose to spend more time writing Wikipedia articles than submitting articles for publication in scholarly journals because I believe that Wikipedia embodies three values that academia too often neglects:
- Wikipedia is thoroughly, inherently collaborative. In the humanities division of academia, we still hold to the ideal of the lone genius, expecting that each humanities scholar be the sole author of his or her journal articles. In the sciences and social sciences, we expect that there be two or three authors for each journal article. On Wikipedia, every well-developed article has many more than three authors. The result is an ever-increasingly accurate approximation of objectivity. This objectivity is not the pseudo-objectivity that results from ignoring our biases as authors, but is rather the result of diverse perspectives all being covered proportionally through discussion between people who have those diverse perspectives. We write better when we write together.
- Wikipedia recognizes the interdisciplinarity of all things. The development of the Giraffe article requires not only the collaboration of many biologists, but also requires the collaboration of sociologists to contribute the cultural significance of giraffes; folklore specialists to add information about giraffes in folk tales; and historians to document how giraffes and humans have interacted. On Wikipedia, the walls that separate the disciplines fall down.
- Wikipedia is free for everyone to access. Every article that appears on the main page of Wikipedia is read by at least hundreds of readers and normally thousands. The average academic journal article is only read by between 3 and 4 people, mainly because journal subscriptions and journal database subscriptions are prohibitively expensive for the average global citizen. Humanity has amassed an overwhelming amount of knowledge, and the majority of that knowledge is out of the grasp of the average person because it is too expensive to access. As academics, we have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy producing novel treatises on novel concepts rather than disseminating the knowledge that we have already attained. Wikipedia allows us to give our knowledge to the world, instantly and free of charge.
The main thrust of my edits on Wikipedia is a desire for a better relationship between Wikipedia and academia, which is why I volunteer as an Online Ambassador with the Wikipedia Ambassador Program. Many of my edits on Wikipedia attempt to establish format standardization and better navigation. I accomplish this goal mainly by creating and reformatting redirects, disambiguation pages, navboxes, and hatnotes, but also by standardizing article titles so that the only differences between titles are substantive. I have created articles on a range of topics, and I have written far more disambiguation pages. I am deeply involved in Today's featured list which currently runs biweekly and I hope to eventually get running daily, although this may be something of a long-term goal.
The guidelines I feel most strongly about are the notability guidelines (particularly the general notability guideline), the manual of style for disambiguation pages (particularly the one against partial title matches), the hatnote guidelines (particularly the one against disambiguating article names that are not ambiguous), and the article title guidelines (particularly those about precision and disambiguation). If you are interested in working on disambiguation pages, I would recommend reading "Disambiguation Dos and Don'ts". If you are interested in creating new articles, I would recommend reading "The answer to life, the universe, and everything".
Feel free to post a message on my talk page. I would love to hear from you.