Correspondence

Nature 440, 278 (16 March 2006) | doi:10.1038/440278a

Wiki ware could harness the Internet for science

Kevin Yager1

  1. Department of Chemistry, McGill University, Lab 406, Otto Maass Chemistry Building, 801 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec H3A 2K6, Canada

Sir:

Your News story "Experts plan to reclaim the web for pop science" (Nature 439, 516–517; 2006) describes a project called the Digital Universe, which aims to create, and provide links to, trustworthy peer-reviewed content on the Internet.

As suggested by critics in your News story, it seems wasteful to try to reproduce content that already exists in an open, accessible and improvable form. I would encourage those working on projects such as the Digital Universe to consider a strategy that truly leverages the power of the Internet. For example, the free and editable encyclopedia Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) contains innumerable articles that are scientifically accurate, although it obviously contains errors, omissions and some articles of low quality. But MediaWiki, the software upon which Wikipedia is based (see http://www.mediawiki.org), allows one to link to specific versions of articles. Thus, expert peer reviewers could analyse articles, improve them and provide links to the trusted version of that article.

A web portal that provided a 'filtered' version of the Internet, with links to the most trustworthy available article on a given subject, would be a boon to scientists and science enthusiasts alike.

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