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Acoustics Group Project Looks to Improve Sound-Related Wikipedia Pages

By / Dec 5, 2019 (D-Keine/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

When laypeople have questions about noise and sound, one of the first places they turn for answers is Wikipedia. To ensure people find the correct answers there, the Acoustical Society of America is helping launch a wiki-editing project.

Famed outlaw Willie Sutton supposedly robbed banks because that’s where the money was. Applying a similar principle, the Acoustical Society of America is undertaking a new project—updating Wikipedia pages on sound and acoustics—because that’s where the public is searching for answers.

“For the public, often, Wikipedia is the first stop for their initial curiosities,” said Keeta Jones, ASA’s education and outreach coordinator. “We want to improve those pre-existing pages, expand those, and translate them so more people can access that information.”

The new yearlong project, Wiki4YearOfSound2020, is a collaboration between ASA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and other groups. Because Wikipedia is written by the public, during Wiki4YearOfSound2020, the organizations will ask members and supporters to update, add, and translate pages related to sound. The groups are using a wiki dashboard to track the pages that have been worked on. The project was also designed to dovetail with the International Year of Sound 2020, a global initiative sponsored by several organizations, including ASA.

While the project just launched at ASA’s 178th Meeting in San Diego, Jones said members are already very excited. “Our members seem really interested in doing this, and they recognize the value of adding their expertise,” Jones said. “This is a good way for them to engage with the public.”

Although America is in ASA’s name, its members span the globe, which will be helpful in getting new pages in multiple languages. “We operate more as a global society, and a lot of our meetings are outside the US,” Jones said. “A lot of our members are in Germany, China, Japan. They are already multilingual users, and they can write all new articles and help translate.”

Because the effort is yearlong, ASA will offer hands-on training at its 179th meeting in May on how to update Wikipedia. For those who already have know-how or are happy to learn online, the group is encouraging them to start now. Jones noted people have already begun logging their updates via the dashboard.

While the ASA knows it wants pages updated, one goal of the initiative is to get members to evaluate the scope and accuracy of what’s already on Wikipedia. “We are going to rely on them to look at Wikipedia and see, are there areas that are lacking?” Jones said. “Then, how can we fill in those blank spaces?”

The other thing ASA wants to come of the initiative is better access to research on sound, research that people often don’t know exists. “There are students who might be doing research projects, and they don’t know where to start,” she said. “They can go to Wikipedia and get a summary and then look at the reference section and find the original research and resources.”

Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is an associate editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. More »

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