HandWiki.org – an encyclopedia for technicians

25.05.2021 0 By admin

Wikipedia is a one-stop resource that allows one to find a lot of useful information about many topics. When Wikipedia was launched in 2001 the main objective was to “compile the sum of all human knowledge”, making it freely available to the world. Since the beginning of 2016, a growing activity among the editors of Wikipedia was focused not on adding content but rather removing it in order to enforce the “notability” requirement. There is nothing wrongwith this requirement when anonymous editors (sometimes without proper login) are collectively creating articles, but it is clearly problematic for much scholarly content which is typically created by established researchers who are well-aware of their research fields.

As time passed by, Wikipedia with its policy restrictions has become a dominant player. In fact, the word “wiki” itself is usually associated with “Wikipedia”. It is not unreasonable to ask – why are there many journals with different editorial policies, but not for encyclopedic wiki content?

Recently, HandWiki has become one of the top useful alternative wiki resources that is focused on the mitigation of Wikipedia’s deletionism. The name “HandWiki” originates from the word “Handbook”, after replacing “book” with “wiki”. The project was created by a scientist (S. Chekanov) in October 2019. As stated on the HandWiki portal, this wiki was the result of the conversion of much of the content of the JWork.ORG wikis (2008-2016) to the Mediawiki format. Pre-HandWiki resources were almost entirely dedicated to computer science (and more specifically – to the DataMelt computational platform). This was the reason why HandWiki has a significant focus on computations (HandWiki’s sub-title is “Encyclopedia of Science and Computing”).

In May 2021, HandWiki became one of the largest specialized online encyclopedias in the fields of science, technology, and computing, with about 700,000 pages. HandWiki is the fifth world’s largest wiki in terms of page counts [1]. 80% of articles were moved from Wikipedia after significant refactoring to comply with the main feature of HandWiki: multiple “namespaces” dedicated to a particular research field. Probably, this is the most significant feature that separates HandWiki from similar Mediawiki-type encyclopedias that only use “categories” without dedicated namespaces. Such namespaces help create well-organized “handbooks” on specific topics for different fields of science. It worth mentioning that even articles that originate from Wikipedia are not “carbon copies” of Wikipedia’s versions. All internal links were refactored, missing links were fixed and some templates were removed. As the result, HandWiki articles look cleaner overall.

Some technical work related to HandWiki, such as export of wiki articles to the ZWI file format for content sharingand the factseek.org search in encyclopedic resources, was carried out by S. Chekanov following discussions with Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia) and the  Knowledge Standards Foundation (KSF) which has the goal of decentralizing the encyclopedic content of the Internet.

HandWiki, in its original form, has a more permissive policy for acceptance of articles than Wikipedia. In fact, it is much closer to the original Wikipedia from 2001, than to Wikipedia in its current state. In particular, HandWiki does not enforce the Wikipedia notability for scholarly content. The quality of submitted articles is enforced by checking the scholarly qualifications of the editor during registration (via ORCID tokens).

  • References:

[1] List of largest wikis. Wikimedia.org retrieved March, 2021. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_wikis