Wikipedia has become one of the most widely used sources of scientific information in the world, especially for students and the general public. Since 2012, ISCB has hosted an annual competition to judge Wikipedia entries created by students or trainees, which has supported the education mission of the Society and improved the coverage of computational biology topics in Wikipedia. Winners of the competition are awarded prize money as well as an annual membership to ISCB.
ISCB recently hosted a Wikipedia and Wikidata editathon at ISMB 2016 to promote the competition and highlight the Wikipedia Year of Science 2016. This editathon provided informal training forcreating and editing Wikipedia articles and Wikidata entries.
For the competition, Wikipedia entries must fulfill the criteria required of all Wikipedia articles and must also be within the scope of computational biology. Entries can include completely new articles, but most competitors work on existing articles within the Computational Biology WikiProject. ISCB has created various guidelines and resources for this competition, including the WikiProject Computational Biology page and the “Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia” article from PLOS Computational Biology. As of 2015, ISCB has also supported a separate Wikidata competition in parallel with the Wikipedia article competition to improve the Wikidata entries related to computational biology.
Course instructors have started using the competition as an exercise for students, which has helped drive up the number of high quality entries that are contributed each year. Alex Bateman of EMBL-EBI is one of the organizers of the ISCB competition and has helped guide this initiative since its inception. He has observed that students that work in pairs or groups are often more successful in creating well balanced and clearly written entries. This reflects the collaborative environment of Wikipedia, whereby editors across the globe work toward creating articles that are accurate, neutral in tone, able to be understood by the general public yet informative to subject-matter experts.
This year’s competition is open from July 13, 2016 to December 31, 2016: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Computational_Biology/
Encourage students or trainees to try their hand at a Wikipedia entry, not only for their own training and experience, but as a way to improve their science communication skills and give back to the computational biology community.