Jump to content


Wikimania 2007 Taipei :: a Globe in Accord

This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2007 (Index of presentations)

What Does Reference Look Like? (And Why Looks Don't Matter Much)

Author Erin McKean (Advisory Board member of Wikimedia Foundation Inc.)
Track Wikimedia Community
License GNU Free Documentation License (details), GFDL,
About the author
Erin McKean

Erin McKean likes to call herself a "Dictionary Evangelist". She is Chief Consulting Editor, American Dictionaries, for Oxford University Press, and the editor of VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly. She was the editor in chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2e. Her other books about words include Weird and Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words, and That's Amore.

Previously, she was the editorial manager for the Thorndike-Barnhart Dictionaries at ScottForesman, a Pearson company. She has served on the board of the Dictionary Society of North America and on the editorial board for its journal, Dictionaries, as well as on the editorial board for the journal of the American Dialect Society, American Speech. McKean lives in Chicago, maintains a blog about dresses, and describes herself as being "really bad at Scrabble", despite credentials to suggest otherwise. Wikipedia article, A Dress A Day, her blog.

Is the reference-ness of a work like obscenity, in that you know it when you see it? By looking at different types of reference works and comparing them to the shape of Wikipedia articles on both a macro and micro level, we can see where Wikipedia and Wiktionary "look like" reference works, and where they don't, and where (if anywhere) that matters.
4Final edit

Full text