UC Berkeley hires Wikipedian-in-residence to help publish student research

Michael Ball/Staff

Related Posts

With the help of UC Berkeley’s new Wikipedian-in-residence Kevin Gorman, undergraduate students now have a gateway through which to conduct and publish their research analyses for a global audience.

While Wikipedians-in-residence traditionally collaborate with cultural institutions such as museums and libraries to combine research efforts, Gorman, a recent UC Berkeley alumnus and Wikipedia editor, is the first Wikipedian-in-residence to do so at a U.S. university or college. Hired by the campus American Cultures program, Gorman is working with professors to facilitate student research projects that will culminate in new Wikipedia articles.

Gorman cites a “systematic bias” prevalent within Wikipedia, where page editors are overwhelmingly male. Additionally, those topics concerning or appealing to certain minority groups are either absent from the website or are not comprehensively addressed.

By working with diverse groups of students, he hopes to begin filling in the information gaps.

“The goal of cultural institutions is to spread knowledge,” Gorman said. “Berkeley’s main pillars include research and community service. (The campus) does a lot of research, but it ends up behind a paywall. This project is directly fulfilling the university’s mission.”

Gorman’s position is funded by the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship Program, but it is unclear if funding will be renewed. Still, he says interest from professors is high — so high, in fact, that he cannot accommodate all requests.

Gorman works closely with UC Berkeley associate professor Dara O’Rourke and Victoria Robinson, a lecturer and the American Cultures program coordinator, in their Environmental Science, Policy and Management 163 and Ethnic Studies 21AC classes, respectively. Both classes offer Wiki-based projects as a form of “real-world application.” Gorman trains students in the technical mechanics of editing Wikipedia entries and educates them about Wikipedia’s policies to ensure their content does not violate any terms of use.

“Our intention is to animate the meaning of the diversity curriculum, to lift it up, do more and create relevant public research,” Robinson said.

According to Gorman, roughly 90 percent of Wikipedia editors are men. Silvia Lopez, a senior in O’Rourke’s class, says this project has given her, a minority woman, a unique opportunity to be included.

Students receive training not only from Gorman but also from campus librarian Corliss Lee, who serves as a guest lecturer, informing students of the vast amount of information available to them in library databases. Lee says Gorman’s work helps empower students and gives them a better understanding of how scholarly information is created.

“Most students write term papers that only one person ever reads, and then it goes into a file cabinet, or worse,” O’Rourke said. “We’re asking students to produce something that will go up in one of the most visited websites in the world, so people can edit and respond — so there will be controversy and conversation.”

Contact Michelle Pitcher at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Arbitration Committee

    This guy should not be Berkeley’s new Wikipedian-in-residence.


    A motion that was proposed for the Arbitration Request initiated on February 17, 2014 has passed. The motion can be found here. The following is the text of the motion:

    The committee notes that it is not in dispute that User:Kevin Gorman
    has acted out of process and in a manner which is incompatible with the
    standards to which administrators are held.

    The committee notes and accepts Kevin Gorman’s assurances that he has learned by his mistakes and will not repeat them.

    Kevin Gorman is strongly admonished.

    The request shall be filed as “Kevin Gorman”.

    The request for a full case is declined.


    Kevin Gorman claimed wrongly that Eric Corbett had been “gravedancing” by mocking the deceased who had committed suicide.

    • cal_guy

      I just love how wikipedia has its own judicial branch, haha

      • Kevin Gorman

        Most decisions are made by consensus; the arbitration committee was created to resolve intractable disputes. The guy above is both misrepresenting what occurred and impersonating the arbitration committee, both of which are pretty ridiculously silly.

        • Arbitration Committee

          “The guy above is both misrepresenting what occurred”

          Please point out any misrepresentations about what occurred.

    • Kevin Gorman

      Hey anonymous poster, would you mind sharing your real name? If you’d like to impugn my character, have the decency to do it under your own name. You’re certainly not the arbitration committee, and the Daily Cal does have a policy against impersonation. The motion you refer to is widely regarded as hilarious, by most parties involved in that unfortunate incident. It contains more than one explicit falsehood, and though I retracted my comment about Eric because I can’t realistically determine someone’s intentionality, his comment was interpreted that way by multiple other people, and still is, including by multiple sysops.

      • Arbitration Committee

        You said Eric gravedanced on a Wikipedia editor who committed suicide as if you could read his mind. You then said, “even if it were an inappropriate description of his behavior [accusing
        Eric of “grave dancing” a suicide victim], I find laughable the idea
        that anyone should apologize to Eric over a perceived personal attack.”

        Link to your comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Kevin_Gorman&diff=594881690&oldid=594880383

        Link to analysis of your comments by Ihardlythinkso: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case&oldid=597161800#Statement_by_Ihardlythinkso

        That’s something a bully would say. You later retracted your comment, but did you apologize to Eric? No, why not?

        Eric is frequently a bully when he makes personal attacks. He’s personally attacked me in the past, and I think he should have been banned a long time ago. However, his bullying does not mean he should be treated in kind. Why do you have to stoop down to his level? To bully a bully is to perpetuate a cycle of bullying and turns you into a bully. It is unworthy of a Cal graduate.

        I was hurt and saddened when I saw people saying you were a Berkeley graduate and mocking Berkeley because of your behavior.

        Why am I not posting under my real name? I am a student at Cal. There’s no way I’d compromise my grades by posting with my real name.

        • Kevin Gorman

          You’re unfamiliar with significant parts of the story, both those that happened publicly, and those that happened privately. You’re presenting a single viewpoint in a story that has many facets (and what you’re presenting in large part happens to be factually incorrect – among other things, IHTS’s points are simply wrong,) in a complex situation that involved many facets.

          I’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss the issue in person. It won’t impact your grades. I have input in to the grading processes of the classes I assist, but even then would get overruled on something like this. I’m not objecting to criticism of me, but am objecting to objectively incorrect criticism of me, especially about an issue where there are pressing reasons why it shouldn’t be discussed publicly.

          Though I’m glad to see you changed your username so as to not be instantly banned if your identity was revealed on Wikipedia (that’s arbcom’s policy, not mine,) this will be my last engagement with you here (though I’m more than happy to talk in person.

    • Kevin Gorman

      I pretty sincerely doubt you’re a UCB student; I’d like to think that most UCB students have the courage to stand by their convictions, instead of impersonating a body of which they are not a part. I also pretty sincerely doubt you’re a serious Wikipedian, rather than a troll; if you were I suspect you would realize that impersonating the arbitration committee, even in off-wiki settings, will result in an indefinite block of your Wikipedia account in any situation where your identity ends up being revealed.

      The issue you are raising is not an issue; the fact that I took action to shut down a thread with serious realworld implications of which you are unaware related to suicide has little to do with my ability to successfully expand on the types of outreach I’ve been doing for the past three years. In presenting only one side of a complex issue (and at that, a side few people agree with,) and doing so poorly and including numerous outright falsehoods in some of your deleted statements as well as your OP, I think you’ve pretty clearly branded yourself as a common garden troll.

      Dear Daily Cal mods: since this is a series of off-topic posts started by someone who is explicitly impersonating a body of which he is not a part, please delete the whole mess per your username etc policy when you have the chance. I’d be happy to discuss the issues raised with any actual UCB students or staff in person and explain why my hilariously misrepresented actions were taken, but I don’t think it’s quite proper for an anonymous impersonating troll to clutter up this thread.

      • Arbitration Committee Observer

        I am a UCB student (the Daily Cal mods can tell very easily). It’s obvious you don’t want criticism of activity directly related to your UCB job to be posted on this forum, so you’ve been flagging my posts to be deleted.

        It’s disappointing you are unwilling to consider that your behavior reflected very badly on UC Berkeley, particularly since you are UCB’s paid Wikipedian-in-residence.

        It’s easy to dismiss a critic as a “troll” who has made “off-topic posts” rather than reflect on the criticism.

        The posts are obviously on-topic because this Daily Cal article is titled “UC Berkeley hires Wikipedian-in-residence to help publish student research.”

        While holding the title of Berkeley’s Wikipedian-in-residence, you have made grave, unsubstantiated accusations against another Wikipedia editor who did nothing to deserve such cruel words.

        This resulted in mockery of UCB by Wikipedia editors and damaged the school’s reputation.