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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Wikipedia articles: Quality and importance rankings

Wikipedia has a way of assessing the quality of articles that have been posted and edited. The rankings are somewhat confusing and it’s hard to find the complete list of quality categories so I’m putting a link to Wikipedia: Content assessment here.

There are six categories ranging from FA (featured article) to C.

In addition to this content assessment, there’s often a second category called “Importance” that ranks articles according to their relevance in a field.

The assessments are often done by editors who are part of a WikiProject. In the case of articles on molecular biology and genetics, the relevant project is Wikipedia:WikiProject Molecular Biology.

“A WikiProject to co-ordinate various aspects of molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, microbiology, biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology and related fields. Broadly, it focuses on biology at the cellular and subcellular levels.”

There are currently only two active members of that project. (Editors are removed from the active list if they have not made any edits in the past month. There are 27 former members.)

The two active members are:

Seppi333 is “a statistician, bioinformatician, and the chief executive officer of an precision medical startup company.” The company, PathoGene, is located in California and the CEO is Joseph Mickel who got his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014.

Thomas Shafee is a doppelganger account linked to another user, Evolution_and_evolvability. Thomas Shafee lives in Melbourne Australia and he got his Ph.D. in protein engineering from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2014. He has a a separate internet page [Thomas Shafee] that identifies his interest in science communication.

“Science communication: In addition to my research, I have an interest in scientific communication. I am part of a new wave of collaboration between academic publishers and Wikipedia, since it is typically the most read information source on any topic. I am a Front Section Editor for PLOS Genetics and an Editor-in-Chief of WikiJournal of Science, working to bring scientific content in Wikipedia up to academic standards. I also directly write for the encyclopedia, with articles I've written or overhauled having >30 million views per annum.”

The WikiProject Molecular Biology/Genetics homepage has assessed 5,927 articles and here’s a summary of the results.

It’s interesting that of 70 molecular biology articles with the “Top” ranking in importance, only 5 are in the top two categories in terms of quality ("FA" and "A") and 24 of them are in the lowest “C” category. Only one of the 257 "High" importance articles makes it into the top ("FA") category.

We’ll take a look at some of those articles in a separate post.


SPARC said...

Maybe you should try to publish some of your posts in the WikiJournal of Science for which Thomas Shafee acts as one of the editors.
According to their about pages (
"The journal publishes both review articles and original research in various formats. WikiJournals enable academic and research professionals to contribute expert knowledge to the Wikimedia movement in the academic publishing format that directly rewards them with citable publications. Included works are assigned DOI codes (permanent links to each work via Crossref)."
Seemingly, the transparency of the review process is much higher than at Wikipedia. ( If I understand it correctly, the drafts will be visible to the public and cannot be altered or edited by anonymous reviewers.

SPARC said...

PS. I posted my suggestion after having a look into Thamas Shafee's article on gene sructure in the same journal (see below) and I think that the public would benefit if your writings would reach a broader audience.

Shafee, T., & Lowe, R. (2017). Eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene structure. WikiJournal of Medicine, 4(1), 1–5.

Larry Moran said...


The gene article is a bit ambiguous about whether regulatory sequences are part of the gene or not - the text and the figures imply that they are.

I inserted a section (Conflicting definitions of 'gene') into the Gene article on Wikipedia to clear up some confusion, emphasizing the fact that there are noncoding genes in spite of what's said in scientific publications and textbooks.

In that article I maintain that a gene corresponds to a transcription unit and then I added the following sentences.

"The only significant controversy over the definition of a gene is whether to include the regulatory sequences that control transcription of the gene. The general consensus among scientists is that regulatory elements control the expression of a gene but are not part of the gene."

If I'm correct, then the elaborate figures that are posted in that article are, at best misleading, and at worst, incorrect.