I'm Aza Raskin @aza. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I'm VP at Jawbone, focusing on health.

 

“Wikipedia” + “Expert” = “Wikspert”

I’d like to propose a new portmanteau for inclusion in the English language: “Wikspert“.

A wikspert is someone who is an expert on a topic purely on the basis of having read the Wikipedia article on that topic. In short, “Wikipedia” + “Expert” = “Wikspert”.

Once confined to an exclusive class of in-the-know computeristas, the last couple of years have seen proliferation of “wiksperts” in every level of our society. They’re everywhere. From business-school professors to burger-flippers, everyone now has a quasi-authoritative opinion on, for instance, how much corn is produced in Iowa. These trivia, once the sole purview of academic cocktail parties, have now been liberated for the masses. In fact, every one of us either knows a wikspert or is one ourselves. Personally, some of my best friends are wiksperts, and I know a suspicious amount about liopleurodons, pumas, and the ethnic make-up of Romania in the early 1800′s.


There are two ways of viewing wiksperts and their wikspertise: the optimistic view and the pessimistic view.

The optimistic view is that wiksperts democratize the concept of “expert” by separating ivory-tower knowledge from ivory-tower arrogance. By stating that you’re a wikspert on the poisonous dart frogs of the Amazon, you are boasting an amateur (yet in-depth) knowledge provided by the Wikipedians (the night-guardsmen of the human canon). Your claim is to an everyman understanding of your subject: Never are you forced to hide behind the lettered shield of a school degree. And, what happens if your knowledge of the poisonous dart frogs is called into question? A regular wikspert might flinch, but a wikspert of the 2nd degree — one who has read not only the page, but all links from that page — can answer with confidence.

The pessimistic view is that calling someone a “wikspert” is an insult. Or, at the very best, damning with faint praise.

On the one hand, I’ve been able to fix the carburetor of my off-brand scooter because I’m a wikspert in the subject. On the other, I know law students who have flunked assignments by not verifying their wikspertise.

Either way you choose to use the term, the decisions of wiksperts are going play an ever larger role in our world. And now we have a word for it.

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Of all the topic to right about, LOL.


Um. Wikspert isn’t a term that translates favourable into German, I’m afraid. Though if you don’t mind strong language, it fits your definition rather well, in a way.



Alejandro Moreno

I think Wikspertise is great, as long as you realise it’s a bit different from expertise :)



Julian

Whow, as unwesen already said, that term isn’t particularly appropriate to use in German…


Well you guys can’t just leave it at that for those of use who don’t speak German. What does it mean? How about a link to a translation or something if it’s that bad?



Leafy

I’m one of these wiki-experts as I don’t speak german :P



Andreas

Well, every question deserves an answer: “Wikspert” in German would mean something like “wank-pert” in English.

I’d recommend calling wiksperts “Wikiperten” in German.


See also “Metro-knowledge” — claiming expertise on a current-affairs topic based solely on what you read in the free newspaper on the subway this morning.


Well then I am a Wikignoramus
I read about 3/1000ths from Wikipedea anythime I chance to visit.
I really can’t stand it at all.


hey.. thank you


thnks
goooooooooooood
min:)


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On the one hand, I’ve been able to fix the carburetor of my off-brand scooter because I’m a wikspert in the subject. On the other, I know law students who have flunked assignments by not verifying their wikspertise.


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