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Wikipedia economics category project

May 6th, 2006

I’m getting involved in Wikipedia and my big project is to set up a categorisation system for economics based on the JEL Classification system.

I think this scheme is robust enough to allow for an expansion of Wikipedia to compete with specialist works like the Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, though this is obviously a long way off. As mentioned in previous posts, I’m very optimistic about Wikipedia’s potential, but the economics section is a long way short of being a comprehensive reference source at present. One side effect of the project is to reveal that there are whole categories in the JEL system for which Wikipedia doesn’t have an article – Computable General Equilibrium models for example.

Anyway, I could do with a bit of help on this from readers with at least some knowledge of economics. Basic Wikipedia editing skills (or willingness to acquire them) are desirable, but if you just want to write articles on gap topics, I could wikify them for you. Contact me by email or in the comments thread, if you want to help.

UpdateThanks for the positive response. I’ve got a starting list of articles that don’t seem to exist:

Exchange economy
Factor income distribution
Atlruism in economics (section in existing altruism article)
Expectations (with link to existing articles for rational and adaptive expectations)
Economics of contract law
Stochastic games
CGE models

and also some stubs (existing article is just a starting point)

Incomplete markets
Social choice theory
Economic methodology

THere’s a larger list of stubs here (though many seem not to need much more than a stub) and requested articles here. In terms of my particular project, if people could try to work out the appropriate JEL category and use that (if it exists already) or advise me (if it doesn’t) that would be great.

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  1. May 6th, 2006 at 18:16 | #1

    Happy to help, but, as Ernestine delights in pointing out, I am not a professional economist. I have been part of the business and economics wikiproject for a while, but I am restricting myself to topics I know about – mainly banks, regulation and risk.
    Any suggestions I would be happy to look at.

  2. Michael Harris
    May 6th, 2006 at 18:49 | #2

    Help doing WHAT exactly? What are the key gap topics needing to be filled? I’d be pretty useless at writing on CGE modelling for example.

  3. Ernestine Gross
    May 6th, 2006 at 23:19 | #3

    Andrew, aren’t you over-stating the situation a little? I object when you give me and others lectures on what to read and say.

  4. Ernestine Gross
    May 6th, 2006 at 23:22 | #4

    John, I’d be happy to assist in the area of general equilibrium theory, multinational firms, and Finance. I have some questions, which I’ll email.

  5. May 6th, 2006 at 23:57 | #5

    John, That’s a great idea. How about you pick a topic once a week, post it here with a link to the wiki stub, and see where it goes. I bet the idea would catch on widely in the wider econblogger community.

  6. James Farrell
    May 7th, 2006 at 04:33 | #6

    Happy to have a go at CGE modelling, if we really can’t persuade Michael. Do you have a word-limit in mind, and a deadline?

  7. May 7th, 2006 at 10:08 | #7

    Happy to help, though I suspect that my areas (labour, public, political economy) are among the best-covered.

  8. jquiggin
    May 7th, 2006 at 12:44 | #8

    James, I’d say 300-500 words is a good start, but the great thing about Wikipedia is that there are no time limits or word limits.

    More soon on all this

  9. May 8th, 2006 at 00:24 | #9

    Interesting timing. I created a new economic catagory a few days back:-


    I think that there should be somewhere within the better articles that more fully expores the competing schools of thought (current or past). Although there is some of this in the main article on Economics.


  10. May 8th, 2006 at 03:04 | #10

    Could this be competitive with the New Palgrave – which incidentally I heard from Michael James (its new editor) will come out in its second edition next year? This will be a six volume work.

    I guess the wikipedia might have greater currency and can provide hyperlinks that facilitate cross referencing but I wonder about accuracy and general quality of somethiong where authorship is not attributed. Its interesting to note that everyone who has volunteered to help above has given their full name rather than the pseudonyms so frequent in blogging.

  11. Michael James
    May 8th, 2006 at 04:05 | #11


    The second edition of The New Palgrave is actually due out in 2008. As well as the six volumes of hard copy it will be available to subscribers online.

  12. jquiggin
    May 8th, 2006 at 06:16 | #12

    I can’t see Wikipedia being competitive with Palgrave as a specialist economics encyclopedia in the near future , but it’s improving in both comprehensiveness and quality all the time. The hyperlinking, cross-referencing and categorization are a huge strength.

    There’s certainly room for both, and I’ll be looking forward to the 2008 Palgrave.

  13. May 8th, 2006 at 11:20 | #13

    but I wonder about accuracy and general quality of somethiong where authorship is not attributed.

    The news articles in “The Economist” magazine are not attributed to authors.

  14. May 8th, 2006 at 17:25 | #14


    The Economist presumably gets away with it by having a reputation. Sometimes this is criticised. On blogsites and on the web generally I see extraordinary claims and personal attacks hidden behind a pseudonym.

    I know there are mechanisms – primarily exposure to public scrutiny that protect its accuracy but yeah I wonder if that works. Indeed when I look at the Wikipedia pages on Wikipedia I see they too call for caution.

    All that said my remarks only a caution. I use Wikipedia all the time and am a big fan. I guess I am surprised it is as good as it is.

  15. James Farrell
    May 8th, 2006 at 17:47 | #15

    More specifically, the Economist has a reputation to protect and editiors who are accountable. If they are caught publshing articles that are factually wrong or severely biased, there will be an outcry and circulation will suffer. I don’t see any comparable mechanism operating in the case of Wikipedia, where someone with no expertise and an axe to grind can put up an entry any time. Eventually someone may correct it. But this may take a while since the real experts on a topic won’t be consulting Wikipedia anyway. Meanwhile the damage is done.

  16. May 8th, 2006 at 22:38 | #16

    If I may suggest – one of the worst pages I have seen in this category was the Economic history of Australia. I may disagree with many here, but I think that most of the economists here could do a better job – probably in their sleep. Could someone have a look and take it on? I have my hands full with topics around the Basel II accord.

  17. Hans Erren
    May 8th, 2006 at 22:39 | #17

    wiki works best on factual non-controversial topics

    religion, politics, and global warming are highly controversial.
    Check the talk pages and history for an indication.

  18. jquiggin
    May 9th, 2006 at 10:33 | #18

    I agree with you AR, but I’m also busy on categorization. Any volunteers?

  19. Thomas Meeks
    September 6th, 2006 at 04:41 | #19

    You’re right not expecting too much for Wikipedia articles relative to The New(er) Palgrave, John. Still variety, currency, possible depth, enthusiasm, opportunity for correction, self-selection, and the Wiki ethic count too. TNP(s) also provide an excellent source to measure the final product against, although standard rules of scholarship (citation, quoting, etc.) and respecting copyrights apply here as elsewhere with full force. How wise to have put the JEL classification system in Wiki.

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