I was recently looking up references about the history of Yang-Mills theory in order to write about it here, and one thing I ran into was the Wikipedia entry for Yang-Mills theory. It has three sections, the first two of which are standard material, but I was surprised to notice that the last section is completely unconventional, promoting the ideas of Marco Frasca and referencing two of his papers. It was written by an anonymous “Pra1998″, who I’m guessing is Frasca himself.
I’ve never tried to edit Wikipedia entries before, but I thought it would be a good idea to remove this material, which is not the sort of thing that belongs there. My edit was immediately reversed. I tried again, justifying this in the discussion section, but the material is still there. At this point, I give up, lacking time to deal with this and any understanding of what mechanisms are available in Wikipedia to deal with such a situation.
Over the last few years I’ve been finding myself consulting Wikipedia entries more and more, especially ones on mathematics. The quality of the mathematics entries is often shockingly high. In the past if one ran into mention of some mathematical concept one didn’t know about, tracking down a readable account of it was often insanely difficult. Now, one can often just look it up in Wikipedia and find a well-written, concise explanation of just the sort needed. It’s a wonderful and incredibly valuable resource, and I’m mystified about how such a high quality is achieved and maintained. I hope the same mechanism, whatever it is, can work for the Yang-Mills entry.