Groupprops:Groupprops versus Wikipedia

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This is an article comparing the Groupprops wiki against:Wikipedia

In what ways do Groupprops and Wikipedia differ as tools for learning and reference in group theory? There are a number of important differences. To illustrate some of these, we take a few example articles in Groupprops and Wikipedia.

First, the similarities

Groupprops and Wikipedia do share a lot of similarities. For instance, they are both wiki-based, and both of them aim (?) to provide better free online content. They are both open to editing, and both make use of articles categorization, templates, and many of the other tools that characterize a wiki.

Differences in article structure

In Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a general-purpose wiki-based encyclopaedia, which means that its target reader segment is anybody in the world with an Internet connection and the ability to read. This means that every article in Wikipedia must start off with a context-setter (something like In mathematics, particularly in abstract algebra and in group theory, a group is ...). Further, most Wikipedia articles on a term are not just about the definition/properties of the object that term defines, but also about the general theory, historical motivation, and related miscellanea.

In other words, somebody who is not too interested, should just read this particular article and get information about what the term being defined is, what kind of people are interested in it, how it has impacted the world, and what it's doing.

In Groupprops

In Groupprops, an article on a term just carries the definition, the relation with other terms, the type of the term, a note on the history, and possibly some important facts related to the term (the kind of facts included depend on the type of the term). The type or the is a relationship plays a very crucial role in organizing, and the property-theoretic paradigm is used extensively.

Groupprops articles also set context, but with respect to a different starting point. A Groupprops article does not cater to the whole wide world; rather it is assumed that whoever has come here already knows it has something to do with groups. thus it only sets the context within group theory. Moreover, the context is usually set by the type template (some emphasized text put right on top).

Further, most Groupprops articles follow a very uniform policy for the sections, and most of these sections carry very specific what-is information.

Groupprops articles also have motivational material, historical material, and general essays -- however, these are typically not the main definition articles for the term. Typically, they can be found in a survey article categories. For instance, at the top of the page on normal subgroup, there is a line saying For survey articles related... which takes one to a list of survey articles that actually try to explain the stuff (again, some may be terse, and some, lucid).

Some illustrative examples

Compare: group (on groupprops) against group (on Wikipedia)

Observe that here, the Wikipedia article tends to be much longer, since it is an article not just about groups, but also about the more general group theory, in fact, it is more an answer to Could you tell me more about groups? than to What is a group?

On the other hand compare normal subgroup (on groupprops) with normal subgroup (on Wikipedia)

Unlike group, the Wikipedia article on normal subgroup is considerably shorter than the Groupprops article. That is because while in the case of group, Wikipedia combined the definition part with a lot of historical motivation and a kind of basic group theory tutorial, in the normal subgroup case, it just provides the definition.

Notice here that the Groupprops article is much more structured, with clear parts related to History, Definition, Importance, Formalisms, Relation with other properties, Metaproperties and Testing. However, while more structured, this is also less friendly to people who just happen to be passing by the page, and is definitely more intimidating to people who are wondering whether to edit or alter it. That is because it uses a whole lot of conventions, templates etc. which are not adequately explained here. This again highlights the fact that Groupprops is intended for people with greater focus and a clear intention of getting the group theory contents.

Note that Groupprops does have survey and expository articles, but these are typically kept separate from the main definition pages. For instance, Category:Survey articles related to normality has a list of survey articles (some of them incomplete at te timie of this writing) related to the subgroup property of normality.

Differences in organization

Groupprops articles are organized very differently from those on Wikipedia. Firstly, the templates and categories in groupprops are used in a very precise what is sense rather than a loose is related to sense (which is what happens for the bulk of Wikipedia articles).

Further, Groupprops articles largely avoid much of the categorization/templates that are used in Wikipedia for administrative purposes (like Articles for cleanup, articles for deletion, etc.) since our purpose at Groupprops is to be read, not to be edited.

Differences in editing

In Wikipedia, there are usually hundreds of contributors to a given page, many of them making minor edits, others making major structural changes and additions, many of them trying to undo changes made by others, and so on. Often there are heated debates on what constitutes good content for the page.

A good flavor of the many issues that have been discussed while editing the Wikipedia page on group can be had from the talk page.

Differences in additional resources

Wikipedia is linked up with many other projects, notably, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, Wikiquotes etc., which are wikis but not encyclopaedia wikis.

On the other hand, Groupprops does not have any resources other than its own articles, and a few Resource pages that link to articles outside.

Differences in policy

General-purpose versus specific-purpose

Wikipedia calls itself the free encyclopaedia that anybody can edit(Wikipedia Main Page). It plans to be an encyclopaedia of everything with a let's all get together and do it attitude. Of course, much of the structure and organization of the wiki is determined by a small core group, but much of the activity is also carried out by the large mass of ordinary users.

While the aim of Wikipedia is to be a general-purpose encyclopaedia, Groupprops aims to be neither general-purpose nor encyclopaedic. Rather, it aims to cover a very specific area of mathematics in a particular fashion.

What deserves an article

As mentioned above, Groupprops has a clear notion of what deserves an article, which tends to mean that there are in general lots of articles. The Groupprops policy is more in line with, though hardly the same as, the separatism policy that some Wikipedians believe in, as opposed to the mergism policy that seems to be the more accepted one in Wikipedia, as it stands today.

Neutral point of view

Wikipedia claims to adhere to a neutral point of view policy, which basically means that all views are represented fairly, and are attributed to their adherents. Groupprops follows no such policy. In fact, it represents a very definite, and distinctive, point of view within mathematics, and does not always attribute that point of view to its adherents (all points of view that are not the main Groupprops point of view are, of course, attributed to their adherents).

This has not been an issue for Groupprops so far, though it might become one as we expand, and get more people involved with the project.


Wikipedia seems to rely heavily both on a huge bureaucratic hierarchy and a whole lot of democracy to make its decisions. Groupprops, so far, has had neither. Currently, we intend to remain a centralized, tight-knit place where all decisions are taken by the administrators after discussion with parties in goodwill rather than through long debates and voting mechanisms.

Think of Wikipedia as a large multinational corporation that has partly gone public and hence has to listen to its minor shareholders (the ordinary users) but more so to its major shareholders (the people who control it). Contrast this with Groupprops, which is a small company on the street selling some goods that may clash with Wikipedia on some counts. Groupprops is run by a few people who have a particular vision and they welcome others inside provided those people share the same vision. Otherwise, people are free to leave and go elsewhere.

In other words, Groupprops is not trying to be a democratically run or a free-for-all wiki.

Original research policies

Wikipedia has an explicit ban on original research, with a clear emphasis that whatever is put should be from verifiable sources. This is not the case in Groupprops. So far, we do not have any clear thoughts on Original Research, but we do have a lot of pages dedicated to terminology that is local, and specific, to the wiki.

Groupprops does not require all articles to cite sources. Rather, we first try to get the definition and the facts there, and gradually fill in the best references for those facts (if the person filling the original definition/fact was unaware of those references at the time of filling in).