Dialogic Expertise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term dialogic expertise was coined by E. Johanna Hartelius in her article in the Southern Communication Journal, "Wikipedia and the Emergence of Dialogic expertise." The idea for dialogic expertise is based on Mikhail Bakhtin's framework, and refers to a progressive form of communicative expertise used by Wikipedia for creation and editing. Hartelius specifically defines dialogic expertise as a rhetorical process that serves as a notion of "a truth of possibility and relationship, a truth of mutual illumination".[1]

Traditional expertise[edit]

The traditional ideas of expertise require mastery, specialization, and credentials. This is a form of monologic expertise. There is widespread anxiety judging the competence of "experts" and the competence of individuals’ capacity to judge these "experts". Hartelius says that expertise is "a function of industrialization, scientific revolution(s), and professional specialization, contemporary culture is thoroughly reliant on experts".[2] Expertise is described by Hartelius as a rhetorical process of communication, because experts argue for legitimacy of their claims. Expertise functions as a way to dismiss the idea that human mastery of knowledge may truly not be an option. Therefore, the idea of public discourse and reaching multi-contributor agreements (Wikipedia’s creating and editing process) being expertise can be a frightening concept.

Post-modern ideas of expertise[edit]

Along with the emergence of the internet came new media: the internet is a multi-perspectival (dialogic) exchange. This creates epistemological turbulence, meaning a new way of attaining and presenting knowledge that challenges the traditional systems of acquiring "legitimate knowledge". It contests the flawed human impulse toward perfection by leaving "truth" up to widespread discussion and improvement rather than singular credentialed certainty. So by determining expertise as a rhetorical function and knowing that rhetoric refers to discovering and inventing, then dialogic exchange has the ability to serve as an epistemological mean to determine what is "factual".

Wikipedia as a form of dialogic expertise[edit]

"Wikipedia calls attention to and challenges fundamental assumptions about expertise".[1] Wikipedia calls itself an encyclopedia. It is however vastly different than the traditional encyclopedia. These were created through monologic expertise and entries were solely via people of extremely high credentials. This put all knowledge into the hands of the powerful. Also, these traditional encyclopedias attempted to compile all human knowledge whereas Wikipedia—using dialogic expertise—understands possibility of changes and potential for the unseen. Wikipedia allows anyone to edit pages as long as they follow some guidelines. These guidelines are the roots to the Wikipedia’s claim of expertise and of being an encyclopedia. To edit you must explain your process and use valid sources. To edit, one suggests their ideas against or working with that of those around the world that also have the hope of gaining insight. There will be a forever changing and improving notion of the term. Wikipedia assumes that two heads are in fact better than one. Inappropriate changes are quickly removed and repeated violations result in being blocked from editing the site. Dialogic (collaborative) expertise as seen in Wikipedia is a place where knowledge and expertise is a globally communicative process that calls for trust of global community, rather than traditional dependence on scholars, to provide all of humanity with constantly improving masterful information to help all people be informed on literally anything.


  1. ^ a b Hartelius, Johanna (November–December 2010). "Wikipedia and the Emergence of Dialogic Expertise". Southern Communication Journal. 75 (5): 505–526. doi:10.1080/10417940903377169.
  2. ^ Hartelius, Johanna (July 2011). "Rhetorics of Expertise". Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge. 25 (3): 211–215. doi:10.1080/02691728.2011.578301.