Wikipedia:The editing imperative Adrianne Wadewitz, English Department, Indiana University, March 2010
Why edit Wikipedia?1) High visibility2) Source of information for a growing number of people and institutions3) Define what it means to read4) Share scholarly information and skills5) Develop teaching opportunities6) Inspire others to read and write7) Preserve and communicate cultural heritage
Visibility• One of the ten most-accessed websites in the world• Most accessed reference website in the world• Search engines: in first 10 results in 80% of cases• Free• Available in over 270 languages, giving it a worldwide reach
Visibility• Mary Wollstonecraft article translated into numerous languages, including Chinese• Jane Austen article received 172,773 page views in February 2010, typical for a month 1,746th most popular article (out of 3,218,926 )• Mary Wollstonecraft’s Thoughts on the Education of Daughters Main page: 17,000 page views in one day Normally receives about 20 page views per day
Visibility• Through GFDL and CC-by-SA 3.0 licensing, Wikipedia’s articles are mirrored and forked across thousands of webpages. ▫ Ex: amazon.com uses summaries from Wikipedia’s articles to describe some of its books.
Source of information• 61% of US journalists use Wikipedia as a source• Wikipedia has been cited in US court decisions, such as those by the 7th circuit• The BBC transcludes Wikipedia articles about animals to its “Wildlife Finder” pages• US patent appliers increasingly cite Wikipedia• Over 50% of undergraduates use Wikipedia as a first resource for research
Define what it means to read• A large percentage of English-speaking readers in the world are looking at Wikipedia every day. ▫ Shape their experience of what it means to read and analyze literature by providing clearly organized, well-written articles based on solid scholarship so that they can understand the kinds of questions we ask in this discipline.
Enable scholarship• Help create annotated bibliographies with scholars all over the world in short amounts of time• Write summaries of your specialty for scholars in others periods or genres• Help create a description of every book published in the 18th century accessible to any scholar• Easy contact with like-minded scholars
Research and writing• Share your research and writing skills with those willing to learn ▫ Copyedit science articles for accessibility to the general public Old book bindings at the Merton College library, Tom Murphy VII
Teaching on Wikipedia• Assist self-selecting students, ready to learn, who teach others ▫ “Hi; I considered your comments [on the American Beauty article] carefully, and despite initially disagreeing, I eventually saw the wisdom of your suggested cuts.…Only in a couple of spots did I retain tidbits you suggested I cull, but given the information Ive removed today I think I can justify them if you still disagree. It was only when I started editing this morning that I realised how bloody thorough your review had been, and how much thought you put into the suggested cuts. So I really must thank you again for taking the time to look at the article. As an aside ... I hope you realise this is all your fault (indirectly, at least). Several years ago you convinced Erik about the necessity of including themes and interpretations in our film articles; he convinced me, and I guess I overcompensated for fear that someone would criticise the article for not being a thorough enough treatment. So, thanks for that. :-) All the best” – User:Steve to User:Awadewit on 15 February 2010
Classroom teaching• Develop new assignments, which: ▫ Have actual readers commenting on student work ▫ Encourage revision ▫ Force students to delve into the minutiae of research ▫ Make copyediting and grammar vivid ▫ Show the real-life ramifications of plagiarism
Inspire others Nikita Zotov teaches young Peter I, painting by Klavdy Lebedev (1913)
Cultural heritage • Preserve and communicate our cultural heritage ▫ Core and vital lists ▫ Deletion and inclusion debatesGoethe, one of Wikipedia’s “vital” authors Goethe, Joseph Karl Stieler, 1828
…fun!While you may teach and inspire others, do not discount the possibility that you yourself may learn and be inspired! It is, indeed, wonderful to be in the company of a group of people who want to share knowledge with the world.
Bibliography• Alexa. “Wikipedia.” 16 March 2010. Web.• Bates, Don. “National Survey Finds Majority of Journalists Now Depend on Social Media for Story Research.” Press release. Cision. 20 January 2010. Web.• Cohen, Noam. “Courts Turn to Wikipedia, but Selectively.” The New York Times (29 January 2007). Web.• Head, Alison J. and Michael B. Eisenberg. “How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research.” First Monday 15.3 (1 March 2010). Web.• “Jane Austen.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 16 March 2010. Web.• Laurent, M.R. and T. J. Vickers. “Seeking Health Information Online: Does Wikipedia Matter?” Journal of the American Medical Information Association 16.4 (2009): 471-9. Web.• Tancer, Bill. “Look Whos Using Wikipedia.” Time (1 March 2007). Web.• “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 16 March 2010. Web.• White, Michael. “Wikipedia Citations in Patents Up 59 Percent.” The Patent Librarian’s Notebook Blog. 7 January 2010. Web.• “Wikipedia:Statistics.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 16 March 2010. Web.• “User talk:Awadewit.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 February 2010. Web.
Acknowledgements• Tim Vickers• Bill Wedemeyer• Frank Schulenburg
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