Reading Wikipedia:
an unconventional
approach to information
Andrew Gray
(former) Wikipedian in Residence, British Library...
what I did on my holiday…
• AHRC-funded one-year “Wikipedian in
Residence at the British Library”
• Residencies previously...
a different tack
• Alongside content program, created a “skills
program”
• Workshops looked at how to create Wikipedia
art...
the project
• A collaboratively-written encyclopedia
• A synthesis of published material
• Aiming for neutrality and verif...
the numbers
• Thirteen years old
• 30,000,000 articles in 280 languages
• Growing by 8-10,000 new articles/day
• Reaching ...
the problem
“We have a problem. The kids these days
are reading too many encyclopedias.”
the opportunity
• Users are actively seeking out the resource
• “Don’t do that!” is never very effective
• This is a perfe...
some thoughts
• On average... quality is acceptable
• 2005 study: four errors in WP for three in Britannica
• 2011 study (...
looking for the hints
Article tags
Talk pages and histories
Corner icons
- locked (a red flag) - quality ratings (positive...
the springboard
• Wikipedia material is (aspirationally) heavily
cited
• Reader can move past single sources
• Challenge i...
moving onwards
Footnotes
Internal navigation
turning it around
• Wikipedia Education Program
– Encouraging teachers to engage with WP
– Content creation, critical asse...
some reading
• Head & Eisenberg (2010): survey of the ways students use
Wikipedia as a resource
• Sormuen & Lehtiö (2011):...
Contact details
Andrew Gray, British Antarctic Survey
(late British Library)
Email: anday@bas.ac.uk
Twitter: @generalising...
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Reading Wikipedia: an unconventional approach to information - Andrew Gray - JIBS event 22 July 2014

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Reading Wikipedia: an unconventional approach to information - Andrew Gray - JIBS event 22 July 2014

  1. 1. Reading Wikipedia: an unconventional approach to information Andrew Gray (former) Wikipedian in Residence, British Library JIBS, July 2014
  2. 2. what I did on my holiday… • AHRC-funded one-year “Wikipedian in Residence at the British Library” • Residencies previously often with galleries/ museums, focusing on collections/objects • But libraries (generally) place less emphasis on “object” collections
  3. 3. a different tack • Alongside content program, created a “skills program” • Workshops looked at how to create Wikipedia articles – but also how to engage with the project as a reader, or a researcher • ~400 people over dozens of sessions across the country
  4. 4. the project • A collaboratively-written encyclopedia • A synthesis of published material • Aiming for neutrality and verifiability ...not editorial authority • Free to use, distribute and reuse
  5. 5. the numbers • Thirteen years old • 30,000,000 articles in 280 languages • Growing by 8-10,000 new articles/day • Reaching 500,000,000 readers/month ...or 7% of the world’s population
  6. 6. the problem “We have a problem. The kids these days are reading too many encyclopedias.”
  7. 7. the opportunity • Users are actively seeking out the resource • “Don’t do that!” is never very effective • This is a perfect teaching moment – how to tell the good from the bad? – thinking critically about online material – engaging with the means of production – what are we actually saying “don’t” to?
  8. 8. some thoughts • On average... quality is acceptable • 2005 study: four errors in WP for three in Britannica • 2011 study (in English, Spanish, Arabic): “…the Wikipedia articles in this sample scored higher overall than the comparison articles with respect to accuracy, references, style/ readability and overall judgment…” • But millions of articles = millions of problems • Radically transparent editorial process • Signs are there for alert readers
  9. 9. looking for the hints Article tags Talk pages and histories Corner icons - locked (a red flag) - quality ratings (positive) ...and, most basic of all, style
  10. 10. the springboard • Wikipedia material is (aspirationally) heavily cited • Reader can move past single sources • Challenge is to highlight and encourage this capability
  11. 11. moving onwards Footnotes Internal navigation
  12. 12. turning it around • Wikipedia Education Program – Encouraging teachers to engage with WP – Content creation, critical assessment, etc. • Online courses – “Writing Wikipedia” MOOC (now fourth round) • Outreach resources – Wide range of past projects for different audiences – Some printed/printable material available
  13. 13. some reading • Head & Eisenberg (2010): survey of the ways students use Wikipedia as a resource • Sormuen & Lehtiö (2011): students wrote Wikipedia articles, which were examined to study their citing/plagarising habits • Konieczny (2012): survey of five years of teaching using Wikipedia in various ways • Roth, Davis & Carver (2013): examination of student engagement with Wikipedia-related teaching projects
  14. 14. Contact details Andrew Gray, British Antarctic Survey (late British Library) Email: anday@bas.ac.uk Twitter: @generalising Credit where it's due: this discussion draws heavily on a workshop Nancy Graham (Roehampton) and I ran at the LILAC conference in April 2014

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