Wikipedia and libraries

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An overview of Wikipedia, followed by a discussion of the relationship between libraries and Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a really important resource but a lot of people don’t fully understand how it works, and I think it’s particularly important for educators and librarians to do so. This presentation is about what WIkipedia is, how to edit it, and why we can use it as not only a useful source of information but a great information literacy teaching tool.

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  • ‘Wikipedia is a really important resource but a lot of people don’t fully understand how it works, and I think it’s particularly important for educators and librarians to do so. I’m going to talk about what it is, how to edit it, and why we can use it as not only a useful source of information but a great information literacy teaching tool.’‘Who here has used Wikipedia?’‘Who has edited Wikipedia?’What is Wikipedia?‘Wikipedia was created in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. It arose from a different project called Nupedia, which was an online encyclopedia written and reviewed by subject experts. As the problems in this style of encyclopedia became apparent - mostly the slow pace of change - it developed into something else. The concept of a wiki already existed, so the founders decided to use a wiki template for an encyclopedia to allow anyone to contribute. Originally it was designed as a way of producing content to be reviewed before inclusion in the more formal Nupedia, but it was so successful in itself that it took on a live of its own and because a separate, and much bigger, project. Wikipedia is now a part of the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that runs related projects as well.’
  • collaboratively edited online encyclopedia‘this means anyone can add or change what’s there. All of the content has been written by the users and all of it is subject to change. In the early days there was a lot of vandalism, people adding purposively wrong information. This is usually automatically removed very quickly now so you rarely see it.’‘it currently has over 4 million articles in English and 25 million in other languages. It’s now one of the most viewed websites in the world.’[number of views/ edits per month]community driven‘the way that Wikipedia organises itself and decides on editorial decisions has arisen from conversations within the community. The editorial principles are embodied in the five pillars.’(Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia)
  • wikipedia is an encyclopedia‘it is not a dictionary, a newspaper etc...’
  • wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view‘editors try to eliminate bias by giving a balanced view of different opinions on a topic. This is particularly important for controversial subjects - George W. Bush, Israel/Palestine, things like that There are sometimes disputes over content, which leads to a very small percentage of articles are ‘locked’ by admins so all changes to them are assessed before going live rather than being instant. NPOV is also why you can’t write about yourself because there’s too great a conflict of interest. There was an incident last year when Philip Roth wanted something changed on his Wikipedia entry that he knew was incorrect, and Wikipedia admins refused because he wasn’t considered a reliable source on himself.’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/11/philip-roth-wikipedia?INTCMP=SRCH)
  • wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify and distribute‘if you add something to Wikipedia you don’t own that content. Words and images on there are licensed under a Creative Commons license.’
  • editors should interact with each other in a civil and respectful manner‘if you leave comments on an article or question something that another contributor has done, as long as it’s not obvious vandalism, you should always assume that the other person’s actions were done in good faith and that everyone is working to make Wikipedia better.’
  • wikipedia does not have firm rules‘all of Wikipedia is subject to change. Even the policy pages have an ‘edit’ option.’
  • ‘this is not an exhaustive list but these are the three core content policies.’neutral point of view‘which I’ve already mentioned’verifiability‘in Wikipedia, since we’re not relying on things like the reputation of the author or publisher to tell us whether information on it is reliable, it’s very important for everything on there to be verifiable. Basically the more references the better; if something is written on Wikipedia the only way it can be judged as verifiable is if it referenced. This leads to a slightly strange situation in which verifiability is more important than truth, as with the Philip Roth example. Because the only way to judge the truth of something on there is to consult the sources, so verifiability is paramount.’no original research‘this ties in very closely with the verifiability policy. No original research means that you can’t write anything on there that isn’t backed up by references to other sources. You can’t put you own opinions on there.’
  • how do I edit it?‘There’s a lot of self-referential documentation on Wikipedia, including a very thorough style manual and lots of policies and guidelines. BUT you don’t need to be an expert on these before editing. The best way to see how it works is to do some editing so I’ll show you how that works.’‘You don’t need to sign up for a username before editing, you can edit anonymously, but if you do your IP address is listed next to the edit which in a way is less anonymous because it can be traced to your machine. To sign up all you need is a valid email address so you can remain effectively anonymous if you wish.’‘This is how easy it is to edit. Every page has an edit tab here. Click on it. That’s it.’- ‘each article has two pages: article and talk. each of these two pages has these three tabs: read, edit, view history. That’s as complex as it gets in terms of structure, apart from special Wikipedia pages like the policy ones.’
  • why should i bother? why is it important?
  • contribute to knowledge‘On a personal level I find it really satisfying to add content to Wikipedia and all to this collective sum of human knowledge. I think this is something a lot of editors share. On an institutional level, universities are all about learning and increasing knowledge. For a lot of topics, academic staff are the most knowledgeable people on them, and they spend their time explaining complex topics to people. This is exactly the combination of skills that make a good Wikipedia article. Writing for Wikipedia is aligned with universities’ mission of increasing learning...’
  • size‘... and it’s important because of it’s sheer scale and impact. Wikipedia is possibly the world's single most accessed and consulted source of information. It’s used by hundreds of millions of people, including most of our students and lecturers. It is the first resource on a new topic for a lot of students.’
  • shared mission‘Wikipedia and libraries both want to make as much information as possible freely available and accessible for people.’
  • role of libraries‘If library staff know a bit more about Wikipedia we can help our students and staff get more from it. Being able to explain how it works, and helping with things like judging whether to trust sources, means we can provide guidance. [pause] For libraries to not engage with Wikipedia doesn’t make sense. Ignoring it is like ignoring Google, you just can’t! So making it easier to move back and forth between Wikipedia and library resources will help everyone, including our students. There are also some ways that Wikipedia is trying to engage with libraries:’‘This is a quote from the Wikipedia GLAM project.’
  • - wikipedia loves librarieshttp://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Loves_Libraries- wikipedian in residencehttp://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedian_in_Residence‘In March I went to a training session at the British Library on ‘Wikipedia for researchers’ with their Wikipedian in Residence Andrew Grey. What he’s doing, and what other Wikipedians in residence are doing, is trying to get a dialogue going within an organisation about helping them to embrace Wikipedia, both in terms of using it as a source, and using it to share expertise by contributing. Kind of like what I’m doing now but employed full-time just to do that. I almost applied for a post at the Science Museum doing it recently but I decided open access is more important so I’m going to do research on that here instead. So everyone come to that learning hour too :P’- ‘But what we also need are simple ways to get people to move seamlessly from Wikipedia articles to library resources. One way to do this was created recently with the Library resources box’ http://everybodyslibraries.com/2013/03/04/from-wikipedia-to-our-libraries/[Show an example of library resources box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_history]‘On the talk page of this template is a good example of Wikipedia discussions. People are talking about the exact nature of the box, how useful it is, and whether this is the best format for the tool to appear in. I’m refraining from adding it to any more articles until there’s more consensus from the community. When these discussions are resolved, could we get some lecturers on board who could suggest articles for their subject area that students are likely to be looking at?’
  • ‘One use I can see for Wikipedia is as an information literacy tool. Moving beyond thinking of it just as a source of information, it can be used to teach how to:- critically evaluate information sources, based on authority, accuracy etc.;- the difference between primary and secondary sources;- how to explain difficult concepts in clear language;- the difficulties of collaborative working (there have been cases of university lecturers setting students group work of producing a new article or rewriting an existing article. Not all concepts have long or good articles so there is still room for a lot of improvement);- shows that everyone can make a contribution to knowledge, not just ‘experts’. this could be empowering for students.’‘can you think of any other ways we could help students to use Wikipedia more intelligently as a resource?’
  • Wikipedia and libraries

    1. 1. Wikipedia and libraries May 2013 Stuart Lawson Anglia Ruskin University
    2. 2. Wikipedia• collaboratively edited online encyclopaedia• over 4 million articles in English• community driven
    3. 3. Five pillars• Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia
    4. 4. Five pillars• Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia• Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
    5. 5. Five pillars• Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia• Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view• Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify and distribute
    6. 6. Five pillars• Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia• Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view• Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify and distribute• Editors should interact with each other in a civil and respectful manner
    7. 7. Five pillars• Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia• Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view• Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify and distribute• Editors should interact with each other in a civil and respectful manner• Wikipedia does not have firm rules
    8. 8. Policies• neutral point of view• verifiability• no original research
    9. 9. http://www.wikipedia.org
    10. 10. so what?
    11. 11. so what?• contribute to knowledge
    12. 12. so what?• contribute to knowledge• size
    13. 13. so what?• contribute to knowledge• size• shared mission
    14. 14. • “As someone professionally affiliated with an institution in the cultural sector (such as a museum, library, archive, public art gallery or similar) you are a custodian of our cultural heritage, which places you in a unique position to improve Wikipedia. Our goal is to provide access to knowledge freely (gratis and libre), and your expertise and institutions collection are welcome and necessary if we are to achieve that goal.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Advice_for_the_ cultural_sector (Accessed: 26 March 2013)
    15. 15. Wikipedia and libraries• Wikipedia loves libraries http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Loves_Libraries• Wikipedian in residence http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedian_in_Residence• Library resources box http://everybodyslibraries.com/2013/03/04/from-wikipedia-to-our-libraries/
    16. 16. Information literacy• critically evaluate information sources• difference between primary and secondary sources• explain difficult concepts• collaborative working• make a contribution
    17. 17. References – Wikipedia pagesWikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikipediaAdvice for the cultural sector http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Advice_for_the_cultural_sectorFAQ For Librarians http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/FAQ_For_LibrariansFive pillars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Five_pillarsWikipedian in residence http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedian_in_ResidenceWikipedia loves libraries http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Loves_Libraries
    18. 18. ReferencesFlood, Alison, 2012. Philip Roth’s complaint to Wikipedia. The Guardian[online], 11 September 2011. Available at:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/11/philip-roth-wikipedia?INTCMP=SRCH [Accessed: 28 March 2013].Ockerbloom, John Mark. 2013. From Wikipedia to our libraries. Everybody’sLibraries [online], 4 March 2013. Availableat: http://everybodyslibraries.com/2013/03/04/from-wikipedia-to-our-libraries/[Accessed: 28 March 2013].
    19. 19. by Stuart Lawson@lawsonstupresentation available at Slideshare:http://www.slideshare.net/StuartLawson1/wikipedia-and-librariesThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedLicense

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