I edited Wikipedia!

This week’s play activity was a lot of fun.

I was a bit nervous, so it was reassuring to read that no, I probably couldn’t break Wikipedia (phew!), that my editing didn’t have to be perfect, and that Wikipedia was a work in progress.  I have a problem with things needing to be perfect, and if I think something needs to be perfect, I probably will not begin, because I will be so overwhelmed at the thought of having to achieve perfection.

Wikipedia has a lot of resources to help you edit Wikipedia.  I started off doing the Wikipedia tutorial, which takes you step-by-step through the process of editing or creating a Wikipedia page.

The Tutorial included useful videos  about how to cite and edit articles:

By Living Colour Filmproduktion, Hamburg, for Wikimedia Deutschland (Wikimedia Deutschland) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The tutorial also included a Wikipedia Cheatsheet to use with Wiki markup shortcuts, and you can also create your own sandbox to play/practice in:

My sandbox

My sandbox

Armed with my tools, I thought I would begin by doing a “Citation Hunt”; a Wikipedia tool that randomly selects an article that needs a citation.  (Did you know that Wikipedia has over 302,603 articles that need citations?)

I thought this would be easy… it wasn’t.  I ran into a dilemma when I found information on the web that I thought I could cite for the Wikipedia article, but when I found there were no references cited on those webpages, I wondered if they had got their information from Wikipedia in the first place, and that perhaps this was not going to be a reliable, credible source.

I found that it was easier to search for a topic I knew about under its category (i.e. speech pathology), rather than try to complete a random citation.

Here I hit pay-dirt, and edited the article, Speech-language pathology.  I added 8 references to this article.  Below are a few screenshots of the process:

Adding a reference / citation using templates:

You can choose from 4 templates to create citations. You can cite the web, news, a book or a journal.  I used the templates for citing the web, books, and journals, and they were easy to use. It took longer to find the references.

Adding a reference in Wikipedia

Adding a reference in Wikipedia

Article in editing / wiki mark-up mode:

Screenshot of one of the references I added in wiki mark-up.

Screenshot of one of the references I added in wiki mark-up.

Edit Summary:

This section asks you to describe the changes you made.

Screenshot describing changes made.

Screenshot describing changes made.

Show Changes:

When you select “show changes”, a screen displays the original text, and the changes you made side-by-side.

This shows the changes you made.

This shows the changes you made.

Show preview / Save page:

When you are finished, you can preview your changes to check that it will display correctly, before saving the page.

Screenshot showing the changes I made in the article body (I added citations 4-11)

Screenshot showing the changes I made in the article body (I added citations 4-11)

Screenshot of the references I added, after saving the page.

Screenshot of the references I added, after saving the page.

Future directions in editing Wikipedia:

This was a great activity.  I could see myself adding to this article to help improve it further.  Another of the issues identified with this article was that it may not represent a world-wide view of the subject.  At the moment, the article represents the profession from the perspective of the U.S.A.  I could add an Australian perspective, by writing about speech pathology education and training in Australia, and discussing speech pathology services in the Australian context.  Adding an Australian perspective would increase the relevance of the article to Australians, or those considering studying in Australia.

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10 comments

  1. Sarah Ross · May 8, 2016

    Wow – I can now trust the page on Wikipedia. I am interested that you also felt nervous. I wonder if that is what stops people contributing – there are silly people but there are also people who have a lot of knowledge who could contribute if they knew how/why.

    I trust Wikipedia to give me the basics and often use citations to let me explore further and it soon shows up when citations are missing and cannot be found anywhere even on a Google Scholar search.

    Great post and thanks, Sarah

    Like

  2. Kaley · May 8, 2016

    Good on you! I too would be nervous about doing this. I’m wondering, now that you’ve conquered your fear if you’ll be doing more editing?
    I really love that this course is helping us to step out of our comfort zones and encouraging us to try new things.

    Like

    • Michele Smith · May 8, 2016

      Thanks, Kaley! I can see myself doing more editing in the future. In fact, I found I became a bit obsessed, and wanted to do “just one more reference!”
      I agree that this course has allowed me to try out a lot of things I may never have considered before, and it has been a good thing!

      Like

  3. Michele Smith · May 8, 2016

    Thanks, Sarah. I was definitely nervous; the idea of editing something as huge as Wikipedia was daunting; but I was happy that I did it. I like that there is a community out there keeping an eye on the information in Wikipedia, to keep it current, and keep it growing and developing. I learned a lot about Wikipedia, but there is lots more to learn. I feel like I just dipped my toe in to test the water!

    Like

  4. ibtisam · May 8, 2016

    Hi Michele,

    I love the idea of editing a topic in the Wikipedia, however, I think it is a big responsibility, so I could not do it.
    Of course, I will do it in the future when I will be more confident in doing such thing.

    well done and thanks for sharing

    Like

    • Michele Smith · May 9, 2016

      Thanks Ibtisam, I agree that it felt like a big responsibility, but if you start small, just with adding a reference, I think that will help you to realise that you could do it!

      Like

  5. Joseph Curro · May 9, 2016

    Awesome post Michele with helpful screenshots. I’ve often read articles and wanted to add my two cents of facts, but would just hit the back button and think ‘I’ll leave it to someone else to fix’. I’ll definitely give the tutorial a go. The only downside for me is if I spent hours adding content only to see it be changed later and removed. Although that’s how Wikipedia works. 😉

    Like

    • Michele Smith · May 9, 2016

      I am sure your input on Wikipedia would be valuable, Joseph. I think you can do “neutral point of view” (NPOV) very well, judging from your blog posts that I have read. Yes, it would be disappointing to have your content changed or removed. That reminds me of Kathleen’s blog post last week on the most controversial topics on Wikipedia, and the battles people have editing and re-editing a particular topic they obviously feel very strongly about. Maybe you should start with a topic that is unlikely to have controversy surrounding it! There is a lot of etiquette surrounding editing Wikipedia, and working with others https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Etiquette
      And a lot about “reverting” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Revert_only_when_necessary
      and edit / reversion wars https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Edit_warring
      which I found fascinating.

      Like

  6. Lisa Schofield · May 13, 2016

    Hi Michele,

    I really enjoyed this post, I hadn’t given much credit to information on Wikipedia and I found your videos on the subject really informative and helpful, so much so I decided to have a go at editing Wikipedia myself. I searched for a landmark in my home town of Newcastle NSW and added a brief one liner of information regarding the shelling of Fort Scratchley during World War II. I also like going to the NLA newspaper site which gives you plenty of opportunity to edit the translations of the newspaper articles. It can be addictive though and interesting finding personal stories about your convict relatives.

    Like

    • Michele Smith · June 5, 2016

      Thanks Lisa! I’m glad you also had a go at editing Wikipedia! We can do it can’t we? Now, if only I had a bit more time to continue editing Wikipedia… and time to fit in a MOOC…
      There’s never enough time, is there?

      Like

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