Joining the Wikipedians

“So, SaraJoy, you’ve just completed your first major edit to a Wikipedia article. How do you feel?”

Well, Bernard, I’m actually surprised how satisfied I feel. I feel like I’ve contributed something–picked up where someone else left off and made the information available to the world on something I really care about quite a bit more complete and compelling. I feel pretty good.

Also a little scared though. Yeah, got some butterflies about what might happen in the next couple days. How will people react? Will they think I’ve done a terrible job? Did I actually get something wrong? All that. Actually I care quite a bit more about that than I thought I would.

“How did this compare to other writing you do on a regular basis?”

Writing for Wikipedia was actually quite a revealing experience that way. I enjoy writing immensely, and even though “encyclopedic” isn’t exactly how I’d describe my natural voice, it was stimulating to work at concise, objective statements of facts that wouldn’t put the reader to sleep. The thing that struck me, however, was how much more meticulous and discerning I was about sourcing and fact-checking for this piece. It’s with more than a little chagrin that I admit to feeling significantly more motivated to maintain stringent accuracy, locate credible sources, and ferret out interesting facts for an audience of 40,000 complete strangers than I usually have been for a professor, or even myself.

“What do you think you’ll do next?”

Truth be told, I think I’d actually enjoy becoming a regular contributor to Wikipedia. It flexed my writing muscles well enough and could be down right exciting if I found a couple mates to be editing buddies with–critique and contribute to each other’s edits etc. Trouble is, I haven’t got the time. Between bouncing around on the web in search of references, emailing experts, trying to incorporate as much of the existing text as possible into the re-write, and the whole coding bit, this little article took me hours! Maybe when I’m through with school…

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6 responses to “Joining the Wikipedians

  1. Nice writing format! I enjoyed the conversational approach! You have an enjoyable writing style! Hope the folks that read your Wikipedia comments will appreciate your efforts! Where did you insert your comments? I’d be interested in reading your addition!

  2. I edited the article about the Perpetual Education Fund. Both the article and the edit history should be linked to from the post…
    Let me know what you think!

  3. technologymavin

    Ah, I believe you hit upon one of the great reasons to use wikis (and even blogs) in education. i read an article a couple of years ago (alas I can’t find the reference to it!) that stated how improved student writing was when they knew it would (or could) be viewed by people all over the world instead of just their professor.

    I’ve chatted with one such English professor here at BYU who had the same experience.

    I also agree with your comment about time. I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent on this one assignment (and I’m not even getting a grade for all of my efforts . . .)

  4. technologymavin

    P.S. Making a link in a comment is EASY! just make sure you include the ‘http://’ with the rest of the URL and viola! It becomes a link.

  5. “Actually I care quite a bit more about that than I thought I would.”

    Have you reflected more about why that is? Is it because Wikipedia has a bad rap and you want to show that it really can be quality?

    “It’s with more than a little chagrin that I admit to feeling significantly more motivated to maintain stringent accuracy, locate credible sources, and ferret out interesting facts for an audience of 40,000 complete strangers than I usually have been for a professor, or even myself.”

    Which is why Murder, Madness, and Mayhem is such a powerful project. =)

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