Over the past three months, you have been editing the most influential source of information on the planet, ranked the 6th most visited public website on the internet.i Through your experience of contributing to individual articles, I hope that not only you have been able to practice the writing and researching skills at the heart of our course but also been able to see the power of your own voice, that your writing has value and worth beyond the four walls of our classroom!
Conclusion to Our Wikipedia Project:
The wrap-up our semester-long Wikipedia project will be two parts: a five-minute presentation and a four-six page overview of your Wikipedia edits.
Presentation: For you presentation, you will highlight for the class the edits that you have made to your chosen Wikipedia article. (Since you are limited to five minutes, you may want to focus on the most significant edits that you have made.) When you make your presentation, you should use the overhead projector to pull up the Wikipedia article and point out to the class where you made your edits. (If your edits were removed by another user, you may use the “View History” page to show your edits.) Now your presentation should cover the following questions:
What were the edits that you made?
Why did you make these edits? How did these edits improve the article? (You should refer to the “5 Pillars” of Wikipedia when answering these questions.)
Did you receive any feedback from other users regarding your edits? If so, how did you respond to these comments?
Written Summary: While your presentation will deal with justifying your edits, your written summary should focus on what you have learned about Wikipedia and yourself as a writer. Here are the two major topics that I would like you to address in your essay:
Early on in the term, we discussed the fundamental beliefs underlying Wikipedia: a) that a decentralized community of volunteers will police themselves to ensure the accuracy of the articles, b) that the merit of an edit should not be based on the credentials of the editor, and c) that by allowing universal edits a Wikipedia article will represent all major points of view on a topic. Based on your own experience as a Wikipedian, do you think that these beliefs are justified? Overall, what did you learn about Wikipedia? What myths were either proven or disproven by your experience?
In addressing this question, you will need to cite two of the following texts that we discussed about Wikipedia:
Katherine Mangu-Ward’s “Wikipedia and Beyond: Jimmy Wales’ Sprawling Vision”
Clay Shirky’s “Wikipedia – An Unplanned Miracle”
Jon Brodkin’s “The 10 biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s first 10 years”
The clips from The Colbert Report on “Wikiality” and “Wikilobbying”
Will Oremus’s “Wikipedia’s ‘Sockpuppet’ Problem”(You can find a link to this article in the Week 8 lesson folder)
Timothy Messer-Kruse’s “The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia”
Part of the goal of this project was to give you a writing experience that was outside the normal essay, to have you write for readers not in our classroom. Furthermore, you may have had to engage/ collaborate other Wikipedians when editing your chosen article. How was this experience of editing a Wikipedia article different from your previous writing assignments? How did knowing that your writing would be read by numerous visitors to the site change your approach to writing? How were you challenged as a writer by editing Wikipedia? In responding to these questions, you should cite any interaction that you had with other Wikipedians.