Reflections on Wikipedia

Jeremy Somani

I’m so intrigued with the fact that I am learning how to navigate with deeper and better understanding through Wikipedia .  I’ve always regarded it like the encyclopedia online.  I would never consider editing an encyclopedia because those guys who have labored over the information that goes in to such sources have great skill.  I actually feel a bit empowered to know that I can contribute with some training to such a site like Wikipedia because of the value it provides to so many people and information seekers around the world.  As I edited my pages I had this thought in mind:  a young guy from Norwood, Pennsylvania at  American University sitting at a computer can contribute something that has meaning to him like his hometown and his university while perhaps contributing something of value to someone across the world.  I’m intrigued by the vast audience and the huge responsibility involved in adding information to this site.

The three articles i edited were:

For my hometown of Norwood, Pennsylvania, I added an external link to the Norwood Historical Society web page. I thought this page would make a good external link since it relates to the history of the town and provides  additional historical facts and images.  At first I was considering using information from the historical society site as a reference since the content on the site is accurate history but I realized the website might not be quite as credible as other sources.   I also added picture of the  Morton Morton House to the history section of the page using the Wikimedia commons page to find the image. The Morton Morton House is the most popular historic site in Norwood. It is an old brick house from the 17th century that is famous for its age, colonial Georgian style architect and preservation.

Another page that I edited was about a movie called Born Into Struggle. Born Into Struggle is a Documentary film by Rehad Desai about South Africa’s struggles and how they affected a family.  On this page I made most of my edits and added five wiki links to help link the page to other related articles since this particular page was an “orphan” page. I learned that when a wiki page doesn’t have any incoming links to other wiki pages it is categorizes as an orphan.  I also added missing information about awards that the movie won as well as an external link section that I posted a link into.

My final edit was on the American University page. On AU’s page I added a photo of American University’s location on a DC map. I thought this would contribute to the page because most of the photo’s of AU are only of buildings on campus and none of them provide an aerial view of AU’s overall location.  I also used the Wiki commons to find the image.  It is interesting to view these pages as an editor and making choices on what is the best way to contribute to a page.

In my experience thus far the neutral point of view seems to be the most important Wikipedia policy because having a neutral view is what makes a Wikipedia article encyclopedia worthy rather than just opinion. Wikipedia strives to be purely objective.  This is one of the ways Wikipedia writing seems to differs from academic writing.  The characteristic of academic writing is generally based on analytical thinking and proving ones position with evidence and examples.  It generally endorses the ideal of having a stance backed with evidence where as Wikipedia writing strives to be neutral in an effort to achieve objectivity.  Objectivity is not the only thing to strive for though.  What policies will be adhered to as editing takes place also factor in.

I think that in general the reputable source seems like it will be the toughest policy to adhere to while editing Wikipedia.  The reason why I think this is hard is because reputable sources take time to locate and can be hard to find when many of the articles on Wikipedia are extremely specific.   I can see how this can be frustrating for  someone who has a lot of knowledge to contribute to an article about a topic but can’t state all the facts they know without taking the time to find reputable sources to support all of their information.  This is a time consuming effort.  This along with writing objectively takes some acquired skill when it comes to editing Wikipedia.

Overall in my editing experience this far I understand the process to be meticulous.  It’s like editing html like code.  It feels like editing code.  It is somewhat familiar but also foreign. While it is somewhat intimidating to write on such a large public forum it is also comforting to know that the space is communal and public oriented with many helpful resources and practices that encourage people to contribute without punitive actions for well-intentioned editors.

In the future I would like to edit more on the American University page since there is out-of-date information on the site about some buildings on campus.

 

 

Reflections on Editing Wikipedia

When I was sixteen or seventeen I fixed a typo in a Wikipedia page on the Battle of Tours as a guest.  I don’t remember what the word was that I fixed (I do remember though that, even at the time, I considered my contribution pretty minimal) and I imagine that, by now, the page has been edited over so much that word is gone.  Needless to say, the edits I made over the last two weeks were quite different, representing my first real additions to Wikipedia’s content.  But one thing that hadn’t changed was the instant gratification that I got back from some edits, which most serious Wikipedia editors would probably still call minor.  The satisfaction I felt as a junior in high school–knowing that I had helped streamline, in some small way, the public’s knowledge of Charles Martel‘s 732/33 victory–was the same one I felt this most recent round of editing.  We’ll return to this idea later.

The first page that I chose to edit was my hometown, Brick Township, NJ, assuming that this search for sources would be the most casual and that few people in the history of the internet would have cared about a place that’s only claims to fame are semi-regular awards for “America’s Safest City” and a burgeoning population of retirees.  I was mostly wrong about this last point, as hundreds of references and pages of edit history illustrated the lively discussion over this city-sized suburb.  Upon closer inspection, I did notice that the page identified the wrong man as mayor, failing to note the results of the 2013 election, which provided me a relatively easy way to test the waters of this wiki/HTML monstrosity of an editing system.  (I would like to note that I have since warmed to this system).  Also neglected on the page was the results of the 2013 State Football Championships, where the Brick Township High School Dragons took home the title.  So now the public knows just that much more about the place where I grew up.

My next conquest was the page of my favorite band, Titus Andronicus, creators of, among many other things, the 14-minute beauty of “The Battle of Hampton Roads.” This presented more of a challenge, because there were far fewer available sources.  Additionally, I would imagine that the potential editors for the Titus Andronicus page are far more passionate about searching out all available sources than their Brick Township counterparts, but this is just conjecture.  Yet I did manage to slip in information about their forthcoming album, including details provided by lead singer Patrick Stickles.  This was an especially fun edit, simply because I felt like this made a much larger difference in the article (which was significantly smaller than the first).

Finally, I edited the page for William of Apulia.  This was easily the hardest to edit.  The fact that William, a court official in 11th-century Norman Italy who is most well-known for writing an epic poem that almost no one has read (the Gesta Roberti Wiscardi), is known to few people besides professional historians must have something to do with his very tiny page (what is called a stub, I believe).  Additionally, essentially every potential source on William is in a book or scholarly journal, which meant that the sourcing was a much more exhausting process.  Yet, it was also the most rewarding page I edited.  The page now has subheadings, citations, a reference section, and information on William himself.  To be honest, I feel really cool about this page in particular, as it’s the only one where my edits are the current form (thanks to one classmate’s usurping my Titus Andronicus edits).

This feeling of reward, I think, one of the most important takeaways from the editing process.  We talked for awhile on how Wikipedia doesn’t work in theory, but works in practice, but I think that one thing the “theory” portion tends to ignore is how people can be influenced by this feeling–a mix of giving and pride.

This was the biggest part of the process for me.  I’m a history student (and I looked at this whole editing process primarily in how it related to history as a discipline) and the one constant, somewhat aggravating detail is how long history takes.  If someone wants to write history for a living, they’re talking four years of undergrad, graduate school, and then you basically become a professor.  Plus there are the years of research that go into writing one study, and the decades required to become any sort of expert.  Wikipedia doesn’t ask for the same high level analysis as history; in fact the NPOV policy pretty much dissuades that.  In exchange, however, it offers a much more accessible, readable platform for history that, one could argue, makes a larger impact on society.  (Let’s be honest, countless more people will read the Wikipedia page for “The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy” than any single work by the Wikipedia page-less leader in that field, Graham Loud).  History, as a discipline, has forever been the preserve of experts and specialists, but I think Wikipedia is changing that, and, while I have my reservations about that (is it better to have a few people know the expert analysis of a subject, or many more people know its summary?  I don’t know the answer yet) but I think that it’s endlessly interesting and sort of exciting.

Plans for Future Edits:

I feel really attached to the William of Apulia page now, and I’d like to make it really great.

There are endless “stubs” relating to the history of Norman Italy (e.g. Geoffrey Malaterra, the Siege of Bariand all twelve men named Pandulf on Wikipedia) and I feel like that’s where I could make my greatest contribution.

Incredible band/Titus Andronicus-affiliate Diarrhea Planet does not have a Wikipedia page, which could present an exciting/daunting future task.

WVAU, American University’s radio station, also does not have a page.

Reflections on Wikipedia editing

I enjoy figuring out the missing pieces to puzzling situations, so I treated this assignment like a puzzle, looking for missing information that could give readers more complete picture. Researching and finding the right information to add was the most time consuming for me. This assignment really showed me how much work and effort all the volunteers of Wikipedia put into the site. I liked making the technical edits behind the scenes and then seeing the finished piece right away.

I edited the Wikipedia pages for Ashburn, VA, Kyle Richards, and Janelia Farm Research Campus. The Wikipedia page for Ashburn was bare, so I added more information, sections, and sub-headings. My guilty pleasure is the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so after watching an episode I added more information to Kyle Richards Wikipedia page. For my last page, I chose to edit the Janelia Farm Research Campus Wikipedia page. I added information on a sub-heading and more information.

For the Ashburn, VA Wikipedia page, I added another Ashburn newspaper to the media section, information from Forbes Magazine, and an entertainment section with golf courses and recreational parks as sub-headings. I plan to add entertainment information in the future.

I chose Kyle Richards’ Wikipedia page for my pop culture Wikipedia edit. I added her religion and why she converted to the page. This was information I heard while watching the show, then looked up and cited on her Wikipedia page.

The Janelia Farm Research Campus is a Howard Hughes Medical Center campus in my hometown. They’ve played a large role in the community, so I added a section highlighting their involvement in the community.

Overall, I enjoyed editing the Wikipedia pages I chose and plan to continue to make edits to the pages I started on for this assignment. In the future, I plan to edit the Wikipedia page for the Inca Road System after I hike the trail in March. Its really neat to think that since I took the time to make these edits that they could one day answer someone’s question.

Reflections on Wikipedia Editing

For my first experience as a Wikipedia contributor, I edited three articles that include:

Honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed by the Wikipedia editing process because I really did not know where to begin. Once I started to thoroughly read through the articles, though, I found holes and began adding citations, fixing errors in grammar or punctuation and creating hyperlinks. I eventually found myself being able to add new information as well. For example, for the Bethlehem, PA article, I was able to add in a new, short paragraph about a major development in my town, a campus for arts and entertainment called Steel Stacks. I was really surprised that until I edited the page, there was no information about Steel Stacks. That’s when I started to realize not only the unique power of crowd sourcing on Wikipedia but also my individual power in being able to contribute to articles for the benefit of the public sphere.

At times, I was very eager to make edits that I would forget to hit the “Show preview” button, forcing me to re-edit the page once more because I didn’t hyperlink or italicize a word properly. In addition, I sometimes forgot to add a description of my edit in the “Edit summary” box, which I got frustrated with because when I do something, I’m very picky about doing it the right way. Therefore, moving forward, my goals are to slow down and use an internal checklist to make sure that I am writing an edit summary and looking at the preview so that my edits are more clean cut, organized and easy to understand.

As for Wikipedia’s policies, I think NPOV is the most important. Because Wikipedia is usually one of the first sites to pop up in a Google search, a lot of traffic is going to Wikipedia articles, and if that information is biased then a large portion of the population is going to have a misconstrued perspective about a person, place or event. In order to have a neutral point of view, these articles must adhere to most other Wikipedia policies such as reliability of sources (RS), avoiding any conflict of interest (COI) and verifiable information that is transparent (V).

The last policy, notability (N), surprised me. After learning more about it, the policy makes complete sense, but I would never have thought as a rookie editor that there are some articles worth pursuing and have merit, while others are not. Again, this makes sense because if people can’t produce an article that contains third-party sources then the article might as well be propaganda or a personal ad. In learning about all of Wikipedia’s policies, I definitely have more respect for the articles and trust that most contributors have the public’s best interests at heart.

Different from academic writing, Wikipedia writing is quick, being published in a matter of seconds for anyone in the world to see. Also, there is not so much of an emphasis on a particular structure. All articles do not follow the same format; they differ in sections, images used, references provided and how sources are cited. In an academic paper, an individual needs to perform strenuous research in order to write a relatively good analysis of a topic, but with Wikipedia, the idea is that an individual contributes to a topic that he/she is already an expert on. If one does not know the correct citation format or misspells a word, it’s okay because someone else can help make it better.

Overall, I find the Wikipedia editing process to be exciting and challenging (but in a good way). It can be really hard to make sure that information is transparent and cited properly, but once it is done, it feels great to know that I was the one who did it.

As for future Wikipedia articles that need some improvement, I picked the following three:

  1. Corporate Media: I studied corporate media ownership in my Contemporary Media Issues class last semester, and it is an area of communications that I think is crucial in understanding current dilemmas in the news industry and how these dilemmas can be solved for the future. I found that the Wikipedia article for this subject severely lacks information in all of its sections (with room for more sections to be added) as well as citations, images/diagrams, references to current articles about the issue and external links to other resources on the subject.
  2. The CNBC show Fast Money: My uncle, Guy Adami, is a panelist on this show, and I’ve seen him in action from the comfort of my own couch as well as live at the Nasdaq building in New York City. Despite this, I still have no clue as to what is discussed on the show; finance and stocks just aren’t my strong suits. As a result, I visited the Wikipedia article about the show, which I discovered lacks a lot of citations, and in my opinion, it is very disorganized and, therefore, confusing to follow and digest. The article could also be updated since a lot of the reference material is from 2009-2011, and the “Segments” section of the article could be revised to include the date of the segments so it is transparent as to when the topics of those segments were discussed.
  3. National ShamrockFest: Being 21 for the first time around St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself looking for places and events I could visit to celebrate the holiday. Last year, I discovered the National Shamrock festival here in D.C. While the festival’s site provides lots of detail and pictures about the festival, the Wikipedia article needs some major improvements. First, the article definitely needs a picture so that viewers can get a first impression of what the festival is like. It also needs to refer to newspaper or magazine articles written about it; there should be sections that highlight bands who have visited the festival in the past and highlight the setup of the festival (how many stages there are, what they’re called).

 

UPDATE

The three Wikipedia articles that I edited for Assignment 1 were: the novel Divergent, Bethlehem, PA (my hometown) and muckraker. Since then, other Wiki users have edited the pages, but all of my edits remained untouched by other contributors/bots.

More specifically, for Divergent, my edits to the plot, character descriptions and links to actors for the Divergent film all still exist on the article. Since then, there have been about 30 edits. Some of those were small edits to syntax and grammar. Other edits were Wiki bot responses to vandalism, and another major edit was the removal of a fake character in the character description section. Looking at the page view statistics, there was a jump in mid-November and around February 5. This is probably due to the release of movie trailers for the Divergent movie.

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Next, there are the revision history statistics. The image below shows that most edits were complete by IPs, as opposed to actual users. Given that the novel is becoming a movie with high profile celebrities and is a target for vandalism, this makes sense.

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In the short years that the article has existed, the most edits were completed in 2013, which may be because it was announced that year that the novel would be made into a movie.

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Observing the top contributors for the Divergent article, the top contributor is actually a bot, which I found to be surprising and unexpected. The second contributor, has interests in film and entertainment, Jockzain, is known for his/her contributions to film and entertainment articles as well as skills in editing and vandalism, which he/she sure must have used in responding to vandalism on the Divergent article.

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As for the article about Bethlehem, PA, I added information to the “Recreation and entertainment” section and cited it, which has not been changed. Since my edits, there have been only 7 other edits. Most are small additions in information and the deletion of another contributor’s edit. The traffic statistics show consistent views for the article over a 90-day basis.

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Different from the Divergent article, the Bethlehem, PA article received more edits from users than IPs; it also, out of the three articles, the least frequently edited.

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2006 was the year for the most number of edits to this article. Reviewing the edit history, it appears that most edits during that year were to the section about notable/famous people from Bethlehem, information about secondary education and colleges/universities and the history of Bethlehem.

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The number one contributor to the Bethlehem Wikipedia article is PAWiki. Many of the edits performed in 2006, the year with the highest edits, were by this user. He/she is involved with several WikiProjects for Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley Area so I think it is safe to say that this is an area of expertise for PAWiki.

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For the article about muckrakers, I made several edits, including changing the name of a book by Nelly Bly to its correct title, adding references to information about Bly and Upton Sinclair and added information about the effect of Sinclair’s The Jungle on public policy. All of my edits remain on the article, though I am the last contributor to make any edits. When observing the traffic statistics for the article in the last 90 days, there was a significant drop in views from mid-December to mid-January. This may be due to the holiday season. Kids as well as college students are out of school and, therefore, are not working on projects about this subject.

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Out of the three Wikipedia articles, this last article about Muckrakers has the most revisions to date. Users and IPs are roughly even in their contributions. Because this is a fairly high-profile subject, I’m sure there are plenty of experts not he subject who to volunteer with knowledge. However, because this article is longer than the other two articles and has more contributors, more mistakes probably occur and so the bots probably are needed to clean up the article from simple mistakes or vandalism.

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Although there are several years competing for first place, 2009 appears to be the year with the most number of edits. These edits are a culmination of adding additional information to current sections of the article and responding to other contributors’ edits/vandalism.

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The top contributor for the muckraker article is Calicocat, who has a lot more edits than even the second contributor. He/she is only a member to the Journalism WikiProject so it is clearly a field that this user is highly interested in and has expertise.

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Mia Miller Reflections on Wikipedia editing

Mia Miller

I use Wikipedia a lot, and never realized all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. As a user I expected the information to be true and took it for face value. It did not occur to me that the system and wiki editors work hard to make sure the work I see is actually honest, and quickly remove false information.

I also did not know that Wikipedia was a collaboration between users. I thought one person wrote an article, and they owned the rights to that article, all of it’s content, and no one else could edit it. It is interesting to me that Wikipedia found a system that works with so many users working in the same space at the same time.

I was surprised that the wiki VisualEditor wasn’t introduced until mid-2013. It seems like a short time ago. I can’t imagine only having wikicode as an option. I probably would do less editing overall because wikicode is more time consuming.

The first wiki article I wanted to edit was Kanye West. Apparently his article was semi-protected. According to Wikipedia: Semi-protection prevents editing by unregistered contributors and contributors with accounts that are not confirmed. I didn’t realize I wasn’t confirmed. One of the issues might have been that I did not have any prior edits and created my account the day before, so I decided to start smaller. Next, I decided to edit one of Kanye West album pages on Wikipedia. I clicked on Late Registration because I really liked that album. I began reading the article and noticed most of the studios he worked at for the album had a hyperlink to other wiki pages, except for Grandmaster Recording Studios. I Googled it and no Wikipedia page exists for that studio, so I created one. Afterwards, I went back to tag it in the Late Registration article, and it said “this page may meet the criteria for speedy deletion.” I had to submit a contested deletion form.

The form stated: This article should not be speedily deleted for lack of asserted importance because… (grandmaster records is a recording company in Hollywood, California that is relevant. For example, Kanye West recorded his Late Registration album at grandmaster records studio. The page did not exist, and I think it needed to be created.) –~~~~

I created the Grandmaster Recorders page because I wanted to edit the Late Registration page and add the wikilink to the page. It still says my Grandmaster Recorders page doesn’t exist even though I did a contest deletion form. Instead I edited the Late Registration page by adding an external link to Grandmaster Recorders website. I also added more wikilinks to artists on the Late Registration page.

I also made edits to comedian Jim Norton’s Wikipedia page. I interviewed him this week, and found out he was on the Jimmy Kimmel so in addition to the Tonight Show, and the Late Show. Jimmy Kimmel was missing from his performance history so I added it. I also added the release date of to one of his stand-up specials American Degenerate, and added that it is available on Netflix. I then added a wikilink to Netflix.

The policy that I think is most important is NPOV. I think this is most important because it eliminates bias and ultimately works to make the website content posted by so many different users honest and fair.

Three articles in Wikipedia that I want to edit/improve are Babe (film), Eat Pray Love (film), and The Best Man (film). I don’t think these pages did the films justice. I would like to add more pictures, quotes, and links. Next I would add charts for any awards they might have received, or been nominated for. Then I think a critical analysis of the film should be included. I also think it would be beneficial to include the trailers for the films to add video to the pages.

Reflections on Wikipedia Editing

This week I edited Wikipedia pages for the first time. I edited the pages Pittsford, New York, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the Kennedy assassination. After reading the three articles, I found areas where sentence structure and clarity could be improved and revised them. I also added links to other Wikipedia pages. This way, users can more easily find further information on some certain events and words used within the articles.

Wikipedia has set up many policies to ensure its content stays credible and thorough. It is incredibly important for contributors to follow these rules. I think the most important policies are V, NPOV, and RS. V means verifiability. Editors and contributors must ensure that they only add correct information that can be backed up by reliable sources, or RS. Wikipedia is also great for finding specific sources. The notations and links at the bottom help users find more information on a topic. NPOV, neutral point of view, is also important to make sure the articles stay unbiased. Maintaining a neutral view keeps Wikipedia credible because it is not choosing a stance on any issue, just informing the reader of the different sides.

Wikipedia writing is different from academic writing mainly because Wikipedia’s reader audience is so much bigger. Many different age and reading levels use Wikipedia as an important source for information. By using simple language and clear sentence structures, Wikipedia writers help ensure everyone can easily understand the information. They are reaching a broad audience with different needs. They need to cater to those looking for both basic and deep understandings.

I thought the COI policy was unexpected. Without it, Wikipedia could be an incredible opportunity to boost a personal agenda. I like this policy to make sure people are using it to inform the public without pushing topics for their own self-interest. This relates to the NPOV policy which ensures readers are not swayed by Wikipedia articles. They are there to inform readers about topics so that they can make up their own minds based on this information.

I think it would be difficult for editors to maintain a neutral view. If you choose to write an article, you are probably passionate about that topic. It could be difficult for them to remain neutral and not interject their own ideas.

I was surprised at how simple the process was. It’s quick and intuitive which is perfect for encouraging many different people to contribute to the encyclopedia. I use Wikipedia daily, so it’s great to understand how it works and see how anyone can edit or create articles to help improve one of the most popular sites on the Internet.

Three articles that I feel need some improvement are tap dancing, dance team, and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. All three pages could use some updating with more current stats and photographs. Tap dancing has so many different styles not reflected on the page. Dance team needs some updates- it’s not just pom poms and drill team moves anymore. Magic Kingdom is undergoing some renovations that will open later this year that are not reflected in this article.

UPDATE:

The number of edits since mine seemed to align with the popularity of the page. None of my edits were undone. I think they were pretty uncontroversial and followed Wikipedia’s guidelines, or no one has noticed them.

The last edits to my hometown’s page , Pittsford, New York, were mine. I added information about the school system in the education section. This article received between 40-80 views per day throughout January. I estimated about 350 people view this page per week. Since this page is not incredibly popular, I wasn’t surprised that my edits were the most frequent.

The JFK assassination article received between 3,000 and 4,000 views daily in January. I estimated about 20,000 people view this page per week. There have been about 15 more edits since mine last week. I was expecting this page to be visited more frequently, I was surprised it only has  few thousand views per day.

The Leonardo DiCaprio article received between 40,000 and 50,000 views per day in January. It is ranked 272nd in the most traffic views on English Wikipedia. I estimated about 350,000 people view this page per week. There have been quite a few edits since mine, probably due to award season as DiCaprio has been nominated for best actor at many film awards. The views spiked on January 13 to 160,000 views possibly due to his Oscar nomination.

Reflections on Wikipedia Editing

For something so relatively new,  it is rather incredible how much I take Wikipedia (and its editors) for granted. In the past, I would browse through the sprawl that is Wikipedia, coming across multiple pages that fell decidedly short of the lofty standards set by the site’s most vast and comprehensive articles. However, I never once felt the urge to edit them, trusting that the people “behind the scenes” would eventually solve the problem.

Yet when it came time to actually edit these pages, it felt surprisingly gratifying. To supplement such a widely used center of knowledge is deeply satisfying, as you truly know someone is going to read and gain from what you have written. Granted, my first few edits were not always particularly clean or thorough; when I edited the list of elected officials for my hometown of Monroeville’s page, I left out the source from which I found the information. Furthermore, one edit I completed on a page for musician Karen O regarding what I wrote as “her second collaboration with Spike Jonze” was quickly corrected by another user as “her second film collaboration with Spike Jonze,” which served as an important lesson in Wikipedia’s need for particular, specific bits of information.

The first page I edited was for my hometown, Monroeville, Pennsylvania. As I mentioned before, the first edit I made on the page was updating all of the elected officials listed on the page. Although I made the amateur mistake of not including a source, it was a neat experience to see an entire section completely changed in a matter of seconds. While most of the information on the Monroeville page was up-to-date with the most recent census data, I was able to contribute in other ways, most notably in the “references by the media and arts” article. Here, I was able to include information about the 2008 film Zach and Miri Make a Porno, which I remembered being filmed in my town at the time. As I went along editing this section, I noticed how one point regarding a song’s inspiration was followed by a “Citation Needed” label. I spent the next ten minutes scouring the Internet for a legitimate source to quote, slowly realizing that I had been bitten by the Wikipedia editing bug.

My other page’s edits were fairly simple, yet I was still impressed by other editors’ follow-up in certain instances. While editing the page of musician Mac DeMarco, I added new information regarding his just-announced 2014 album. Not long after this information was included, another editor made a completely new page for the aforementioned album. The speed and detail Wikipedia editors work with is truly something to behold, and this was no exception. Meanwhile, my edits to “List of cases pending before the Supreme Court” included upcoming cases on issues regarding copyright and patents, an area I’m interested in pursuing as a lawyer. Those edits were somewhat more challenging, as they required me to lay them out in a chart format I was not used to. Fortunately, they have turned out fairly well.

Editing on Wikipedia has become a surprisingly addictive experience, as the process of contributing information on something you care about is a consistently fulfilling venture. If this is any indication of what lies ahead, I am looking forward to future work on the pages of Wikipedia.

NOTE: Here are the links to the three main pages I edited.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_DeMarco

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monroeville,_Pennsylvania

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cases_pending_before_the_United_States_Supreme_Court

 

UPDATE

As I looked back through the initial pages I edited, I was not surprised to see that nobody has edited the article on my hometown (Monroeville, PA) since my additions. Considering I was the first person to edit the page since November 2013, it is clear that the page is not commanding much attention. This was also evident in its page views, which have generally hovered between 90 and 100 in a day. Generally, edits on this page tend to occur with the release of new data regarding the economy or changes in elected officials, so I do not expect many edits in the near future.

The same lack of updates/edits applied to the page detailing the List of cases pending before the US Supreme Court. While I do not believe there have been any cases announced since my last edit, there is still updating to be done on this article, and I’m frankly shocked nobody else has contributed to it. Looking at its edit history, however, it is clear that updates only occur whenever something is announced. While there was an edit before mine in December, the next group of edits took place all the way back in July.

Finally, I observed the edit history of the page for musician Mac DeMarco. Finally, one edit had been made since my own, which was a factoid on a rumored collaboration with another musician. The news of this collaboration resulted in a spike in page views, going from 1,091 to 1,373.  However, other than this one small addition, the article remained the same since I had edited it. I imagine more and more edits will occur as more news of DeMarco’s upcoming  April album are released to the public. Looking over his page, while a few editors’ names appear a few times, there is a relatively good variety in contributors for such an artist of this level.

Reflections on Wikipedia Editing

First Impressions

When it comes to Wikipedia editing, the world really is at your fingertips.  This week, I became a novice Wikipedia editor thanks to American University’s new course titled “Crowdsourcing, Wikipedia and Public Knowledge.”  Before entering the class, I used Wikipedia because it’s the first link to appear at the top of my Google search results page.  For details on Golden Retrievers, researching the basics quantum physics or even finding out where Beyoncé’s hometown is, Wikipedia is my go-to information outlet.  My relationship with this extensive online encyclopedia has changed course—now I have embarked on a semester-long (and potentially life-long journey) as a contributor (not just reader) of the Wiki World.

Editing

I enjoyed reviewing my “user contributions” after I completed the editing work. I recognized my first edits made during the tutorials we took earlier this week, and felt accomplished as I scrolled to the top to my most recent edits. Overall, I was surprised to see how many internal Wiki links were missing within articles. Therefore, I made it my priority to link both internally and externally on articles that were lacking dimension on the web. I started off my edits by adding to the Alexander W. Dreyfoos High School of the Arts page (my high school in South Florida). I added a minor edit to detailing the wide range of home locations for students attending the magnet school. Then, I added external links to my hometown’s fire and police departments within the page on the city of Palm Beach Gardens. Then, I edited a popular culture article on baseball Hall of Famer, Gary Carter’s Wikipedia page. Carter was my neighbor and friend; therefore I strived to maintain NPOV (Neutral Point of View) while editing. I also felt gratification in enhancing information and linking externally to his renowned foundation webpages. As for the page on an interesting field of study, I chose to do an article on Iphoneography. Sticking to basic editing, I rearranged some awkward wording in the first paragraphs, and added internal Wiki links to photography concepts the author listed at the end of the article. This could also be an article I would like to invest more time in, as innovation and technology highly interest me. My goals for next time would include adding a photo or two to Wikimedia Commons.

My future as a Wikipedian

This week, I made myself more comfortable in the editing realm of Wikipedia.  I searched incessantly for places, people and things on Wikipedia, in hopes of finding a subject scarcely researched or nonexistent on the site. As for a future article to edit or potential topic for our final project, I would love to write about sandwich, salad and healthy eating franchise, “Sweetgreen,” which is scattered  throughout the DC metropolitan area and gaining popularity. I look forward to gaining experience as a “Wikipedian” this semester and have enjoyed the learning process thus far.

Update

Over the past week since my first edits on Wikipedia, I received ample feedback from a contributor under the username “Wdchk.” Wdchk was cordial and friendly when he addressed my recurring erroneous use of external links. Wdchk kindly referenced me (with an internal link) to the “Wikipedia: Polcies and guidelines” page which held instructions on external linking. As I reviewed the revision history of the “Dreyfoos School of the Arts” page, I noticed he undid most of my edits, but kindly referred to them as “good faith” edits. Since my communication with Wdchk, another editor named “Dmacks” jumped aboard my high school’s page and commented on my links as well.  Dmacks wrote: “…not really in keeping with infobox guidelines…already have main site link, secondary sites aren’t even to be included in extlinks.”  While I appreciate all of Wdchk and Dmacks’ edits, I am beginning to think that my journey on Wikipedia may to more harm than good to the site!  Now I’m off to communicate on some Talk pages to discuss discussing my WikiProject: WikiProject Food and drink .

Here are a few graphs indicating the page-view statistics for the three articles I originally edited…  Interesting things to see!

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Page statistics for the past month on the Iphoneography page. My edits were just a few weeks ago.
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This is an interesting view of the editing history statistics for Gary Carter. Unfortunately Carter passed away in 2012 and we can see that the article size increased dramatically in that year.
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It is apparent that my edits during the month of January (followed by “good faith” reversal edits of Wikipedians) gave my High School Wiki page a lot of attention–significantly more than it has had in the past!

Happy editing,

Bailey

Reflections on Wikipedia editing

The Wikipedia pages that I made edits to include Brentwood, TN, Giuliana Rancic, Pancreatic Cancer, and Primary Care Physicians. For Brentwood, TN I thought it would be interesting to research celebrities from the area, since Nashville has been called the “new LA.” I found out that one of the band members from Kings of Leon lives in Brentwood, TN and his wife, Jesse Baylin is a singer as well. Baylin is not very popular so her name was not even included in the list of musicians from/residing in Brentwood. So, I went ahead and added her name to the list. The Census was not updated since 2010. I researched the latest census, which is from 2012, and replaced the 2010 census with it. I added a link to the Ravenswood Mansion. However, I’m not sure that I did it correctly because the Ravenswood Mansion Wikipedia page is actually called “Ravenswood (Brentwood, Tennessee).” I couldn’t figure out how to change the title of a Wikipedia page (or if that’s even possible.) If I am able to, I want to change the title to “Ravenswood Mansion” to make it consistent with the bit about Ravenswood on the Brentwood, TN page. I also edited this original sentence- “The first known residents of Brentwood were prehistoric Native Americans with highly developed culture living in towns and farming the land. It didn’t sound like NPOV to me and there was no sourcing to support the claim. So I edited the sentence to read, “The first known residents of Brentwood were prehistoric Native Americans.”

For the pop culture category, I edited the Giuliana Rancic page. On it, there was originally no mention of her and her husband’s reality show, “Giuliana and Bill.” This is what I wrote- “She and her husband Bill Rancic, star in their own reality show, “Giuliana and Bill,” which originally aired on E!. I hyperlinked E!, Giuliana and Bill, Miss USA, Naples, Bethesda, Maryland.

For Academic interests, I made small edits to two pages- Pancreatic Cancer and Primary Care Physicians. I looked at symptoms and signs from some reputable sources and I found that the Wikipedia page did not include two prominent symptoms- weight loss and digestive problems. Since I did extensive research last semester for projects on the issue of the primary care shortage, I have gotten pretty familiar with the issue. I found a statement on the page that read, “Shortages of primary care physicians are an increasing problem in developed countries.” I didn’t find any sources that supported that claim. The claim didn’t sound right to me either, because the interesting thing about the shortage is that it’s really only the in the US. Countries in Europe have a 70 to 30 percent ratio of primary care physicians to specialists, while the US has a 30 to 70 percent ratio of primary care to specialists.

I am still very amateur at Wikipedia editing and I think it’s just a matter of getting more familiar with navigating around Wikipedia and learning the ins and outs of editing more extensively. I want to be able to actually contribute original content, rather than hyperlink and delete claims that don’t seem right.

Reflections on Wikipedia Editing

EDITING

The task of researching and figuring out what information users would find most useful when searching Wikipedia was lengthy for me. What is difficult about editing Wikipedia articles is that they differ from the writing I’m used to. They require facts, a summation of events, and style that goes beyond entertainment writing yet understandable for anyone who reads it. The technical part was easy to follow and I adjusted to the editing box well. I did want to add photos at one point, but Wikipedia Commons is strict on using sources found online, so that was disappointing, yet understandable.

I edited the pages for North Potomac, MDKilo Kish and for the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Lonnie Bunch III. My hometown’s wiki was surprisingly thorough, but I decided to consider what information potential homebuyers would be interested in. I included my neighborhood’s proximity to DC, information on the successful Equestrian Center located nearby, and a header and subsequent information on the area’s transportation accessibility.

For the next article, I chose to add more of a background story to Kilo Kish’s musical career, since the article merely listed her projects without much flow. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I included her modeling opportunities, how she started recording music with her roommates and her latest project, which was a digital magazine. Whenever I have more time, I want to add a link to her personal website and upload snippets of her singles and concert history just to provide more of a holistic view of her as a brand.

The last article I edited wasn’t technically academic but it regarded the museum I hope to intern/work for in the future. NMAAHC’s founding director, Dr. Lonnie Bunch III has an extensive academic and museum professional history that was omitted from his wiki. I included that his career spanned over 30-years, and also created an entire header for his bibliography and found most of the books he assisted researching and writing for.

 IMPRESSIONS 

My first experience editing Wikipedia pages revealed how pertinent keeping a neutral point of view is. Despite having verifiable information, notability, reliable sources and non-conflicting interests, how the information is interpreted and communicated is most important. The key is  to create a narrative that uses its sources objectively. Two people can read the same research, following all of the above policies, but write an article in a way that is skewed to reflect their own motivations.  Upholding a NPOV is also the most challenging because of differing perspectives and clashes that may occur during inevitable collaborations.

None of the policies really surprised me. I would hope that articles are regulated in such a way that prevents false information, and skewed viewpoints.

FUTURE ARTICLES

  • I visited family in Jamaica over Winter Break and spent some time in St. Mary Parish on the northern coast. One town we visited, Port Maria, was filled with historic landmarks and a scenery that would not be apparent based on its wiki page. I would add the photos I took myself of the town, along with a better narrative to follow along with, instead of listing random facts
  • Sampha is another artist I enjoy listening too,  who needs his musical history and album artwork embedded into his wiki
  • And Kingsview Middle School’s  page needs better information on its advanced course listing, awards, and statistics that would appeal to new parents in the area

UPDATE

After reviewing the three articles I first edited, I noticed nothing that was changed are added. The statistics for the North Potomac, MD article weren’t surprising, and the last major edit was in 2008, by a user who has since been inactive on the page. I am also listed as the #5 contributor for this article.  The Kilo Kish Wikipedia page had it’s highest  editing time during August 2012 because of the release of her mixtape and various work with other artists during that time. But even after releasing other projects her page’s edits are still very few. Dr. Lonnie Bunch‘s article received its highest edits in May 2012,  in which I can’t find any information on a speech or presentation that he  participated in during that time that could have sparked this increase of traffic. Below are the user view charts and editing history for each article:  

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