Reflections on Edit-a-thon #1

I have always been a big fan of the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery and was very excited to help them out in some way. On the day of the edit-a-thon, I didn’t have a specific topic in mind, so I appreciated the opportunity to look over the list of suggestions and curated folders of information.

Although I could have continued to play it safe and practice the skills honed in our first two assignments, I instead opted to attempt something new and try my hand at article creation. This decision is what resulted in one of the most significant teaching moments I’ve experienced in this course thus far.

After looking at the AmericanArt COMM535 edit-a-thon page, I decided to create an article for Natalie Smith Henry. However, moments after my article went live (if this is the right word for it) it was nominated for speedy deletion.
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Despite having work on display in the Smithsonian, Henry’s significance was apparently lost by some in the Wikipedia community.

Although I found this stressful, and frankly a little insulting, I understand why it happened. My article, at first, was lacking references and substantial information needed to meet Wikipedia’s requirements. If I had to give any advice to my fellow budding Wikipedia editors, it would be to take advantage of the Sandbox. Had I used this feature, I feel as though the frustrations I experienced could have possibly been avoided. On the Sandbox page, I am able to try out different edits, without any of the Wikipedia vultures swooping in before it is ready to be seen by the public eye.

I was very thankful to be in the museum during this whole debacle so I could turn to the Wikipedia experts for assistance. I owe a big thank you to User: duckduckstop in particular for all of his help. He added an “under construction” banner so I was able to continue adding to the article in peace without further fear of deletion or criticism.
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Throughout the remainder of, and in the days following, the edit-a-thon, I expanded the Natalie Smith Henry article by inserting an info box, adding a longer narrative, cleaning up references and organizing the narrative into sections.

Now that I’ve experienced article creation, I look forward to contributing to the next edit-a-thon. For future edit-a-thons, I would be interested in seeing more specific expectations about articles that need to be created. Also, as I was working on the narrative for the Natalie Smith Henry article, I referred to the Romaine Brooks article several times to see how to split up the narrative and include an artist info box. I think more examples of excellent, or less than excellent, articles would also be useful as research resources.

38 thoughts on “Reflections on Edit-a-thon #1”

  1. Considering that the article when first published by Chelsea contained just the words “Natalie Smith Henry”, it shouldn’t be surprising that another editor felt it was a bit too short on substance. What we should find surprising is that the other editor spotted the article within a minute of its creation. Wikipedia is “kept clean” by numerous editors who voluntarily spend time monitoring new article creation and helping remove things that don’t belong in an encyclopedia. It’s a pity that Chelsea wasn’t warned that an article containing just three words might be deleted, but consider the alternative: a Wikipedia filled up with fragments, trivia and nonsense. It’s a tribute to the collaborative editing environment that the article’s potential was recognised and it was saved.

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