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September 20, 2012 / tasha cowdy

Editing Wikipedia

I was interested in attempting the bonus challenge of editing Wikipedia. I had spent some time previously exploring the contributing/ editing structure of wikipedia when I stumbled across a link to an article that had been removed. At the time, I had been sufficiently intrigued to follow the links and find out more.  Based on that earlier experience, I felt that the actual process of editing would not be too daunting. The bigger challenge seemed to be finding something to edit; I couldn’t think of any area of knowledge to which I could usefully contribute.  

I grew up in a small rural community in Ireland. It occurred to me that I possessed expert knowledge about the area that was probably not widely known or documented.  However, I wasn’t sure that the knowledge I had would be useful in any way. I went to Wikipedia and spent some time browsing. I came across a Wikipedia article about an ancient landmark, the Annadorn dolmen that was well known locally. I remembered it vividly from my childhood. I noticed that there was a banner saying that this article was an orphan.

 

I clicked on the link to learn more about orphaned articles and found that there were no links from other articles to this article, which meant that this article was apparently hard to find unless a searcher had very specific information.  I clicked on a few more links to learn what I could do about the article’s orphan status. After a little more research, I found another Wikipedia article dolmens with a section on dolmens in Europe. Within that section, there was a paragraph on dolmens in Ireland, with some examples.  The north of Ireland (where I am from) was mentioned, but there were no examples. So … I edited the dolmens article by adding a linked example of the Annadorn dolmen.  

 

I hope I’ve done it correctly! Before I did any actual editing, I read a Wikipedia article on how to edit Wikipedia and FAQs about editing.  I opened a Wikipedia account (as advised by the articles) and tested my edit in my sandbox. Despite testing and getting the desired results in the sandbox, I mucked up the link twice before I got it working in Wikipedia. I’m a little overwhelmed by the responsibility of editing Wikipedia and the global consequences of any mistakes I might have made.  I’ve checked the link, via several routes, and it seems okay. I’m still waiting for a scolding email from someone to tell me I’ve mucked up the whole system …

As I reflect on my own process, it occurs to me what a powerful thing it is for students to participate as global  collaborators and contributors.  I see strong connections to the previous module on digital citizenship;  as students contribute more, and more publicly, it becomes increasingly important that they have a deep understanding of the importance of on-line integrity.

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