In this lab you will work with colleagues to improve Wikipedia articles originally composed by Northeastern students in previous semesters (both in ToT and in other classes). Both before and during that process we will discuss what makes a “good” Wikipedia article, and negotiate those standards as we try to create articles that will pass muster with the Wikipedian community. As we work we will also attend to the ways that Wikipedia’s standards can—even if inadvertently—enforce norms driven by the prevailing demographics of Wikipedia’s most prevalent and active editors.
Here are a few resources you should keep in mind as we work:
- You can create a Wikipedia account at https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CreateAccount. Keep in mind that you can have an account that’s semi- or full anonymous, and you should strongly consider doing so. As Amanda Rust communicated, you can always choose to be less anonymous in the future, but you can’t really choose to be more anonymous once you’ve put identifying info out there. She also encourages you to think carefully about whether you want to pick a username that clearly identifies your gender.
- Amanda has also compiled an incredible set of resources on her teaching page. We’ll spend lots of time with these.
In your fieldbook, you should share a link to the article you worked on and describe the ways in which your group updates your chosen entry. You might link to the change history so I can see precisely what you did. In your reflection, consider questions such as:
- How do you understand Wikipedia’s standards (e.g. Neutral Point of View, No Original Research, etc.) theoretically, and how do they manifest practically? That is, how did trying to write an actual Wikipedia article force you to translate abstract principles into actual research and writing choices?
- In what ways does Wikipedia open up the act of knowledge production, and in what ways does it perpetuate older forms of gatekeeping?
- How do you understand the technical affordances and limitations of the Wiki platform? Consider this medium in relationship to previous media we’ve discussed this semester. Always historicize.
- Did you have any communication—direct or indirect—with other editors? What does it feel like to be a “newbie” and working towards a presumably similar goal (improving the encyclopedia) with strangers?
- Do you think you’ll edit Wikipedia articles again? Why or why not?