Monday, August 06, 2007

Editing Wikipedia

I've been neglecting my blog and decided it was time to get back in the saddle. The reasons or the neglect are a combination of being in holiday mode (see the pictures for more details - these are my favourites: Norton St Philip, The Circus and Jumping @ Laycock) and a DIY project that's taking longer than expected (see yet more pictures).

Ewan Blogging
Ewan Blogging,
originally uploaded by Andreas Johannsen.
I've started thinking about work, ploughing through emails and trying to catch up on the blogs I read. However, I'm still not fully up to speed, which is why I can't remember where I read about a report on low participation on social networking sites. Apparently, there are loads of visits to read/write web sites but, by comparison, very few contributions or edits. If I remember correctly, Wikipedia came out with one of the best participation rates but only about 5% of the visits were to add or edit information. (Can anyone help me out and tell me where I read this?)

I realised that although I have created and used wikis, and I have visited Wikipedia on many occasions, I had never edited a Wikipedia entry. About the same time, I discovered that a second cousin of mine, has an entry on Wikipedia. (He is an actor with the dubious distinction of appearing in Footballers Wives: Extra Time - which is why he appears in the Wikipedia.) While I was pleased to see a close(ish) relative on Wikipedea, I was disappointed to see his page was set for deletion because it lacked any corroborating external links.

So, I signed up, spent some time trying to understand the style conventions and then updated his page. I'm quite pleased with myself. You can see the old version of the page as I first found it and my updated version too. Hopefully that will be enough to save his page. :-)

Last year, I tried to get my students to contribute to a class wiki but this year, I think I'll try to get them editing Wikipedia as well. What do you think? Is this a good idea? What articles should I get them to look at with a view to improving them?

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Ewan McIntosh said...

The participation data was in the Guardian and photographed to Flickr here:

Charles Nelson said...

It's a good idea, depending on the focus of your course. They'll need to do research, but they should still have some knowledge of what they're editing plus the topic should be of personal interest so that they'll become more engaged.

David said...

Thanks Ewan

I'm fairly sure I saw it on a blog... but maybe it was your Flickr stream. I've done a bit more poking about since seeing your photo and found a Reuters story about it, Time gives a few more details in Who's Really Participating in Web 2.0. I've registered at the Hitwise site and hope to get the full report soon. If there is anything else of interest in it, I'll let you know. I must admit though that I am really surprised the Flickr participation rate is so far below Wikipedia. It is significantly easier to add to Flickr than to edit Wikipedia.

Hello Charles

Thanks for your comment. My students are training to be teachers so in theory they have some knowledge about education... but I suspect it would be safer to go with personal interest. :-) I did hear a speaker a a conference claim that everyone is an expert on something... maybe I just have to get them to think about what they are experts in and take it from there,

Larry Ferlazzo said...

You might also want to consider having them help edit Wikijunior ( which is providing excellent resources to young native English speakers and English Language Learners of all ages.