[Web4lib] Wikipedia Writing Assignments

phoebe ayers phoebe.wiki at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 20:42:23 EDT 2008

Writing collaboratively with wikis is a powerful tool, and there is at
least some literature on using wikis in an educational setting; I'd
look into the WikiSym conference proceedings as a start. Contributing
to Wikipedia specifically, however, is a separate issue. It is
somewhat irresponsible to simply drop students into the project and
tell them to start writing, as the pages on assignments at
and elsewhere should make clear.

Anyone -- student or not -- writing for Wikipedia needs to understand
that there are clear rules and expectations for encyclopedia writing
on the site. Facts must be referenced and sources given; the core
content policies of Neutral Point of View, Verifiability and No
Original Research must be followed; and the social policies of working
with others civilly to achieve consensus need to be respected.
Encyclopedic, summary style should be followed: typical term papers
that make an argument regarding a set of conclusions are not
acceptable and should not be dropped into the site wholesale. Without
bearing all these guidelines in mind, contributions will likely be
deleted or reverted by other editors, which can be a demoralizing
experience for all concerned.

That's not to say that writing for and working on Wikipedia can't be a
great assignment, but teachers and professors should understand that
they are asking students to participate in an active, working project
with particular cultural and content norms. Wikipedia is certainly the
encyclopedia that everyone can edit, but to edit it *well* you need to
at least somewhat understand the site before you begin.

-- Phoebe Ayers
(librarian and author of the forthcoming "How Wikipedia Works")

On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 2:55 PM, Gerry Mckiernan <gerrymck at iastate.edu> wrote:
> ***Apologies for Receipt of Duplicate Postings***
>  Friends/
>  In a recent posting to ILI-L by Kim Duckett, Librarian for Digital Technologies and Learning, at NC State University Library,  I was reminded about the Wikipedia: School and University Projects article in Wikipedia.
>  The article provides a listing with links of past, present, and planned projects using Wikipedia as the basis/foundation of numerous  (writing) assignments.
>  I have linked to these respective listings and provide details on various **Suggested Exercises** at
>  [ http://scholarship20.blogspot.com/2008/03/wikipedia-writing.html ]

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