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wiki-wiki-Wikipedia [intro to rules, syntax, open editing]

[Project Narrative] [Instructional Narrative]

Project Narrative

"Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content. The name "Wikipedia" is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick") and encyclopedia. Wikipedia's articles provide links designed to guide the user to related pages with additional information... Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference websites, attracting 439 million unique visitors monthly as of June 2015." [from] 

starting points

Do you read Wikipedia entries or use Wikipedia as a resource? Why or why not? Have you edited or contributed to Wikipedia? 


The practice of editing Wikipedia entries or contributing new articles to Wikipedia can be used as an introduction to research methods [collecting verifiable resources and citation], writing [neutral tone], and the use of specific syntax [markup rules] for formating text and images and media inside a Wikipedia page. Beyond these practical applications, Wikipedia contribution can begin to demystify the internet while shedding light on broader themes like: what is authority, what is authorship, how is expertise determined, who creates records [now and throughout history], is neutral possible, what is bias; and interesting challenges like: why is diversity not a norm, and how can agency be distributed. "In a 2011 survey, Wikimedia found that less than 13% of its contributors are female.[1] The reasons for the gender gap are up for debate: suggestions include leisure inequality, how gender socialization shapes public comportment, and the contentious nature of Wikipedia's talk pages. The practical effect of this disparity, however, is not. Content is skewed by the lack of female participation. Many articles on notable women in history and art are absent on Wikipedia. This represents an alarming aporia in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge." [from]


attribution, citation, Creative Commons License, markup, markup language, open content, repository, syntax, wiki, wiki markup

structure and timing

This project can be geared for individuals or collaborations. A topic is selected based on the course/workshop theme. Research [citations], writing [neutral tone], media asset searches [images, animations, audio], and formatting [syntax] tasks can be taken on by one person or distributed amongst groups depending on the complexity of the topic and the course/workshop goals. 

critical contexts

Error, Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures; see chapter 9 "Wikipedia, Error, and Fear of the Bad Actor," by Mark Nunes [downloadable content]

Instructional Narrative

Be a Wikipedia Editor. 

The most basic way to contribute to Wikipedia is to click anywhere you see the word [edit] in blue and modify the text in the content window that is generated. The problem with this approach is that you are not logged in. Because you are not logged in, Wikipedia will capture and publish your IP address (this is the location of your computer/internet connection) revealing your location. A better approach to editing Wikipedia is to create an account (very top right of the browser window). If you create an account, and then login with your unique user account handle, your edits will be attributed to your user name (you may choose anonymity), among other significant benefits like the ability to create new articles. Other significant benefits to having an account include: the ability to keep a running list of your contributions/activity, the ability to maintain a “watch list” of your contributions (or articles not created yet), and the ability to use the "talk page" feature which is a way to post and archive messages with other editors and “talk” through issues or conflicts. 

1. Identify and Gather Your Research/Content:

It is very important that new content be cited. Wikipedia does not appreciate (or tolerate) original content (as in primary research, or reserach you collected directly through interview/observation/etc). The content should be verifiable through resources/references. This could mean published books, articles, lectures, keynote addresses, etc. Think "peer reviewed" material. From Wikipedia: "Information in Wikipedia should be verifiable and must not be original research. You are invited to show that information is verifiable by referencing reliable sources. Unsourced information may be challenged and removed, because on Wikipedia a lack of information is better than misleading or false information—Wikipedia's reputation as an encyclopedia depends on the information in articles being verifiable and reliable. To avoid such challenges, the best practice is to provide an "inline citation" at the time the information is added." To make the process easier have links to citations gathered before you start writing your edits or new articles. If you are contributing an article on a contemporary artist or designer one approach is to look through their CV and find links for their exhibition catalogs, articles and books written about them or citing their ideas/works, archived interviews (written or archived media), etc.

2. Survey the Situation on Wikipedia:

Become familiar with the way things are written for Wikipedia. Topics must be "notable." Entries must have a neutral tone. Information broken down and presented through sections with headings. Read entries that are similar to the edits or articles you are interested in working on. Search for the person, group, or topic you are interested in working on. Does an article already exist? Review the article and consider adding new information with the material and citations you have gathered. If your article does not already exist the search results will say "You may create the page "yourSearchTermHere", but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered." If you click on the "yourSearchTermHere" a new blank article is generated. Stop right there for a moment. A new page will not be live or published until you hit "Save page" at the bottom. Do not save this page until your content is completely developed and the formatted properly [details below]. It is best practice to use your account "Sandbox" to work on your rough draft article. Go to the top right of the browser window and open your sandbox link. [a new tab is helpful] learn more

3. Draft an Article in Your Sandbox:

Your sandbox is a place to do your "rough drafts" before publishing edits or new articles. This is were you write, cite, and add formatting with proper markup syntax [this markup is detailed below in section #4]. Once you are happy with your content in your Sandbox (preview is tested) you can copy and paste all of this source content right into the new article you are creating. Notice in your sandbox there is a set of tabs top right - Read | Edit Source | View History. <-- this is how you can return to works in progress, read a preview, or edit what is currently in your sandbox after you have saved. Here is a 1 minute movie about the sandbox:

4. Use the Wiki markup [Wiki markup, is also known as wikitext or wikicode]:

Of primary concern for beginners is basic layout, basic text formatting, and citations/references. Layout can include headings and subheadings. Text formatting can include bold and italic text, lists, and hard returns. Citations/references in an article usually have two parts. In the first part, each section of text that is either based on, or quoted from, an outside source is marked as such with an inline citation <ref></ref>. The inline citation may generate a superscript footnote number, or an abbreviated version of the citation called a short citation. The second necessary part of the citation or reference is the list of full references, which provides complete, formatted detail about the source, so that anyone reading the article can find it and verify it. At the end of the page insert this to keep your refs tidy: {{Reflist}}

There are several approaches to using Wiki markup. Most people use a mixed process:
Study: Learn the markup and integrate the code by hand by referencing this page:
Use Tools: Find buttons at the top of content fields [twirl open "Advanced" and "Cite" for more options]. Use those buttons to add formatting and citation features to selected content.
Borrow: Copy content from another organized article (strip out/modify the content). At the top right of any article notice tabs. Click that "Edit" -- copy all that content and paste it into a plain text document or directly into your sandbox to modify. Remove the article content while retaining the borrowed markup tags and formatting flow.
Review: Look at the simple templates in the downloadable content above.

5. Get More Help

General overview movie about process (6:30):

General help documentation:

Here is a 3 minute movie giving you a feel for adding images/media:

For media info processes see also: 

Contributor(s): Jessica Parris Westbrook, Adam Trowbridge

Updated date: 03/13/2016 - 10:27

Software: mac, windows

Other Software: web browser, text editor

Other Hardware: computer, internet access

Downloadable Content:

Links, related art/design: