Media, Politics & Power in the Digital Age

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Wikipedia Exercise, Part 1 of 3

This assignment is due on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

1. Create a Wikipedia account, create a user page, and add your name to this page. You may wish to add some biographical information. For example of user pages, you can check out the user pages of our Wikipedia Ambassadors: Dick ClarkMichael Chen, and Ryan Malloy. (My Wikipedia user page is here.) 

2. Find an article in an area where you have some expertise. This may include:

  • a policy issue where you have some expertise and experience (for example: state absentee voting)
  • a policy issue where you have done academic research (for example: The Global Fund for TB, Malaria and AIDS)
  • an institution where you have worked or studied (for example: The Concord Monitor newspaper)
  • your home town (for example: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  • your hobby or deep interest (for example: a specific writer or poet)

Choose a topic or keyword that is well established in the discipline, but only weakly represented on Wikipedia. If there is a lot of literature available on the topic, but only a small amount of that information exists on Wikipedia, that is the best situation to work from.

What to avoid in chosing a topic:

  • Trying to improve articles on very broad topics (e.g. Law) or articles that are already of high quality on Wikipedia (“featured articles”)
  • Trying to improve articles on topics that are highly controversial, e.g. Global Warming, Abortion, Scientology, etc. (Note: start a sub-article instead)
  • Working on topics that are only sparsely covered by literature
  • Starting articles with titles that imply an essay-like approach, e.g. The Effects That The Recent Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis has had on the US and Global Economics instead of Subprime mortgage crisis

3. Make a list of 3 to 5 articles that you want to work on.

4. Choose a single article for your work. Evaluate that article :

  • Comprehensiveness: Determine what content is missing from the article. Does the article cover significant aspects of the topic?
  • Sourcing: Assess the quality of the cited sources. Are the sources of high quality relative to what is available?
    • Articles must rely on information from published sources, resources known for fact-checking such as:
      • Mainstream press (newspapers and news channels)
      • Published books
      • Magazines (technical and industry standards)
      • Documentaries
      • Scholarly journals
  • Neutrality: Is the article written from a neutral point of view?
  • Readability: Is the article readable and well written?
  • Formatting: Does the article adhere to the Wikipedia Manual of Style?
  • Illustrations: Is the article adequately illustrated?

5. Begin compiling a bibliography of the sources you will use to add to the article. This may require some research on your part.

6. Create an outline for what you would like to add to the article (working off of what you perceive as missing from the article). Stay focused on neutrality and verification.

7. Write a summary article (3 to 4 paragraphs) from your outline as a start. Seek feedback from our Wikipedia ambassadors and/or a Wikipedia mentor on whether your summary article meets Wikipedia’s requirements.

8. Write a blog post on your blog of a minimum of 500 words:

  • Link to your Wikipedia user page (so that Nicco and Leah can find it!)
  • Explain what article you picked and why you picked it.
  • Write an evaluation of that article. What is missing? What sources are you considering adding?
  • Include your “summary article” — the text you are considering adding to Wikipedia.