One Encyclopedia – Three Types of Experience
According to my tradition that began when I was discussing the features of Wikipedia articles on the book The War of the Worlds by Herbert Wells written in three different languages in my first blog, I have decided that I necessarily need to get at least the slightest experience with each of these three Wikipedias.
A good beginning is half the battle
It all started with a search of a topic for the articles. It was at first quite tricky, as more or less common and interesting topics, to which you can write or add something sensible, referring to a sufficient quantity and quality of sources, are, unfortunately, well depicted or already well elaborated. Especially hard is to pick a topic for an article in English. Unlike the German and Russian Wikipedias, the English Wikipedia includes in total 4,735,494 articles (06.03.15), which is about 3-4 times more than in each of the previously mentioned. And since I study English and German Studies, and inspite of the fact that I, naturally, have a couple of hobbies, the search range of potential ideas for the project was still restricted to literature and linguistics.
Eventually, I have chosen as a subject one of my favorite books Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, as it was also with The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Moreover I have written a couple of essays on this book, where I examined styles and genres of the novel, the meaning inlaid by the author, as well as the problem of society and individual reflected there. All in all, I knew what to write about. The only problem was that the English article and a fairly detailed description of the book were already there. It lacked only few points like Setting, Style and Genres, which I eventually added.
Working with the English Language Wikipedia
The additions I made were not immediately accepted. The first time they have been removed, as the moderators did not like the sources, partly taken from the internet. For the next time I have at some point changed the information and chosen some other sources, fortunately, the book is quite well studied. That time the supplementary details were finally accepted.
In addition to the English article, the book was minimally described in the Icelandic and Ukrainian languages, more thoroughly – in Italian and very minutely – in Swedish. Thereat I have decided to add a summary of the book and some short background information on it both in the German and Russian languages.
The very first problem, I had to confront with, was that I could not find where and how a new article can be added on the German language Wikipedia. Therefore, I had to contact the administrator through a special portal. I did not hear (or read) anything intelligible from the English language Wikipedia administrator about how the submission works on the German language Wikipedia. That, generally, makes sense. A little later, I happened to see the link Submit a new article in the control panel on the left and made a jest of myself for I always take everything to be more complicated, which in fact, is often very easy.
After communicating with administrators, it became obvious to me that Wikipedia in different languages seems, basically, to have a similar structure, but at the same time it has a lot of differences among the various versions. One of these differences, which was a big surprise for me and eventually a very useful tool, is page visiting statistics on the German version of Wikipedia, which I could not find neither on the English language Wikipedia nor on its Russian version.
After my information in German has been accepted and published, and someone named Kritzolina added a couple of lines regarding reception of the book, and a Z thomas added 5 categories, I was really pleasantly surprised to see this tool. Today the number of visitors is not big, but still it is 118 people (06.03.15).
I should also note that the German-language Wikipedia administrators react very quickly, simply during some minutes. For instance, Kritzolina added her information concerning the reception of the novel 12 minutes after I published the article itself.
Песнь Соломона на русской Википедии or Song of Solomon on the Russian Wikipedia
As for the Russian version of Song of Solomon, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to add its detailed description and enough information because of lack of time. For this reason, the Russian article still has the messages This article is missing links to the sources of information and This article is too short hanging. Despite this, I have gained some new experience also working with Russian Wikipedia, and was able to check the responsiveness of Russian speaking administrators, who also responded to a new article in less than an hour.
Usefulness of Wikipedia and Your Knowledge for Society
All in all, I should note that after working with Wikipedia, learning about its core principles, getting an idea of how serious the research should be before the article could be accepted and published, my reception and attitude toward the articles on Wikipedia were turned upside down. That does not mean, of course, that I am going to begin to use it for my term papers or essays, but it gave me some sense of reliability upon the information it includes. Wikipedia articles suit ideally for primary awareness and for preparation to a more detailed research.
But one I can say with dead certainty: overall, it was an amazing experience, an unforgettable one. It gave an opportunity to feel like an author of what you usually use. It gave an opportunity to test the authorial abilities in practice and to demonstrate them publically. It gave an opportunity to feel that you are doing something useful for others though 118 people. What else do you need to feel at least a little bit useful for society?