In this blog post, I am going to tell you my experiences with Wikipedia, which I made in the last three months due to my participation in the university course “Constructing Knowledge in the Digital Age: Wikipedia´s Contribution to the Humanities”.
I wrote a new Wikipedia article about Mary Rowlandson´s captivity narrative. Unfortunately, I had to write in German because the English article was already quite detailed. My article is therefore titled “Die wahre Geschichte der Gefangenschaft und Befreiung der Mrs. Mary Rowlandson“. I made the decision to write this particular article because I have already written an essay about this Topic. Because of this I had some basic knowledge about it beforehand. Since I already dealt with that story, I had some sources and notes left instead of looking for too many other sources. So I had not to spend too much time on researching but could soon start with the writing process by using basically printed sources.
When I first logged in to the Wikipedia platform, I was a bit insecure because I thought that it will be hard to write a good article. However, the writing programme is similar to the one I have to use to write this blog post, making it not all that difficult to get used to.
When I was happy with the result of my article, I published it. And just a few minutes later an administrator allowed my article to be online. Then I had to wait and see if my article stays online or not. After a few days I had a look at it again and indeed, my article was still on the Wikipedia platform. Some other members had made little changes but not too many, so I was very pleased with the work I have done.
The changes which were made in my article were for example that one editor put my article into different categories for which I am grateful because I did not know how this aspect works. Another editor changed the German word “bis” into a hyphen and another one has rewritten one or two sentences. So, as you can see there were just made some little changes overall. The most surprising thing was for me that two Wikipedia editors even thanked me for writing this article with one offering me his help if I want to go on in writing Wikipedia articles. This showed me that my work was not too bad and I could be proud of myself. And I think it is a nice feeling to know that someday other students will read my article to get first impressions about Mary Rowlandson.
Moreover, I am excited how my article will look like in a year. Will there be more changes or some additions? For now the changes were only made in the first two days when the article got on the platform with none being added since then.
The Experience of Others as a Comparison
In comparison to my good experiences, I was quite shocked when I listened to the feedback other participants has got. Some comments of other experienced editors were even insulting in a way, which I think is not appropriate in this situation. The “best” was when those people stayed anonymous- kind of ridiculous!
However, when writing a Wikipedia article, keep in mind that new editors can get good but also bad feedback. So, be prepared and do not let it bother you too much- in the end, it is just an article.
The Course “Constructing Knowledge in the Digital Age: Wikipedia´s Contribution to the Humanities”
When I decided to take this course, I wanted to do it because it was something different to all the literature courses we have in the University of Stuttgart. So I was excited to get to know Wikipedia better. I had no concept as to what I will take out of this course. However, now after finishing the semester, I am happy that I participated. It showed me that Wikipedia is not just a platform where everyone can write something. There is a lot more behind it! If you ask me now, I would attend in this seminar all the time. This course changed my attitude towards Wikipedia. Now I appreciate the work all the editors have done for writing an article. Before I was a bit skeptical if it is trustworthy what an article says about a certain topic. Of course, I still think that there are better articles than others but looking at a Wikipedia article can give you a first good summary about a subject. And if the article is made with a lot of commitment there will be a lot of sources given which people can use for their own research, as well. In the end, I think that I would not use Wikipedia as an own source in an essay of mine but I would use it to get some other sources for getting more information about the subject I want to write about.
Future Usage of Wikipedia
After all this I have a lot more respect for all the Wikipedia editors because now I know that it is a lot of work getting a good article written in the end.
Certainly, I will use Wikipedia for getting basic information about something and for getting some sources but I think that I will not source Wikipedia one- to- one. And maybe I am going to write another Wikipedia article in the future because I really liked the work and I only got positive feedback, which supports my motivation for doing it again.