Whilst completing this activity, I screen-dumped before and after pages from the Wikipedia sandbox, for comparison purposes:
This was an interesting process, as I have never added, edited or saved any information to Wikipedia. I can see that this could be a very addictive activity if I were to register myself as an editor and user of Wikipedia.
Besides playing with Wikipedia’s sandbox, I read through all the information on the Researching with Wikipedia page. It was fascinating to read and forced me to think further about all the connotations of using and referring to information on Wikipedia on a much deeper level. I have always promoted the fact that Wikipedia should not be cited in students’ essays for academic and research purposes, however, this page alerted me to further facts, such as how internal links are prone to becoming obsolete. Of course, reading through all this information makes complete sense to me, but, sometimes, pausing to reflect further on the reasons behind such practices can assist in attaining a deeper understanding of why these practices are commonly promoted within educational institutions.
Creating a sandbox wiki page, even though I created an extremely simple one, made me more greatly appreciate all of the dedication and work that is behind the Wikipedia project. Looking at the conversation behind pages and the reasoning discussed by various editors for making changes and justifying them was interesting too. Even though a wiki is a collaborative space for all to edit, I can see why there are those who take such efforts seriously and do their best to ensure that assertions are supported by as many other sources as possible. Consideration is given to the controversial nature of some information and whether or not it is presented as neutrally as possible.
As the page mentions, we are all humans, mistakes occur, and we cannot absolutely guarantee such a neutral stance on all information. This is why it’s interesting to note the comparative statistics that Stewart Wood presented in this week’s lecture, where he referred to the fact there there is very little difference between the amount of errors made in Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica, which is usually thought of as a more trustworthy resource.
So, I have created my first Wikipedia page, albeit, a very small contribution which will be removed by this time tomorrow, and am even more amazed by the effectiveness of such dedicated, passionate online collaboration on a global scale. Sure, there have been instances of maliciousness and people purposely creating misleading information on Wikipedia. But, as time progresses, this seems to be detected and rectified very quickly depending on the popularity of the entry. It is also worth noting that the conversations that take place behind each individual page are of a social, conversational nature. I see contributors engaging online with one another socially as they are ideologically bound by the same objectives and a common search for accuracy.
I’m sure that Wikipedia will never be cited as a final point of research in anyone’s work (if they’re aware of the veracity and trustworthiness of secondary and tertiary sources of information in the first place), but I don’t see why it can’t be used a starting point. If one is completely unaware of a new topic to research, or is momentarily interested in gleaning a juicy tidbit of information at any given time, I’m sure that Wikipedia will continue growing and being used as a first port of call by all and sundry.