New York City Wikipedia “Newbie” Classes: Mitigating the Flight Risk for Wikipedia Editing Beginners
Back with me? Great. So last time we talked about how Wikipedia fits into your Social Media Marketing mix. We know for sure Wikipedia cannot be ignored. But some questions need to be asked before we take action.
What Makes You Join Wikipedia in the First Place?
This is the crucial starting point – it shapes your entire interaction with Wikipedia. Are you looking to:
- Sabotage the resource?
- Monitor the quality of articles?
- Increase the available contents?
- Serve your own needs with an article?
Each of these motives is considered by your peer Wikipedians, so you should be sure your editing actions communicate which of these categories you represent. I know—I just put “sabotage” as an option! Who would DO such a thing???
Wikipedia Editing: A Disambiguation
Editing Wikipedia is as easy as clicking that little link on the article display page, at the end of each section that looks like this: .
I told you – it’s the free encyclopedia. By its own assertion in a free printed Wikipedia Editing Guide manual distributed at this first Wikipedia Newbie Class:
“It is free to use, free to edit, and free of advertisements.”
Consequently, it picks up a lot of …let’s call it pocket lint. You remember the organized sabotaging of Wikipedia instigated by a certain well-known television personality regarding elephants, right? This type of editing on Wikipedia happens pretty often, both at random and in targeted attacks. Alert Wikipedians watch for edits that are “reasonable” or the preferred “neutral” and reverse or delete the rest. And we’re in agreement you don’t want that, right? So in this and the next few editions of The New Dragon’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’m going to offer up the basics as I learn to harness Wikipedia for business effectively.
Lesson 1: It’s not “Wikiverse Relations.”
The first session was largely for experienced users to (1) help users join Wikipedia if they hadn’t, and (2) answer any initial questions for those who had. We’ll start with the obvious – you never like to be called “you people” right? It’s a style address that implies the speaker is condescending to the listener. If you regard Wikipedia as an impenetrable wall, you’ll treat them that way. If you regard Wikipedia as a collection of people who live in homes and telecommute to peer review one-another in an online library small group or school meeting room, you’ll be able to join and contribute to the open discussions.
Nothing, since there is no official policy for editing Wikipedia articles. There are, however, certain undercurrents and social grooming cues to be picked up from various sources:
- Policy/guidance pages
- Project organization pages
- Pages whose content is highly controversial in popular culture
- Wikipedia’s editor community portal
Deterrent dodged: by now you know Wikipedia wants you in, not out. So these guidance materials are tools to help you relate to your peers in the digital setting. Whatever topic you want to edit has one or more of the above resources that at least give you a sense of the preferred tone, frequency and method of interaction between Wikipedians.
You’re right to think becoming an editor on the mass-edit online encyclopedia would be a highly social endeavor. But this series of basic guidance posts will show you how highly social Wikipedia is, and how relationship building will go a long way for you here.
In the next post, we’ll explore some basic (specifically) English Wikipedia editing guidelines. We’ll talk user environment and peer editing philosophy.