Lab 03: Understanding Wikipedia

These are some notes about what we’ll be doing in class during the lab period. I’ll post these whenever I have a chance, both to give you a chance to get ahead and to give you an opportunity to look back on what we’ve done afterwards.

We’ve read a lot about how Wikipedia works, but it’s worth looking more closely at the process. Let’s go through a few steps:

Sign up for an account

To edit Wikipedia you need to be logged in. Create an account here. Edit your basic user preferences. Then under “Watchlist”, check the box labelled “Add pages and files I edit to my watchlist” (near the bottom).

Pick some very active pages to follow (just for now)

e.g., iPhone 5, Syrian civial War, United States presidential election, 2012. Now go back to your watchlist and subscribe to the RSS feed. Consider using Google Reader to start managing your RSS feeds.

Experiment with the syntax in the sandbox

Click on the “My Sandbox” link near the top of the page. This will take you to a kind of practice room where you can get used to Wikipedia syntax before heading off into the real world. Hmm, what should you write about?

Check out history & discussion on some interesting pages

For us (writing local history) one area of interest is the History of Toronto series. Make sure you look at the ‘Talk” pages. Also look at the Toronto Project which has a number of important links.

Try a few edits

Scrolling down the Toronto Project you will find that the pages have been rated for quality. Using the Wikipedia Quality Scale you can see what pages need the kind of help you might be able to give. Now feel free to dive in; then see what happens!

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