In Week 4, the class seems to be more comfortable with the basics of Wiki editing. Now that we’re all able to make basic edits, look at the history of a page, cite sources, and other basic tasks, we’ve moved to asking larger questions: What sources are considered authoritative? What does it mean to add a page to a “portal” about a subject, or leave it out of the portal? If the choice is between leaving information that could be useful to others, or cutting it because it doesn’t fit the stated aims of Wikipedia, is cutting it the right choice? How can we discuss a controversial question without either revealing a bias toward a particular viewpoint, or giving too much emphasis to a fringe viewpoint in the interest of balance?
Each of us has a different approach to deciding which pages to edit. Some focus on a single, long page that has a lot of information about a topic we feel we have expertise in. Some enjoy the thankless but important work of copy editing for style and grammar, making the pages easier for future readers to understand. Some travel randomly around Wikipedia, finding small but important changes such as adding citations, removing outdated information, or adding internal links to other Wikipedia pages. There are also a variety of approaches to the Wikipedia community. Some are willing to wade in and edit controversial, widely read pages, where correct information may be more essential. Others are more wary of spending a lot of time editing a page that already has attracted many editors, who might disagree and replace your edits, opting instead to improve less notable pages that may be neglected otherwise.
One sentiment voiced by many people this week is surprise at how little the pages actually seem to be monitored by more experienced Wikipedia editors. When looking back over our previous three weeks of edits, surprisingly few appear to have been assessed as breaking one of the many many rules. Even those who are actively seeking dialogue with other editors of a page have not always been successful. Perhaps this means they were assessed and accepted, but it seems that many of us are waiting for some kind of official stamp of approval, which Wikipedia doesn’t appear to offer in a systematic way. Approval may be inferred when another editor changes things on the page, without altering the information we added, but with some less-visited pages this might take a long time. As inexperienced editors, this sense of uncertainty about whether our efforts will be accepted in the long term can be a barrier to spending a lot of time and effort on editing a page.