Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflection on Editing Wikipedia for the First Time

I began by creating an account, which was very easy. They asked for a user name, password, and captcha verification that I was not a robot. After that, I thought about what articles I might want to review. What do I know about? First, I looked at the RSU page. It is pretty well looked-after, as you might expect. Then I looked up the Anna Sewell page, since I recently did a project on her and know quite a bit about her life. Her page is in pretty good shape, but I noticed they listed a cause of death and I know her biographers debate what she actually died of. The cause of death was uncited. I googled the causes and found one source that matched; suspiciously, the wording was EXACTLY the same as the Wiki entry… someone was copying someone… at the bottom of the second page there was a note saying the content came straight from Wikipedia. So a dead end there.

I noticed there are Article/Talk tabs on the left side of the page for each entry and Read/Edit/New Section/View History tabs on the right side. You can switch between views to see what’s going on what I’d call “on-stage” or “backstage” for each entry. “Edit” is where it gets complicated—in terms of code and content! “History” shows the history of all edits, who made them, when they were made, etc.

I pulled Sewell’s most recent biography from my shelf and checked to see if the cause of death listed on the Wiki page was there… Found it! The Wiki writers were correct, the cause of death they listed was Sewell’s official cause of death, according to doctors of her time; however, today it’s speculated that Sewell’s death may really have been caused by complications from the SLE form of Lupus. I’m not sure if I’m ready to go into all that and also Wiki policy advices writers stay away from speculation. So, I just decided to add a citation to the cause of death. Sewell’s most recent bio wasn’t mentioned in the entry’s references at all, and it really should be there, anyway.

So, actually adding the reference took a bit of time, but it was fairly easy to add after clicking Help and finding the code to copy-and-paste. Basically, on the Edit page, I changed

Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of [[hepatitis]] or [[Tuberculosis|phthisis]], five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success.

Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of [[hepatitis]] or [[Tuberculosis|phthisis]]<ref name="test">''Dark Horse: The Life of Anna Sewell'' by Adrienne E. Gavin. p. 165. Sutton Publishing (2004). ISBN 0-7509-2838-7.</ref>, five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success.

Image of Article History, including my most recent change

Image of Article as it now reads to viewers after my addition

And that’s it! My first contribution.


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