Wikipedia by a real live wikipedian (ACEC 08 session)

“Teaching responsible use of Wikipedia


Taking an abstinence approach to Wikipedia is practically useless, so teach responsible and sensible use rather than ban. So what is it?

1.       An encyclopedia a secondary source of information as a doorway to further digging and research.  Houses featured articles.   

2.       Multi-Website:  wikimedia; wikinews; wikibooks; wikiversity; wikisource; wiktionary; wikispecies; wikiquote; wikimedia commons

3.       Not for profit

4.       Multilingual

5.       A community

6.       Free content project (GFDL)


Articles have 4 tabs

1.       Article

2.       Discussion (Talk) This page is not for chit chat

3.       Edit (for changing content) Be sure to use syntax highlighting it shows text and tags (in prefs’ when signed in)

4.       History – for following by who and when content got there: Anon entries have IPs tracked. Yet registered accounts are kept private. Go figure! Check out the Diff view. Anons are more likely to delete than contribute.


Analysis tools

Wikipedia page history stats – a link from the top of the page.  Allows you to see the main contributors and see if they are valid.

WikiBlame:  – Allows you to see who edits specific parts. Feed it the article and sentence and it shows you who made the entry.

Wikipedia Trust project :– Colours text based on how trustworthy the entry is. (based on how long your text stays in place and also if you are a registered user – lighter and lighter means readers trust it.

WikiChanges: –  New one, a pretty graph of changes in articles eg, editing in articles of McCain Vs Obama.


Projects in the classroom

Examine the refereeing of a given article. Check the sources, does each bit have a reference? Can you add more legit references? This is a good low key way to interact with an article and the referencing process. And the improving of content. Can also add (Citation needed) tag.  See “Wikipedian Protestor”.  This gives the students good skills in evaluating.

Evaluating articles: See Wiki projects. Evaluate accuracy, coverage, depth,

Improving or creating articles. This is the biggest and most intensive project. This leads to the most interaction with other wiki editors and they are sometimes not the kindest people.  Beware.  This might be a good project for in-house wikis then feed the finished product into Wikipedia. This limits the  “interaction”

Analysing and collaborative authoring. Brilliant for collaborative work.


How to use in HSC English – for example the global village elective. Too early to know how it works yet. The Wiki content may be too dynamic for the Syllabus to keep up.

Eg. Choose {{globalize}} yields 2500+ articles that are not necessarily a global viewpoint. So have limited geographic scope.


Read WP: Lame.  IT details some of the lamest edit wars on Wikipedia. Check out the one on Hummus.


In the search bar type Wikipedia: and it shows all the rules and documents.