[Air-l] editing wikipedia

Andrea Forte aforte at cc.gatech.edu
Tue Feb 27 07:10:22 PST 2007

I will be the first to celebrate when wiki markup disappears; however, I'm
pretty skeptical that this is a community-wide plot to dissuade the
non-technical from participating in Wikipedia. :)

Re: citation in wikipedia

Yes Yes Yes! Wikipedia could do a whole lot better here. Citation is one
of the most important practices on the site and there is *practically no
support for it.* This is partially a matter of social practice; however, I
agree that it could be encouraged through the design of the editing
environment too. In fact, we built a set of mediawiki extensions in 2005
that basically works as a shared end-note style bibliographic database for
the whole wiki. Each reference has a page where the
quality/appropriateness of the source itself can be discussed. Every
article that cites the source links back to that reference page. Likewise,
the reference page has links back to every article that cites it-a reverse
citation index.

We did all this because I am working with high school students to
encourage information literacy skills and specific academic writing
practices. It would be great to see these kinds of skills encouraged more
broadly. Unfortunately, my code is woefully outdated...


Andrea Forte
PhD Candidate, Human-Centered Computing
Electronic Learning Communities Lab
Georgia Institute of Technology

			-Andrea Forte (aforte at cc.gatech.edu)

On Tue, 27 Feb 2007, Gilles Frydman wrote:

> On Feb 27, 2007, at 5:28 AM, Barry Wellman wrote:
> > I have been actively involved with Wikipedia for about 6 months,
> > and have
> > found it a good experience. I have been surprised by the accuracy
> > of the
> > articles (in general), the comprehensiveness of the articles (EB would
> > never do one on Bronx gangs of the 1950s-1960s), and the activity of
> > people in monitoring vandalism, sillyness, and fixing bad formats,
> > etc.
> >
> Thank You! I believe that regular users of Wikipedia mostly agree
> with you.
> The "collective wisdom" demonstrated in Wikipedia is not an empty
> term. In fact we will soon start a project based on wikis used to
> improve the quality of "state-of-the-art peer-reviewed" medical
> information statements.
> > It's an interesting mixture of hierarchy and anarchy.
> >
> > However, I do agree that editing procedures are cumbersome once you
> > want
> > to put in formatting, references, etc. Moreover, it's hard (for me) to
> > find the guides for what to do, and when I do, the guides (as for
> > Referencing) are not as clearly written as I'd like. We need
> > _Wikipedia
> > for Dummies_!
> Editing procedures for accurate references is cumbersome due to the
> nature of  the mediawiki code (the underlying code used by
> Wikipedia). Proper referencing in Wikipedia can only be done through
> one of the specialized parsing files, mostly Cite.php. That file adds
> 2 parser hooks to Mediawiki (<ref> and <references>, working together
> to create properly referenced footnotes). Unfortunately Cite.php is
> not part of the standard setup of wikis using Mediawiki and both its
> documentation and implementation are not trivial. The code (wikitext)
> needed by you, the wiki editors, to create references is VERY
> cryptic, making standardized referencing a tedious process.
> > Having said that, the standard Wikipedia response would be
> > something like,
> > "Stop complaining. Fix it yourself." Wish I could, but I have
> > neither the
> > expertise nor the time.
> I believe that the only rational solution is the development of a
> standardized web interface used to produce properly formatted
> references that can then be added to the wikipedia entry. If someone
> with a very good knowledge of proper referencing is interested in
> this project, we could definitely develop such an interface in a
> short time and I would gladly make it an open service to the academic
> community.
> To see an example of Cite.php in action, you can go to http://lo-
> wiki.acor.org/index.php/Cancer_Health_e-Communities.
> > This may be Wikiblasphemy, but I wonder if a core paid staff of clear
> > technical writers would be useful for preparing such key help tasks.
> Creating clear language documentation for all the Mediawiki
> extensions is very time consuming!
> You are talking about documenting the mutiple layers of code using
> hybrid programming languages. For every added feature of mediawiki
> you add one additional layer of obfuscation, making it almost
> impossible to create easy to use documentation of the feature.
> Wikipedia with all the bells and whistles is like a programing
> language tower of Babel :-)
> --
> Gilles Frydman
> ACOR.org
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