Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Confession about Wikipedia

This week's task was to create an account and go into Wikipedia as an editor for the first time. I noticed my classmates had made some excellent additions to the existing explanation on what it means to be a lifelong learner. While checking things out, I got a bit obsessed with correcting little typos and punctuation/capitalization errors (not necessarily to any of my classmates' work specifically, but just as I saw things in the first couple sections before needing to shift my focus). As a result, I didn't end up contributing much in the way of content, and had to confess this fact to my classmates, admitting that it had been a tricky exercise for someone like me who can't get past some of those little pesky details.

Although my focus was a bit off, my confession opened up an interesting discussion among us as to the different roles we all can play as contributors and how user-generated content can be full of distracting grammar and usage errors. So, does that mean that the little editors like me are also worthy? Several of them responded with a hearty "yes" and my classmate, Anas, even stated "I worship those who correct my typos" because he enjoys contributing the content in his mind without interrupting his flow of thoughts by considering the syntax. He stated it was "magical" to find it all corrected the next day, citing the fable The Elves and the Shoemaker. As he was imagining elves, I was imagining little grammar fairies. Another classmate, Robyn, said she heard a speaker refer to "wiki gnomes" or "wiki gardeners" (those who tend to the wiki by cleaning it up so it can grow and be healthy).

So, considering Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia, we decided that the presentation of the information is equally as important as content. And so it was that, like the elves in the fable, I "laughed and danced for joy" today.

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