Monday, March 23, 2015

The fun of editing Wikipedia

When I'm bored, instead of turning to an iPhone game or scrolling through Reddit, I'll edit Wikipedia articles. You may not realize it, but Wikipedia is full over errors, those extra spaces, misplaced commas and double-spaced periods that are consequential of over hasty writing.

Next time you're scrolling through a Wikipedia page, read it like and editor. The mistakes will drive you crazy. 

But it's not the errors that amaze me about Wikipedia. I'm inspired by the great writing, analysis, organization, and sourcing that have come from volunteer contributors. Wikipedia is a fantastic resource because it allows anyone – particularly experts – to share their knowledge and update the world's largest collective encyclopedia. 

Experts are not always crusty scholars sitting in their dimly lit offices poring through academic journals. No, what's great about Wikipedia is it allows smaller experts to contribute their knowledge. I've worked at Körner's Folly, a historical house museum in Kernersville, N.C., for four summers. I've given several tours, and one summer I helped rewrite the informational storyboards, and over this time, I became an expert (well to some degree) of the house's history. 

Last week, I noticed the Körner's Folly Wikipedia page was inaccurate and rather scant, so I gave it an update. Hopefully, my additions will benefit someone interested in learning the history of the house museum. 

It's awesome that several thousand people, mini experts like me, can contribute to one resource. 

It's amazing what can happen when you aggregate so much knowledge. Truly, Wikipedia is among the greatest societal accomplishments to happen in my lifetime, and we, the people of the world, have accomplished it. Not that the crowdsourcing has been without problems – yes people have vandalized the site, but when you trust people with the pen, it's amazing what can happen.

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