Why I edited an Wikipedia entry

It seems that mentioning that I had edited an entry in Wikipedia raised some questions marks (and, possibly, an eyebrow or two). To be clear, I wrote a very, very small sentence, in the Wikipedia entry for ‘Co-Creation’. If you had checked it just before and after my addition, you would probably not even notice it. It’s the part in bold:

Co-creation is a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.[1]

There is no denying that Wikipedia is a very popular reference source. Despite its problems with quality, Wikipedia can be a great starting point for research on a topic. I, for one, use it for both work and personal ends. So, I recently decided that, instead of moaning about its quality, I should do something about it. The deal (between me and myself) is: every time I submit a paper to a journal, I add something to the related entry on Wikipedia. This time, I made a minor tweak to the definition. In the future I may consider adding an example, discuss the origins of the term, or mention a recent development. Only time will show.

In addition to taking an active role in correcting a perceived problem, editing Wikipedia also helps me give something back to the community. Martin Poulter explains it perfectly in this recent blog post in LSE’s The Impact Blog:

Wikipedia is also the ultimate in open access: not only does it aim to make the sum of human knowledge available to the world for free, but all its content is freely licenced (either public domain or a suitable Creative Commons licence) for anyone to adapt and reuse.

It does require a different writing style to that we are accustomed to in academia. It also requires a particular frame of mind. Again, in the words of Martin Poulter:

Wikipedia is intrinsically collaborative, and while many of us find it hard to relinquish control of something we’ve spent serious time on, the experience has taught me that I can make a better end product in collaboration than I ever can by working purely alone.

Martin Poulter’s blog post can be accessed here. You may also find this post by Deborah Lupton interesting. Finally, for information on how to contribute to Wikipedia, check this.

Over to you: What Wikipedia entry have you edited or would consider adding to?

9 thoughts on “Why I edited an Wikipedia entry

  1. Brilliant. I’ve never edited a Wikipedia entry, but I use the site often. I find it to be interesting, and a perfect starting point. I love especially articles with references and links, so you can dig even deeper.
    But even more, I really love your attitude. More people should be so action-oriented. Why complain if you can fix? Super. Kudos, Ana. Very inspiring.

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  2. I would consider changing the entry for Lithium – my employer. The entry is SOOO dull and safe. There is a great story – many stories – behind why and how the company came about but the entry is homogenized into corporate nothing. Its one thing posturing on Glass Door to attract talent – it would be far more enticing to know about the myths and legends that still our in the DNA.

    I met a guy a few weeks back who actually worked for Wikipedia. Like. ACTUALLY. WORKED. FOR. WIKIPEDIA. Next I’ll discover that the cloud isn’t actually a cloud… Quite a journey!

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  3. I have edited more Wikipedia pages than I care to remember. I started doing this way back, when my mission was to find out what the whole Web 2.0 thing was, and how it worked. I even get students editing pages in class to give them experience of how to use and contribute to this resource.
    One page I contributed to early on was St David’s Day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_David%27s_Day). I was living in Wales and discovered that in the 17th century the practice started where the people of London would make effigies of Welshmen on St David’s Day and then symbolically lynch them. Interesting story. I monitor the spread of this little known fact, and each year it appears in hundreds of web postings around the world. Mostly people cut and paste the quote without providing any reference. The most blatant example was when the Daily Telegraph used it last year (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/google-doodle/9901971/St-Davids-Day-celebrated-with-Google-Doodle.html).
    As I explained to my students, if any of them had done this cheap cut-and-paste trick in an assignment they would have failed.

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    1. You know, Robin, actually you were the first academic I met that had edited Wikipedia. I heard you mention that at one of the AM conferences – something about folklore, I think.

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