Thing 17 & 18: Wikis

Wikis are websites that can be easily edited by a large number of people, and can be as restrictive or open as the creator chooses.


17. Explore and contribute to a wiki

I wasn’t very familiar with wikis before this ‘thing’, apart from the font of “knowledge” that is Wikipedia. I had a look at the socialoxfordlibs wiki, but there didn’t seem to be a huge amount on it, but to be fair I didn’t add anything to it either. I guess that points to both a benefit and a flaw of wikis; you get out of it what you put into it.

I have actually contributed to a wiki before, though it was so easy I had completely forgotten I had done so! I added my own ‘library day in the life’ entry to this wiki (the blog post for which you can find here).

It involved signing up for an account with that particular site, but the actual editing of the page was really simple, and didn’t involve technical html code or anything. However, I was just adding my name and a link to a site, so perhaps more skill would be needed for creating more fancy pages.

An interesting experiment in using wikis is the omnictionary, which aims to create a mixture of reality, the fictional world of John Green’s novels, and the insider knowledge of the his online fan community.

18. Discover Wikipedia

I’ve used Wikipedia countless times. It’s a really useful tool to quickly look up a piece of information; though I’ve not been tempted to use it for proper research (my university really pushed the anti-plagiarism!). When researching topics at university, however, Wikipedia was extremely useful as I could get a basic understanding of a concept or an argument, written in layman’s terms.

I hadn’t explored the Discussion tabs on Wikipedia pages before, so it was quite interesting to read through some of the comments (and arguments!). I decided to explore a page I would know a lot about, so I chose the University of Exeter. I particularly enjoyed the contentious issue of the Christian Union in the discussion. It is interesting to see how the final edit has been reached to deal with an issue which many of us students felt angry about, in an unbiased way. On the history tab, I liked the option to compare selected revisions, so see what people have changed.

Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at “Philosophy”. I actually tried this a few times; it blew my mind.