Wealth of Networks writing assignment
NOTE TO INSTRUCTORS: Assume that students have already attended an intro lecture on peer production and done some background reading. This assignment is meant to be the weekly writing assignment that accompanies the classroom material.
In this assignment, you will understand peer production by participating in it. Almost certainly, you have encountered Wikipedia as a consumer of information, maybe while you were doing research for this class. In this assignment, you will produce information for Wikipedia and study what happens to it. Please note that you cannot wait until the last minute to complete this assignment. You need to allow at least 2 days between when you first write your content and when you go back to Wikipedia to study what happened to it.
1. Sign up for a Wikipedia account.
Go to the main English Wikipedia page, click on the "Sign in/create account" link in the top right corner and complete the process for signing up for a new account.
2. Find a stub on Wikipedia and help complete it.
Wikipedia has a number of articles that are only basic outlines of a topic. Wikipedia calls these articles "stubs." Perhaps you have had the experience of searching for something on Wikipedia only to find an article that said little more than you already knew. That was a stub. Wikipedia lists all of the stubs on the site, and you can browse it by category. For example, you can find the stub on "Joliet Catholic Academy" (an Illinois high school) by clicking first on "I" for all stub categories starting with "I", then clicking "Illinois school stubs" and then on "Joliet Catholic Academy."
Your job is to find a stub and help complete it. You do not need to finish the article. The point of peer production is for individuals to put small pieces together to make something useful. Your contribution should be between 500 and 1000 words. Before you start writing on a topic that interests you, please understand Wikipedia's guide on neutral point of view and verifiability. Try to conform to these guidelines; conforming to the guidelines will make your information more valuable and stick around longer. Log in before changing the article.
3. Pick a random article and delete a section from it.
Traditionally, Wikipedia has been very resilient to vandalism. You will perform a small experiment in vandalism. Find an established article on Wikipedia (more or less at random), not a stub, pick a section (more or less at random) and delete it. Save the page.
WHAT TO TURN IN
- The URL of your account page. It should look something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:SomeUserName
- The URL of the stub that you helped to fill in.
- The URL of the article that you vandalized.
- A short reflection (about 2 paragraphs) on your experience. In particular, you must answer the following questions (some require that you look at the history tab of a page). Is the content that you put in the stub still present in the article 2 days later? If not, or if it changed, who changed it and when did they change it? How long did it take for someone to fix the section that you vandalized? How long has the user that fixed your section been on Wikipedia?