Assignment: Writing a Good Wikipedia Article
In this assignment, each student will update one "stub," or incomplete article in Wikipedia, to a complete encyclopedic article. Ideally, we would like your article to qualify for "Good Article" status. For reference, less than 1% of the articles on Wikipedia achieve this status, so this is no small feat!
Here a few caveats to keep in mind for this assignment:
- You will need to learn some basic wiki code. The code is not difficult, and there is a graphical editor with buttons to insert links and the like.
- Others can (and will) alter your contribution. In most cases, other users will add to and occasionally correct your work. But your work could be vandalized or deleted. You can always change the page back to what it was before, but such "revert wars" are frowned upon.
- The entire Wikipedia is licensed under the the GNU Free Documentation License, which means you do not own the articles you work on.
- There is no standard length for a Wikipedia article. For the purposes of this assignment, a reasonable article will contain 600-1000 words, which correspond to 3-5 pages of standard double-space text.
Part 1: Select a stub (e-mail due 10/8)
Part 2: Write a Good Article
Our goal is to produce a Good Article that will be of service to the general Wikipedia community. We need to have a sense of what more needs to be done, and an overall plan for the article. I suggest looking at examples and guidelines (e.g. Manual of Style or the Guide for nominating good articles), as well as reminding yourself of the criteria for a Good Article. I suggest finding an example of a Good Article related to your stub, and follow its structure including its section headings.
Timetable (submissions must follow guidelines)
10/08: Select a stub and e-mail a pdf copy of it to the the grader.
10/20: Draft of full article is due. We will peer-review in class.
10/27: Revision of the article is due, updated to reflect peer-review comments.
11/10: Final draft of wikipedia article is due. Save your changes to Wikipedia.
Suggestions and hints
- You will be writing an encyclopedic article that is neutral and verifiable by established facts. You will not be collecting data, analyzing it, or writing about your experiences. You will not be writing an essay with personal opinions or judgments.
- One of the exciting aspects of Wikipedia is its dynamic and communal nature. You are free (and encouraged) to use Wikiepdia's Peer Review to provide feedback on your article before submitting the final copy. It is likely that you will receive messages from editors. Be polite in replying, and don't hesitate to ask them to explain something.
- Avoid simply copying text from a reference. Isolated quotations are okay, but most of time, it is better to use a summary or paraphrase of the quotation that flows better with the rest of your article. See Wikipedia policies on copying and quoting sources.
- Here is a useful Wikipedia page giving general advice for writing good articles.
Much of this material is based on assignemnts prepared by Piotr Konieczny at the University of Pittsburgh and Dean Taciuch at George Mason University.