My Wikipedia Experience

Choosing a Topic and Article

When I started brainstorming, I initially began trying to come up with topics that I have extensive knowledge about, such as my hometown. As I was doing this, I found myself struggling to find an article that I was interested in. Eventually, I decided that it would be much easier to simply edit an article based on a topic that I have interest in and would be willing to do research about, even if I did not have previous knowledge about it. 

I started thinking about all of the books I have read recently, and I soon realized that one of my favorite authors, Aiden Thomas, has a Wikipedia article. Thomas is not a popular author, so I thought that there might be something I could add about his novels. After reading through this article, I realized that one of their upcoming novels, which is titled The Sunbearer Trials, was not listed under the “Books” section, even though it comes out later this year. 

I was not sure if this is information that should be included, but after reading Wikipedia articles about a few of my other favorite authors, such as Taylor Jenkins Reid, I found that other authors have upcoming books listed on their articles. This signaled to me that it would be a good idea to provide people with this information, especially for people who are fans of Thomas’ previous work.

Talk Tab

After deciding what to add, I headed over to the Talk tab of the article to get started. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that there is a large warning about being respectful during gender-related discussions.

Thomas is a transgender author who uses he and they pronouns, so it is important to be mindful and respectful when talking about him, but I was not expecting to see this note about it. I am really glad that Wikipedia took the time to include this in the Talk tab, and I wonder if it has actually helped this platform become a safer place for diverse communities.

A note/warning from Wikipedia about gender-based discussions
A note/warning from Wikipedia about gender-based discussions

In the Talk tab, I provided a brief comment letting everyone know that I was new to editing on Wikipedia, and I explained what I would be changing. I enjoyed this part of the process the most because it gave me the opportunity to mess around with all of the features provided, such as the “link” and “cite” buttons, which I knew I would need when I began the editing process. 

The comment about Thomas' upcoming book that I left in the Talk tab.
The comment that I left in the Talk tab

After a few days, nobody had responded to my comment, so I decided to go ahead and edit the article. I should have commented earlier in the week to leave more room for replies, but I do not think it would have helped much. Thomas is not a popular or mainstream author, so I do not think there is much traffic coming to this article. Therefore, people are not regularly checking this page to discuss and edit information.

Overall, using the Talk tab was my favorite part of this experience.

The Editing Process

I did not expect to be intimidated by the editing process, but I was. I had experimented with the tools and features available on the Talk tab, but I was nervous about making an edit within the actual article. I used the format of the other two entries in this section as a foundation to create my edit. 

A full page depicting the Books section of the article and my contribution
A full view of the “Books” section and my contribution (The Sunbearer Trials)

I used information provided directly from the author to cite this information. I used a Tweet to explain how the upcoming book was announced and a link to his website to provide further details about the book and when it would be published.

A closer look at my addition to the article
A closer look at my addition to the article

I included these links on the Talk tab, but I did not realize that the other two books included the publisher name until after I started editing. Eventually, I found that the upcoming novel is being released under a different imprint publisher than the previous two, so I included a citation about that, as well.

The only problem that I had during the editing process is receiving an error message when I included Twitter as a source. I am still not entirely sure if I should worry about this or how to fix this, but I hope that someone will reach out and help me with it. I am looking forward to learning how to fix this issue.

An error message that I received
An error message I received

Reflection

This experience definitely changed my view of Wikipedia. I used to view Wikipedia as a fun but overwhelming platform, but I have realized that it is less scary than I thought it would be. As I mentioned previously, I was originally intimidated by the editing process. It seemed daunting, and I was worried that I would somehow get in trouble for it, but once I pressed the button to publish my edit, I felt a strong sense of relief and accomplishment. 

When I began this journey, I was nervous about the lack of diversity on Wikipedia. I am a woman, and I edited an article about a transgender Latinx-American author, so I was worried that I would face harassment, but I am fortunate that I did not experience that. 

Based on my experience, I now see Wikipedia as a place to explore new interests, and I am more trustworthy of the references at the bottom of the page than I was before, especially since I understand the effort that is put in to verify the information.

According to the National Association for Media Literacy Education, media literacy can be defined as “The ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication.” I already understood how to analyze and evaluate Wikipedia articles for their reliability, but this experience helped me learn more about media creation. I am very grateful to have this new understanding of media literacy.

I highly doubt that I will edit Wikipedia again in the future, unless I am just extremely bored or curious, but I enjoyed my experience. I strongly recommend trying this process at least once.

Good luck and happy editing!

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