MASC 101 students edit Wikipedia and Wikinews

As their new-media project, several MASC 101 students created or edited articles on Wikipedia or its sister website, Wikinews. The articles included:

The Lemaire restaurant in the Jefferson Hotel (by Christina Banks)

The impact of social media on consumers in the fashion industry (by Ashley Martin)

The town of Nellysford, Virginia, near the Wintergreen ski resort (by Emma James)

The eyewear company Warby Parker (by Katelyn O’Neal)

Visiting the Virginia War Memorial (by Danielle Johnson)

Tanvir Khan wrote about Gather, “a hardcore punk band formed in 2004 from Northern California who were very outspoken about a vegan straight-edge (drug-free) lifestyle.”

A few students wrote stories for Wikinews. Alexis Bolivar, for example, wrote an article about last month’s presidential election in Brazil.

As part of this assignment, students wrote papers reflecting on the exercise. Some found the Wikipedia interface easy to use; others said it was clunky and frustrating. Some students said the experience made them think more highly of what is on Wikipedia; other students said it made them even more suspicious of what’s on Wikipedia. There seemed to be general agreement that Wikipedia is OK as a starting point for information. But it’s important to evaluate the citations and trace back the information to its original source.

A number of students pointed out that a Wikipedia article improves over time: As more people revise and edit an entry, they fix mistakes. Katelyn O’Neal put it this way:

“In my opinion, Wikipedia can be an immensely useful tool when used correctly. … Although they are many ‘issues’ in the system (ex. anyone can contribute, anything regardless of how factual it is), many articles are a great educational tool for someone who is interested in a topic and wants to learn more. I think that Wikipedia serves a great purpose in our technologically advanced society and allows people to find information quickly, and often reliably. More times than not, the articles I read on Wikipedia have proper citations and are referenced throughout the article making it easy to fact check any claims made. All in all, when used smartly, Wikipedia is a great way to read about topics of vast variety quickly and easily.”

Alexis Bolivar offered similar thoughts about Wikinews:

“Wikinews empowers individuals by achieving their goal to create a space where people may learn from one another to obtain a greater understanding of the world.”

Wikipedia is an important resource around the world, not just in the U.S., added Jiayuan You. Jiayuan noted that Wikipedia is published in 285 different languages — more than there are countries in the world.

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