Posted by: midwestgirl2eastcoastaddress | December 4, 2009

Response Blog #11 – Wikipedia: Lessons Learned

One of my recent assignments was to make a significant update to an existing Wikipedia page or create a new page.  This would be quite an undertaking for someone like me that really didn’t know what a Wiki was.  I managed to create a new page for Planting Empowerment, an organization near and dear to me, but not without some frustrating moments.  Yes, the Wikipedia:Tutorial is helpful (definitely recommend it for starters), but here are some things I learned the hard way.

The Quest for “Autoconfirmed” Status. This was the primary source of my agony.   I needed to be part of this “elite” (not really) Autoconfirmed Users group.  (You can verify which groups you belong to by logging in, clicking My Preferences, and then look under the Basic Information section.)

What the Tutorial Doesn’t Tell You: When you create a Wikipedia user account you are only part of the “Users” group which limits you to making only minor “wording” edits to pages. Well, I needed the higher access because my assignment was to create a new Wiki page – remember, I’m a new user.  Don’t be fooled like I was.  I followed the “Your First Article” instructions, had my page postured and ready to go.  It wasn’t until I pushed the Publish button that I learned that I needed to be a part of this “elite” group to publish my page (and finish my assignment).

How I Got Passed It: To become “Autoconfirmed” you have to have your account active for 4 days and made at least 10 minor edits to other pages.  My account was active for more than 4 days but I frantically had to come up with a list of 10 minor edits to other pages.  I started editing away; many of my edits had to do with notable graduates from my high school and college and local public figures.  Coming up with 10 really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but was not something I anticipated.

Know the Code. Editing Wikipedia is not as easy as typing out a Word doc.  When you “Edit This Page” you will need to know the Wiki Mark-Up code, or language.

What the Tutorial Doesn’t Tell You: The basic Wikipedia Tutorial gives you only the mere basics.  What is doesn’t give you is instructions on how to align text or images where you want them to be or how to add captions to images.  Changes are you are going to need more instruction than what is offered in the Tutorial.

How I Got Passed It: Try the Wikipedia:How to Edit a Page or Wikipedia:Picture Tutorial.  Remember: this information wouldn’t be available without the user who created these pages.  (It wasn’t Wikipedia!)

Want to Add Pictures, or Other Media? Again, you must be Autoconfirmed.  Ugh.

What the Tutorial Doesn’t Tell You: In my opinion, the Tutorial really doesn’t address this common endeavor.  I google’d around and found ways where I could upload my image to a site in hopes that a user with higher status would upload it on my behalf.  I couldn’t wait for that.

How I Got Passed It:  Became Autoconfirmed by editing 10 other pages.

After it was all said and done, I completed my assignment.  But, I wished I would have come across an article that would have told me all of this.

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