Project 1: Wikistorm
Due: Friday, February 3rd
Objective: Collaborative Knowledge Production

As of January 2017, Wikipedia has over 5.3 million pages in English (roughly equivalent to 2,000 print volumes worth of material). That’s a remarkable success given that the project is barely 16 years old. Despite that success, however, Wikipedia has suffered from various biases and political problems since its inception. One of the most controversial has been the gender gap among its editors and its content. A study from 2013 revealed that on 13% of Wikipedia editors are women, and several related surveys have shown a corresponding bias in the content. In short, Wikipedia has reproduced many of the problems of gender bias and sexism that characterized other encyclopedia projects. One popular response to this problem has been to organize “wikistorming” edit-a-thons that tackle specific deficits in Wikipedia content. This first assignment will involve just such a wikistorm.

The end goal will be to contribute meaningful edits and additions to Wikipedia on the topic of women in tech history. As the recent feature film Hidden Figures reminds us, women have been integral to the history and development of technological innovation. Yet they often get erased from the historical record or simply ignored, as is often the case on Wikipedia. We are lucky to have visiting scholar Veronica Paredes to help us with the wikistorm. She will host an edit-a-thon at the CDSC from 9am to noon on Wednesday, February 1st. I strongly encourage you to attend as much of that event as possible. Otherwise you will have to work on your own or coordinate with classmates to meet outside of class. Working in collaboration aligns with the spirit of the Wikipedia project and will make your work more efficient. It will also provide the basis for some of your reflections on the work you do editing Wikipedia.

The deliverable elements of this project include a research prospectus (150-250 words, two potential sources, due in advance), documented edits (meaningful), and a reflection essay on the research process and your experience of editing Wikipedia (750 words). The most important part of project for grading purposes is the reflective essay. That essay should accomplish three things. First, it should frame the project using some of the sources we discuss in class. At the very least you must incorporate and cite Reagle and Tkacz, but feel free to use any of the other readings as well. Second, you should explain your research process and the edits that it produced. Be as specific and concrete as possible here. I need to be able see the contributions you made to Wikipedia, either as a new page or as an elaboration of an existing page. Use links if you can. And finally, you should discuss your own experience editing Wikipedia. Here you have leeway to explore whatever was notable to you, but topics might include figuring out the editing policies or interacting with other editors or even just the feeling of editing a Wikipedia page for the first time.

The prospectus and reflection essay should be posted as a final together on your blog, with the prospectus serving as an abstract of the essay (remove sources). I encourage you to work together to share research to achieve meaningful—even substantial—contributions. Collaboration will be especially important if you’re creating a new page.

Additional Resources:

Wikipedia Essentials (training module)
Wikipedia Editing Basics (training module)
Editing guidance
Manual of style (and cheat sheet)
Write your first article
Write better articles
Wikipedia:Red Link
Most popular red links
Most wanted articles
Stubs grouped as a category
Short pages
The Troll Taunter
Define Gender Gap?
Systemic Gender Bias
Feminist Perspective on Five Pillars
Women Code Breakers
Herstory of Electronic Music
Pioneering Women of Electronic Music
Pioneering Women of Electronic Music

Assessment Rubric

Inadequate Acceptable Outstanding
 Prospectus Late, short, without sources. On time, 150-250 words, includes two sources. On time, 150-250 words, includes two sources and very clear description of editing plans.
 Edits Absent, imperceptible, or counterproductive by Wikipedia standards. Documented, in accord with Wikipedia standards, and on topic. Documented, in accord with Wikipedia standards, contribute meaningfully to public knowledge of women in tech history.
 Project Framing Absent, unclear, or misinformed. General, without reference to specific phenomena or writers, but generally informed of Wikipedia dynamics. Specific, with reference to Reagle, Tkacz, and specific Wikipedia phenomena, and clearly connected to your editing work.
 Edits Explained Absent, unclear, or undocumented. Clear documentation but without explanation of why edits are meaningful. Clear documentation and clear explanation of why your contributions are meaningful to Wikipedia.
Experience Explained Absent, unclear, or without concrete examples. Clear with concrete examples of your experience. Clear with concrete examples of your experience that illustrate the relationship between the theoretical frame of the project and its editorial implementation on Wikipedia.