Talk:Using Wikipedia (Bookshelf)

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Latest comment: 13 years ago by Hannibal in topic Review of version 10/11/2010
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I wonder if Media literacy is such a good title. We are more specific than that - we are talking about how a student can use Wikipedia responsibly, or how to gauge how good an article is, but it may work as a working title.//Hannibal 10:27, 19 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Hi Lennart, it's just a working title. Something more specific would be great. --Frank Schulenburg 19:30, 19 July 2010 (UTC)Reply
How about "Reading Wikipedia"?//Hannibal 09:34, 13 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Moved here the suggestions about the title:
  • Reading Wikipedia
  • How to use Wikipedia
  • Using Wikipedia
  • Evaluating Wikipedia
  • The quality of Wikipedia
  • How to use Wikipedia..
  • Wikipedia Literacy
  • Wikipedia User's Guide
  • Using Wikipedia: a tutorial on how to evaluate Wikipedia's article quality

//Hannibal 21:04, 18 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Frank's notes



  • Overall: Great start! I like it a lot.
  • Don't overemphasize vandalism / bad behavior -- most people on Wikipedia try to help making Wikipedia better.
  • Underline that Wikipedians care _a lot_ about quality. Discussions about how to make Wikipedia better have been started from the early beginnings on. Over the years Wikipedians have developed a large number of mechanisms and strategies to improve article quality.

Aspects that are missing

  • Is the article easy to understand?
    • If the article, and especially the lead section, is not easy to understand, this might indicate that the person(s) who wrote the article didn't understand the topic themselves. People, who really understand a topic, are more likely to explain it in plain words to others.
  • Explain watchlists:
    • Articles about popular topics or topics that have been in the news recently are being watched by many people, therefore it is more likely that mistakes get removed fast ("Principle of thousand eyes").
  • Explain the problem of articles about broad topics, e.g. History, Philosophy, Biology, etc.
    • Many contributors to Wikipedia have a very special knowledge. It is easier for them to write an article about their special topic area, than to write an article about a broad topic. Therefore, articles about broad topics might (some might not) be of lower quality than articles about narrow topics.
  • The article mentions different viewpoints
    • In most cases, that's an indicator of good quality. It tells you that the author(s) were aware of the fact that different viewpoints exist and they deal with that fact in an open and transparent way. Example: Article mentions that the exact birthdate of a person born in the 17th century is not known. The author(s) discuss the different viewpoints and approaches of researches who have tried to narrow the possible birthdate of that person down.

Minor improvements

  • Citing Wikipedia correctly: Indicate the date when you accessed the article

--Frank Schulenburg 19:30, 25 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

What is Wikipedia?


Shouldn't the introduction section talk something about it? Okay, most people know what Wikipedia is. It is an online encyclopedia. But could we tell them a little more about WP? Like for example, include in certain trivia about WP? Or even if not, at least give a general overview of what Wikipedia is because since this brochure will be distributed to secondary students and journalists, it should at least answer that question. Just a thought. Bejinhan 10:45, 9 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Sounds good. Would you like to draft that section? --Frank Schulenburg 13:40, 9 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Sure, I'll come up with something over the next few days. Bejinhan 03:26, 14 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
I did a draft here. I'm thinking of adding additional info about Wikipedians since we're trying to teach students how to edit and they are going to be Wikipedians when they edit. Do you think it would be appropriate? Bejinhan 07:37, 15 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Bejinhan! I've talked to Lennart (User:Hannibal) today and he will incorporate your ideas in the improved version of the introduction. --Frank Schulenburg 23:43, 15 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
You're welcome! Glad to be of help, Bejinhan 03:19, 16 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Lennart's run-through of Sept 10


I removed a couple of the comments from earlier and pasted them here:

  • [If the purpose here is to establish credibility, use some examples of actual experts. - suggest using available facts about contributors, something like - Wikipedia's contributors include subject matter experts ranging from those who have read extensively on a subject in their spare time to world renowned researchers]- Chvaza 05:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC) [ They do? Where does this information come from? I haven't heard it before.]  The stats are from the survey conducted in 2008-2009, see for the full results//Hannibal 19:24, 29 August 2010 (UTC). - Done!
  • [LENNART- am I correct that Wikipedia has bee "cited" and not just used without direct reference? ]Chvaza 05:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC) - yes. they have been cited, see this Wikipedia article
  • [LENNART - at it says over 91,0000. See statistic in para 1 above, ck facts and edit for consistency.] Chvaza 05:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC) - Removed.Reply
  • Despite increased recognition, many people are still careful about using Wikipedia because of it's community based structure. The articles in Wikipedia are created and maintained by its users. There is no editorial board with final decision-making power. Instead the content is produced by more than 100 thousand volunteers from around the world. [LENNART - this sentence seems out of place. It seems counter to the position that currently most of the content is of a good quality. What is the purpose?]Chvaza 05:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC) - Better now?Reply
  • Find your way behind the scenes  [may edit this phrase after seeing what it refers to] Chvaza 05:45, 31 August 2010 (UTC) of Wikipedia - Removed
  • Find inspiration - [for what? - Suggest INSERT - for your own work - Chvaza 06:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - selected "for new projects"Reply
  • Translation - does this edit capture the meaning of your bullet item "translations" ? Chvaza 06:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - yes. Thank you. Changed a bit further, thoughReply
  • [Among these, are tools to help users and contributors browse, edit, write, format, and track an article's evolution. Chvaza 06:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - Accepted fully.Reply
  • [This sentence is less aggressive but does it express the reality of what happens? Chvaza 06:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - very good. I inserted that versionReply
  • Inactive WikiProjects [what is the purpose of the previous sentence? Suggest DELETING it. Chvaza 07:04, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - All right. I was trying to be fair :-), but you are right. Let's not send mixed messages.Reply
  • Evaluating the quality of an article [This title isn't appropriate. The quality of an article seems to be discussed in the section after this one. Chvaza 07:19, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - okay. Rewrote it.Reply
  • The more important a viewpoint the more space it should receive in the article. [Does this edit capture the meaning? Chvaza 07:26, 1 September 2010 (UTC)] - I rewrote it a bit, but yes.Reply
  • [This is only a wireframe view of how we could show quickly how to evaluate an article. Please improve it.] [Some of the text on this image needs changing; 'have' to 'has', 'do' to 'does' or vice versa, that sort of thing.] [Will improve it. Is anything missing, or are there too many things already?//Hannibal 19:24, 29 August 2010 (UTC)]Reply
  • First, remember that no sources, either on the internet or printed, are completely trustworthy. [Highlight| Really? you don't think there is any source that is trustworthy? Chvaza 07:17, 1 September 2010 (UTC)Chvaza ] - Well, no source is completely trustworthy. You should always double check, if the question is important enough. But maybe we are going too deep with the source criticism here. I have rewritten.Reply
  • [suggest rewriting the Try it! question. Featured articles, deletion, neutrality haven't been discussed. Quality articles hasn't been defined. Chvaza 07:11, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - rewrittenReply
  • About the wireframe: This section should be shorter, possibly with everything based on one single image or some sort of process schematic. It should be apparent at a glance.//Hannibal 20:05, 19 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
I have now added a wireframe that is better, but probably could be improved severly.//Hannibal 19:08, 21 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
[I'm still sure if you intend to use this wireframe image or if Dale is designing and image. The next needs to be arranged in some way other than dense blocks of text. If you'd like an edit, please drop the text into a text doc of some kind.] Chvaza 04:44, 2 September 2010 (UTC) - rewritten with two imagesReply
  • [find a better word. poor is better than bad. poorly written? Chvaza 07:42, 1 September 2010 (UTC) - rewrittenReply
  • Articles with the most readers are usually of good quality. But, many articles have too few readers and contributors to have been improved much since they were first created. They may be short, without good structure, biased, or have any number of other problems. Other articles have many readers, but are too hard for non-experts to write. [Suggest DELETING this - Many broad subjects, such as the article on Philosophy or History, demand a good grasp of the entire subject, while more detail-oriented articles are easier to write. - I'm not sure what this is meant to communicate.Chvaza 07:36, 1 September 2010 (UTC) What do you do when you find a bad article? ] - removed this and rewroteReply
  • [Define vandalism Chvaza 07:36, 1 September 2010 (UTC)] - done.Reply
  • [this is a bit vague. The help section is huge. what do you want them to look for , or what can they find there? Chvaza 07:42, 1 September 2010 (UTC)] - defined nowReply
  • [who is Otis? Chvaza 07:42, 1 September 2010 (UTC)] - Otis is an example person, like Jane above.Reply
  • [stay positive, avoid the negative] Chvaza 03:02, 2 September 2010 (UTC) - okay :-)Reply
  • with the implication that it could be someone with malicious intent. [[Really? Are you confident that malice is the concern?] Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC)]Reply
  • [how can you pose item 2) differently to balance it with the "encouragement" that people provide information about themselves on their user page as a way of building trust in the community. I think trust is the general reader's concern as well.] Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC)] - good point. Added a sentence about that.Reply
  • [highlight|Above point is not well expressed. i) the first sentence needs to be clearer; I understand what it means but I don't think the distinction - between our article and the source - is made clear for our target audience and I'm not sure how to fix it. ii) I read the name of the journalist in the papers I read and so do many other people; so we leave ourselves open to a strong challenge if we blithely assume that newspaper content may just as well be anonymous. iii) Whilst it is true that you can view all the contributors in the 'history', to use the history as a source of article evaluation takes a lot of time and experience; just "going to view history", for a newbie, is not going to reveal much. iv) Seriously, who in their Wikipedia lifetime has sent messages to each of the people listed in the history? If we suggest to a newbie that this is a common way to proceed we mislead them and also we present our new user with a task that no Wikipedian ever carries out in practice.] [Edited. I hope this version is better.//Hannibal 21:05, 29 August 2010 (UTC)] - rewritten furtherReply
  • [ how do "fleeting observers" have contact with regular contributors?] Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC)] - hopefully clearer nowReply
  • About criticism: [does this edit express your meaning?] Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC) - yes, very good.Reply
  • [this section needs a new title. It is a response to criticisms not Frequently asked questions about quality.]Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC) - I changed it.Reply
  • [Is this module meant to encourage new contributors? If so it needs a more friendly and positive tone.] Chvaza 04:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC) - I hope the new introduction changed that.Reply
  • [If this piece is focused on students and journalists, maybe the back cover should speak more directly to those people. People who's reputation depends on accuracy.] Chvaza 04:34, 2 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Lennart's final rewrite of Sept 18


I moved some of the comments here:

  • In general: Is there a way to simplify the following graphics. It might be intimidating for someone new to Wikipedia; it contains too much information and too much noise. --Frank Schulenburg 17:13, 13 September 2010 (UTC) - well, that's a problem with the User Interface. I removed some of the cluttering information, and have included a comment for Dale to do the sameReply
  • Does a user who's not logged in have the "rollback" button? --Frank Schulenburg 17:11, 13 September 2010 (UTC) - fixedReply
  • In general: Try to find an example with less intimidating wiki markup (e.g. no templates). --Frank Schulenburg 17:16, 13 September 2010 (UTC) - fixedReply
  • With this feature you can find good contributors and let them know that their work is appreciated, or find troublesome edits and correct or revert those edits.  How can I find "troublesome edits" if I click on the name of the person who made the edit? It looks like this sentence refers to the prior paragraph. --Frank Schulenburg 17:37, 13 September 2010 (UTC) - removedReply
  • Why would we want to highlight the undo button? --Frank Schulenburg 17:16, 13 September 2010 (UTC) - removed from imageReply
  • I propose to list the following indicators for a good article:
    • Clear structure (as below)
    • Lead section is easy to understand and gives a good overview (as below)
    • The article is well sourced and the reference section is a good starting point for further research
    • The article is well balanced (e.g. more important aspects receive more space in the article)
    • Neutrality: the article presents different viewpoints whereever necessary
Most of the section below is o.k., it just needs a better structure. --Frank Schulenburg 00:00, 14 September 2010 (UTC) P.S. I wonder if short examples would help the reader to understand the point, e.g.Reply
    • The article is well balanced. Example: An article about a cat breed that contains a long description about the temperament of that breed, but little or no information about the physical characteristics is obviously not well balanced.
  • Several members of the Wikipedia community have worked on the article. More editors generally means less mistakes. It also shows that the article covers what more than what one person considers to be important. View history, which is presented above, is a good tool to use here. Another tool to consider is the Discussion page where the planning of the article is done. A civil tone on the discussion page is a good sign. Some articles have been nominated to become one of Wikipedia's Featured Articles. That means several users have reviewed the article and found it to be very good. Those articles have golden stars in the top right corner. - removed
  • - removed this, since it duplicates the information in the section
  • The article has no links to other articles. Most likely, the article has not been edited by a regular Wikipedian. Newcomers may be unaware of Wikipedia's neutrality principle as well as other policies.  The logic behind this point might be difficult to understand for a newcomer. --Frank Schulenburg 00:08, 14 September 2010 (UTC) - agreed, removedReply
  • Cheryl: Is "Several words are values or opinions" a good way of putting this? --Frank Schulenburg 00:08, 14 September 2010 (UTC) - fixedReply
  • and even contains several archivesAn archive on a discussion page is not always a bad sign. It might also indicate a longer, but eventually fruitful process of achieving consensus. --Frank Schulenburg 00:08, 14 September 2010 (UTC) - concur, removedReply
  • and Both wireframe images need to be re-done with screenshots, but have the helpful captions given in the images in them. - as above

Answers to common criticisms of Wikipedia


The purpose of this piece is to help the reader to better understand how to evaluate whether a Wikipedia article is trustworthy or not. How does this section help achieving that goal? Maybe we could replace it by a section that highlights the most important points. --Frank Schulenburg 00:12, 14 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

There is a lot of thought put into making Wikipedia better. But you may have heard some criticism of Wikipedia that make you reluctant to contribute. Here are the answers to three of the most asked criticisms about the quality of Wikipedia. Other questions can be found by typing "Wikipedia:FAQ" in the search box.

Many question Wikipedia by saying you never know who has written the articles - it may be any amateur. The same critics often suggest that Wikipedia should require everybody to identify themselves as experts before they can write on Wikipedia.

There are two answers to this criticism:

1) The low threshold for contributions is the main reason Wikipedia has reached its high number of contributors. This in turn has produced the high quality. If editors were forced to identify themselves before they contributed to Wikipedia, fewer would correct typos or improve structure - two areas where you do not need to be a subject matter expert.

2) Whether you know the names of all contributors should not be the main factor when you judge the quality of an article. The main factor should be the result, the text. Two useful tools here are the external links and read the recommended literature that are listed at the end of the articles. Compare the text there with the Wikipedia article. Then use all these sources.

Also, you can find the contributors to any article by going to View history. Click on their user names to read more about them, and you will find that most of them have plenty of experience and knowledge.

Another criticism is that the regular contributors seem to defend Wikipedia's reputation too much in discussions both on and outside Wikipedia, as though Wikipedia did not have any problems. Wikipedians may even be too stubborn to let you correct mistakes.

Almost all Wikipedians are even more aware of Wikipedia's weaknesses than the fleeting observer. There is even a large page on Wikipedia about the reliability of Wikipedia, with more points of criticism than can be covered here. Type "Reliability of Wikipedia" in the search box and click Enter, to see the high level of constructive criticism that takes place among regular contributors.

Should you have difficulties getting legitimate corrections entered, first try the discussion page. Provide sources that your version is the correct interpretation. If that does not work, go to Contact Wikipedia in the left side menu, and then Report a problem with an article.

A third common question is whether you should trust Wikipedia.

That depends on the situation. Use careful appraisal of the article you wish to cite and, where possible, instead cite the primary source of the information that the article has referenced.

Review of version 10/11/2010


Hi all, I just got the first preview of the print version. Let's all review it here… --Frank Schulenburg 14:26, 12 October 2010 (UTC)Reply



p. 1 (Front cover)


p. 2

  • lead para, line 2 "and exists" - suggest insert "it" to read "and it exists" Hannibal 15:00, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • para 1, line 6 "lack sources in high-quality publications" - suggest change to "from high-quality publications"Hannibal 15:00, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • para 1, line 4-8 - the last four paragraphs consist of one, very convoluted sentence. Suggest splitting like this: "This innovation is at the core of what has enabled Wikipedia to grow so quicklu into such a useful resource,. But it also has the effect that some articles contain incomplete, inaccurate or poorly-balanced information." (In other words also remove the things between the dashes.) Hannibal 15:00, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • para 2, line 1-2 - evaluate/evaluating occurs in same sentence. Suggest "assess" Hannibal 15:00, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • In the lead paragraph "and exists in hundreds of languages" would suggest to me a number of at least say 300 to maybe 6-700, whereas I would describe ~270 (the actual number of language versions) probably as a "a couple of hundreds". A native speaker might have different connotations with the phrase, though. --Bdamokos 15:22, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • I think it would be a good idea to give a source to the study for the paragraph beginning with "According to the largest available survey of the Wikipedia contributors". Otherwise it could be seen as numbers pulled out of a hat... --Bdamokos 15:22, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
Here is the source: I added it in Wikipedia for journalists which has borrowed some of the material from Using Wikipedia.//Hannibal 16:13, 22 October 2010 (UTC)Reply

p. 3

  • I am not sure these two sentences logically follow from one another: "No one person "owns" the article, but

many people care deeply about articles in which they have invested lots of time. That is why contributors from around the world have developed hundreds of tools to make Wikipedia better.". I would probably introduce the tools in a new paragraph. --Bdamokos 15:30, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply

p. 4


p. 5


p. 6


p. 7

  • The second tick: "receives" should by "receive" --Bdamokos 15:51, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • The tip, line 1: "articles" should be "article". --Bdamokos 16:01, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • The tip, lines 4-6: "it means that it has gone through nomination and peer review process" --> this is a bit awkward sentence for me (is it nom. and pr. processes or nomination and separately a pr process? Nomination for what?.) --Bdamokos 16:01, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • The first tick: the example should be improved. The paragraph is about having thematic sections, so it might be clearer if the example sentence gave more than one section of the French Revolution article. --Bdamokos 16:01, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • The order of the ticks might be better if they reflected the order a page is read or scanned (start with the lead section [tick 3], than mention the structure [visible from the Table of contents when reading; tick 1], then probably the one about neutral content as one reads a particular section [tick 4], and then about balance after reading a couple of sections [tick 2] and finally about the sources [tick 5]. One could think of an other order, e.g. first checking the lead and than the sources and footnotes). --Bdamokos 16:01, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply

p. 8

  • A native speaker might want to go through this page to ensure that the 3rd person singular s's are present where needed. (E.g. "The language contain", "This indicate"). --Bdamokos 16:17, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • In warning one: There are warning signs about "plagiarizing another source". Are there? I would guess such articles are deleted quite swiftly. I think there could be a number of other warnings you could single out (not having sources; needing expert review) that are more common and give a better indication of poor quality (after all if you plagiarise a reliable source, the result will be reliable even if unethical). --Bdamokos 16:17, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply

p. 9


p. 10

  • The picture gives us the opportunity to show how to cite the image information correctly. What's missing here is the licence and the name of the original uploader. --Frank Schulenburg 00:15, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • You might want to add a note about different style guides like APA and MLA, etc. have different formatting recommendations. (The "Cite this page" gives citations in many popular formats, so mentioning this fact might be helpful for students.) --Bdamokos 16:25, 13 October 2010 (UTC)Reply

p. 11


p. 12