INLS 200: Wikipedia Assignment

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Assignment Description

This assignment spans the entire semester: Write an article in Wikipedia that aspires to featured article status, on an Information Science-related topic.

You will select a topic within the scope of Information and Library Science. You will review and evaluate information sources relevant to your topic, and decide which to use as References or External links in your Wikipedia article. Finally, you will critique all information sources that you review and evaluate on the course blog.

This assignment is broken up into several deliverables, due throughout the semester:

  1. Topic statement, changelog, and comments
  2. 3 evaluations of information sources.
  3. Your Wikipedia article.

How to select a topic

Select a topic within the scope of Information and Library Science. You may select a topic however you want: it may mesh with a project for another course, it may be a personal interest, whatever. If you need assistance in selecting a topic, the following sources may be helpful:

One way to select a topic might be to create one of Wikipedia's Requested articles, in particular one from the following lists:

INLS 200 is a prerequisite to enrollment in both the SILS major and minor, so of course for most of you it will be your first exposure to the field of Information and Library Science. Please ask if there is a topic that you think might be of interest, but on which you want some clarification.

You may select a topic for which there is currently no article, or for which there already exists a stub in Wikipedia. You may select a topic for which there is already a well-developed article only if you will be expanding a section of the article that is currently underdeveloped, preferably by splitting that section off into a new article.

Deliverables

Topic statement, changelog, and comments

The topic statement is a brief (1 paragraph) description of your topic. Near the start of the semester you will post your topic statement to the course blog. The due date for the topic statement post is on the schedule.

Near the end of the semester you will post a discussion of the changes to your topic to the course blog. This "changelog" should document ways in which your original topic was different than what you expected, sub-topics that you have added to or dropped from your Wikipedia article (or plan to add or drop) that you did not originally plan on, connections to other topics that you did not foresee, etc. The due date for the changelog posts are on the schedule.

You will post at least 6 comments to the course blog: at least 3 comments on other students' topic statements, and at least 3 comments on other students' changelogs. I will also post comments on your topic statement and changelog blog posts.

You may find that my and your fellow students' comments give you ideas for revising and refining your topic. Feel free to do so. I anticipate that your topic will evolve over the course of the semester. This is of course the point of the changelog blog post, to document those changes.

Source evaluations

You will write 3 evaluations of information sources that you consult during your research on your topic. These sources may or may not ultimately yield information that is useful to you in writing your Wikipedia article, and you may or may not ultimately decide to use these sources as References or External links in your article.

You will post these source evaluations to the course blog. The due date for these source evaluations are on the schedule.

You will also post at least 6 comments to the blog, to other students' source evaluation blog posts: at least 2 comments per evaluation. I will also post comments to your source evaluation blog posts.

Your 3 evaluations must be of three different genres of information sources. Some possible genres of information sources that you may evaluate include:

  • A website: This must be an evaluation of an entire website, not just one or a set of pages on a site. This must be a site on the free web − that is, not something that requires a login (though sites that require registration are ok if it's a free registration).
  • A book: This must be an evaluation of an entire book, not just one chapter or section. This book can be in print or online, but if it is online it must be available in full online (for example, the books available from netLibrary, or an entire book put online available by its author, such as Information Retrieval by C. J. van Rijsbergen). This book can be a reference source (e.g., from the Davis Reference section) or an ordinary book on a particular topic (e.g., Digital Libraries by William Y. Arms).
  • A scholarly journal article: This must be an evaluation of a single article from a journal. You must find this journal via the Article Databases or the E-Journal Finder on the library's website.
  • A report or whitepaper: Many organizations and corporations produce reports. These are not published via the usual means. But these sources may nevertheless be reliable and relevant to your research topic. A review of a report or whitepaper must explain why it is valuable and reliable.
  • A blog: There are many excellent blogs that may be relevant to your research topic (e.g., the Library and Information Technology Association's blog). There are also many irrelevant and fatuous blogs. A review of a blog must explain why it is valuable and reliable.
  • A wiki: There are many excellent wikis that may be relevant to your research topic (e.g., LISwiki). There are also many unreliable wikis. A review of a wiki must explain why it is valuable and reliable. Do not review Wikipedia for this assignment: just as you would not use an encyclopedia as a research source, so too you should not use Wikipedia.

Wikipedia article

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Web-based, free content encyclopedia project, written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world.

Your Wikipedia article must aspire to featured article status. It's ok if your article does not actually become a featured article: featured article status is decided by Wikipedia's editors, and we have no influence over that, except insofar as we're all also Wikipedia editors (30-something of us out of over 7 million editors). And after all, the perfect article is not attainable.

Before you write your article, create an account on Wikipedia. Then, when you are writing your article, make sure that you are logged in. You must email me what your username is. I will view your contributions to your Wikipedia article by your username. Most articles in Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, so it's possible that your article will be edited by others even while you're still working on it. This is fine: you can keep others' edits or edit them in turn. I will evaluate your article based only on your contributions, not on others' edits to it. It is therefore critical that I know your username, and that you be logged in to Wikipedia when you make edits. Otherwise, I will have no way to know when an edit is your work.

These are some Wikipedia resources that I would recommend you read before starting to write your article:


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