Gillian Lattimores Wikipedia Editing Experience

Paul Fyfe’s (2012) article Electronic Errata: Digital Publishing, Open Review and the Futures of Correction, informs us about new forms of review in digital scholarly publishing that have emerged such as In Process Open Review, Peer to Peer Review, Post Publication Review and Automated Review, which crowdsourcing review falls under.

For my Wikipedia editing experience I chose the definiton of Digital Humanities to edit. There was no spelling or grammer correction needed as far as I could see, only some of the text was unnecessary as it did not relate to the topic, so I deleted it and made some other minor changes.

Wiki Screen Print 1

Wiki 2

Reflecting on my crowdsourcing Wikipedia editing experience, I can easily relate with the sustainability criticism of digital publishing, in that who has the time or inclination for crowdsourcing (Fyfe, 2012). I found it a very time-consuming project, trying to be cognizant of the need to meet the coding criteria, but also cognizant of the audience and the Wikipedia editors viewing my update.
Fyfe (2012) suggests a solution to the lack of motivation in crowdsourcing, whereby motivation is harnessed through social media and gaming elements. For example, in the Transcribe Bentham Project, users join a community to transcribe images of manuscripts and individually collect points in competition with each other.
Although Wikipedia contributors can be awarded Barnstars for hard work and due diligence by other users in the Wikipedia community (Wikipedia, 2015) it still does not motivate me to contribute. However, I was really enthusiastic about contributing to the Letters of 1916 crowdsourcing project, and was delighted when I transcribed a letter. This motivated me more as I could relate with the subject, i.e the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising. In addition, I was also enthused to transcribe for the community transcription project, as the subject matter of Irish Folklore also interested me. On reflection, why was editing the Wikipedia article less interesting to me. It was an exercise in scholarly publishing I suppose, and was a totally new experience to me, that came with a ‘social contract’ of sorts.
In Daniel Cohen’s article ‘The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing’ he refers to the social contract between the authors and the readers, in that it was a given that time would be spent prior to publication ridding a paper of errors, formatting footnotes, bibliographies and creating a high quality presentation for the reader. This gave the article a credibility and authority.
In contrast, the kind of open crowdsourcing editing that Wikipedia offers, loses this authority as anyone, not just scholars of a subject, can edit the article. I can see why this makes academics suspicious of the web (Fitzpatrick, 2012).
However, authority is brought to digital scholarly publishing through community models of authorization, where crowdsourcing is utilized as a form of digital scholarly editing where the ‘crowd’ is a pre-existing community of practice comprised of members of a scholarly field (Fitzpatrick, 2012), yet I find it hard to believe that Wikipedia may fit this model. More apt examples include, an online publisher that allows readers to offer feedback and hosts peer-to-peer reviews of digitally published scholarly text (media-commons, 2015). Other projects include Scalar, hosted by The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, which hosts born digital open source media-rich scholarly publishing. Scalar has editing features offering blog-style threaded comments on every page of a document, offering opportunities to engage with readers and allowing user responses to be integrated to the content of a project (Scalar, 2015).
These kind of crowdsourced reviews can improve on traditional reviews by adding more readers, placing readers and author in conversation and deepening the relationship between the text and its audience (Fitzpatrick, 2012).

Dan Cohen (2010) argues that digitally open access scholarship is driving the re-formulation of scholarly values at large, and I feel in this evident in the amount of academic scholarly bloggers in existence in the field of digital humanities.
While I can understand the digital humanities as a community that comes together around values of openness and collaboration (Spiro, 2012) which permeate through to digital scholarly publishing, I don’t see the digital humanities scholars as the editors of Wikipedia. Essentially, because as far as I can see, it holds no scholarly authority.
This would lead to me having to initiate an analysis of who are the Wikipedia editors?


Gillian Lattimore MADC



Cohen, D. (2010): Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values

Media-commons.2015.Media-commons press, Welcome [06/12/2015]

Scalar.2015. The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, About Scalar [Accessed 06/12/2015]

Spiro, L. (2012): This is Why We Fight, Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities, in Debates in Digital Humanities Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Wikipedia.2015.Wikipedia Barnstars. [29/11/2015]

Fitzpatrick, K. (2012): Beyond Metrics: Community Authorization and Open Peer Review in Debates in the Digital Humanities, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Fyfe, P. (2012): Electronic Errata: Digital Publishing, Open Review and the Futures of Correction, in Debates in the Digital Humanities, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. [29/11/2015]


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