Wikipedia Editing Experience

I always knew that Wikipedia could be edited by anyone, but I never realized just how easy it was to do it yourself. 

Personally, I’ve always thought of Wikipedia as a website that needed to catch up with the times. It’s been around for as long as I can remember, more specifically since 2001, and the website’s aesthetics definitely still match the early 2000’s era. 

Surprisingly though, I found the editing process to be extremely user friendly. 

The page I chose to edit was one about Pflugerville, Texas

I grew up in Pflugerville. It’s a small town just north of Austin, the state’s capitol, and is home to roughly 64,431 people, according to the 2018 census. Their Wikipedia page to me seemed a little scattered. Some of the information on it seemed to be repeated in more than one area and you could tell that some of the sections had obviously received more attention by editors than others. 

I was pleased to see that there was a wide variety of information present about the city. Pflugerville has a lot of history behind it, and when first looking into the page, that was something that was important to me to be represented. You could also get a pretty good idea of where Pflugerville is at now, as well as some fun facts. 

Accuracy is really important to me, and I did notice that not only were some of the embedded links not working, but some of the information present in the “education” section wasn’t completely accurate. I also wanted to add on at least one bit of extra information to the page’s “in popular culture” section since this is something I have an interest in and I felt like the section was underdeveloped. 

As the Wiki Education training suggests, I first left my suggestions for changes to be made on the Pflugerville, Texas talk page. There wasn’t a ton of activity on the page, and it looks like the last edit was made in September, 2019. As you can see from the screenshot, I shared exactly what changes I was planning on making, but went ahead and made them right away. I know that it was suggested to wait for a response, but the changes I was making weren’t super significant and one was fixing a factual error. 

It’s been a day since I posted my changes and I haven’t received any feedback, so it seems that all of my edits have been accepted. 

As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised by just how easy it was to edit an article. Going into the process one thing I was worried about was citations. I’ve never been great at creating citations and consistently have to research how to do them properly when I have to use them, so I was pleased when I learned that Wikipedia can generate them automatically for use just by using a website URL. 

They also make linking to other Wikipedia articles, which are the only type of in text citations they want you to use, really easy. I didn’t even have to leave the page I was editing to copy and paste the URL, it automatically looked up the Wikipedia page that coincided with the text I had highlighted.     

Using citations and external links are a key way to assure accuracy and to be able to fact check quickly. Doing so makes your article more credible and especially on a platform like Wikipedia where anyone can edit it, fact checking information is extremely important. 

Although you can see the edits I made on the Pflugerville Wikipedia page itself, I thought I would insert screenshots here just in case they do get deleted in the future.

Recently, they also added in the Internet Archive, which makes fact checking sources cited from books quick and easy as long as the page number is listed in the citation. Before this addition, the only way to fact check cited books was to go out and find a copy yourself. Now, there’s options to preview the pages mentioned or even to borrow the book from Wikipedia’s Internet Archive digital library for up to two weeks. Since Wikipedia relies so heavily on its use of citations to assure accuracy, I think that this addition is crucial. 

While I’m unsure if I’ll continue to edit Wikipedia pages in my free time, knowing that the option is there is reassuring. Wikipedia is always seen as such an untrustworthy site, and I like the idea of being able to correct misinformation quickly and easily if I do see it. 

In the future, I could see myself using Wikipedia as a jumping off point to lead me to other sources or even utilizing the talk page to see what kinds of conversations are happening around a certain topic. Throughout this experience, I learned that Wikipedia as a whole has a lot more to offer than being just a user contribution based encyclopedia, and I can see myself using some aspects of the platform as tools for fact checking information.