Week Six Reflection

This week we moved on from reading about and making observations on wikis to actually working on a wiki. We created our own personal pages, then formed groups to practice creating and editing content in a collaborative setting. This assignment was a lot easier for me because I already had some experience working with this particular wiki as I had taken Elements of Electronic Rhetoric with the same professor last semester, but it did surprise me a little to find how much I had un-learned over Christmas break. While I would still consider myself adept at using WikiWords and basic formatting such as bolding fonts and using bulletpoints, I had to re-learn the [[URL | Title]] format for off-wiki links, and I gained several new skill such as using block quotes and inserting/editing pictures. This was also the first time I used the wiki with the understanding that I and anyone else could edit any page, as last semester we could only edit our personal pages and those we created from them using wiki words.

My group chose to work on WikiAsPersonalNotebook and WelcomeRitual. Most of my participation revolved around taking what others had previously written and elaborating on it. For example, I took one portion that read,

“A great approach to GettingStarted on a wiki would be to learn how to use the wiki. This includes everything from editing pages and entering code to wiki etiquette. When it comes to the technical aspects, you may want to spend some time practicing editing pages in a SandBox.
Once you have some sort of almost-idea of the Wiki and the WikiPurpose, try to find a WikiNewbie Page or a page OnFirstEnteringAPage. Also, FormattingRules change from wiki to wiki, so learning our wikis guidelines is helpful helpful helpful”

added my own content and did a little bit of editing, which resulted in,

“A great approach to GettingStarted on a wiki would be to learn how to use the wiki. This includes everything from editing pages and entering code to wiki etiquette. When it comes to the technical aspects, you may want to spend some time practicing editing pages in a SandBox. Play around with headings, font effects such as bolding or italicizing, creating bulletpoint lists, and adding links and pictures to a page.
Once you have some sort of almost-idea of the Wiki and the WikiPurpose, try to find a WikiNewbie Page or a page OnFirstEnteringAPage. Also, FormattingRules change from wiki to wiki, so learning our wikis guidelines is helpful helpful helpful! It would also be useful to have a look around at pages that other wiki users have added, so as not to be out of the communication loop.
After you’ve done such reading, the fastest way to transition from “Semi-Lost” to “Not Lost” is to simply jump in and start adding and refactoring material. Unless it has been stated otherwise, any page is fair game, and you are welcome to create your own by using WikiWords. The only rules are whatever WikiSocialNorms have been outlined by the users, and these are usually very loose guidelines such as “don’t be totally rude/disrespectful” or “try to stay sort of on topic.” Other than that, do whatever you want! Add whatever content you believe is relevant. and feel free to edit other people’s pages. Don’t just complain about a page being full of typos or incorrect information. On a wiki you have the power to fix those things.”

A complete list of the changes to the pages can be found here for WelcomeRitual, and here for WikiAsPersonalNotebook.

Notes on Wikis

I just want to make it clear from the get-go that, despite being competent in finding information on Wikipedia, Wikis in general are apparently confusing to me, so I apologize if my notes don’t seem well thought out or deeply intelligent.

How Wikis operate as social spaces for collective / collaborative work:Wiki activity 2

Wikis are changing constantly as users provide updates of various sizes and content types. As you can see in the picture to the right, popular Wikis such as the Homestuck Wiki may be updated many times throughout the day. What really makes it a social space, though, is that the audience can not only add to and change the work, they can also leave explanations for what they’ve done, like this gem I found while perusing the Homestuck Wiki’s recent activity.

Wiki activity 1

Communication between infinitely large groups is made easy because everyone can see everything that happens (every alteration, addition, message, etc.) as it happens, as well as being able to see a log of when things happen. No one is left in the dark unless the make zero effort to keep up.

How content creation gets done:

I think it seems to go something like this. (Start typing and see what happens. Trust me, it’s worth it.)

Differences in reading and writing from what we are familiar with:

Reading Wikis can be confusing. As Lamb said, Wikis often lack explicit organization. For example, I have no idea where to start or what I’m even looking at on Meatball Wiki. It doesn’t really even seem like a website so much as it is a giant collection of links. Where is all the content? What is this site even used for? Looking at it hurts my brain.

Writing on a Wiki seems very similar to writing a blog post in the technical sense. However, writing a blog or a book or anything where the discourse is one sided or can be commented on but not changed by the audience is very different from writing in a space where you know your work will be revised or added to. A traditional author or blogger will try to have their entire discourse laid out, typed up, and polished before it’s presented. In a Wiki space, on the other hand, one can post ideas at any stage of development to get input from their peers.

… whatever else comes up

“SoftSecurity” is effective because every reader is given a certain amount of power. Did someone add something incorrect or offensive? No need to try to contact admins, you can just remove or correct it yourself. This system also waives some of the formality usually associated with these actions. The readers are not officials of any sort, so they can get away with making remarks with more attitude such as calling offenders smartasses, while admins (such as the moderators on discussion forums like Reddit) are expected to posses an air of politeness and formality, which is easier for offenders to simply shrug off. Also, there is power in numbers. It’s like having an entire team cleaning up the messes of a few people.