This was an interesting assignment. Although I have browsed through Wikis looking for interesting topics, new sources or just random trivia, I have never actually attempted to edit a Wiki before. I have had it clearly drilled into me by numerous professors that Wikipedia is the antithesis of a credible source. I assumed that the entry for the Boise Wiki would be the easier of the two as there would be less likelihood that someone would come on to that site to either edit or reject my information. In an effort to streamline the process for each of the entries, I decided to draw upon topics that I already had a working knowledge of and that were lacking in an informative online presence. For the Boise Wiki, I chose to focus on the artesian and geothermal history of the Boise Valley. For Wikipedia, I chose to focus on the Minidoka War Relocation Center.
For the Wikipedia section of this assignment, I took some time to try and figure out what topic I might like to expand upon, visiting more Wikipedia pages then I care to count. I tried to come up with a topic that already had several credible secondary sources online that I could link to. The Wikipedia page for the Minidoka War Relocation Center had some basic information regarding the location of the internment camp, the numbers of internees who were housed there and the process of making it a National Historic Site. There was a gap in the information regarding both the actual make-up of the camp as well as the efforts of internees during the war. I felt that these two areas should definitely be highlighted and then went about trying to determine what information I felt was the most important to highlight. In the research that I have done on Minidoka and other WWII Japanese-American internment camps I have noticed that there is rarely a good understanding of how massive the facilities were. The lack of that information alone seriously impacted the utility of the Wikipedia article to provide a baseline understanding of internment.
In an attempt to keep my edits as unobjectionable as possible, I wrote basic descriptions that could be substantiated by documents from the National Park Service. I also decided to keep my edits relatively short and to the point so that they would be more readily accepted by the Wikipedia editors.
The actual process of editing the Minidoka entry on Wikipedia was relatively easy. I typed up my entry offline in a plain text editor, including the appropriate links to cite the sources, and then copy and pasted it in the Wikipedia edit box. Once I completed editing, I submitted the edits and anxiously waited to see if my edits would be able to survive. I checked several times the first day, fully expecting my contributions to quickly disappear given both the class discussions and the readings on Wikipedia. I have continued to check at least once a day since I posted and, so far, so good – the edits have not been challenged or changed.
The problems I had with the Boise Wiki were not related to technology by any means. The topic I selected to write about for the Boise Wiki, artesian and geothermal water, was one I researched extensively for another class. It was a difficult topic to research as there is very little available on the subject and I had to spend quite a deal of time going through old rolls of microfilm and archival materials for the project. As a result, I was somewhat reticent to put all of the information I had gathered for that paper onto the Wiki. I would hate to have someone take my hard work and pass it off as their own. This also concerned me, as the Boise Wiki requires we release our claim to our work. Additionally, I doubt that the thirty pages that made up my final project would be appropriate for a Wiki designed to provide a brief overview of a topic.
After editing or essentially re-writing my information, the actual process of posting to the Boise Wiki was relatively simple. I doubt that my entry will inspire any edits or changes among visitors.
My advice to others looking to post on a Wiki would be to plan ahead and ensure that you have your sources and information well documented, particularly for Wikipedia. Also, be prepared with some sort of argument as to why your changes should be permitted. Having read the assignment regarding Wikipedia and hearing about the previous class that attempted to edit Wikipedia, I was prepared to argue in favor of my changes but, luckily, I have not yet had to. I also assumed that preparing an argument in advance would prevent me from having an emotional reaction to either a rejection or a substantial edit of my entries.