I was a little unsure at first how to go about editing, or writing a new article for the Boise Wiki and Wikipedia. Having never done it before, I observed other posts first before contributing to see how the articles were generally written. For the Boise Wiki I wrote an article on stagecoach robber Talton B. Scott. For Wikipedia, I contributed to the article on La Hire, one of the French military leaders during the Hundred Years War, and one of Joan of Arc’s men-at-arms. I decided to do the one on La Hire because the portion on his military career had about three sentences, and he achieved much more than that so I wrote about the other battles and campaigns he was involved in.
The first thing I noticed about the Boise Wiki was the ease at which one could edit and figure out how to edit an article. It was not difficult at all to figure out. The articles varied in construction style. I noticed some used actual footnotes with a number, others were just sources listed at the bottom of the page. The articles I observed tended to be shorter in length than ones I found on Wikipedia. Creating a new article was very simple on there, and I got the feeling that it would be easier to deal with any problems that arose from the article. Overall, it was a good experience and I felt comfortable creating an article for the Boise Wiki.
Wikipedia made me a little more cautious because of the stories I’ve heard from the readings in class, to others who have told me they can be difficult to deal with. I wrote that article thinking it would get removed within a few days. However, so far the article and the changes I’ve made are still up, and I did not have any problems with the Wikipedia staff. The difference between Wikipedia editing and Boise Wiki editing was that Wikipedia’s editor was a lot more confusing. I had to look in the help section of Wikipedia to find how to insert sources. Apparently they use a code to insert the footnote with the sentence, so learning how to write all that and being able to see where the sources were in the article became confusing. It seemed the editing catered to computer savvy individuals, or those with computer code knowledge which makes it more difficult. Editing that article I just made it very descriptive, not analytical, which Wikipedia wants. I included sources from a variety of scholars and once I got the hang of the editing style, it became easy. I enjoyed the Wikipedia experience because I contributed to an article which was lacking in information.
When Wikipedia articles are constructed properly, using sources and accurate facts, I don’t see the problem with it. The article I edited had information that did not have sources attached to it, but the information was still correct. Analysis is not needed to make Wikipedia better, it is designed as a general encyclopedia for the public, and when I see articles with factual information, I think it is a success. While they may not include the most radical and sudden changes to the field of history, they do mention them if a group agrees.
After I completed the article on Wikipedia I kept checking to make sure my edits were still there, and they were. Besides the confusing nature of the editing, I had a hard time seeing how women felt editing Wikipedia excluded them. While it may not be a top priority of spending time, it did not seem to indicate women could not edit. I’d say the biggest turn off was the editing style, which was very confusing at first. Overall I found the process enjoyable and beneficial, almost as if I gave something back to the public. I think contributing to Wikipedia, when they have time, is a good activity for historians to get involved in because it is another form of bringing history to the public. It also brings history in ways the museum never could. The sheer amount of information located on Wikipedia could never be replicated in a museum. Wikipedia, while it is easy to read, does not “dumb it down” for the public like museums do, which in some ways makes Wikipedia (when properly cited and accurate) a more informative outlet for the public.