This assignment was a great undertaking for this old, not so technical kind of person. I can maneuver around the internet with the best of people, but trying to create these wiki articles was indeed a frustrating challenge to say the least. My previous experience in writing a Wiki article came in my Introduction to Public History class that was taught at the time by Dr. Madsen-Brooks. We had to write and develop five articles for the up and coming Boise Wiki. I thought that this was a challenge to come up with five new things that have not been written about for the city of Boise. I had forgotten how these taxed my mind and tried to overcome my anxiety of posting to the Boise Wiki, and then try to make this work on Wikipedia itself, when I looked at it, it truly boggled my mind. But as one to never quit, or surrender, I went once again into the fray to try and post articles to the Boise Wiki and Wikipedia itself.
When I started this adventure, I was first going to do it on the first woman that was executed in the state of Idaho. The internet interceded and looking at the Idaho Statesman website and it got me thinking that since this is the 150th anniversary of the forming of the territory of Idaho. Then with the Statesman naming 150 people and events that have happened in Boise, the thought occurred to me, why not do it on infamous people. This is when the idea to write on Robin Row hit me. She is the only woman that is officially on Idaho’s death row, so why not look to both wiki’s and see if anything had been written on her, and there had not. There has not much been written on her since she was incarcerated into the Idaho prison system. Then I searched Google and other search engines and there was not an article specific to Robin Row. So this made it the next step to write a short 300 word article and then try to get it published on the Boise Wiki and Wikipedia. This is where it became difficult. Being old, and with little knowlege about either, it was sink or swim. Dog paddling in these waters helped me to survive.
I had tried to use my previous account from the Boise Wiki to log in and create the article. After several attempts to reset the password, I just went ahead and created a new account. This seemed to be the logical things to do and it worked. Then I proceeded to create a new page called “Infamous People”. ( https://boise.localwiki.org/Infamous_People ) Once the page was created, it was very easy to add the article and then publish it. Editing the Boise Wiki is extremely easy to do. The page is there and hopefully if more people want to add it about the Infamous People that have been in Boise, then it is there.
The Wikipedia page was a whole different story in its creation. I had created the account and did the “sandbox” entry to try and see if could take it from the article itself from creation to publication. What was so frustrating was that I was stuck in the “sandbox”. I realize that it was my “sandbox” to play in, but getting out was the difficult part. This portion was extremely hard to deal with until the thought hit me, just go to YouTube, and see if there is a simpler way to try and get the article out of the “sandbox”. There was a video and I was able free myself and get the article, hopefully published. There was a blurb saying that the editors were weeks behind in editing and that it will take time for them to get to it. I looked to see if there was anything in my “talk” area, and there was not. I was able to print out what was there and I feel I have made my contribution to Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Lee_Row)
As for writing such a small article for Wikipedia, I feel that I am now part of the world of global information. In seeing the lengthy articles that are there, I feel like the guppy in with the sharks. I will have to wait and see what the fate of the article is.
About the liabilities and advantages of writing wiki articles is that they are always subject to ones interpretation of how the original author wants the information to be portrayed. Since Wikipedia only deals with secondary sources, then the reader is wondering if the article is credible, or just skewed to the way the author wants to present his information. The smaller, local wiki would have to be edited constantly so that false or defamatory information is not posted. The Boise Wiki is a great opportunity for regular people and also for public historians to post information that is valuable and meaningful.
Public historians can use Wiki’s to best of their abilities if they use their imaginations and can create a wiki for the museum or exhibit that they are personally working on. Smart phones and tablets can be directed to the wiki site where the historian has placed their information and it could be used as a guide for say students could look at this prior to seeing the exhibit.
Wiki’s can be an important tool if they are used in the way they are supposed to be used. In doing this assignment, I think that most of us will learn that going through the mechanics of getting a wiki published is only half the battle. It’s following the guidelines and rules so that if one is passionate about what they feel is important, then a wiki can be the place to show that passion.