Practicum Wikipedia Talk Pages

Wikipedia, a bastion of support to struggling freshman everywhere, but Wikipedia has much more to offer than proving a friend wrong regarding an obscure fact, or writing the worlds most cookie cutter report on some vague founding father. Talk pages offer a fascinating view into how Wikipedia both keeps articles accurate, who is making the edits to these articles, and how articles are prioritized.

To locate the talk page all you have to do is click the link on the top left of the page, highlighted in the example below. For my example I have chosen everyone’s favorite crime solving dog, Scooby-Doo.

Looking at the article we can see that it is rated as a B-Class article that ranged from mid to high importance for Wikipedia.

You can see what all that entails below. 

Jumping from Scooby-Doo to Saturday Morning cartoons we can see that this is defined as a “start class” article. Meaning “An article that is developing but still quite incomplete. It may or may not cite adequate reliable sources.” What this is stating is that the article provides as a way to learn more about the topic, but is not a complete source for the history of Saturday Morning cartoons and mainly works as a good starting point.

Finally we can also look at who has edited the article previously using talk pages. Looking at the producer of my personal favorite Scooby-Doo series A Pup Named a Scooby-Doo we can see that Tom Ruegger has edited his own Wiki page, noted by the staff. Noting these connections is important to building the credibility and trust that Wikipedia has cultivated.

With the talk page also comes the page history. You can find this tab located on the talk pages right hand side.

If we use my now good friend Tom as an example we can see some interesting things about the history of his page. For instance we can see who the top editors are from his page.

So at least we know that Tom is not obsessing over his Wikipedia page. But more importantly you can use this tool to see who is making edits to the page and to track who those people are. Biases are can be difficult to see, especially in a faceless entity like Wikipedia. But being aware of who is making edits can help cut through that anonymity.

Overall Wikipedia is a useful tool in the right hands, and exploring how it functions and the human force behind the knowledge giant can not only teach us more about how history exists in the digital world, but also who is curating that information.

One Reply to “Practicum Wikipedia Talk Pages”

  1. Hello Austin! First of all, one of my two all-time favorite Scooby-Doo series is also A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, and I don’t think I’ve ever met another person who has even heard of the series. Second of all, I appreciated this concise, easy-to-follow overview of Wikipedia as a tool of learning. I was unaware of both the “Talk” and edit history pages, but now I can easily find both on whatever Wikipedia pages I might engage with thanks to your useful visuals. I certainly agree that Wikipedia can serve as a useful tool for certain people in certain circumstances. Most people using Wikipedia are looking for quick facts, not in-depth research, but it can also be a great place to start looking for information on a research topic. Either way, knowing how to assess the accuracy of a Wikipedia page is important and necessary regardless of what a person is using it for.

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