February 26, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Evaluation Day
(Or, Let’s See Those Wikipedia Articles!)

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That was a fast semester. Half a semester really. The first session is officially done today, so I’ve started my evaluations.

First off: The Faith of Graffiti came out very well. This was my first time reading this essay, and I very much enjoyed it. It struck the Mailer chords I’m used to for his work during this time, so writing the WP article was a pleasure. I am pretty pleased with the whole process here. Students tarted by adding to the bibliography, then the whole article grew organically through their research. In fact, half-way through writing, the Wiki Education expert emailed me and suggested it bypass the articles for publication review process and said we should put it up for good article consideration. Way to go, team.[1]

The following comments go in order of work submitted to me as complete.

Lizrileymga wrote an article for Bibb Manufacturing Company that is professional, well executed, and well supported. She found archival images that she was able to post to the commons, and she used advanced editing features like shortened footnotes, tables, and infoboxes. This is the type of execution I would like to see from all students. Well done.

Amdoubleu wrote an article on the novel Baby Be-Bop. Key features are covered in a generally well-written article. Some advanced editing features were also employed, like the novel’s cover in the infobox and a table. While the sources show that the novel is notable, I would like to have seen the use of the novel template, specifically a section for major themes. Without this section, I’m just not sure how useful the article is. That said, there just may not be enough criticism to have this section, but then that would question the novel’s notability. Still, this is a solid start to an article.

Benjamin Fincher wrote an article on Madwoman a book of poetry by Shara McCallum. It has generally strong sources and relevant sections on which a solid new article is built. Some sentences are not sourced and therefore could be interpreted as original research. A list of poems could be displayed a bit more elegantly, and the titles should appear in quotation marks. The bibliography section is also a bit sparse; it might have been better not to have it if only one source is listed. A book cover could easily have been included, though an images was used in the body of the article. Finally, I must applaud the choice of subject: more articles about women and poetry are needed on Wikipedia.

Acmunoz14 significantly updated the article on Alcott’s Little Men. The format includes development in all of the sections for a novel, including an image of the book and a link to the novels portal. Sources should have been updated to use proper shortened footnotes and citation templates; this is an obvious oversight and would have been easy, if time-consuming, to fix. There are typos, too, in the references. Again, this problem could easily have been fixed. That said, it’s obvious that the article has been improved from a start class, and bravo for the choice of article.

In a solid example of an article improvement, Ereed23 made significant additions to the Battle of Ringgold Gap. Great images, consistent references, strong organization, and advanced editing applications (like infobox) make this a solid upgrade. However, I would like to have seen shortened footnotes used correctly and all the sources updated to use templates. Again, this would have been significant and easy.

Bamcclure18 wrote about substances poisonous to dogs in an original article. This is a unique approach; I was unaware that Wikipedia had such articles, but it does seem appropriate in an encyclopedia. The article is well-organized and uses ample photos, sources, and scannable text. For some reason, it underlines the third subhead and could have used a fourth in some instances. There are writing errors, too, like the very first sentence: “There is a wide variety of substances poisonous to dogs.” Ouch. Also, this caption: “Many poisonings happen simply because dog's are curious . . .” These issues really should have been caught and corrected.[2] More revision is needed. Still, this is a solid foundation for a good article; it just needs a bit more attention.[3]

OrchardBreeze assisted with Bamcclure18’s article and also added to Ancient Evenings. She also added quite a bit of research to FOG that, unfortunately, had to be removed because it was essentially too close to original research or had no direct relationship to Mailer’s essay. Much of this work is still in her sandbox and worth a look.

The Macon Telegraph was improved by JenniferMGA. She began with a strong list of citations and made incremental changes, including advanced editing techniques, like tables. While some improvements were made, external links were added in the body of the article (this should not be done) and sources were called for {{cn}}, but often not supplied—this might have been why some information was ultimately removed. The overall tedious approach (each paragraph seems to begin the same way) to the history section should also been taken care of. Still, approaching an article like this could be daunting, and several of the edits were definite improvements.

Our local baseball team’s article Macon Bacon received an upgrade from Dcb1986. Before the semester, this article had a dearth of information—I’m surprised it existed at all!—with no references. Even with the addition of material on Luther Williams Field (which was subsequently removed by another editor), the other changes are significant. Some information still needs support, like everything in the “Yearly records” section. Also, sources should appear directly after the information they are supporting—not a couple of footnotes that are supposed to stand for the whole. While I am not a baseball fan, I can see that the local community should be pleased at their better representation on Wikipedia.

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OK, so what’s going on? Everyone is using bold text rather than the more appropriate subheaders in their reflexive statements. What’s up with that? I’m confused. Students should illustrate their literacy with the Wikipedia platform in their reflexive statements, but some are not even italicizing titles, nor using links. Perhaps it’s my fault for not having stated this expectation explicitly on the assignment. I’ll have to make a note to do this in the future.

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Kerrymonique wrote on the Spigelian hernia, as she is a medical professional. The article seems to have been improved; she made over 75 edits—many of which should have been marked minor. I’m not sure how to evaluate the content of the article, but her additions seem to be significant. Rough, at first, but massaged into a professional article. I know one thing for sure: I do not want a Spigelian hernia.

KatieRob27 worked on Capricorn Records—an article another student of mine improved a couple of semesters ago. Whereas many forget to mark their minor changes as minor, KatieRob27 marked all her changes as minor—even the ones that exceeded 1000-letters; she also introduced some early errors. That said, KatieRob27 made significant progress as an editor and to the article. She added much more sourced information and images. I even learned that one of my favorite bands Cake recorded Prolonging the Magic here in Macon. Wow wow wow, this is a job well done—just the kind of work I like to see.

In another solid update, Soudeaforbes added sources and content to New weird, a genre after my own heart. I did not know there was such a genre, but I have read many of the authors associated with it. New weird added well-written content and images, and best of all taught me something. I wonder if the categories could be updated?

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Thanks to all for a strong showing this semester. An online, session, graduate course on a platform that most, if not all, were total noobs to editing is quite a challenge. Most of you succeeded brilliantly, and I’d like to encourage you all to continue to help improve Wikipedia.[4]

Notes

  1. To evaluate each editor, I used User Contribution Search tool and went though all changes made. Quantity of edits was not really a factor—somewhat a factor. I looked at the quality of each edit to see whether it improved the article. I mainly considered clarity and concision in writing, sources used, copyediting and revision, formatting and organizational changes, consistency and frequency in editing, and the application of Wikipedia guidelines and standards.
  2. These have already been corrected, so excellent!
  3. It was accepted as start-class in the Articles for Creation process.
  4. Grades have been posted to banner. 4:01 pm, February 28, 2020.