Sunday, August 06, 2006

More on Wikipedia (citing specific versions, Edit History feeds)

Thanks to Kevin, who shared more about Wikipedia in his earlier comments, I learnt something new -- specifically the ability to cite specific versions of the wikipedia entry. Thought it might be useful to point it out here.

Click on the images to see additional notes in Flickr.

#1 - Let's say we are at the Wikipedia Singapore entry. Typically, when we want to send someone the URL, we would copy the URL from our browser and send that link off, i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore
Wiki - Singapore Entry


#2 - However, if our intent is to let the other person see the information as we've read it, we should send them the specific URL of that particular version of the wiki entry. Click on the link (at the left sidebar; bottom left of the image) that says "Permanent Link" to get the specific URL. That way, whoever receives the URL at a later date will see what we've seen (rather than updated versions). Near the top of the entry, there's a link to see the Edit History of the wiki entry.
Wikipedia entry - Singapore 1


#3 - Clicking on the Permanent Link will bring us to another page. Notice that the URL in our browser now shows a different URL (there is an ID number attached) -
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Singapore&oldid=67816932
We can also navigate to earlier or older versions from this page.
Wikipedia entry - Singapore 2


#4 - At the (Edit) History page, we can navigate to specific versions (newer or older). The Edit History page also shows who edited what. There's also an RSS feed for the wiki History page. The RSS feed is useful if you are interested in tracking (via Feeds) on the changes made to the entry.
Wikipedia entry - Singapore 3


#5 - This is how the RSS feed looks like, for the "History" of edits for the Singapore Wikipedia entry, in my bloglines account.
Screenshot - Wiki Edit history RSS


While writing this blog post, I wondered if (Singaporean) librarians ought to playing an equally active role together with the other volunteers who are maintaining this Singapore Wikipedia entry.

Whether we like it or not, the information (about Singapore) is in Wikipedia. Rather than fight it -- or worse, ignore it -- we might as well "join forces" with the community updating the information about Singapore. A professional responsibility, if you will.

We (librarians) need not be the ones maintaining the information. We could just subscribe to the Edit History feed and check the entry from time to time. If we spot any inaccurate information (or if we have better leads), we could find a way to get in touch with those actively maintaining the entry.

For starters, I've subscribed to the Edit History feed.

BTW, here's a thought-provoking article from The Alantic Online, by Marshall Poe: "Can thousands of Wikipedians be wrong? How an attempt to build an online encyclopedia touched off history’s biggest experiment in collaborative knowledge"


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6 comments:

  1. Excellent post Ivan! As usual, you never fail to amaze me. I can imagine people searching for "citing wikipedia" and finding your post.

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  2. Ah, you might be pleased to know then that some of us have already been checking and editing wrong info on our own. Sometimes we share some glaring mistake we have spotted in wiki during lunch and what we have updated in it. It's great to know that many of us are still quite civic minded yah? :-)

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  3. Kevin, it was thanks to your tip. Librarians like to learn and share :)

    QQLibrarian - thanks for the update. Yes, it's great you & like-minded colleagues are already doing something about it. Wonder if you all readily identify yourselves as librarians in wikipedia? : )

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  4. Anonymous8:07 pm

    Hm. For a start, maybe you librarians from NLB can work with the CComm folks to update the entry for NLB ? The information there seems a bit outdated huh? To include some info on Library 2010 maybe ?

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  5. Hi Anon, yeah I was thinking about that too. We shall see :)

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  6. yup, there's no way that we can prevent students from consulting wikipedia, so we may as well let them know that "According to Wikipedia..." is not enough. they need to cite the exact resource. happy singapore day!

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