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November 1, 2006 » 10:40 am

Wikipedia Virgin No More

Yesterday, Erik Moeller asked me to look at the Wikipedia entry on Intellipedia. Curious as to the timing of the request, I checked my feeds, and sure enough, a few articles on Intellipedia had cropped up.    (LGQ)

I figured the best people to review the accuracy of the article were those involved, so I passed Erik’s request along to them. However, in reviewing the article myself, I noticed that somebody had linked to my picture of the Intellipedia shovel, along with a short description. The description was slightly off, so I decided to fix it. In doing so, I lost my Wikipedia virginity.    (LGR)

If you want to be technical about it, I wasn’t a real Wikipedia virgin. I’ve vandalized the site anonymously on more than one occasion. That’s right, vandalized. It was a cool trick I picked up from Ross Mayfield as a way to demonstrate in front of a live audience that yes, anyone really can edit Wikipedia, and more importantly, that Wikipedia is self-healing. I don’t do it anymore, because the bots have gotten smarter, thus eliminating one of the main points of the demonstration.    (LGS)

The first time I told this story to Wikipedians was when I was introducing myself at the Hacking Days Wiki developers summit at Wikimania 2005. I said, “I’ve never edited Wikipedia, but I have vandalized it on more than one occasions.” I thought it was pretty funny, but no one laughed. It could have been that people had a hard time picking up on the irony in English, but I think people just didn’t think it was funny. So for all of you Wikipedians hearing this story for the first time, blame Ross.    (LGT)

I nearly edited Wikipedia for real in 2004, when I was finishing up my research on Open Source adoption in Brazil. In my original draft, I told some great stories about the rise of grassroot communities in Brazil, and to my horror, the editors cut them out. I decided to insert them into Wikipedia, but I never got around to it. Maybe I’ll revisit this, especially now that Lula is back in the news.    (LGU)

I’ve spoken at both Wikimanias, and I’ve talked to many folks about Wikipedia, so I’ve always felt a little guilty about not having actually edited it. Then at this year’s Wikimania, I learned that Ward Cunningham hasn’t edited it yet either. (It’s captured on this recording.) That helped, but now the guilt is gone for good.    (LGV)

How does it feel to have finally edited it? To be honest, it’s no different than editing any other Wiki. Personally, I find that really cool. It’s further confirmation that as big as Wikipedia has become, at its core, it’s still just a Wiki. It reminds of the original exchange between Jimbo Wales and Ward Cunningham on Ward’s Wiki about Wikipedia:    (LGW)

My question, to this esteemed Wiki community, is this: Do you think that a Wiki could successfully generate a useful encyclopedia? — Jimbo Wales    (LGX)

Yes, but in the end it wouldn’t be an encyclopedia. It would be a wiki. — Ward Cunningham    (LGY)

Of course, my assessment isn’t quite fair, either. I haven’t experienced a Wikipedia edit war first-hand or a negotiation over Neutral Point Of View. More things to look forward to!    (LGZ)

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