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Wiki Friday

A white sphere made of large jigsaw pieces. Letters from several alphabets are shown on the pieces.Catherine, Angie, Marj and I spent the day working on plant biology entries in Wikipedia, with help from Thomas, a Wiki veteran. Personal experience shows that Wikipedia is commonly the top hit on Google, and is often the first port of call when looking for information on the internet, so it’s an obvious route for us to communicate our research to a wider audience. If we want people to understand the work we do, it needs to be described on Wikipedia!

As novices, we made a modest start. We converted a few stubs to pages, edited and re-organized content we knew about, and added some new content. Catherine looked at the origins of agriculture, and Marj and I worked on entries for Alloteropsis, our study species. Angie has a long-term plan to add content on source-sink interactions in plants, but needed to edit some other pages before she could add this.  I was struck by how fiddly and time-consuming it was to add links and citations in the Wiki format.  I also struggled with the balance between accessibility and technical detail / precision. The linking functionality of Wikipedia allows technical terms to be defined, but this can make the article inaccessible to non-specialists. Striking a healthy balance was tricky.

We’ll certainly need to do this again to make any significant impact on Wikipedia, but it was a useful start. There is much work to be done, and there will be more Wiki Fridays in future.  Maybe you’ll join us next time?


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