A noble cause: Repairing Wikipedia’s Geology articles

Wikipedia can be a great first stop when beginning research. Mainly it is a great first stop if the article is well cited. Wikipedia can lead you to top scientific papers on a subject. However, if an article is incomplete, poorly cited, or wrong it can not only be useless, but also point you in the wrong direction.

Recently a grip (I love using that word) of Geology Wikipedia articles got repaired, improved, and/or written. This past semester I was a teaching assistant for an upper division Tectonics course taught by Christie Rowe. One of the assignments for the students was the Wikipedia Repair Project. This gave students in the course an opportunity to help other geology students, because chances are the first Google search result is going to be a Wikipedia article.

  • The assignment had students pick an article that needed work. 
  • Either save or print the article and mark it up. 
  • Do the necessary research. 
  • Edit (improve) the article offline.
  • Submit the original and edited versions to the TA correcting the assignment.
The TA then graded the assignment and with the grade gave one of the following recommendations:
  • Edit the online Wikipedia article with the new and improved version.
  • Make minor edits and edit the online version.
  • Major edits then modify the online version after re-submission and approval.
  • Or… do not modify the Wikipedia article.
The student’s grade was not finalized until the followed the recommendation. 
Now it’s time to get your readin’ on. Here’s a list of the articles that made the final cut and have been updated:
For profs who are interested in implementing a similar assignment in their courses here is a pdf of the assignment sheet.

What geo-wikipedia articles are lacking? This could be a fun project for the blogosphere, though maybe we should leave some articles for the undergrads. 

4 thoughts on “A noble cause: Repairing Wikipedia’s Geology articles

  1. This is a brilliant assignment: beneficial for so many! Wikipedia gets improved by a nice modest vetting process, the workload is broadly distributed, and the undergrads get real accountability and application of their work! Neat. It’s cleanly set up so that it will perpetually lead to improvement of the articles.

  2. @austin: thanks. the undergrads who did a good job seemed pretty proud of their accomplishments. @tim sherry. i found something you might be interested in. scienceofblogging dot com…..c.rowe

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