Wikipedia:School and university projects/Beyond Magic Realism

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Specific introduction for students is in the next section.

The course Beyond Magic Realism (IENG-399) at the Keene State College studies representative sampling of prose works reflecting main tendencies and trends in contemporary Spanish-American fiction and particularly how it expands upon or goes beyond Magic Realism. The novels that have been selected are Manuel Puig’s El beso de la mujer araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Mario Vargas Llosas’s Pantaleón y las visitadoras (Captain Pantoja and the Special Service), Ángeles Mastretta’s Arráncame la vida Tear my heart out, Roberto Bolaño’s Amulet, and Laura Restrepo’s Delirio (Delirium).

There will be around 6 students each. Each student will have a separate Wikipedia account, and each group will be assigned a stub, or a requested article, ex. Template:novel-stub and asked to expand it to the level as close to Featured Article as they can.

Supervisors: A.E. will take care of introducing students to Wikipedia and ensuring they and the project are working within the bounds of Wikipedia guidelines.

Start date: The project will begin in November 2009.

Status: At the moment it has led to no editing other than that on the project pages. Please direct any comments to my user talk page.

Introduction for students[edit]

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. It has over three million editors (Wikipedians) as of 2007, many of whom are students like you. The vast majority of them are volunteers who find editing this site to be an enjoyable experience, even a hobby. Therefore I hope you will enjoy this exercise and the course! After all, there are not many exercises that tell you to do something that over a million people think is 'fun'.

  • After you create an account, please find your name in the relevant row of the Completed assignments page and add a link to your user page in the 'Student Wikipedia userpage' column, in the row with your name.

You should expect that other students, your friends, and even (or especially) other Wikipedia editors (not affiliated with our course) will leave you various messages on your talk pages.

  • When working on the exercises below, you should log in to Wikipedia and check your messages as often as you check your email (I strongly recommend you read 'as often' as 'at least daily'). Whenever you have a new message and are logged to Wikipedia, you will see a large orange message, 'You have new messages', on every Wikipedia page you access. To make this message disappear, you should click on it and read the message. Note that it is customary to leave new messages at the bottom of the talk/discussion pages, and to reply to somebody's messages on their talk pages. If you want to leave somebody a message, make sure you are editing their talk page, not their user page. Remember to sign your talk and discussion messages.
  • The page history tool and the watchlist tools are very useful when you want to check out the changes that other editors have made to the article(s) you are working on.
  • Please direct any questions to my talk page. You are welcome to send me emails, or drop by to see me during my office hours, and ask about Wikipedia how-to; but please try to find the answer first on the Help:Contents.



After you familiarize yourself with how Wikipedia works, it is time to put those lessons into practice. This is important; not only will it give you experience in wiki technology before you begin your Working Paper, but the successful completion of the below exercises in itself will impact your scores. After you finish doing an exercise, please leave the information at the Completed assignments page.

Important note: make sure you are logged into your account before making any edits. If you are not logged in, we cannot verify who has done the edits, thus we will be unable to recognize your work and grade you on it. In other words, if you do any edits while not logged in, we will not count those edits toward your grade in this course.

As mentioned in the introduction section above, each student should let me know what their Wikipedia account nickname is by linking their Wikipedia account next to their name on the Completed assignments page. In the same manner, make sure you link the article you are working in during the exercises on that page.

  • Exercise 0

You may want to start with this tutorial, which will take you through the basics of editing Wikipedia.

Create a userpage for yourself. Look at the top right corner, you will see your nickname in red. Click on it; write some text (about yourself, about the course, etc.), save the page. Repeat until you are satisfied. Upload an image and add it to your page.

  • Exercise 1

First, try expanding and improving an existing article. Wikipedia covers nearly every aspect of our life and culture, so you should be able to find something connected to your hobbies and interests, but for this exercise you should preferably find a subject related to literature (from any country). The following pages may be useful to you at that stage:

Make sure you have read the guides mentioned in the introduction section and familiarised yourself with how wiki works before attempting to do this exercise. You may want to refresh your memory by rereading this page:

To complete this exercise, it is enough to expand any one article with a single meaningful sentence. Of course, if you feel you can do more, feel free to do so. If you manage to expand (in a meaningful way) a stub article that it no longer qualifies as a stub, then you may receive some additional points. Make sure you mark the exercise as 'done' on the Completed assignments page.

  • Exercise 2

After you are familiar with how to expand an existing article, you should try to create a new article. As in the previous exercise, there are several pages that will help you find a subject for your article:

However, before you create the new article, make sure it has the appropriate name - it you haven't so far, you may want to read Wikipedia:Naming conventions. And if you are unsure how to create a new article, you will want to read Wikipedia:Starting a new page.

Now that you have created your article, you should make sure it fulfills several important criteria.

  1. It is important that an article is not orphaned - i.e. it should be linked from several other articles. To learn more about this, take one of the existing orphaned articles and link them into appropriate places. See Wikipedia:Orphaned articles for more details on this.
  2. It is important that an article belongs to a category. See Wikipedia:Category for more details.
  3. It is likely the article you have created is a stub. In that case, make sure you assign it to the appropriate stub category.
  4. It is extremely important that the article has references. Please see Wikipedia:Cite sources and Wikipedia:References. You can use Wikipedia:External links as references for this exercise, but bear in mind that for your Working Paper you will be required to use academic books/journals as references as well.
  5. If the article is long enough, it should have an introductory paragraph. See Wikipedia:Lead for details on what such a paragraph should look like.

To complete this exercise, you should create a new article and make sure it fits the above criteria. If you manage to create (in a meaningful way) an article large enough that it does not qualify as a stub, then you may receive some additional points. Make sure you mark the exercise as 'done' on the Completed assignments page. This exercise should be completed by November 19.

There are many other places you may want to check if you want to improve your Wikipedia-editing skills by editing Wikipedia. Feel free to check the following pages:

  • Exercise 3

It is vitally important to be able to distinguish between primary sources and secondary sources, as well as to be able to properly cite your sources. In this exercise we will concentrate on references. Please find an unreferenced article: you may look through some of the categories mentioned above, or browse the Category:Articles lacking sources. When you find an article that does not follow Wikipedia:Citing sources guideline, try to find reference for every important fact in the article. Please try to use academic, primary sources (like academic journals) instead of non-academic, secondary sources (like newspapers or non-academic websites). See also Wikipedia:Reliable sources for information on what sources are preffered.

Some examples of well-referenced articles: Mario Vargas Llosa, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,Katyn massacre, Welding, Section summary of the USA PATRIOT Act, Title II, Monopoly (game), Søren Kierkegaard.

Working paper[edit]

THIS IS THE LIST OF LATIN AMERICAN NOVELS AND WRITERS. The topics are assigned on "a first-come, first-served basis". Email me with your topic or leave me a message at my talk page. Maximum 3 people per group. Remember that each topic, has many subtopics.

If you do not like to work in group, you are welcome to work alone. You may chose a subtopic (Ex. plot and characters) If more people decide to join, I will list more topics.

Make sure you report your choice on the Completed assignments page. Note that this means that the groups which decide early on their articles will have a wider choice and the groups which wait until the end will have few articles to chose from.

You are welcome to use Wikipedia:Peer Review and related tools and seek creative comments on your article. If you manage to make your article a Wikipedia:Featured Article, you may receive additional points. However, please refrain from voting for each other's articles during this process (note also that anonymous and new user votes are commonly disregarded during FA voting process to prevent any abuses. In additon, please note that any attempt to cheat on Wikipedia will be regarded as seriously as academic plagiarism.

Make sure you mark the exercise as 'done' on the Completed assignments page.

Stages and deadlines[edit]

  • Start. Get familiar with wikipedia. Make some trial edits, however minor. Demystify the process. Leave behind any sense of intimidation. As wikipedia puts it, learn to be bold. Learn basic editing skllls.
  • By November 19, everyone should have finished Exercises 0, 1 and 2: created a Wikipedia account, made at least one constructive edit to Wikipedia (subject doesn't matter), joined a group and informed the course instructor about your account name, which group you've joined and the edit(s) you made. Before you make an edit, you are advised to try Wikipedia:Tutorial and create a Wikipedia:Userpage.
  • Plan. But minor edits alone won't get us much closer towards Good Article status. We need to have a sense of what more needs to be done, and an overall plan for the article. Look at models and guidelines (e.g. Manual of Style or the Guide for nominating good articles). What sections are required? What will be the article structure? What information is needed? Who in your group will write what?
  • By November 24, each group should have an article selected and a plan (who will read what, who will work on what aspects of the article) in place. You should also create and write preliminary "to-do" list on article talk pages, explaining who will do what, and inform me that you have done so with a diff to my talk page. If the article does not exist, you should stub it (see what makes a good stub).
  • Share. You will need to divide up the tasks that we've identified in the planning stage. Who is going to do what and when?
  • Research. This is vital. A wikipedia article is worth nothing unless it comprises verified research, appropriately referenced. This will entail going to the library, as well as surfing the internet!
  • Assemble and copy-edit. As the referenced research is added to an article, we need to ensure that it does not become baggy and disorganized, though there will be moments when it is obviously in a transitional stage.
  • Informal Review. First, informal reviews among ourselves and consultation with the course instructor. You should have a draft outline ready by December 1st and submit it to me so we can comment on it and give you further advice. You can try the Wikipedia peer review to get additional input. Groups which will have a draft good enough to submit for Wikipedia peer review by Thursday 3.
  • Good article nomination. By Tuesday 8, at the latest as there's a backlog of articles to be reviewed, and because a nomination can easily be put on hold until the article is improved in line with a reviewer's suggestions.
  • This means your article should be finished by then! But it doesn't mean your work is done! You are responsible for keeping daily track of comments by reviewers (which will include the instructor), answering them and addressing them (if they are reasonable, when in doubt, ask the instructor). Here are some sample Good Article reviews and related discussions: example1, example2, exampe3.
  • I will do the final assessment of your work by the day of the final exam.

Important tips[edit]

Create an account and sign in every time you edit

Whenever you edit, make sure that you are signed in (if in the top right corner of the screen you see "log in" button, you are not signed in!). If you are not signed in, course instructor will not be able to verify that you were the person who made the edit and give you points for it.

Talk pages

Whenever editing a talk page, add four tildes ~~~~ to the end of all comments you make on talk pages. This will let people know who is talking. You can also just press the signature button.

What kind of an article are we writing?

We are not doing any original research. You will not be collecting data, analyzing it, or writing about your experiences. We will not be witting an essay with personal opinions or judgments. Instead, we will be writing an encyclopedic article, summarizing an existing, verifiable state of knowledge from a the Latin American writers and novels chosen for this course. See Wikipedia in brief for a short list of what an encyclopedic article we will be writing here is.

Getting the article assessed as a GA

At the top of this page you will find a "how to" for nomination. There is also a dedicated guide for nominating good articles. You should nominate your article by Tuesday 8 at the latest (this means your article should be as ready as it would be if you would be submitting it to your course lecturer for a final grading!). If you can nominate it sooner, the better for you - every day gives you more time to read comments by the reviewers and address them.

We don't own the articles

Wikipedia is a project with millions of editors, who collaborate on all articles. We don't own the articles we work on. Don't be surprised if you receive comments from editors who are not part of the course, or if they do edit your article. All editors are here to help; don't hesitate to get extra help - Wikipedia has ton of places you can do so.

Expect to interact (politely) with others

It is likely that over the course of the project, you will receive messages from editors outside our course, and that they will make edits to your article. Be polite in replying, and don't hesitate to ask them to explain something.

Work on Wikipedia

A. Don't work on a draft in Microsoft Word. Work on a draft in the article on Wikipedia. This way your colleagues (and instructor) will be aware of what you are doing the instant you do so, and can comment on it sooner.

B. Don't exchange comments by email. Exchange comments by using article's talk pages, for the same reasons as above (unless you are certain that your discussion have to stay private).

Remember: gaining experience with wiki software may be more important to your future career than detailed knowledge of "Beyond Magic Realism" or "Latin American Literature". Three years ago, Technorati's chief technologist stated that in five years "knowledge of wikis will be a required job skill".

Getting extra help

You can always ask me for help. You should not hesitate to ask your fellow students from other groups for help, for example if you see they have mastered some editing trick you have yet to learn. We are here to collaborate, not compete. If you can lobby and get help/assistance/advice from other editors to improve your work (for example by using Wikipedia:Peer review, Wikipedia:Help desk or Wikipedia:Reference desk), I am perfectly fine with it. Be bold and show initiative, it usually helps.

  • complete WP:TUTORIAL and edit some Wikipedia articles "for fun" early on; experience gained will be very helpful
  • work on a draft on Wikipedia, in the article; don't work in Microsoft Word or such.


Getting an article assessed as a good article by the Wikipedia good article reviewer guarantees you an A score for this assignment. If you have submitted your article for GA assessment by Tuesday 8 but your article didn't finished going through the assessment process in time (by the day of the final exam), due to the failure of the external Wikipedia reviewer to react promptly, DO NOT WORRY. If your article is well written a researched, you will still get a high score.

Style guides[edit]

To get past the stumbling blocks of GA, articles will have to conform to the Wikipedia style guides. The three largest barriers are:

Secondary style guide are specific to different projects. Articles must conform to these also. Conflict between any of these is inevitable and troublesome; editors simply have to work out conflicts through consensus.

The simplest way to understand the various style guides is to examine articles that have passed GA or FA.


Editors in course[edit]

Course instructor:

Max 3 students per group. Students (you DON'T have to give your real name, but if you don't, do email your instructor with your name and account so I know whose account is whose):

Group 1 Lindsay and Heather

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Articles edited[edit]

Group projects[edit]

List here the article your group is editing:

Group 1: Laura Restrepo:

Group 2: article link:

Group 3: article link:

Group 4: article link:


Post them at the discussion page of this article and/or email your course instructor!