Wikipedia:School and university projects/User:Piotrus/Summer 2009

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This page has information on planning and resources for the University of Pittsburgh's Sociology of the Family (SOC 0438 summer 2009) taught by Piotr Konieczny online writing assignment.

The goal of this assignment is for each group of students to chose an underdeveloped or missing article on Wikipedia, related to sociology, and improve it to Good Article status during the duration of the course (6 weeks).

Introduction for students[edit]

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. It has many millions (!) of editors (Wikipedians), 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'. :)

Wikipedia:Tutorial is the best place to start your adventure with this wiki. Please familiarize yourself with instructions for students and if you have any questions, check the Help:Contents and if you cannot find what you are looking for, ask the friendly people at Wikipedia:Help desk - or just contact me.

Before making any major edits, it is recommended that you create an account. You definitely need to have an account before attempting to do any wiki-related coursework (otherwise we will be unable to confirm if you have completed the exercise). After you create an account, if you know your group already, add your name to the relevant section of this page.

Remember that Wikipedia is not a project limited only to our university. We are guests here and we should all behave accordingly. Please make sure you read Wikipedia:Wikiquette. Please try to think what impression you want other Wikipedians to have of our university — and of yourselves.

You should expect that the course lecturer, 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.

Some other useful tips: whenever you are done with an edit and want to save a page, fill out the edit summary box and view a preview of the page after your edit to make sure it looks as you actually want it to look. Only then click the "Save Page" button. You may find the page history tool and watchlist tools to be very useful when you want to check what changes by other editors have been made to the article(s) you are working on.

Please direct any questions to my talk page. You are welcome to send emails, or drop by to see me during our office hours, and ask about Wikipedia how-to; but please try to find the answer first on the Help:Contents.

Stages and deadlines[edit]

  • During Tuesday June 23 lecture, we will have a segment introducing this assignment.
  • 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 Thursday June 25, everyone should have created a Wikipedia account, made at least one constructive edit to Wikipedia (subject doesn't matter), joined a group and informed the course instructor (Piotr Konieczny - User:Piotrus (User_talk:Piotrus) 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. If you successfully post a diff of your edit to the instructor's Wikipedia talk page you will earn one extra point.
  • 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 Tuesday second week (June 30), 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 inform the instructor of your article selection.
  • By Tuesday third week (July 7) you should create and write preliminary "to-do" list on article talk pages, explaining who will do what, and inform the instructor that you have done so with a diff to his talk page. If the article does not exist, you should stub it (see what makes a good stub). Groups which create very good to do lists and stubs may receive up to 2 extra points.
  • 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 (Piotr Konieczny). You should have a draft outline ready by Tuesday fourth week July 14, and submit it to the instructor so he 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 July 16 will receive 2 extra credit points.
  • Good article nomination. By Tuesday July 21 (fifth week) 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 mostly finished by then! But it doesn't mean your work is done, FAR FROM IT! 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.
  • Course instructor (Piotr Konieczny) will do the final assessment of your work on Thursday July 30 (last week).

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 (Piotr Konieczny) 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.

Selecting an article

You can chose to create an entirely new article related to family, if the topic you'd like to write about is missing. You can also expand an existing Wikipedia article related to family, if there is ample room for expansion (rule of thumb: if the article has only a few sentences, it is a good choice for expansion, if it has a few long sections, probably not). Most articles assessed as a "stub" qualify for this assignment. There are hundreds of family related articles to chose from: see here.

If you are drawing blank on what article you could create, here's an example of an article that should be created: adoption parenting, children's games, family in popular culture, feminism and the family, history of the family, marriage in Mexico, weddings in the United States. And here are some acceptable stubs: henogamy, lapware, nude wedding, nursing father, Sadler report, servile marriage, sexless marriage. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Important tip: try to chose a subject that you are interested in. It's much easier to write about something interesting than it is to write about something boring!

As soon as possible (the deadline for that is Wen June 29), your group should agree on a topic and get in touch (by email) with the course instructor (Piotr Konieczny) so he can verify it is a good topic. You may want to select one or more subjects and list them in the order of preference, in case your first choice is rejected, to save time.

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 sociology related area. 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 , July 21 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. Remember: you may get max score (25%) even if you don't address all the comments of the reviewer in time (particularly if he posts them very late); but addressing them and passing through the GA process guarantees you the max score (25%) for this assignment. The assignment does not with the nomination, you will likely have to fix various issues pointed out by the reviewer. If the reviewer posts useful comments, you should do your best to address them; of course this mean you may disagree with him if you think you know better (reviewers are not perfect).

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 the sociology of the family. Three years ago, Technorati's chief technologist states that in five years "knowledge of wikis will be a required job skill". Do the math.

Getting extra help

You can always ask the course instructor 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:New contributors' help page, Wikipedia:Peer review, Wikipedia:Help desk or Wikipedia:Reference desk), I am perfectly fine with it. Be bold and show initiative, it usually helps.

Advice from past assignments

This is not the first time I am running this assignment for my students. Based on my past experiences, here are common mistakes that tend to lower your grade:

  • read the "getting extra help" tip above
  • try to complete the extra credit assignments outlined here
  • 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.
  • remember its a collaborative assignments. Work with your colleagues from the first day on a single wiki-draft. Groups whose members work alone and try to combine their parts a day or so before the final submission don't do very well.


Getting an article assessed as a good article by the Wikipedia good article reviewer guarantees you max (25%) score from this assignment. If you have submitted your article for GA assessment by July 21 but your article didn't finished going through the assessment process in time (by July 28), due to the failure of the external Wikipedia reviewer to react promptly, if the course instructor (Piotr Konieczny) is happy with it, you will still get a high score.

Here is a description of quality classes for an article. What we are aiming is is the GA-class (or above, but the GA-class will guarantee you max points). Read carefully what the lower classes (B, C, start, stub) lack and make sure your article is better!

Article's quality class Course credit points earned
stub class 1
start class 6
C-class 15
B-class 20
Good Article class 25

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. You can see Wikipedia Good Articles from the section "Social science and society" here. Good sociology related ones include Social class in the United States, Anti-nuclear movement in Australia, African American culture, On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Other good examples include Featured articles from the section "Culture and society", for example: Society of the Song Dynasty, Max Weber, Fairy tale.


Editors in SOC0438[edit]

Course instructor: User:Piotrus (Piotr Konieczny)

Max 5 students per group, 4 recommended. You DON'T have to give your real name below, but if you don't, do email your instructor (Piotr Konieczny) with your name and account so I know whose account is whose. Please add your name below:

Group 1

  1. Koliber (talk · contribs) (Bo), # Califae (talk · contribs) (Cali)

Group 2

  1. KayPet (talk · contribs) (Kaylee), Gpwood (talk · contribs) (Glen), Angela9298 (talk · contribs) (Angela), meh40 (talk · contribs) (Mary)

Group 3

  1. Lngrimm (talk · contribs) (Laura), Denastroje (talk · contribs) (Dena), Brunzy03 (talk · contribs) (Chad), Lenny Caric (talk · contribs) (Lenny)

Group 4

  1. Tjt21 (talk · contribs) (Tony), Red walnut (talk · contribs) (Vanessa), Grome91 (talk · contribs) (Greg), ABerry17 (talk · contribs) (Aaron),motley444 (talk · contribs) (Stan), elf21 (talk · contribs) (Elijah)

Group 5

  1. kiara11591 (talk · contribs) (Brittany), drlunz36 (talk · contribs) (Dan), DaniellaG (talk · contribs) (Daniella), JarredHolley (talk · contribs) (Jarred), Shuooo (talk · contribs) (Shuo), crazedkates1286 (talk · contribs) (Katia)

Group 6

  1. Pinsy (talk · contribs) (Lindsay), MagggieR (talk · contribs) (Maggie), Tracis1 (talk · contribs) (Tracis), Jovani7 (talk · contribs) (Jovani), linden1228 (talk · contribs) (Lauren), tig2zero (talk · contribs) (Irvan)

Articles edited[edit]

Group projects[edit]

List here the article your group is editing:

Group 1: History of the family (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to B class)

Group 2: Reborn doll (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to GA class)

Group 3: Stay-at-home dad (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to GA class)

Group 4: American family structure (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to GA class)

Group 5: Wedding industry (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to start class)

Group 6: Weddings in the United States (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) (improved to start class)

Individual extra credit edits[edit]

Extra credit edits (the students have the opportunity to earn extra credit with sociology-related wikipedia editing). Some highlights:


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