Wikipedia:WikiProject United States Public Policy/Courses/Spring 2011/Professional and Technical Editing (Cindy Allen)

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Course description[edit]

WRTC 240 Semester-long Project –Spring 2011

Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative: Writing and Editing for Wikipedia

I am so enthusiastic and excited that during this semester, we will have the opportunity to research, write, and edit for Wikipedia with the guidance of Wikipedia Ambassadors here at JMU. According to the requirements for this project, “Editing Wikipedia is an opportunity for students to write for a real-world audience of thousands of readers and to gain quick feedback from the large community of Wikipedia editors. Students also learn to follow editorial policies and how to collaborate with other editors. Wikipedia-editing, furthermore, has been found to improve students’ media literacy as well as their understanding of scholarly citations.” What this means is that this opportunity more than meets the objectives for my technical writing class.

Assignment overview[edit]

Following are some of the assignment design mandates that we will follow throughout the semester:

  • Your contributions to Wikipedia must be substantive, substantial, and must be articles directly related to U.S. public policy (we have numerous articles to choose from). You can expect to contribute to at least 10–20 paragraphs, or approximately 1,500 words.
  • You will be paired with Online Wikipedia Ambassadors who will guide us throughout the semester. In addition, you will create and add your unique Wikipedia user name to selected articles onto the course page.
  • Finally, we will participate in Public Policy Initiative pre- and post-term project evaluations so the Wikimedia Foundation can assess the effectiveness of various elements within the Public Policy Initiative.

Following is Wikipedia’s proposed schedule of Public Policy activities. Because this is a new project, I am reluctant to change much about Wikipedia’s recommended schedule; however, we will change this schedule during the semester if it makes sense, but we must work within the guidelines of this initiative. In addition, we will work together to figure out the best way to grade these assignments. As first-time Wikipedia contributors and editors, I am going to rely heavily on your input about every aspect of this assignment, including a fair grading schedule.

Assignment timeline[edit]

Week 1
  • Overview of the course and meet with Ambassador
  • Introduction to the Wikipedia part of the course
  • Handout: “Welcome to Wikipedia” brochure
  • Assignment, due week 2—Read “Wikipedia: Five Pillars” on the Wikipedia website
Week 2
  • Campus Ambassador introduces Wikipedia.
    • Basics of editing
    • Anatomy of Wikipedia articles, what makes a good article, how to distinguish between good and bad articles
  • Assignments (due week 3)
    • Create a Wikipedia user account, create a user page, and add your name to the course page’s list of students (on the WikiProject)
    • Contact an Online Ambassador (using your Wikipedia user talk page) as a mentor. Mentors are available to offer advice and assistance as you start editing
    • To practice the editing features of Wikipedia, leave a message for a few classmates on their user talk pages
  • By now, all students should have Wikipedia user accounts and should be listed on the course page.
Week 3
  • In class, Campus Ambassador (CA) introduces students to the online chat system (IRC) where students can get live support; CA shows students how to contact Online Ambassador mentors
  • Assignments (due week 4)
    • Critically evaluate an existing Wikipedia article related to the class, and leave suggestions for improving it on the article’s discussion page
    • Research and list 3–5 articles on your Wikipedia user page that you will consider working on as your main project. Ask your Online Ambassador (OA) mentor for comments
Week 4
  • Instructor evaluates student’s article selections (by week 5). I may do one-on-one or group (if we do this project in groups) meetings
Week 5
  • In class handout: “Referencing on Wikipedia” how-to
  • Assignments (due week 6)
    • Decide which article you will work on and list it on the course page. Compile a bibliography of relevant sources, and begin researching the topic
    • Research and list 3–5 articles on your Wikipedia user page that you will consider working on as your main project. Ask your OA mentor for comments
Week 6
  • In class, CA talk about Wikipedia sandboxes and Wikipedia culture/etiquette; CA hold question-and-answer session with class
  • Assignments (due week 7)
    • Write a 3–4 paragraph summary version of your article (with citations) in your Wikipedia sandbox
    • Begin working with OA mentor to polish your short starter article and fix any major transgressions of Wikipedia norms
    • Continue research in preparation for expanding your article
  • By now, all students have started editing articles or drafts on Wikipedia.
Week 7
  • In class handout: “Moving article from sandbox into main space” how to; handout: “Did you know nominations
  • Assignments (due week 8)
    • Move your sandbox article into Wikipedia’s main space (live articles)
    • Nominate your article for “Did you know” status, and monitor the nomination for any issues identified by other editors
    • Begin expanding your article into a comprehensive treatment of the topic
Week 8
  • In class or outside of class, CA leads Wikipedia lab/workshop: article ratings on Wikipedia and how to get there; and, adding images to Wikipedia articles
  • Assignments (due week 9)
    • Expand your article into an initial draft of a comprehensive treatment of the topic
Week 9
  • Assignments (due week 10)
    • Peer review two classmate’s articles—leave suggestions and comments on their article discussion pages; and, copyedit peers’ articles
  • By now, all students have peer-reviewed their classmates’ articles.
Week 10
  • In class, conduct an open discussion around the concepts of neutrality, media literacy, and the impact and limits of Wikipedia
  • Assignments (due week 11)
    • Revise your article based on peers’ feedback
    • Nominate your article for “Good Article” status
    • Prepare for in-class presentation about your Wikipedia-editing experiences
Week 11
  • In class, in-class experience presentations continue
  • Assignments (due week 12)
    • Add final touches to your Wikipedia article
    • Write a reflective essay on your Wikipedia contributions and editing experiences
Week 12
  • Final version of article due
  • By now, all students have submitted a reflective essay on their Wikipedia contributions and experiences.


This is a list of the students in your class (or rather their Wikipedia usernames), along with their Wikipedia articles (which students will select at the appropriate time). Please wiklink the articles where possible.

Mentee Mentor Article(s)
Pattessm (talk · contribs) Bejinhan (talk · contribs) Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976
CadillacDB23 (talk · contribs) GuillaumeTell (talk · contribs) Public policy of the United States
Sadams90 (talk · contribs) Patrickneil (talk · contribs) Energy Policy of the Obama Administration
Feurerkm (talk · contribs) KrakatoaKatie (talk · contribs) Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act
meckese (talk · contribs) The Rambling Man (talk · contribs) Blue Code of Silence
mwbjmu620 (talk · contribs) Sross (Public Policy) (talk · contribs) United States military aid
keithck (talk · contribs) GorillaWarfare (talk · contribs) Fiscal policy of the United States
YoumanKr (talk · contribs) Fluffernutter (talk · contribs) Endangered Species Act of 1969
smit23am (talk · contribs) UpstateNYer (talk · contribs) Nancy Sutley
Woloshkm (talk · contribs) Patrickneil (talk · contribs) Executive Order 11478
Ander2em (talk · contribs) The ed17 (talk · contribs) Space law
simpsontg77 (talk · contribs) KrakatoaKatie (talk · contribs) Air Pollution Control Act
murdocgr (talk · contribs) Basket of Puppies (talk · contribs) White House Conference on Aging
Myersde (talk · contribs) KrakatoaKatie (talk · contribs) Corporate Equality Index
Guidonm (talk · contribs) The Rambling Man (talk · contribs) Hamilton Project; The Brookings Institution
Aennulatw (talk · contribs) Ktlynch (talk · contribs) Holmes v. California National Guard
Walthakl (talk · contribs) KrakatoaKatie (talk · contribs) National Emissions Standards Act
Barkerel (talk · contribs) Sross (Public Policy) (talk · contribs) Retention election
jones3sg (talk · contribs) The Rambling Man (talk · contribs) Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act
Penandpad (talk · contribs) Maple Leaf (talk · contribs) Telecommunications policy of the United States
Cerasam (talk · contribs) The Rambling Man (talk · contribs) Media transparency
Shealb (talk · contribs) Anna Frodesiak (talk · contribs) Community journalism
Buddy4919 (talk · contribs) Sross (Public Policy) (talk · contribs) NIST Special Publication 800-53
Aliceembers (talk · contribs) Ronk01 (talk · contribs) Roosevelt Corollary
BrianTaylor241 (talk · contribs) Ktr101 (talk · contribs) Balanced Budget Act of 1997
Ortizftm (talk · contribs) Thruxton (talk · contribs) Corruption in the United States; specifically: A.A. Ames, Hired Truck Program
michalge (talk · contribs) The Utahraptor (talk · contribs) Command, Control and Interoperability Division
ohheyheidi (talk · contribs) Kudpung (talk · contribs) Atomic Energy Act of 1946
Fuerstem (talk · contribs) Banaticus (talk · contribs) Excessive bail
kac22 (talk · contribs) Sadads (talk · contribs) Conservation Effects Assessment Project
walla2jl (talk · contribs) Banaticus (talk · contribs) Ballot Security Task Force
DsgnWrte (talk · contribs) Dana boomer (talk · contribs) 1984 Cable Franchise Policy and Communications Act
lippmare (talk · contribs) Donald Albury (talk · contribs) Budget and Accounting Act
Joe_stelfox (talk · contribs) Banaticus (talk · contribs) Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act
adriennadero (talk · contribs) ZooPro (talk · contribs) Executive budget
Mikeefstathios (talk · contribs) ZooPro (talk · contribs) Veteran's pension
Kimberly wymer (talk · contribs) Avicennasis (talk · contribs) Food policy
Wood3cm (talk · contribs) The Utahraptor (talk · contribs) Civil liberties in the United States
Burkeew (talk · contribs) The Rambling Man (talk · contribs) Citizen grand jury
Valentta (talk · contribs) Ktlynch (talk · contribs)
FeleciaQ (talk · contribs) Dana boomer (talk · contribs) Urban politics in the United States
ThePerseid_SCD (talk · contribs) Cryptic_C62 (talk · contribs) Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
Feurerkm (talk · contribs) KrakatoaKatie (talk · contribs) Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act
pietrogpjmu (talk · contribs) Donald Albury (talk · contribs) Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009
leejs89 (talk · contribs) Sadads (talk · contribs) Clinton School of Public Service; Elementary and Secondary Education Act


Campus Ambassadors
Lead Online Ambassador


Background and introductory literature[edit]

Item Preview Level Description Download
Welcome to Wikipedia brochure
Editing Wikipedia brochure EN.pdf
Beginner "Welcome to Wikipedia" gives you a basic introduction into contributing to Wikipedia. You will learn how to create a Wikipedia user account, how to start editing, and how to communicate with other contributors. You will also learn how articles evolve on Wikipedia and how to rate the quality of an existing article. The "Welcome to Wikipedia" brochure contains 17 pages and an additional quick reference that helps you to remember the most frequently used wiki markup commands. PDF
Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia
Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia.pdf
Beginner "Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia" is an editorial published in PLoS Computational Biology that gives advice for scientists (also relevant to other scholars and experts) on how to effectively contribute to Wikipedia. PDF
Evaluating Wikipedia article quality brochure
Evaluating Wikipedia brochure.pdf
Beginner Evaluating Wikipedia article quality is a reference guide with specific steps you can take to get the most out of Wikipedia, as well as a look at how its quality system works. PDF
Introduction to free licenses pamphlet
Introduction to free licenses 2010-11-27 (web).pdf
Beginner Introduction to free licenses helps you understand the basic concepts of free licenses. It explains the idea of free licenses, as well as terms like "CC-by-SA" and "public domain". PDF

Editing references, instructions and guides[edit]

Item Preview Level Description Download
Editing reference sheet
Wiki markup cheatsheet EN.pdf
Beginner This one-page quick reference helps you to remember the most frequently used wiki markup commands. PDF
How to get help handout
Classroom handout - How to get help.pdf
Beginner This one-page handout explains the recommended way to get help and feedback for classes supported by Wikipedia Ambassadors: by posting on their course talk page and notifying their mentor. It also includes a glossary of additional help resources students might use. PDF
Citing sources handout
Intermediate This handout explains why references are important, where to place them, and the basics of adding "ref" tags. PDF
Plagiarism handout
Intermediate This handout explains what plagiarism is on Wikipedia in addition to why and how to avoid it. PDF
Moving out of your sandbox instructions
Classroom handout - moving out of your sandbox.pdf
Intermediate This handout walks through how to move an article draft from a userpage sandbox into Wikipedia PDF
File licensing tutorial
Licensing tutorial en.svg
Beginner This short handout explains why and how uploaded files (images) should be licensed. SVG image
Referencing: WikiCode Handout
Beginner This handout explains the basics of "ref" tags and the "name" parameter as well as "citation templates." PDF
Image uploading handout
Intermediate This handout explains the basics of uploading an image on the English Wikipedia. PDF
Submitting an article to the Did You Know process instructions
Classroom handout - Submitting an article to the Did You Know process.pdf
Advanced This handout walks through how to submit a new or newly expanded article to the Did You Know process so that it will appear on the Main Page. PDF
Visual explanation of the user contribution page
User contributions detail.svg
Beginner Visual explanation of the user contribution page SVG