The Wikipedia Entry: Birth of a Digital Entity
I would like to continue a story I’ve started more then a month ago, my story of the Wikipedia entry. It was not long ago after my beloved Wikipedia entry was removed from the face of the interface that I contemplated some new tactics. While the first time my efforts where focused on a quick-win Wikipedia entry, this time I’ve put some effort in thinking about what might keep my entry alive as digital entity. One of the major concerns of the first edit was its infringements of copyright and thus I needed a way to get around this without having to dive in some hidden well of endless creativity and infinite wisdom. Making up stories is not very suitable for the medium of choice and having all the information on a specific topic I consider to be more a job for…super Google.
One of the key things in a Wikipedia entry, I believe, is a short but strong introduction. Using Google to get some “new” facts here and there, I restyled some of the sentences of my initial intro and added some of the new data I gathered. As most of my remaining information was biographical and bibliographical, I decided to focus more on the form then on the content. My first cunning plan was the transforming of the biographical narrative into an ordered list. In a nice list ordered by date I summed up all the highlights of my encyclopedic victim, Geert Lovink. After this I made another list of written books (which I just copied from my locally saved initial entry). This basically presented the same information in a new way hereby avoiding the bots to consider it as a copyright infringement. Next I looked at some examples of other entries and decided to construct the layout accordingly. This entails the use of particular header styles and names, the adding of an info-box and a content table. By far the most important think to do is to add references. Even if your entry does not, according to you, use information that needs to be referenced, make sure you either include some anyway (however small) or find a way to reference something by for instance referring to a homepage. However you do it, just make sure there are some <ref> tags (and closing tags) in your text and make sure they actually relate to the content referenced. In short, one needs a short and strong intro, some objective low on aesthetics content, a bunch of relevant links, a Wikipedia standard layout and as much references as possible…oh and a topic of course.
Feeling confident and proud, I went into ‘watch mode’, keeping a close eye on my new born entry. I still remember the cold shivers going through my spine when the first bot attacked my precious little gem. “To many external links!”, it yelled. Indeed, I had been quite generous in my linking, so I quickly though of another cunning plan to defend my newborn from the wrath of this wikibot. In a moment of pure clarity, I noticed that some of my links could be transformed into internal wikilinks. What a joy it was to replace external links to things such as nettime, tulipomania, the University of Amsterdam, the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (which seems to be missing some chromosomes) and generic concepts like ‘associative professor‘ and ‘master degree‘ with internal once. Me and my entry where not alone in this world. My actions seemed to have cleared my entry from suspicion, for the only bot paying any attention to it hereafter was a friendly and helpful one, relieving me from the difficult task of moving my entry from ‘Geert lovink’ to ‘Geert Lovink’.
After just witnessing the first “outsider” edit by a friendly chap called YUN229, adding theory and changing some stuff, I believe its save to say my entry has been accepted into the realm of Wikipedia knowledge. It is now time to let go, to free my entry from the ties of parenthood, to give it space to encounter new people and bots on its difficult path to adulthood. I therefor invite everybody to contribute in this process. There is a whole world to discover in the editing of Wikipedia, and Wired magazine has provided some handy howto tips for doing just that. Just follow this link and start your own adventure.