Introduction

Getting started with localwiki can be overwhelming.  Where do I start?  What if I don’t do it right?  Will I break something?  The answers are actually quite simple: anywhere you want, there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” in localwiki, and, that’s kind-of impossible.  The Quad Cities localwiki is a community-owned resource.  If you are part of the community – physically or virtually – you and your contributions belong here.  There is nothing that is too mundane or specialized. 

Below you’ll find advice from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library and Information Sciences students who have worked on localwikis of multiple communities.  The advice ranges from encouragement to future localwikians to powerful ideas on behalf of authors assigned in the course of our education.

Cyberpower

Cyberpower is when community meets cyberspace and/or public computing, and those things change the community. That is the ultimate goal of the localwiki: to provide free information online that empowers the members of the community.

Assign this Wiki

Are you a teacher in the Quad Cities?  Create an assignment for your students that will get them creating qcwiki content and doing outreach to tell others about this community-owned resource.  Why?  Five reasons.

  1. Students write better when they write for each other and the rest of the world rather than for one reader, the teacher.
  2. They learn a lot from talking with people and doing a little community organizing.
  3. They really learn something when they have to teach it.
  4. QC Wiki has lots of room for growth and development and the community needs and wants this resource.
  5. The number one reason, though, is that they (and you and me) are caught in an information revolution.  This means that we can crowdsource fabulous things.  Everyone gives a little and we all get a lot.  The best way to learn this is to practice it.  Help your class develop powerful computer literacy rather than be bystanders in this digital age.

“As a teacher, it was a breakthrough to assign something where I didn't know how it would turn out.  It was a success!  I'm happy to hear from teachers anywhere (K-20) on this.--katewill <at> illinois <dot> edu or leave me a note on my user page here:  katewill

Just Do It!

The hardest part of contributing to a localwiki is getting started.  Try jumping in with something that is of personal interest to you.  Are you in a band?  Do you have a favorite restaurant?  Do you have a lot of pictures of that time that Bill Murray came to town?  Create a page!  Even if it’s just a stub, or an incomplete article that will need development by the community, you’re still making an awesome contribution!  Stub pages help signal to others where they can get started and entice new contributors.  Feel free to add your new page to the Table of Contents, but if you don’t, no worries!  Our admin will be happy to do that.

Have you noticed that something is misspelled, incomplete, or incorrect?  SOFIXIT is the Wikipedia mantra encouraging you to get your hands dirty, rather than waiting for a fancy solution.  If you see something that needs fixing, fix it!

“…While thoughtful consideration should be given to organization and accessibility it shouldn't hold us back from adding content and contacting people. Our individual knowledge and skills are and will continue to be useful and we should certainly play to those skills. However, we also need to make sure that we're doing the work that may not come first nature to us: content and outreach.  A final piece of advice I can give is that a short page is better than no page at all. Stubs may be short but they offer a beginning place for others to edit. Think of them as an invitation to join in.

I found some useful pages from another local wiki, Triangle Wiki outlined specific approaches for instructors and class groups to take when approaching wiki. Another useful page I found at the Triangle Wiki was a list of ways for people to get involved in specific roles.  My favorite was the Wiki Gnomes, which describes the clean-up tasks and goals I worked on myself.  Another role I would add from my own work would be de-stubber.  The wiki could really use help with fleshing out pages started as stubs.  Some of them will get fleshed out as more people get involved with the wiki, but someone interested in investigation and exploration could have a field day with taking on random stubs and figuring out more about them.”

Happy editing - K. Quick (kek)

What is Collective Intelligence?

The [wiki] utilizes the idea of “collective intelligence,” also called “universally distributed intelligence.” The idea behind this is that no one knows everything, everyone knows something, and, together, we know everything. Everyone has something unique and important to contribute. To pretend otherwise is to dehumanize someone in this day and age. Because intelligence is universally distributed, the more people contributing to a collection of knowledge, the deeper, richer, and more diverse the breadth of information will ultimately be. That is the idea behind our wiki– to harness everyone’s unique knowledge and perspective into a coherent collection of information that can be shared with everyone. That is why it is so important that we keep getting more editors and making more pages.

“What is Collective Intelligence,” by Pierre Lévy, in Community Informatics in China and the US: Theory and Research (2012)

“Advice to future [Wikians]: Create pages about things you care about; it's likely that someone else will care too. Take pictures for as many pages as you can. Write down everything you do if you're doing this for a class; the wiki does not track a user's changes to the site. If time and schedules allow, working with a partner will help motivate you. Create a page, then email the person, organization, or business the page is about to let them know it exists and that they can edit it. Create pages in another language if you speak it, even if you are still just learning! Mostly, though, do what you like to do, because that's what a real user would be doing.

Advice to instructors: Have methods for evaluation planned out and clearly stated before the semester begins. Require a weekly update from students, even if it is just a paragraph listing the pages created or people contacted. Ask the students to write down what they do for fun and what is important to them, and instruct them to use that list when they need direction or focus. Groups are useful to encourage motivation, although not to focus work in specific areas of the wiki. It may be more useful to break out into groups after two weeks of working on the wiki, so students know where their interests lie and what they prefer working on. Have the students set goals for themselves every week. Require students to attend two or three local community events that interest them during the semester to get them involved and give them inspiration. Make it fun! Give students links to fun pages other wikis have created and ask them what inspires them and what they think would be fun.”

-Abby

“Don't worry about making mistakes, or messing something up.  Just jump right in and give editing a try.  We're all part of the [Wiki] community, using our collective intelligence to help make each others' pages better.

If you're still nervous, click around the wiki.  Look at other people's pages and learn from them.  Then go learn by doing.”

- liz

 

Social Capital and Meeting Localwiki Goals

In the article “Social Capital and Cyberpower in the African American Community: A Case Study of a Community Technology Center in the Dual City” Abdul Alkalimat and Kate Williams write: “Building sustainable democratic equality in the information age means more than how many individuals are online. The key is to stabilize and support people working with information technology in the form of social organizations rooted in the legitimate social capital of the community.” With this in mind, the more local people and organizations that you can encourage to contribute, the more the [Wiki] can serve its purpose to build sustainable democratic equality. This article is available in the book Community Informatics in China and the US: Theory and Research (2012).