Friday, February 1, 2013

Wikipedia and answers.com

With all the posts on this blog or NAT referring to wikipedia entries, for instance as an introduction to subjects such as organic matter, biochar, sainfoin or even articles that are not related to agriculture, I wonder how many of you actually do contribute to wikipedia?

If you're already logged into wikipedia, it just takes a click on the "Edit" button to fix a typo while you read a wiki entry, then select the checkbox indicating this is a minor change, and save the edited version. Even if you are not logged in, it takes exactly the same actions and the same time, only the change will be listed as anonymous instead of being linked to your account.

Wikis (the name comes from an old contributive web site called WikiWikiWeb) are now popular both over the Internet for public education, and the intranet, as a repository of corporate knowledge, a form of organized blogging.

I probably perform minor edits such as fixing typos about once a month, and create new articles once a year. I kinda hate the latter, as the wikipedia syntax for annotations and references is just a nightmare, even using existing articles as templates. It would be great to have a wikipedia article editor in LibreOffice, I'd even buy Microsoft Office again if there was one in Word...  ;)

There are some Microsoft Word templates and other standalone wiki editors out there, and LibreOffice has a MediaWiki (.txt) export format and extensions, but most of these options are either not WYSIWYG or dedicated to Wikipedia, you could basically create articles that follow the Wikipedia syntax to the letter but do not integrate at all with Wikipedia's design. And many features would be missing, like how to insert and manage images, right ribbon information, etc.

Same thing about answers.com: If you frequently ask questions in Google or Bing, you will regularly see answers.com in the results. If you find an incorrect information or one that's missing, it is real easy to create the question and appropriate answer or just edit an existing answer. I am not so much active now, but over time, I can see that I provided over 1,000 answers, edited 2,500+ answers, and recategorized or otherwise cleaned up 4,800 questions. And only asked 4 questions, how arrogant of me, LOL!

Contributing to these collaborative knowledge sites could also make a great exercise for kids and grand-kids' pocket money, $0.10-0.20 for an edited answer or article, $0.50 for a new question and answer, $1 for a new wikipedia article, with a maximum threshold so they don't become addicts. And they'll soon become expert at asking the right questions and finding the right answers too. Just an idea...

Chimel.

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