If I have learned anything about public digital history, it is that the field loves “a-thons.”
Being that this is was my first Wikipedia edit-a-thon, I did not know what to expect. I was fortunate that my university provided an introduction of Wikipedia’s editing mechanics before sending us on our way to edit some articles. Similarly, the librarians provided a list of possible articles for us to edit/contribute to of women who are all from New Jersey. This made the task at hand much less daunting and user friendly.
For my contribution, I decided to add to Adele DeLeeuw’s article. I started with adding some basic biographical information to an “info box.” This would make it easier for readers to locate common facts on DeLeeuw, as well as make her article more discoverable and searchable. After this, I decided to add a bit to her biography section. There was not much publicly available, which made this part difficult. Since Wikipedia does not allow original research, this could be an issue for making information on historical figures/topics who are not heavily researched more accessible.
I understand that this might be in part to the phenomena of “digital vandalism,” which can include purposely adding false information to the Internet, especially Wikipedia. However, because of not being able to preform original research, I was left to the little bits of publicly available sources on DeLeeuw’s life.
One feature that Wikipedia had that I greatly appreciated was the use of a CAPTCHA to ensure that the edits I made to the article were done by a human. After I added that I edited her bibliography and added an info box, I was prompted with this:
As an editor, this made me feel much more secure about Wikipedia’s security measures. Throughout this event and spending time in class to discuss Wikipedia for all of its wonderful features and flaws, I feel much more knowledgeable on Wikipedia and more equipped to use this source wisely.