Nathan Drezner
Montréal, QC

Editing Wikipedia, with Poetry Matters

February 26, 2021

This January, I facilitated a seminar for McGill’s Poetry Matters initiative, focusing on the demystification of Wikipedia editing with a focus on articles about modern poets. A big thank you to Prof. Miranda Hickman, who organizes Poetry Matters, for inviting me to present.

As part of the session, I discussed ways of reading on Wikipedia by looking into the ideas behind Wikipedia’s version control system, which, from the perspective of the reader, turn articles from static objects to living, moving, accessible stories. Being able to go back and time and learn about the creation of an article is a powerful tool that many people don’t realize exists–and opens up a host of other possibilities, like viewing contributors and learning about article origins.

I also discussed normalization of rules on Wikipedia and barriers to entry for new editors; the parts of Wikipedia which make it particularly intimidating for new users to start contributing. Of course, important concepts on Wikipedia (my favorite being “Ignore All Rules”) exist to prevent some of these barriers from being put up in the first place, but still, it can be hard to break through and understand when someone should step in and make a change. (As far as I’m concerned, if you even think for a second that something should be changed, then that is an edit worth making.) Hopefully, this inspired some new users step in and make their first contributions.

For more information on the session, associated articles, and the presentation itself, there is a reference meetup page on Wikipedia for the event.