Edit-a-Thon at DVC Teaches Students And Faculty to Be Wikipedia Editors


Daniel Kiely, Lisa Orta and Anne Kingsley editin Wikipedia pages (Cheasanee Hetherington/The Inquirer)

Cheasanee Hetherington, Staff member

Diablo Valley College faculty may be warming up to Wikipedia despite years of skepticism over its credibility.

The DVC Library held a Black History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon Feb. 20, hosted by English professor Anne Kingsley and librarian Emily Moss. Starting at noon, Kingsley and Moss began teaching students and faculty how to create a Wikipedia account to edit or create pages.

Although only a handful of students attended, many faculty participated.

“It’s a hard draw for students,” said English professor Anne Kingsley.

Kingsley said her interest in Wikipedia was initially sparked six years ago “because there weren’t a lot of women editors.” 

Wikipedia’s usage has often been discouraged in the classroom, touted as an unreliable source. However, due to the edit-a-thon, students and faculty were able to get hands-on experience creating Wikipedia pages using reliable sources and citations.

Wikipedia is maintained by people across the globe.

“It’s all community driven and open source,” said Kingsley, and anyone can contribute after they create an account.

She said participating in the edit-a-thon would give students the opportunity to “have a long lasting impact” on the global community.

Kingsley and Moss guided attendees through the process of making an account. After signing up on Wikipedia’s account page students and faculty joined DVC’s dashboard. They could pick from a list of articles related to Black History month, ranging from prominent bay area individuals to sports.

Proper citation is crucial to Wikipedia’s success and reliability, even though “citing on Wikipedia doesn’t require a particular format,” said Moss. A standard format doesn’t exist, but verifiable resources are required.

Citation is a chore for many students. “Students have a negative association with citation,” said Moss. She expressed optimism that the event might inspire students to adapt a positive view of citation.

English professor Lisa Orta said contributing to Wikipedia “is surprisingly easy.”

“I don’t have to be an expert on technology (to edit),” she said.

Attendee and DVC library chair Daniel Kiely said, “I tend to go back to my first (passions) using Wikipedia.” He said that he often uses Wikipedia to research topics of interest, using it as a springboard to dive into new subjects.

Kingsley hopes to host more edit-a-thons in the future. She hopes to “work specifically with classes,” and encourage teachers to send their students.