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Learning from frustration

The latest chapter of the Free Culture group has been most unexpected, and simultaneously illuminating and frustrating.

Since the class has been following our drama, I will not go into details with preliminaries. Suffice it to say that we have encountered even more disruption with our assignment.

Over the past 48 hours, our site administrator has advised us that since another contributor has made significant contributions that have “markedly improved” the site, we might consider joining him and working ot push the article to featured article status, or try finding another article.

Wait?! The nerve!

Ordinarily, I would willingly agree that a first contribution should be respected treated with care. The problem here is that the work in question seems (to me) to be questionable, at best. The use of giant block quotes seems whole-heartedly to contradict the purpose and protocol of wiki work.

No doubt that we have learned a lesson about wiki-dom. We were potentially headed on a wiki-war path. We carefully followed wiki-etiquette to engage this contributor and to seek attention and counsel from those with wiki-wisdom. It comes as a great surprise that we have not prevailed, and more unexpectedly, that the contribution in question, contrary to our appraisal, is being praised for its merit.

Free Culture is a very impactful work that we are fortunate to have engaged. We each have put a good deal of time, effort, and interest into researching and preparing contributions (under construction).

This bites. What next??

Posted in After Class Discussion, Assignment.

Tagged with , , .

8 Responses

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  1. Laura Kane says

    Thanks for bringing this issue into the blog, Janice. I can understand what Michael is saying about the ‘process’ of this project, but part of the process is putting out a product – a version of this Wiki article that we’ve been working toward.

    I think the really frustrating thing for us (or at the very least, for myself) is that our contribution is being viewed as ‘less important’ or ‘less meaningful’ than McEddy. Perhaps this has to do with user hierarchy (after all, McEddy seems to have been part of the Wiki community for a while), or perhaps it is based on how the ambassador has assessed our motivation for writing this article (a class project v. McEddy’s self-motivated desire to post). Whatever it is, it has left me feeling that any contribution I make to the actual article (this includes edits to McEddy’s contributions, replacement of some of his contributions, or supplements) will be either 1) deleted or manipulated almost immediately by McEddy, or 2) seen by McEddy in a negative light, possibly starting something like the Wiki War Janice mentioned.

    Writing this article has been a very different experience from the traditional academic writing process, and I think the most obvious difference has to do with the permanence of the content produced. In academia we expect to arrive at a finished product. and we expect to be assessed by that finished product. I’m not quite sure how we will be assessed on this article, and this is worrisome to me. Should we have been more vigilant on the actual article page – creating content and editing content? Are we to focus instead on how WE collaborate to write an article, now somewhat being forced to work on Chrissy’s page and not the article page? Are we being assessed on how we’ve worked with McEddy?

    I think the work we’ve done on Chrissy’s page is good, and I think it merits a shot of being part of the actual article page. But how do we go about doing that when the ambassador has told us not to edit McEddy’s content and to find a different article instead?

  2. Michael Mandiberg (they/them) says

    Janice, when I gave you the assignment, I imagined a number of potential (general) outcomes. Some variation of these ones (interacting with other wikipedia editors) was definitely one of them. I was also prepared for outcomes I had not anticipated. And ultimately each scenario is specific.

    I think you are right: the block quotes are a weakness in the article as it stands. How can you help move through the block quote problem? I see several routes, but I want to hear what routes you (and the group) see.

    Lastly, keep in mind my conversation about failure. And here, it may be more useful to think of failure in terms of “blockages” or something like that. You have encountered a blockage — things have not “gone as planned” in your mind. How can you learn from this, and move forward? (e.g. fail forward) In my mind, this is one of the plans, and has the potential to be a huge success — it is in your hands to resolve the blockage and grow hugely in the process.

  3. Amy says

    Thanks for the reminder about the emphasis on process … between the readings and our wiki experiences, this definitely helps illustrate the conversations we’re having about collaboration and perhaps the tensions between academic- vs. non-academic styles of collaboration. Michael, I understand we’re not (yet) speaking the same language as McEddy and RHaworth, but our overall intentions are the same (produce a good article); however, are there competing intentions if we are focused on the process; yet they are focused on the product, or am I just operationalizing “process” differently from the RHaworths of Wikipedia?

  4. Janice says

    Hmm.. Michael-

    Your thoughts brought to mind a moment in “James and the Giant Peach” where James’ mom asks him to ‘look at it another way,’ so that he can better read the images of the clouds.

    Thanks for re-iterating the importance of process. As I mentioned in my posts, this is/has been a learning experience–that is, the journey (process), as well as the specifics on etiquette and protocol. I do feel that we have entered into an until now untraveled wiki-world, and that in itself is enriching.

    To your question about what if this is the assignment: Last evening at the workshop a few of us chatted a bit about our wiki experiences. At one point I piped up that this could be the assignment. At this point it would give me an ear-to-ear grin, were you to confirm that sentiment.. 🙂

    That said, I do believe that there is significant room for improvement inthe current article. Large, untouched, block quotes seems contrary to any rules fediting, wiki or othewise.

  5. Michael Mandiberg (they/them) says

    Janice, you wrote “we have encountered even more disruption with our assignment.”

    Try to reframe your perspective on McEddy and RHaworth and see them not as contrarian interrupters, but as other agents (just like you) trying to act on this corpus. They are trying to do right. Just like you are. You just aren’t speaking the same language (yet).

    A question: what you think if I said that this “disruption” was your assignment?

  6. Michael Mandiberg (they/them) says

    Hold on. Lets not get moralistic or pugilistic.

    And remember what I said at the beginning: your goal was PROCESS not PRODUCT.

    Two questions: What needs to be improved with the current live article? What real contributions/changes do you have in your sandbox article?

  7. Janice says

    Thanks for your response, Naomi.
    We have continued our efforts to create the page in our designated sandbox (on Chrissy’s page). Great suggestion, though the overwhelming praise for the other contributor has me doubting that we have a chance to change the current that this article has taken.

    I’ll definitely check out the guideline link.. There is sooo much more to learn!

  8. Naomi Barrettara says

    How incredibly frustrating! I don’t really know what to suggest in terms of “what next??”, as I am new to wiki-etiquette myself…but it would be nice if you could craft the article as you and the group would want in a sandbox or something, and then submit it to the editor that suggested you “find another article”, so he can judge which is a better wikipedia article? I don’t know…that would be a lot of work that might still get discarded…but it was just a thought! I was also looking through guidelines wikipedia posts themselves, and I found this page:
    I looked through it, and although I didn’t see anything that would specific strengthen your case in this “wiki war”, I thought I would post it in case you something I didn’t catch!

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