Submissions/How to create a good school project on Wikipedia

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This is a withdrawn submission for Wikimania 2013.

Submission no.
Subject no.
Title of the submission
How to create a good school project on Wikipedia
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Simon Villeneuve
Country of origin
Cégep de Chicoutimi
E-mail address
Simon Villeneuve
Personal homepage or blog

It becomes harder to make a good school project on big Wikipedias. Since Fall 2008, I use the French Wikipedia in my astronomy class and introduce my students to the encyclopedia with the Cégep de Chicoutimi school project (more info in WMF Global blog post here). I want to show you some tips I learned. With these, maybe you will avoid the wrong paths and make a good school project more quickly and with less work than I.

Detailed proposal

1- Editing is not the only way
There is a lot of things you can do with your students without editing Wikipedia. From creating a book to wikiracing, from climbing categories to try to find hoaxes by analyzing sources, there’s virtually innumerous ways. However, using passively Wikipedia in class with your students may be a good first step.
2- Learn the tool
Editing Wikipedia is not as easy as using Facebook, Twitter or any other Web 2.0 site. Everything is public on Wikipedia. You can’t edit articles and hope that nobody will discuss, reedit or cancel what you did. Nobody owns an article on Wikipedia. If you want to do a good school project on Wikipedia, you must first be a good Wikipedian.
3- Link with the community
Some school projects have been a disaster because they didn’t have a good link with the community of the Wikipedia where they unleashed the students. Unless you’re a WikiOgre working alone in the dark spaces of the encyclopedia, the more you do step 2, the less you’ll have to do this step.
Don’t forget that Campus Ambassadors can help you[1] for this.
4- Create and use tools to help supervise your students
Create a page to centralise your project. Use tools such as templates and categories to supervise and to help other members of the community to supervise your students. For instance, it is hard to know exactly what have been done with the Wiki Academy Kosovo 2013. There is a page with some listed articles, but no template or category to know who participated and what they have precisely done.
We have created (fr)some of these tools in French. Feel free to fit them to your language.
5- Leave the place better than it was when you arrived
Many school projects just unleash their students and count on them to work correctly alone. It work for some good students, but many other will botch the assigments. The result is that the community must clean up their mess. Soon, you'll be contact by members who will complain that you give them more work to do without gain. Many school projects died this way.
Better you perform the two previous steps, less problems you'll have with this one. But keep in mind that if you want to keep doing your project year after year, by the end of each semester, you have to clean.
6- Bigger is the wiki, harder it is to contribute
Everybody who write in Inuktitut, Cree or Innu can edit these Wikipedias. Everything has to be done there. The same for the Uzbek Wikipedia : for now, the main contributors to this Wikipedia are bots.
When one of my colleagues wanted to make a school project on Simple English, I was skeptic because she was a newbie and she didn’t know the community. For what I can see, it was a success. I think this success is partly due to the fact that this Wikipedia is still in its early stage.
It’s not the same for "bigger" Wikipedias (English, Deutsch, French, Italian, etc.), where editing becomes harder and harder. On these Wikipedias, unless you have students with superpowers, you’ll have to choose very narrow subjects and/or focus on brand new articles or stubs. Otherwise, your project will fail or will be a flash in the pan.
Since last year, other school educators and me have created some exercises to create a kind of educationnal turnkey approach of the tool. You can see them on (fr)fr:Wikipédia:Exercices. Feel free to fit them to your language.

  • Cultural and Education Outreach
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes
Language of presentation/talk
English and/or French (depends of the audience)
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Yes, if I have a scholarship.
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
A screen, a projector and a high speed Internet connection

Interested attendees

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  1. User: Cnaejna Elisa Bathory (User Cnaejna Elisa Bathory )
  2. Dyolf (talk) 12:05, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  3. Amqui (talk) 19:07, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
  4. MADe (talk) 10:53, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
  5. Letartean (talk) 12:50, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
  6. 15:17, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
  7. Saintfevrier (talk) 15:49, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
  8. Benoit Rochon (talk) 20:26, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
  9. Sachinvenga (talk) 07:33, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
  10. Slashme (talk) 17:26, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
  11. អមីរ ឯ. អហរោណិ 07:34, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
  12. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 21:43, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
  13. Ldavis (WMF) (talk) 17:53, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
  14. Brest (talk) 14:07, 30 April 2013 (UTC)


  1. help you ≠ do the job for you. On Wikipedia, help is often a kind of "give and take". The more you take, the more you'll have to give back in the future.