Wikipedia: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: January 2008
Pages: 512

Want to be part of the largest group-writing project in human history? Learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the user-generated online reference for the 21st century. Considered more popular than eBay, Microsoft.com, and Amazon.com, Wikipedia servers respond to approximately 30,000 requests per second, or about 2.5 billion per day. It's become the first point of reference for people the world over who need a fact fast.

If you want to jump on board and add to the content, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual is your first-class ticket. Wikipedia has more than 9 million entries in 250 languages, over 2 million articles in the English language alone. Each one is written and edited by an ever-changing cast of volunteer editors. You can be one of them. With the tips in this book, you'll quickly learn how to get more out of -- and put more into -- this valuable online resource.

Wikipedia: The Missing Manual gives you practical advice on creating articles and collaborating with fellow editors, improving existing articles, and working with the Wikipedia community to review new articles, mediate disputes, and maintain the site. Up to the challenge? This one-of-a-kind book includes:

  • Basic editing techniques, including the right and wrong ways to edit
  • Pinpoint advice about which types of articles do and do not belong on Wikipedia
  • Ways to learn from other editors and communicate with them via the site's talk pages
  • Tricks for using templates and timesaving automated editing tools
  • Recommended procedures for fighting spam and vandalism
  • Guidance on adding citations, links, and images to your articles
Wikipedia depends on people just like you to help the site grow and maintain the highest quality. With Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, you get all the tools you need to be part of the crew.

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5.0

Wikipedia and Collaboration

By Jose M. Baeza

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Wikipedia: The Missing Manual:

Years ago when I first had the occasion to use Wikipedia, I remember thinking that this was an amateur effort to provide the masses with a free online encyclopedia they could use instead of a Britannica or a World Book encyclopedia. I did not return to the use of Wikipedia for years after that.

Only in the last year of so did I get back to Wikipedia. I was referred to Wikipedia as a great source of information regarding some subject by someone whose opinion I valued on the subject. Thus I went back to check out Wikipedia and I must say I was surprised and very favorably impressed. It was not the same entity that I had encountered many years ago.

Wikipedia, I have found out, is a project built upon the collaboration of many editors that endeavor to build a consensus around what information should go into each article in the encyclopedia. An authority has been established to enforce agreed-upon processes and rules to manage this gargantuan project that has put together over 2.7 million articles in the English version of the encyclopedia. It appears Wikipedia has become an excellent if not an exceptional encyclopedia to consult when researching an article or a subject.

When I first started reading this book, I presumed that the purpose of the book was to facilitate the search process of the reader in finding information in the encyclopedia. No, its main purpose it to provide the reader a structured process and the procedures to re-write the Wikipedia encyclopedia, that is, to train the reader to become one of the many educated and proficient editors that produced and maintain this collaborative effort! If you are not really interested in being such an editor but plan to be more of a user and a reader, Appendix B is for you.

I decided to register and become an "editor" to ensure I would experience some of the details involved in this Wikipedia effort. Part I of the book is the most important, in my estimation, because it defines and describes the actual work to be done by editors. I happened to read Appendix A on my initial browse of the book and I gained a lot of information from the descriptions of all the links provided in every Wikipedia article. There are links useful to editors and links useful to readers. The information regarding the links gave me a preliminary inkling of how the collaboration process is implemented in this effort.

I completed one minor edit when I ran across a typo in one part of the help section. It went pretty smoothly.

The book covers in detail the editing procedures in Part I. There is even a wiki markup language in the editing process, not unlike HTML markup in creating web pages. Collaborating with other editors is covered in another part of the book. The actual process of article creation and formatting, like creating lists and tables and adding images, is described in another part. Part IV deals with features for building a better and stronger encyclopedia.

A wiki is defined as a collaborative web site which can be directly edited by anyone. Wikipedia is just one of several related wikis. There is wiktionary, wikiquote, wikisource and other sister projects of Wikipedia. The concept of wiki building has evidently spread to other areas of knowledge information sharing produced by consensus collaboration.

If you think you would like the work of being an "editor" of the Wikipedia encyclopedia and think you would enjoy the social and cultural environment of collaborating with other "editors" of the same ilk, this is the book I would recommend for you.

 
4.0

Valuable read

By DaveA

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Wikipedia: The Missing Manual:

Wikipedia is of course a simple to consume information source, but it's a bit more inscrutable as an editing environment for contributors. This book provides the basics to get you started, and a lot more than that. If you are interested in making some simple submissions, you'll be doing so in no time. But if your interests call for significantly more, you'll find that Wikipedia: The Missing Manual will be there as your guide.

The style is clean and provides a wealth of information is the form of sidebars and illustrations. This book covers many, many fine points that would normally take a great deal of trial and error, or a training course to discover. Philosophical concerns do not get short shrift: there are discussions about how best to name articles, guidelines for deleting or adding to articles and copyright concerns.

For those who are brand new to Wikipedia, you may actually want to start with the Appendices for a beginner's introduction.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to dig deeper into Wikipedia article creation, editing and maintenance.

 
5.0

Great guide, sorely needed.

By purplespud

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Wikipedia: The Missing Manual:

Who this book is for:

Anyone who wants to post a new entry on Wikipedia and shepard it through the process will find this book to be a valuable contribution to this open concept repository of knowledge. If you are a frequent user of Wikipedia and have a desire to know more about how the entries came to be, then this book will also give you insight and some technical tips to maximize your efforts. Finally, this book will also be of interest to those of you who wish to put their fist through their monitor after having come upon totally inappropriate pages or other entries with glaring errors and omissions and thus Wikipedia: The Missing Manual will also help you edit and/or flag problem pages.

Overall:

Wikipedia in fact has been missing a manual and if you have ever tried to muddle through their on line documentation you will quickly discover why a huge percentage of pages (according to many media stories about Wikipedia) appear to be largely maintained by a smallish group of users. While open to one and all, you may soon find that beyond some basic editing of existing entries, Wikipedia isn't entirely a user-friendly experience. Wikipedia: The Missing Manual gives great step-by-step directions on the technical stuff and some insight into the duties, responsibilities and culture of being a Wikipedia editor.

You're not alone. - Creating and editing an entry on Wikipedia does require one to be open to the input of others like the general public who will find your pages, and the other Wikipedia editors. If you are going to contribute to Wikipedia then you will be required to collaborate with others and it helps to know the ground rules and expectations of that process.

It's not HTML - People with a smattering of basic HTML knowledge are surprised when they first try to make an edit or correction to a Wikipedia page they have stumbled upon. Wikipedia uses its own special markup text that you'll have to get the hang of. It's not rocket science but does require a bit of practice.

In for a penny, in for a pound - It's one thing to be involved in topic pages that have a particular interest to you but the whole thing is a communal effort. Other entries and editors will benefit from your skills once you finish reading Wikipedia: The Missing Manual. Expect to become a collaborator and mentor to others, as reading this book will make you a pro in short order.

Wikipedia: The Missing Manual is a very useful book.

 
5.0

Learn How To Wiki

By Anonymous

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Wikipedia: The Missing Manual:

Learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the popular user-generated online reference that serves 9 million entries and 2.5 billion requests per day. Wikipedia: The Missing Manual gives you practical advice on how to create articles and collaborate with fellow editors, how to improve existing articles, and how to work with the Wikipedia community to review new articles, mediate disputes, and maintain the site.

Up to the challenge?

Want to be part of the largest group-writing project in human history?

Learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the user-generated online reference for the 21st century. Considered more popular than eBay, www.microsoft.com, and www.amazon.com, Wikipedia servers respond to approximately 30,000 requests per second, or about 2.5 billion per day. Wikipedia has become the first point of reference for people the world over who need a fact fast.

If you want to jump on board and add to the content, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual is your first-class ticket. Wikipedia has more than 9 million entries in 250 languages, over 2 million articles in the English language alone. Each one is written and edited by an ever-changing cast of volunteer editors. You can be one of them. With the tips in this book, you'll quickly learn how to get more out of -- and put more into -- this valuable online resource.

Wikipedia: The Missing Manual gives you practical advice on creating articles and collaborating with fellow editors, improving existing articles, and working with the Wikipedia community to review new articles, mediate disputes, and maintain the site. Up to the challenge?

This one-of-a-kind book includes:

Basic editing techniques, including the right and wrong ways to edit

Pinpoint advice about which types of articles do and do not belong on Wikipedia

Ways to learn from other editors and communicate with them via the site's talk pages

Tricks for using templates and timesaving automated editing tools

Recommended procedures for fighting spam and vandalism

Guidance on adding citations, links, and images to your articles

Wikipedia depends on people just like you to help the site grow and maintain the highest quality. With Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, you get all the tools you need to be part of the crew.

 
5.0

Great resource for Wikipedia editors!

By John Suda

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Wikipedia: The Missing Manual:

Wikipedia, the free access online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, is a remarkable achievement. Started only in 2001, it now comprises over 9 million articles is written in over 250 languages, and is the first choice for reference material for millions of Internet users. Despite criticisms by some for the variable quality of its material, the value of the contributions of tens of thousands of unpaid volunteers is enormous, not only in notable and verified content accessible to the vast majority of the world's population in their native languages, but in the opportunity for everyone to contribute to this repository of knowledge in his or her own way (subject to the review and editing of others just like themselves.)

More importantly, in my view, is the model it represents in human collaboration efforts, this one in creating a repository of knowledge, but applicable more broadly to other efforts. Besides merely creating enormously useful things, the collaborative efforts result in a community of people and groups which has its own intrinsic values. Imagine thousands of volunteers committing their personal time and effort into a nonhierarchical, consensus-based collaboration having as its selfless main purpose the improvement of human society. Socialism at its best! It seems to me that the model may be useful in areas of politics, management and administration, education, and other social endeavors.. The Open-Source software movement, predating Wikipedia, operates in much the same way. Perhaps the earliest example of this collaborative model was the developmental years of the Internet.

As a casual user of Wikipedia, I had no idea of the nature of the Wikipedia project (and its sister projects _ Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikinews, and Wikiversity _ and no doubt others yet to come) until I read "Wikipedia: the Missing Manual," by John Broughton. He is an experienced Wikipedia editor with over 15,000 edits to his credit and is the creator of the "Editor's Index to Wikipedia" which lists every reference page on Wikipedia as well as other off site pages with information useful for serious Wikipedia editors. "Wikipedia: the Missing Manual" is an extremely thorough guide to creating and editing Wikipedia articles. The book is intended to help train new writers and editors and to improve the skills and knowledge of existing participants.

Broughton encourages people to join the Wikipedia community of researchers, fact checkers, and proofreaders. This community seems to be made up of committed, skilled, and serious people who take great pride in the project. There is little organizational hierarchy involved and a minimum of formal participatory rules, but a large set of informal mores and practices which help maintain production, efficiency, civility, and quality. There is always a need for more articles, although of the thousands created every day, nearly one half of them are deleted within 24 hours by attentive editors for a number of reasons explained in the book.

The book starts with an introduction to the basic principles of the Wikipedia project involving notability, credibility, balance, consensus, and good faith and moves quickly into the process of registering with Wikipedia, setting up a user account, and starting out practicing writing, previewing, and saving edits.

In six parts and 21 chapters, the book covers how to document sources, set up an editor's account, and personal workspaces, create new articles, use page histories, monitor changes, and dealing with vandalism and spam. It explains the value of collaborating with other editors and participants in creating and editing articles and in special Wiki Projects and other group efforts. There are several chapters describing how to deal with the inevitable conflict between editors and explains the Wikipedia editing mores of civility, ethics, legality (mostly copyright issues), and efficiency. He explains why editors disagree, in what ways, and how they resolve disputes. He also provides guidance on how disputes can be avoided in the first place.

Separate chapters of the book detail how to work with article pages and sections, tables, lists, markups and links, images and media, and categories. There are descriptions of what makes a good article and what doesn't and there are step-by-step tutorials on creating better articles and being systematic about good editing practices. A most interesting feature of Wikipedia is its large collection of free-to-use images, videos, sound clips, and other media in the Wikipedia Media Commons area which is available for article use and for non-Wikipedia use by anyone for any purpose.

Advanced topics include customizing your user account via preferences and skins and using JavaScript and templates to facilitate efficiency. There is a short 20 page appendix for those people content with being mere users of Wikipedia and learning how to get the most out of it. More involved users will benefit from Appendix C which itemizes the huge amount of Wikipedia help, reference, coaching, and other educational sources especially valuable for those determined to become better editors or higher-level participants like administrators of Wikipedia.

The presentation is thorough and articulate. It covers basic and advanced editing skills. Broughton frequently notes keyword search items and tips to be more productive and efficient. The community norms demand attentive and educated participants. Experience with coding is appreciated. The book has plenty of screenshots illustrating the discussions of Wikipedia features. Most of the sections contain Notes and Tips which provide more detailed explanations of features and an experienced editor's perspective to the prospective new editor as to how and why to do things. Broughton is (perhaps unintentionally) inspiring about participating in the Wikipedia editor community.

Although the book deserves great credit for its content and its tone a few problems with the layout and design detract a bit. The layout is dense with graphics a bit too tightly packed in with the text. Captions at the bottom of grayscale illustrations occasionally refer to nonexistent color clues resulting in some confusion. The density seems to reflect the nature of Wikipedia editing itself, which can be very involved. But, rewarding.

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