There was some discussion, following Rex’s post on Wikipedia, as to whether or not people were ignorant or lazy in failing to edit Wikipedia articles. Since the examples Rex gave were of people who actually figured out enough of the technology to edit the “Talk” page, laziness seemed like the more likely option. However, I do think that learning a new user interface (and sub-culture) can be very intimidating. So I was very glad to see this excellent tutorial: How to contribute to Wikipedia.
I especially like this quote from Wikipedia’s own introduction:
Don’t be afraid to edit pages on Wikipedia—anyone can edit, and we encourage users to be bold…but don’t be reckless! Find something that can be improved, either in content, grammar or formatting, then fix it. Worried about breaking Wikipedia? Don’t be: it can always be fixed or improved later. So go ahead, edit an article and help make Wikipedia the best source of information on the Internet!
One criticism, however: I think that one of the major hurdles people have with using Wikipedia is that they don’t realize that there is a built-in “undo” function, or that you can even compare edits over time to see what has changed. A really good tutorial should explain how this works as well, since I think it would make people feel more comfortable contributing.