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Wikipedia event enables community members to take editing into their own hands

Student Organizations of Library and Information Science is planning an Edit-a-Thon to put factual and cited information into Wikipedia pages. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

A group of people hunched over laptops and books while eating pizza and drinking soda is an image commonly associated with studying. However, Student Organizations of Library and Information Science (SOLIS) has a different plan for the image.

SOLIS is organizing a group Wikipedia editing event for Friday from 5-9 p.m. at Jimmie B. Keel Library on Bearss Avenue.

Though SOLIS puts on this event monthly with varying topics, Friday’s event will focus on Black History Month.

The Edit-a-Thon’s goal is to put factual and cited information out onto Wikipedia pages that can be edited by anyone and therefore can be inaccurate. SOLIS member  and event organizer Paul Flagg said the group is also looking to diversify the content on the site.

“Our Edit-a-Thons are really an attempt to bridge the diversity gap that is the content of Wikipedia,” he said.

Each participant picks an article on Wikipedia and goes through to verify that the information in it is correct while adding information that’s missing. The idea of hosting the event at a library is that research materials are at participant’s fingertips so they can verify facts and add citations to the Wikipedia page they’re editing.

Moving the event off campus was the group’s attempt to bring in more members of the community and prove that this isn’t just for students.

“I decided that it would be nice to move it away from the school just to represent and encourage a greater population of people because SOLIS is a student organization but we also want to engage other library professionals and information specialists as well as just other people in the community,” Flagg said.

The event is focused on articles relating to the African American community for Black History Month. However, SOLIS plans to continue hosting such events with next month’s scheduled to be about women.

“I really wanted to make it focus on really something more than editing Wikipedia,” Flagg said. “As a group, SOLIS decided to make the Edit-a-Thon gear toward social justice and equality. We want to support diversity among the content represented on Wikipedia as well as diversity among the people who produce that content.”