Six tips for SuSanA members starting out on Wikipedia - things to look out for!

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Six tips for SuSanA members starting out on Wikipedia - things to look out for!

I thought it might help if between now and World Water Day I give a daily tip of the day for editing Wikipedia.

I am going to make my tips specifically about traps that SuSanA members (sanitation experts) may fall into. My aim with these tips is to avoid disappointment So this post contains my first tip:

Tip of the Day Number 1: Avoid adding new content without also adding reliable references at the same time

When you add new content, a reliable reference should always be given. What is a reliable reference for Wikipedia? See here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources ).

Here is an example from the Wikipedia article about sanitation: "Sanitation is not high on the international development agenda, and projects such as those relating to water supply projects are emphasised." - no reference given. You and I know that this is probably true but it really should have a reference.

Or (also from the article about sanitation):
Globally 2.6 billion people remain without access to any kind of improved sanitation, and sanitation-related diseases and poor hygienic conditions cause approximately 2.2 million annual deaths, mostly of children under the age of five years.

This needs a reference! It could well be that someone, maybe even me, added this but had no time to think about the right reference to use. This is now your chance to improve the article by adding a reliable reference for this statement.

Without a reference, this statement may need to be deleted again. At the very least, someone should add the {{citation needed}} tag in order to flag this to everyone.

Let me close with this cartoon picture which is so true:



Source: Presentation by James Heilman ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Heilman )

Happy Wikipedia editing!

Elisabeth

P.S. If the thing about adding references scares you, how about first improving the readibility of the article, like breaking long sentences into two? Nothing difficult or controversial about that. And yet super important, too. See here for more information.

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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Re: SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for World Water Day 2017 - Tip of the Day Number 2

Tip of the Day Number 2: Avoid adding using words that convey your opinion

If you are an expert in sanitation then you probably have quite strong opinions. For example you might really like UDDTs or you may not like them at all. You may be fond of reuse activities or not. You might like CLTS or you don't.

When it comes to Wikipedia editing, your opinions are not relevant. They should not come through, not even subtly, when you add something on Wikipedia. Try to stay as neutral and objective as you possibly can! Remember you are adding to an encyclopedia and not to an essay, editorial or opinion piece.

Wikipedia has a nice page where this is explained further. It is called "Words to watch" and is part of their Manual of Style.

Words to watch
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Words_to_watch

I've copied two examples from there, one is called "puffery" and one is called "weasel words":

Puffery

Words to watch: ... legendary, great, acclaimed, visionary, outstanding, leading, celebrated, award-winning, landmark, cutting-edge, innovative, extraordinary, brilliant, hit, famous, renowned, remarkable, prestigious, world-class, respected, notable, virtuoso, honorable, awesome, unique ...

Peacock example (i.e. not good!):
Bob Dylan is the defining figure of the 1960s counterculture and a brilliant songwriter.

Just the facts:
Dylan was included in Time's 100: The Most Important People of the Century, in which he was called "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation".[refs 1] By the mid-1970s, his songs had been covered by hundreds of other artists.[refs 2]


Unsupported attributions [edit source] (also called "weasel words")

Words to watch: ... some people say, many scholars state, it is believed/regarded, many are of the opinion, most feel, experts declare, it is often reported, it is widely thought, research has shown, science says, scientists claim, it is often said ...

Weasel words are words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.


Any questions? Just ask.

Happy Wikipedia editing!

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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Re: SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for World Water Day 2017 - let's get started: time to get your Wikipedia account.

Tip of the Day Number 3: Be aware of conflict of interest rules and know how to avoid a conflict of interest

A conflict of interest may arise if you:
  1. Edit an article that is about the organization that you own or work for
  2. Edit an article that is about yourself, e.g. if you are Jack Sim ;-) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Sim )
  3. Edit an article that is about a technology that you own (e.g. an article about an invention that you have made)
  4. Insert references that you have written yourself and which are "primary or original research"
The official definition of conflict of interest (COI) is provided here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest

The first step is to be aware of potential conflict of interest. The second step is to work around it. How can you work around it?
  1. Try to be extra neutral, and even critical, when you edit the article of an organization that you work for or are involved with. Perhaps even stay away from those articles particularly if you are a novice on Wikipedia. If in doubt, tell other Wikipedians what you think should be changed and let them change it rather than changing it yourself.
  2. Never edit an article that is about yourself! Don't even look at it. If it's really bad, your colleagues or other Wikipedians should sort it out.
  3. Be very neutral, and even critical, when you edit an article that is about a technology that you own; make sure you use good sources for key statements, not just your own publications.
  4. If you want to cite your own publications which may be "primary or original research", e.g. journal articles, then be very careful. Don't cite them in articles about health/medicine. Don't cite them in overarching articles like the one on "toilet" or "sanitation". It may fit, however, to cite such a publication in an article that is about a specific technology or process like the one on "vermifilter" or "UDDTs" or "freezing toilet". Here it is useful if your Wikipedia login name is not your real name as people will otherwise perhaps get suspicious of your intentions when they see the same name in the author list (i.e. they might think: are you making this edit only to promote your own publication and nothing else?).
The best way to overcome conflicts of interest is to build up a reputation as a solid, reliable Wikipedian, by editing a range of articles over a number of weeks, months or years. If people see that you are not just editing the one article that it about your own technology, then they will know that you work in the best interests of Wikipedia and global knowledge sharing.

Let me give you an example from my own work:

When I first started editing Wikipedia, I went straight to the Wikipedia article about SuSanA. It was in really bad shape at the time so I improved it. I was new and inexperienced. After a short while, I was accused by some others that I would have a conflict of interest since I am a SuSanA member! I thought that was crazy but in hindsight I can see how it happened. It didn't help that my Wikipedia user name was EvM-Susana at that time. Now I have changed it to EMsmile.

You can still see that discussion here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Sustainable_Sanitation_Alliance

and also here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:EMsmile#...of_your_organisation

Nowadays, I have such a solid reputation as a Wikipedian (I think) that it is less likely that I would get accused of a conflict of interest.

So in summary:
There is no need to stay away from Wikipedia if you are a business owner or inventor or owner of patents etc. But be aware of potential conflict of interests and act accordingly to avoid that anyone could accuse you of editing Wikipedia with a conflict of interest.

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S.
Oh and one more warning regarding Point 4 in the listing above:
When it comes to anything to do with health/medicine, including e.g. health impacts of handwashing, the following rule applies:
"Primary sources should generally not be used for medical content – as such sources often include unreliable or preliminary information, for example early in vitro results which don't hold in later clinical trials."
For more information
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources_(medicine)

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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Re: Tip of the Day Number 4 - SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for World Water Day 2017 - let's get started: time to get your Wikipedia account.

Tip of the Day Number 4: Develop a "thick skin" when other Wikipedians criticise your work.

As a new Wikipedia editor you are bound to make mistakes. That's totally normal. Now the question is, how will other long-standing Wikipedians react to your mistakes and how will that make you feel? The long-standing Wikipedians are supposed to be friendly towards newcomers. There is even a policy on this topic called "Please do not bite the newcomers" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Please_d...t_bite_the_newcomers

It says e.g.

We must treat newcomers with kindness and patience — nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility.


Sadly, the reality is that not everyone follows this policy. Sometimes experienced Wikipedians can be hostile and nasty to newcomers. Believe me, I've made that experience myself when I was new...

My advice to you is therefore:
  1. Expect to be annoyed every now and again - remember, those other Wikipedians also mean well and are perhaps just having a bad day, but deep down inside they mean well and they want Wikipedia to be an awesome high quality encyclopedia.
  2. Develop a thick skin, don't get aggressive back, it doesn't help.
  3. Camly ask what you have done wrong and if they can help you learn.
  4. Stay away from articles that have a high number of people watching it. Those are articles on hot or well known topics. In our case, most of the sanitation articles don't have many people watching it (which is actually unfortunate). But e.g. the article on "Female genital mutilation" you might initially want to avoid. I know it has many people watching it and it's already of superb quality, so not easy to improve it further anyhow.
  5. If you follow my Tips of the Day 1-3 then you should be pretty safe anyhow. And if you have any feelings of frustrations, turn to your mentor - which could be me - for advice, help and moral support! :-)
If you want further examples about this problem of people not adhering to the "no bite" policy, read on.

Have a look at my talk page and see some abuse (but also praise) that I got and how I handled it:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:EMsmile

Also here is some advice from another Wikipedian, Kerry, about this topic in connection with edit-a-thons:

I don't know of any way to completely "protect" bumbling new users from over-zealous editors. We have editors in our communities who ignore everything in WP:NOBITE and smack new users over the head with speedy deletions, immediate reverts, nasty talk messages, etc in a really quite unjustifiable way. Sometimes it happens in under a minute to your newbies, which is really discouraging. And if you ever try to remonstrate with these people, you get abused too (apparently it's all your fault) as if you could be leaning over 50 people's shoulders simultaneously before they hit Save. Aggressive and abusive editors are difficult to avoid in my experience. Tip: if you can, discourage folks from editing very popular articles as they will have large watchlists. Try to keep any early edits in less popular articles to avoid awaking these sleeping dragons.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:How...nt_creation_strategy

Happy Wikipedia editing! How about trying it out for yourself right now?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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Re: SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon - Virtual Workroom is open to all this Sunday for 48 hours (starting noon GMT)

Tip of the Day Number 5: Edit Wikipedia articles one sentence at a time; save frequently and explain your edits; do not copy large chunks of text in one go.

When working on a Wikipedia article click "Save" frequently (like every couple of minutes, or after each sentence change) and explain briefly with each "save" what you have done in the summary field (putting "corrected typos" is sufficient if it's just typos that you have correcte). Why?
  • It is easier for other Wikipedians who are watching the article to understand what you have changed and why.
  • If someone later wants to query a change that you have made, that can be identified easily.
  • It also helps avoid editing conflicts which may occur if several people are working on the same section at the same time. You can reduce the amount of edit conflicts when working on the article together with another person by using the source editor rather than the visual editor (as it locks only the section but not the entire page). If you notice another editor is working on the same article at the same time you can get communicate with that person via the Talk page.
Do not add large chunks of text in one go to an existing article. Why not?
  • If you add several paragraphs of text in one go (ie in one edit), you'll probably see them removed quite quickly by another editor because that's usually a sign that someone is copy-pasting from elsewhere. This tip is by Joe and came up in a conversation with Joe and Abby here: forum.susana.org/component/kunena/181-hu...itation-on-wikipedia )
  • It can be a sign of plagriarism, i.e. that you are "stealing" content from somewhere else. Even if the other document is actually open access, or something that you have written yourself, it is still not good to copy a large chunk in one go? Why not? Because usually the language that it is written in is not the same kind of language we need on Wikipedia, i.e. writing for the layperson.
  • If you are copying from another source which is not open access then you need to paraphrase what they said to avoid copyright violation. Usually you need to simplify the wording anyhow, especially if the text comes from our sanitation sector organisations, where we all tend to use too much jargon, abbreviations, long complicated sentences and words etc. Remember, we are writing here on Wikipedia for lay people!
Happy Wikipedia editing!

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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Re: SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon - Virtual Workroom is open to all this Sunday for 48 hours (starting noon GMT)

Tip of the Day Number 6: Be prepared to undo vandalism and spot incorrect information

Undoing vandalism:

Do you get pissed off with vandalism in your neighborhood? Like when drunk people destroy a new bus stop, spray graffiti where it doesn't belong or litter in the park? Well, sadly, vandalism also exists in Wikipedia. :( Luckily it is not that prevalent you can do your part to spot vandalism and undo it. This can be done in two clicks:
  1. Put articles that you care about on your watchlist.
  2. Whenever there is a change to that article you will receive an e-mail from Wikipedia (or you can check it on your watchlist)
  3. If it's clear vandalism, then all you have to do is to click the button called "undo" (if needed you can also "restore" an earlier version of the article). Common vandalism edits are somebody adding a sentence like "Peter is an asshole" or "this is sick" or just deleting paragraphs for no reason and without an explanation)

If you want to take further steps you can also:
  1. Write on that person's talk page (there are automated messages that you can use), although vandals usually use IP addresses, no real Wikipedia logins, so they come and go very quickly.
  2. Ensure that this person is blocked if it's a repeated vandalism case. Sadly the vandal could come back with another Wikipedia account on another IP address though.
Another thing that can be done is to "protect" or "semi-protect" a Wikipedia article. I have requested this for some articles that attracted repeated vandalism, like the ones on urine, feces, toilet, menstruation. An article that is locked has a little lock symbol at the top right and can only be edited by auto-confirmed users (it is quite easy to get to that status; I got it quite fast). If you want to know how to propose an article for protection, see here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Protecti...licy#Semi-protection

This is what the lock looks like, see at the top right of the article. If you go to an article like this, and you are a novice user (i.e. not yet auto-confirmed), then you won't be able to use the edit buttons for this article, or they may not even be visible:




See e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet


Spotting incorrect information

Another form of vandalism that is harder to spot is when people change information in a kind of subtle way. E.g. they change a number from 100 to 1000. or 2.6 billion to 2.8 billion. Here you have to ask yourself "are they providing a reliable reference to justify this change?". If not, what is this editor up to, does he or seem to be reliable? For that, you can check that person's user page on Wikipedia, their talk page and their contributions to date. You can check any user's contributions to the left of their user page. E.g. my contributions look like this:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/EMsmile

By checking out that information about the editor in question you can normally quite quickly assess if this is someone doing good work on Wikipedia or if this is a Wikipedian who has caused trouble. This is also the reason why I recommend to put some basic information on your own user page (but no need to reveal any personal information or who you work for or what you have published etc; keep a bit of anonymity, I would say, and don't try to stress that you are "the expert" on a topic - but this is something I will put into one of the next tips of the day!).

Happy Wikipedia editing and reading!

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

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This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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Re: SuSanA Wikipedia Edit-a-thon - Virtual Workroom is open to all this Sunday for 48 hours (starting noon GMT)

I wanted to add a little note to my previous post about vandalism:

Please don't get disheartened about the vandalism aspect on Wikipedia. James once wrote this on the forum which left a lasting impression on me:*

10) "Non-credible pages" It is about the references. Wikipedia is only as good as the references it is built upon. Most people are good people. If one does not believe this then yes their is no reason to contribute to Wikipedia (or to any other social cause really).


There is also a policy in Wikipedia that is called "Assume good faith"
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith

I copy from that article:

Assuming good faith (AGF) is a fundamental principle on Wikipedia. It is the assumption that editors' edits and comments are made in good faith. Most people try to help the project, not hurt it. If this were untrue, a project like Wikipedia would be doomed from the beginning. This guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of obvious evidence to the contrary (e.g. vandalism). Assuming good faith does not prohibit discussion and criticism. Rather, editors should not attribute the actions being criticized to malice unless there is specific evidence of such.


So, let's stay positive and have trust in mankind. :-)

Regards,
Elisabeth

* This thread on the Forum started in October 2014 which is when my Wikipedia journal began thanks to the encouragement of James Heilman. James and colleagues are working on bringing all medical content up to scratch on Wikipedia with their WikiProject Medicine.
forum.susana.org/component/kunena/198-wi...it=12&start=12#10463
Go to page 2 of the thread on 10 Oct 2014 in case the link doesn't go to the right place which sometimes happens.

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum
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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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