My name is XYZ and I'm a member of the Wikipedia community. I am sure most of you know about Wikipedia and use it many many times - either to know more about something or or to simply copy content for your class assignments. ...tut tut :-)
But do you know who writes Wikipedia? Where does all that content come from? Ever wondered… ?
I'd love to answer these questions and any others you might have about Wikipedia. I'm writing to ask if you'd like a session at your college on Wikipedia? It'll take between 2-4 hours and at the end of it, you'll know more about Wikipedia and how you can contribute to it. Most importantly, we'll make sure we keep you smiling and laughing throughout! It's very cool and awesome.
Just so you know, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and is the 5th most-visited website on the planet. It's completely free to use, with no irritating banner ads, is in >270 different languages - including 19 Indian ones. Wikipedia articles are written by everyday folks who volunteer to share their knowledge with the world. People like you and me are constantly improving Wikipedia articles, making thousands of changes per hour! Yes, you can ALSO edit Wikipedia.
How can you contribute?
- Edit Wikipedia! We'll teach you the basics and show you how to get going and hold your hands along the way. Start with a small minor edit - add a comma, correct spelling or grammar, structure an article better, add a reference, anything! Even a minor edit helps in it's own very special way!
- Edit articles of your area of interest - sports personalities, politicians, movie stars, countries, monuments, history, cars, whatever you like!
Why should you contribute?
- It improves your writing skills. Writing skills are essential when you move ahead in life either to do further studies or to work. Our education system (unfortunately) doesn't adequately teach writing skills and we all struggle when we have to write a formal report or research paper. When you move into the working world, you'll find that you can be as good as you are at your work but unless you are able to write those written reports properly, you'll always find it hard to succeed.
- It will help your critical thinking. Concepts like Neutral Point of View help you see all sides of a story. In your future careers, you need to consider the pros and cons of anything - because only that way will you be a better professional. If you're into software, look at the article on waterfall development model and how it looks at pros and cons. If you're in economics, look at the article on the Euro bailout and see how it looks at all the multiple complex issues involved. Very little in life is purely good or totally evil; we need to be neutral and consider all sides. You will find this incredibly useful in both your personal and professional lives. This thinking will help you decide who to vote for in elections or which version of Lok Pal you support or which IPL team to follow! This thinking will help you understand your subjects even better.
- It'll strengthen your research skills. Editing a Wikipedia article requires you to do a lot of referencing. This means you need to look beyond just the Wikipedia article and research online references and also go into that forgotten room called the library and look up books or journals. This is a skill you cannot live without if you are writing a thesis or working on a research project.
- It'll boost your chances in admissions or scholarships or placements. Imagine if you are studying mechanical engineering in a batch of 100 students and everyone is applying for jobs with the best engineering companies who come to campus. Everyone is likely to submit a resume saying they are the greatest engineer ever born - but it's difficult for any one to stand out and shine. If you were to put a line in your resume that you have edited 5 articles on heating and cooling systems, there is a very high probability that this would jump out at the recruitment team of the companies and they will actually read your article (if they haven't already.)
- It teaches you how to collaborate! Editing Wikipedia is magical. You add some content and someone from some other part of the class or school or town or country or somewhere else in the world adds a little bit more and makes your contribution that much better. The days of sitting alone under a tree and having an apple fall on your head and discovering gravity are over. In today's world, we will need to collaborate to achieve anything. If you're into biotechnology, you might be based in Hyderabad but the team you are part of might have someone in Scotland or Brazil- from a different culture and with a different accent - but you need to work together. Wikipedia helps you learn how to collaborate!
- It gives you a global audience of - literally, thousands! If you submit a class report, the maximum audience is 2; 1 being you and 1 being your teacher. After your paper is marked, it will normally be thrown away. If you edit a Wikipedia article, it is there *forever* and the audience can be any number from the 500 million who read Wikipedia every month! You can show your article to you mother and grandfather and friends! If you upload pictures to Wikimedia Commons, you will have an audience so much bigger than the 500 friends on Facebook who will see it. So many more can see your talents and appreciate your work!
- It can be so much fun! You make new friends - from all over the world.. You write about subjects that you are interested in (whether it is movies or your hometown or sarees or mythology or cricket or whatever!)
Let me know if you guys are interested. My contact details are at the bottom of this mail. We'd be thrilled to have a session with you and warmly welcome you all to the Wikipedia community! :)