New Light On Wikipedia

lightbulb

Having personally suffered from an eating disorder, I think that Wikipedia is a great place to learn about various eating disorders, learn about the consequences from having an eating disorder and even the potential reasoning behind it. In my previous two posts I was completely against using Wikipedia for scholarly purposes; which is still the position I hold, although after doing more primary research on my own I am less sceptical to use Wikipedia for personal use. In the blog titles Tainted Love I think she puts it best when she says it is best used when feeding curiosity.

I was actually quite impressed with the Wikipedia page about eating disorders. It listed many eating disorders I have never even heard of. It listed important things such as: Classification (different types of eating disorders), Causes, Symptoms, Complications, Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment. Not only is this a great source for someone like myself having suffered from an eating disorder, but this is also great for people who have friends or family members suffering from one. The Wikipedia page also gives references to other webpages and articles where more information could be found. Which not only did I discover for myself when searching the reference pages of the eating disorder Wiki page but Koooch’s Blog also suggests this.

Now most of you must be thinking why such a flip from the previous two posts?
The answer is simple. “Talk” Page. For those of you who are unsure about what a “talk” page is Jensen defines it as, “The most remarkable collaborative nature of Wikipedia editing comes on the talk page. Every article has one, where anyone can comment on or complain about the article.” (Jensen, 2012) This has single handedly changed my views about Wikipedia for personal use.

Most of the items found on the “talk” page for eating disorders were things such as vandalism; this makes it easier for editors to pinpoint the errors and make changes quickly. Jensen being an editor for Wikipedia suggests that most of the vandalism done on the pages are people say ” (Name) was here”. (Jensen, 2012) Having read that it assures me that most young pranks are nothing that couldn’t be easily visible to anyone with any type of educational background. Other items found on these “talk” pages were various peoples suggestions about opinions they have on certain topics, and things which they find hard to believe. Which after reading the article by Jensen, that is not the point of Wikipedia, it is not for opinions but rather factual information that can be backed up by secondary sources. Another thing I noticed when looking at the “talk” page was a lot of the issues were formatting based. Whether to merge topics together and have one category instead of two; with various peoples opinions on whether to merge the topics or not. And the most common post was related to grammar and use of words. Not exactly what I thought was meant by changes in articles, or anyone has access to change anything. It was great to see many people working together to try and get the most relevant, reliable information without being biased.

A post which I find most “juicy” within the “talk” page of the eating disorder pages is under the category Night Eating Disorders. This probably got the most attention out of all the posts since it wasn’t simply a formatting issue. It was basically a section written about bing eating at night, and how it is recognized as an eating disorder. A link to a source is also listed to make the point more relevant. The post suggests that most people tend to eat later at night; right before unwinding to go to bed. This point got interesting push back in my eyes. Someone made a comment pointing out the effects of doing shift work; or working nights. Although further comments have not been made on this it would be interesting to read; since I work at a restaurant which is open till 2am. I may have to go off and do my own research on this.

The next “juicy” topic is related to the why do people have eating disorders? section. This section I would consider the most biased out of all. Although some posts had links to secondary research, such as an example about the increase of eating disorders within the Japanese culture. Other posts were linked to eating disorders being a psychological issues; while others stated it being a problem due to media. But none of these comments had secondary links to refer to research done; which to me makes it seem not credible. However, had they shown research as to how media has had a major impact, or research based on psychological problems they would not only be more interesting, but they would appear more credible.

I was reading another students blog titled Finding the Courage to Heal and she suggests the army of editors which Wikipedia has. When I was on the “talk” page to the eating disorder Wiki I noticed comments from a variety of people suggesting changes that in my opinion where only trying to benefit the page. This to me is exactly like the idea of Van Dijck and Nieborg when they relate editing Wikipedia as being a prosumer. A producer and consumer. Which I completely agree with. These people put a lot of time and effort into making changes to not only benefit the other readers, but to also benefit themselves as they too are the readers.

“Wikipedia is specifically intended as a work of reference, whereas using a search engine is not.” (Royal, Kapila, 2009). Although Wikipedia can be used as reference, it does give lists of sources for each article, which allow the reader to more fully investigate the article and see whether the quote was taken out of context or not.

I can only specifically speak from the Wikipedia page on eating disorders, but I can say that I was more then impressed with the article itself. I feel that it fits into the category of a “good article” based on the Wikimedia criteria which states, “the criteria for “good articles” are that they are written very well, contain factually accurate and verifiable information, are broad in coverage, neutral in point of view, stable, and illustrated, where possible, by relevant images with suitable copy write licenses.” (Jensen, 2012). The eating disorder page fits hand in hand with this description. Although I must point out that many of the comments on the “talk” page were personal opinions; which are obviously subject to bias.

All in all I must say by doing my own primary research I am now more comfortable using Wikipedia for personal use. I also think that anyone suffering from an eating disorder or knows someone who is, can and should do some research including Wikipedia. I found it helpful and I think others will too.

Stay Happy, Stay Healthy, Until Next Time.

XoXo

References

Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182

Royal, C. & Kapila, D. (2009). What’s on Wikipedia, and What’s Not . . . ?: Assessing Completeness of Information. Social Science Computer Review. 27, 1. pp 138-148.

Van Dijk, J. & Nieborg, D. (2009). Wikinomics and its discontents: a critical analysis of Web 2.0 business manifestos. New Media & Society. 11, 5. pp 855-874.

Other Student Blogs:

Tainted Love: http://cm11ud.wordpress.com
Koooch’s Blog: http://koooch12.blogspot.ca
Finding The Courage to Heal: http://jw10fq.wordpress.com

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