A 70-year-old Wikipedian (3) Started Wikipedia

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This is an English translation of my book entitled “A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries.” Chapter 1, The Road to Wikipedia. Previously, click here.

Started Wikipedia (Chapter 1-3)

Japanese Ukiyoe “People climbing the mountain” by Katsushika Hokusai

At the beginning of 2016, when I had become quite familiar with the dissemination of information on the internet through my work for the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, I began to think that it was time to start Wikipedia. I didn’t know any Wikipedians, and I couldn’t find any books that would help me, so I thought carefully, yes, Wikipedia itself is the place to start.

I immediately opened the Wikipedia page and typed ‘Wikipedia’ into the search box at the top, and sure enough, an article appeared. The table of contents had sections on overview, main features, history, problems, precedents, sister projects, etc., and much more information than I wanted to know. First, I read the article in its entirety and got a rough idea of what was going on. I read the article with a clear understanding of the possible problems, such as ‘credibility of the article’ and ‘libel’.

At the beginning of the article it says: ‘This entry describes Wikipedia as an encyclopedia article. For a brief introduction to Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:About Wikipedia. For general information for newcomers, see Welcome to Wikipedia. So what I read was an encyclopedia entry, and then I read ‘Wikipedia:About Wikipedia‘, which is given as a self-introduction. This section was short, with only four paragraphs. There was a link to ‘Answers to Frequently Asked Questions’, so I jumped to that and realized that Wikipedia is a growing encyclopedia.

Next, I jumped to the ‘Welcome to Wikipedia‘ guide for newcomers. It says ‘This is a comprehensive guide for newcomers to Wikipedia’, with clear instructions on how to do things. This was exactly what I was looking for, so I read the page from beginning to end. To join Wikipedia, ‘you should choose a username and password’. I can join without choosing one, but it says that there are editing restrictions, so I decided to choose a username and password and log in. 

It also said that there were ‘five pillars’ for Wikipedia to be a trusted free encyclopedia. Each of these had detailed explanations, which I also read carefully. Reading that far made me wonder if I needed to know a lot more before I could actually write, but there was no one to consult to see if that was really the case, so I had to be clumsy to get on. Much later I realized that there seem to be a lot of people who write articles without actually reading that much.

There are many different ways to climb a high mountain, including a ropeway course that takes you all the way to the top, a climbing course for the fit, and a mountain trail course for beginners. I chose the mountain trail course, which takes you slowly up the mountain as you admire the scenery. You can climb alone or in a group, there are no rules in Wikipedia. Also, there are many Wikipedians who don’t climb the mountain from the start, but just clear the weeds along the way!

I have read the rules this way, but when it comes to trying to write an article, I am still confused. The rules say that you should practice in the ‘sandbox’, but I’m not sure what a ‘sandbox’ is. I learned that even if I made mistakes, I wouldn’t destroy other people’s articles, and even if I did, all the history would remain and I could repair it, but it still took me a while to start writing. I could climb the mountain alone, but it was easier to climb with a guide.

Original Book

門倉百合子『70歳のウィキペディアン:図書館の魅力を語る』東京:郵研社、2023年 (A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries / by Yuriko Kadokura. Tokyo: Yukensha, 2023)

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