Ways to Help the Newspapers On Wikipedia Project Without Setting Up a Wikipedia Account #1: Add a Resource

A lot of people support the Newspapers on Wikipedia Project, but only a tiny fraction of supporters participate. Why?

I know so many people in open pedagogy that have never edited Wikipedia. I know you live with secret shame. So why not address that? Why not make this your first Wikipedia project? We’ll make it super easy. It will literally take 5 minutes.

Today’s Task: Add a State-Level Resource

Pick a state from our state-level pages and comb through free Google Books to see if you can find histories that have any substantial coverage of the newspaper industry in that state. Add it to one of the state pages under resources.

Here’s how you do it.

Be a bit selective in what you choose — one reference to one paper doesn’t make it generally useful. But often county histories will talk quite a bit about the history of newspapers, and sometimes state university libraries have detailed bibliographic records or digital archives, all of which can be useful.

Here’s the list of state pages — just give us five minutes!


Create an Account (but only if you want to)

Should you create an account?

If the stress of creating an account is stopping you from contributing, then no. Just edit anonymously (though be aware your IP will be logged publicly).

However, creating an account is easy, and the only real stressor is coming up with a username.

I recommend students do not use their real name to start — you can always change your name to a real name later. There are some things you might want to do on Wikipedia — like jumping into heated political debates — where a pseudonym is better. You probably don’t want to do those things, but you might want to keep the option open at first.

Adults and teachers, on the other hand, may want to use their real name, so that their work is more easily attributable to them.

Here’s the link to create an account: Create an Account

If You Want a Pseudonym

People using direct variations on their own name have it easy. But choosing a pseudonym can be stressful.

So let me suggest you don’t need to be clever. Your username can literally be a string of letters with no meaning to anyone other than you.

Here’s one way of generating such a username:  think of a song you have a memory about — any memory. Something your parents played, a song you remember from a first date, a song that just struck you on a cross-country drive, a song that played constantly on the radio on your way to your first job.

Take the initials of the person/band who performed it, followed by the initials of the song, and the year of the memory. So:

  • David Bowie, Modern Love, heard in 1983 = dbml83
  • John Lennon, Watching the Wheels, 1981 = jlwtw81
  • Billy Bragg, A New England, heard in 1988 = bbane88
  • Neil Young, Broken Arrow, heard in 1990 = nyba90
  • Klugmaknotts. Water Color Sound, 1995 = kwcs95
  • Belle and Sebastian, Sleep the Clock Around, 1999 = basstca99

If you don’t like that or it’s not unique, play with it a bit. Or keep picking different music memories til you find one you like. Or if you’re not big on music memories, pick something else. The important thing is to make the name opaque to outsiders so you don’t stress about their interpretation.

You can always request renaming later, when you have a better idea. It’s just a login, don’t sweat it. Don’t start thinking it has to represent you — your work is what will represent you in the end.

Join the NOW Slack

If you do just one thing today, join the Newspapers on Wikipedia Slack. You can get all the information you want there. We have an “odd jobs” channel you can listen into that will feed you all sorts of small to medium-sized tasks, like finding a copyright-free picture of a newspaper office, adding awards to a Wikipedia page, adding notes on specific pages, help verify a date.

Here’s the link: https://now-ish.slack.com

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