Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Wikipedia and Modern Chinese Philosophy

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Like many of you, I suspect, I regularly use Wikipedia as a first-stop when looking something up on the internet. It has many limitations, of course, but often enough it proves useful. It is only as useful as its contributors make it, though. Since I have been struck by the paucity of informaton in Wikipedia concerning topics in 20th-century Chinese philosophy, I decided to see what would happen if I made improving a Wikipedia page one of the assignments in my Modern Chinese Philosophy course this semester. 

After doing a bit of research, I realized that this was in some ways more complicated than I had initially realized, for at least three reasons:

  1. Learning to use the Wikipedia editing environment takes a bit of time; I had to make sure that students realized this, and got used to the way one cites references, adds links, and so on.
  2. Writing for Wikipedia is importantly different than writing a typical philsoophy essay or research paper. Wikipedia articles need to be neutral, balanced, and based on existing secondary scholarship, not primarily on one’s own reading of the primary sources.
  3. Publishing one’s edits or new entry is not the end of the process: there is often on-going discussion of issues on the “Talk” page associated with a given Wikipedia page, and of course other people can edit your changes. Sometimes changes will be rejected by Wikipedia editors, and one has to understand how that process works.
In light of this, I put together two assignments, the first aimed at getting the students prepared, the second in which they actually researched, published, and then followed their topic. (They also had two more-standard essays to write for the course.)
All this has now happened. I encourage you to take a look at the following entries — and to make any corrections or additions you see fit!

I look forward to any comments or questions you might have.

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