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How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It 1st Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593271763
ISBN-10: 159327176X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book was created by Wikipedians, and as a result, I have never read a better summary of how Wikipedia works. Anyone who wants to understand this miracle of the Internet should buy this book!" --Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, founder of Wikipedia

Review

How Wikipedia Works "is the thoughtful, comprehensive, and freely licensed manual that I've been waiting years for. Wikipedia would be much improved if every Wikipedia editor, new and old, were given a copy."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (September 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159327176X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593271763
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Allen Stenger on November 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book might also be titled "Wikipedia in Context". It tells in detail what Wikipedia is and what it is not; it even has a history of encyclopedias and talks about how Wikipedia fits into this tradition. It goes into detail on the culture and motivations of the people who work on Wikipedia. It covers the mission of the project and speculates on the global impact it will have someday.

There is an especially valuable chapter on "Understanding and Evaluating an Article" with a lot of good tips. Traditional encyclopedias are written by authorities in the field, but Wikipedia is written by a wide variety of authors, some experts, some amateurs, some fanatics, and some vandals. The appeal to authority doesn't work for Wikipedia.

There are real-life case studies scattered through the book about the internal workings of Wikipedia and its interaction with the real world. The most startling and sobering is the story of Turkish scholar Taner Akçam, who was detained at Montreal's Trudeau Airport by Canadian officials who had read in Wikipedia an incorrect report that he was a terrorist.

I only have a couple of gripes about this book. The screen shots highlight the relevant parts by graying everything else, which I like, but the gray is so dark it's hard to see the screen clearly and tell where you are. The index is lengthy but it was hard to find things in it; it seems to index only the main discussion of each topic and not any other references to it.

Compared to John Broughton's Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, this book is much broader and shallower.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Locke on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was skeptical when Wikipedia first launched. I was convinced it could never rival the Encyclopedia Britannica, to pick a not-so-random candidate for comparison. But over the ensuing years, I've been increasingly impressed at what this effort has produced. The coverage is truly amazing, and the depth of many articles is nothing short of astounding. Caveat lector still applies, of course -- but it applies to *any* book or reference you might purchase here on Amazon.

I have edited a handful of Wikipedia entries, but always with some trepidation, a little voice in my head going, "You're not doing it right!" All the rules and templates and syntax and unique cultural guidelines are all included in Wikipedia itself, but it can be a daunting task finding what you need at any given moment. I remember having many browser windows open into multiple Wikipedia pages -- all so I could make sure I *was* doing it right. I often wished I had an offline reference I could flip through to find what I needed without leaving the page I was editing.

And now I do. This is a very fine book indeed, extremely thorough on every topic I can imagine needing to know more about. Highly recommended.

~ Chris Locke, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By puetz on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is exactly the book I was looking for. It gives a great and detailed introduction into the inner workings of Wikipedia and how you can contribute. The only complaint I have is that it could have been written a bit more concisely. Some of the text is quite lengthy and could be shortened.

It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but I would have liked to see a few more anecdotes about real cases, how they evolved, and how articles changed over time. It is a bit theoretical at times when the authors talk about "editing wars" (and other issues) without showing what the war was actually about, what was changed, why this was bad (or good) and how the conflict was solved.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Menzies on September 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
The publication date of this book was delayed for some months but on arrival it proves well worth the wait in terms of both content and design.

The authors adopt precisely the tone of authority required without being too simplistic - the book is thoroughly crafted and sincere but always engaging and never overbearing. The layout is minimalist and attractive, while incorporated within the text are subtle primers for those getting to grips with Wikipedia's mark-up conventions.

The book is not in any way a hasty Wiki-mania cash in and covers with fairness and neutrality the controversies which have been associated with Wikipedia. It is obvious that the authors genuinely believe in the Wikipedia project and have extensive experience as both editors and readers. It is superior to John Broughton's Wikipedia: The Missing Manual in both its depth and its clarity.

Sections on licensing and copyright are crisp and useful while introductory matter on Wikipedia's heritage (from printed encyclopaedias to Open Source communities) and its underlying philosophy will ensure that readers understand what Wikipedia is really all about.

The book includes a useful Glossary, Appendices (such as Edit Summaries Jargon), a comprehensive Index and even a guide for teachers on how they might use Wikipedia in the class-room.

For fans of the old-fashioned printed book, the real boon of 'How Wikipedia Works' is the satisfaction that comes from sitting it firmly on your desk as you begin to boldly edit your first Wikipedia article!
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