Wikipedia Use for Dummies

updated 20/08/2015

Wikipedia bias

Simple lexicals in different languages

I propose learning by experience, in fact I experieced myself what it is like to use the wikipedia while preparing this course. I will redo my own exploration and propose some other  wikipedia pages to look at, just click the links…

La Pédagogie Freinet. next to ‘project onderwijs’ developed by Paulo Freire and William Heard Kilpatric are both methods for experiental learning.

There are Wikipedia pages in different languages about the developer of ‘la méthode Freinet’, Célestin Freinet. Freinet’s method aimed at primary school, though it is adapted to secondary education later on in Ghent  and is to be implemented in technical education also .

Project onderwijs’ has an expanded Dutch Wikipedia page, but no page in English. If you didn’t already know, to find pages in other languages on Wikipedia, look in the left corner beneath.

Wikipedia Screenshot
Wikipedia Screenshot: Click to expand

More unbalances. Look at the German page of Oskar Negt and compare it with the English page. Look at the length of both pages.

On the four learn styles of Kolb you can find two excellent pages in Dutch and German, but the other language pages suck. Kolb has his own pages that cover a lot more. I found it by using define:Kolb methode in Google. I really didn’t look after this differences, I all found them in one narrow field one could define as auto learning.


Differences that reflect social and science conflicts

The widespread differences between Wikipedia inputs in different languages confronts us with a problem. Why are volunteers in the US not making a lexical on the method developed by Freire and Kilpatrick? Though their method was inspired by the American pedagogue Dewey?

This site is about community informatics. When you look at the page it mentions:

“This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2014)This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor’s particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts. (December 2013)”

It says that the article needs more citations, though it contains 21 references of nine different authors. On the other hand the nearby  item of social informatics counts  only 20 references of  only four different authors though it passes without any remark.

Why? Both disciplines are close. They share the same sources. Community informatics adds something  to these sources that doesn’t seem to be appreciated, namely social work and social economy. Social practice. Community informatics applies acquired knowledge and develops it further based on reports of social practices. What’s wrong with that?

The remark on the community network article also says that it is not the opinion of an expert. Since when are people also working in the field no longer experts in what they are doing. Should a surgeon not write about surgery. A surgeon has a higher status in the social hierarchy, so he is allowed, a social worker is not.

The whole critique also suggests that the article on community informatics isn’t neutral, though that opinion isn’t proven. The different appreciations of both articles hides a conflict on science philosophy. and ideology. Such conflicts are omnipresent in society and  at universities and their number grows on a global level. After all hiding these conflicts isn’t neutral at all.

In fact this should not surprise us. Though other languages then English are trying to conquer a spot on the Internet, English covers still 57,5% op all the internet pages, while English is only the third language spoken by native speakers worldwide. The Western culture rules. on the net.

Content languages for websites as of 12 March 2014
Content languages for websites as of 12 March 2014

Wikipedia pages as a start

Wikipedia pages can be a start to learn about everything, look at the references and you can procede using them and reading the works quoted, and so on, looking at the quotations of the works quoted, and trying to see the deeper structure of knowledge.

As a native Dutch speaker living in Belgium, I remember that Freire was very popular at the universities of Leuven and Ghent at the end of the sixties. Freinet is still very popular in Ghent. There is a ‘Streetwize Project’ based on experiential learning, also developed by the Belgian Arnaut Raskin. This is a cultural Belgian thing, I presume.

Wikipedia is a first step for a simple lexical; lexical problems are solved by disambiguation pages like this one for the lexical lock, but it is not the only service having disambiguation. The quality of the pages differs from language to language and is often incomplete, thought this problem is not hidden. Often it is mentioned in the page itself, and you can look at it at the ontology pages: talk.

A lot of Wikipedia sources are often overlooked. The pictures are not in the domain, but on the domain.  A workaround for these problems: use Google to search both domains. You can also use the Wikiwix search engine, a project linked to Wikipedia. Wikiwix searches all Wikipedia related sites together in 13 different languages. It has different options for text, image and atlas search. It gets results from all sources on one page.

A Wikipedia tour for educators starting with Google Search

Type the command beween brackets in the Google box. I show the first four results and than open the first one.

[define:formal grammarInstead of using a screenshot for the results I have made them clickable in the table beneath. The results were retrieved on 18 August 2014.  Note these results may differ on a later date.

Formal grammar – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In formal language theory, a grammar (when the context is not given, often called a formal grammar for clarity) is a set of production rules for strings in a formal …

Chomsky hierarchy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A formal grammar defines (or generates) a formal language, which is a (usually infinite) set of finite-length sequences of symbols (i.e. strings) that may be  …

You visited this page.

Context-free grammar – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to Formal definitions – [edit]. A context-free grammar G is defined by the 4-tuple: G = (V\,, \Sigma\,, R\,, where. V\, is a finite set; each element v\in V …

You visited this page on 8/10/14.

[PDF] Formal Grammars and Languages – Computer Science and …

by T Jiang – ‎Cited by 3 – ‎Related articles

Moreover, the grammar allows us to write a computer program (called the … have been spurred by formal grammars and other theoretical tools, today’s …

We make a tour inside wikipedia starting with the article on formal grammar. Just click the links and experience.

== > Formal Grammar

== >Talk Formal Grammar

== > Wikipedia:WikiProject

== >Wikipedia:Wikimedia sister projects

== > Wikipedia:School and university projects

The last Wikipedia the Resource page for educators. Now it’s up to them. They can use:

Wikipedia:Training/For educators  OR Wikipedia:School and university projects

You can also explore the remaining Google snippets.

Wikipedia extended

The popularity of Wikipedia using Google can not be denied. So it is no surprise that one of the many wikimedia projects offers a search engine that lets you use an external search machine to search the wikipedia pages.  It has a help page that is worth reading, because this is no longer a lexical search but full text search with many features.

The wikimedia side projects hide a lot free information pages.   This screenshot might convince you.

Wikipedia side projects at
Wikipedia side projects at

The use of 8 sister project is explained here.

Visiting the main pages in your own language or the page of all portals lets you experience the wealth of information that is gathered by the wikimedia organisation.

For those who want to contribute and collaborate with the wikipedia community, which I strongly advise they can visit the community portal of their language.

Time to return to the real world. The wikipedia not only lets you contribute and discuss online at the talk pages, it has also has an aticle on dispute resolution.

Sources for Wikipedia

Sources for experiental learning

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