Oldham, April 2013. I had been given my first mission – a mission to train a group of brand new editors in the ways of the Wikipedia. A crack team had been assembled, lead by me – User:Worm That Turned, we also had User:Deskana ready to control the keyboard, User:Julia W and User:Staceydolxx would be monitoring the room and User:HJ Mitchell on hand to keep an eye on things. It was true, most of us were fresh from training ourselves, but we had the knowledge and confidence in our abilities.
We met our contact early and were briefed to expect up to 14 new recruits. The room was set up, plans were made – all we needed to do was wait. It wasn’t long before we had company in the form of four trainees. Unfortunately, they were our only trainees, the training team outnumbered them!
We persevered in any case, following our training plan. Any nerves quickly disappeared and our skills shone through. We astounded the recruits with the scale Wikipedia, engaged them with the pillars it was founded on and inspired them to click that edit button. A straggler appeared, believing himself to be a few minutes late but getting the start time out by an hour, Julia W quickly brought him up to speed. We spent the morning teaching the basics of editing and by lunchtime everyone had made a few edits to their userpage.
After lunch, we discussed what could go wrong on the encyclopedia. This lead beautifully into discussions about reliable sources and our ‘Pièce de résistance‘,a discussion about reliable sources with Yes/No cards. Opinions were divided, could a rambler’s group website be considered reliable on a historic walk? Could an “official” tourism website with pictures of a different area be trusted? The debate had a lasting effect on all involved and those who led the discussion (Deskana and Julia W) should be proud.
We spent the rest of the afternoon editing articles that people were interested in, before summarising the next steps. Feedback was excellent for the most part, with a number asking for more sessions. The crack team has since returned to their day jobs, their alter egos set aside for the time being. One thing I’m sure of though, we’ll be back.