"So, SaraJoy, you've just completed your first major edit to a Wikipedia article. How do you feel?" Well, Bernard, I'm actually surprised how satisfied I feel. I feel like I've contributed something--picked up where someone else left off and made the information available to the world on something I really care about quite a bit more complete and compelling. I feel pretty good.
Also a little scared though. Yeah, got some butterflies about what might happen in the next couple days. How will people react? Will they think I've done a terrible job? Did I actually get something wrong? All that. Actually I care quite a bit more about that than I thought I would.
"How did this compare to other writing you do on a regular basis?"
Writing for Wikipedia was actually quite a revealing experience that way. I enjoy writing immensely, and even though "encyclopedic" isn't exactly how I'd describe my natural voice, it was stimulating to work at concise, objective statements of facts that wouldn't put the reader to sleep. The thing that struck me, however, was how much more meticulous and discerning I was about sourcing and fact-checking for this piece. It's with more than a little chagrin that I admit to feeling significantly more motivated to maintain stringent accuracy, locate credible sources, and ferret out interesting facts for an audience of 40,000 complete strangers than I usually have been for a professor, or even myself.
"What do you think you'll do next?"
Truth be told, I think I'd actually enjoy becoming a regular contributor to Wikipedia. It flexed my writing muscles well enough and could be down right exciting if I found a couple mates to be editing buddies with--critique and contribute to each other's edits etc. Trouble is, I haven't got the time. Between bouncing around on the web in search of references, emailing experts, trying to incorporate as much of the existing text as possible into the re-write, and the whole coding bit, this little article took me hours! Maybe when I'm through with school...