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The Daily Wildcat

 

    Content of UA Wiki site in users’ hands

    A new wiki Web site has launched that hopes to provide college students with the “”ultimate information resource”” based on tidbits of knowledge picked up while in school, such as the best place to get a haircut or what the best general-education course is.

    CollegeWikis.com recently launched a site for the UA using the wiki contributing style, which has become familiar through Wikipedia.org, a popular online encyclopedia.

    The method of posting information is essentially the same in that anyone who registers for the site can post an article on whatever topic he or she wishes, but registration is limited to those with a UA e-mail account.

    This is to ensure a trusted community with high-quality information, said Joe DiPasquale, founder of CollegeWikis.com.

    “”The popularity of it is in students’ hands. It’s not valuable until it’s made valuable by adding content.
    “”

    – Joe DiPasquale,
    collegewikis.com founder

    DiPasquale, who graduated with a degree in psychology from Stanford University, based the idea on class-year listservs students used while he was in school.

    Students could ask questions and people could reply with an answer, but the information was never stored anywhere. Inevitably, the next month, someone else would ask where to find the best auto mechanic, and the proverbial wheel would be reinvented.

    One of the unique features of the site is the e-mail listserv idea DiPasquale derived from Stanford.

    In their profiles, users can specify their major and year, as well as their clubs and organizations. A listserv is then created for each of those specifications, allowing users to e-mail questions to any of the listservs they are part of.

    The information sent out through the listservs is then posted on the site, including any replies, ensuring the information is stored for future reference.

    Because the idea of receiving and replying to more e-mails than students already get might be a turnoff, there are different levels of participation available.

    Users can receive individual e-mails as they are sent out, all the e-mails from the day in a digest or none at all, opting to only view the site when they need to.

    DiPasquale said half the information is posted through listserv-created content and the other half through posts created as users see fit.

    One criticism of Wikipedia is that anyone can change or add information, so some say it lacks credibility.

    “”Usually professors won’t allow you to use it,”” said Hallie Leaventon, a pre-education freshman. “”It’s good if (used) for information you want to know personally, but not for a paper.””

    However, the ability for anyone to add content is what drives the UA Wiki site.

    “”The popularity of it is in students’ hands,”” DiPasquale said. “”It’s not valuable until it’s made valuable by adding content.””

    One incentive to increase traffic to the site is benefits for users who invite people to register for it. Once a user invites 15 people who register, the user becomes a site administrator.

    This system is similar to Wikipedia, which relies on users to go to their pages and make sure the content is correct, DiPasquale said.

    “”This gives users more control over the site,”” DiPasquale said. “”As an administrator, you could move topics or delete things, but it is community-monitored because you can see the past version of pages. The content is always kept.””

    While some students are skeptical to use the site for official information, such as the date by when a class can be dropped without penalty, DiPasquale confirms the site is not intended to be used that way.

    “”We see it as an official source of information, but not a handbook for students with course listings and times,”” DiPasquale said. “”But there is a lot of value in information like ‘where are the computer labs,’ or ‘what events are happening on campus tonight.'””

    Others believe students wouldn’t post incorrect information.

    “”I would use it for information like the drop date,”” said Unique Haro, a criminal psychology freshman. “”Why would they respond if they didn’t know?””

    While some students who were interviewed seemed reluctant to use the site and said they deleted the e-mail alerting them to the site, there are already more than 600 students registered.

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