Editing Wikipedia

In 2005 (on the Internet it is easier to keep track of time) I had noticed that the Italian Wikipedia entry to my favorite movie (at least at the time), Full Metal Jacket, wasn’t really good so I decided to contribute with few extra lines to describe the film.
Few days ago I went back to look at the “edit history” of Full Metal Jacket and I found my entry (it was anonymous but I could recognize what I had written). I was kind of embarrassed for my choice of wordings, but it’s OK. Part, not all, of my contribution resisted the many modifications of the past few years.
I have been a huge movie fan since watching all the Stanley Kubrick’s films when I was a child.
A “movie dictionary” I received one particular Christmas became my favorite reading for part of my childhood.
Inspired by those memories, I decided I was going to contribute to some of the movie entries and I joined the “Project: Cinema” in the Italian Wikipedia. It is now in my watchlist so I get to see what’s going on in terms of, for example, guidelines changes or new stub articles added.
My choice went to the Italian Wikipedia because there are less contributors compared to the English one and there typically is more room for improvement.
In any case, I will contribute to the English Wikipedia whenever I’ll find the chance.
My profile for the Italian version is unreasonabledude. Here is aslo my profile for the English version.

Driven by the fact that The Social Network is not out in the Italian theaters yet, and considering that it is the last movie I watched, I thought I could use my insights to improve the Italian entry for the film.
Since some of the information I found was actually wrong, I couldn’t resist and I already modified the part of the page dedicated to the plot of the movie. Here you can check the differences between the previous and the current version once I made the first major corrections.
In particular, I discovered that the plot wasn’t accurate: for example, it said that Zuckerberg was accused to have stolen “theFacebook” idea from Chris Huge and Dustin Moskovitz, his two roommates at Harvard, while he is instead accused of stealing the idea from twins Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner Divya Narendra.
On another note, whether or not this is what really happened in reality, this is what happens in the movie and the entry is about the movie.

So I corrected the mistake and I added much more to the plot, which was only few lines long. My first thought was: probably I shouldn’t say much as I don’t want to spoil the movie to the Italian public.
But then I read the guidelines of “Project: Cinema” and it clearly said that, Wikipedia being an encyclopedia, the plot should be fully disclosed. In fact, arbitrarily deciding what to insert within the plot and what not, would be against the concept of neutrality.

The plot was also written with inconsistencies in the choice of tenses (sometimes the past was used, sometimes the present): I followed the requirements of the project and used present tenses. Also, I emphasized “description” over deduction, which means that I didn’t try to infer anything from the events in the movie, but simply state facts.
To write the plot, I used my memory, having just recently watched the movie, and the English version of the article as a reference. It is quite hard to quote sources on a movie plot.

Obviously, improving the quality of the article goes beyond improving the way the plot is written: in the next few days there are many modifications that I will need to do.
First, the article almost completely lack citations and sources. The English version has 50 notes, against the 3 of the Italian version.
The entry doesn’t fully follow the template of the “Project: Cinema” in that it is lacking of some of its attributes: for example, a part on critical reception. Also, the description of cast is not completed and there is no mention of the current success of the movie in the American box offices. For this I will use IMDB (the Internet Movie Database) as a source.
The English version of the article provides a very extensive list of other sources that I will be able to use to prove some of the claims already made by the article and some of the things that I will write.

I also intend to create a sub-session called “historical inaccuracies” (mentioned as a possible sub-session in the in the “Project: Cinema” guidelines), where I will write about how the real subjects of the movie reacted to some of the claims asserted in the movie (in the English version, they call this session (or a session, which has a similar intent) “Response by the principles (Film and Facebook)”.

There is one picture on the movie entry: it is a screen-shot taken from the original trailer. A comment on the fact that it is deemed “copyright-appropriate” is made. Since a comment on the same line is made on the English entry, but the illustration is the actual poster of the movie, I will verify whether this can really be claimed as “fair use” and, if so, I will use the poster image as it is more representative of the film and it just looks better.

In the process of editing Wikipedia, I noticed something that I hadn’t considered before.
First, I was somehow having trouble in finding sources external to Wikipedia because I am so used at using Wikipedia as the source of many of my claims!
Second, I can see why some people get “addicted” to the project.
You surf the discussion pages and find so many interesting stuff: “Oh cool, a newspaper made out of the news of Wikipedia…let me contribute!”. And so I did. Or “That looks like a typing mistake on the Spanish article of Eva Peron. How cool would it be to contribute in multiple languages?”. And so the addiction starts!
And it feels good to know that what you write is published for a wide audience and it might help other people.
With the “Social Network” getting in the Italian theaters on the 12th of November, an increasing number of people will look at the Wikipedia page to form opinions as to whether watch the movie or not or to check some of the points they hadn’t understood from the plot! Again, I see why people would want to collaborate. It is a chance of being heard, even if it is just through stating facts and not opinions.
Wikipedia is cool!


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