Wiki's and The Burdensome Group Project

Wiki's and The Burdensome Group Project
Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" / Unsplash

From the beginning of this semester, I was skeptical about the Wikipedia-type project. The reason being that for most of my undergraduate program the professors would admonish anyone attempting to use Wikipedia as a credible source. Right away I thought, how exactly is editing, and writing a Litwiki or Wikipedia article going to benefit me as a technical writer?

I explained the project and my apprehensions to my coworker. Her advice was this, “Take a step back, look at this project through a different lens, and see what this might teach you overall.” I could see where she was coming from, but I was still apprehensive.


The biggest contribution I had to this project was cleaning up the citations and bibliography sections. During our week 5 assignment, the class added different information and citations to the article. Several of us (including myself) added great citations but in the wrong format. The project required us to format them into shortened footnotes (sfn) to organize all our references used throughout the article.

Screenshot of the citations in Technical Writing in the Digital Age LitWiki article.
Screenshot of the citations in Technical Writing in the Digital Age LitWiki article.

I formatted all the citations into shortened footnotes within the text and ensured the reference was added to the bibliography. Now, these citations link directly to their associated reference in the bibliography. According to Dr. Lucas’s Wikipedia Sourcing, this created a “simple and elegant” flow between the text, citations, and bibliographic references.

My Edits to the Article

First Addition

My first addition to the article was the second paragraph under Disinformation. The first paragraph was added prior to mine, but did a great job at explaining the topic. The only part it needed was a section explaining the vetting process.

Screenshot of Disinformation section of the

Clarification Edits

Everyone did a great job working on this article. Because each of us write differently, we sometimes thought we used the clearest, most concise language. As I was reading through, I noticed a couple sections that needed some further clarification. These were:

  • Clear and Concise
  • Characteristics of Technical Communication
  • Aims of Technical Communication

The edits I made helped to clean up some unnecessary words, tighten up the sentences, and improved readability. Below are "before" and "after" images of one of the sections I edited. The highlighted text in the images indicates the textual changes.

Screenshot of the Clear and Concise section before edits.
Screenshot of the same section after edits.

What I Learned from this Project

Group projects are difficult, and this one was no different.

The hardest part with this specific project was not having clearly defined roles from the beginning. I understood that we, the students, all were the main contributors. However, because we all contributed randomly throughout the article without knowing who was going to add what, it became difficult to decide what additions were needed.

Even with the discussion feature on wiki's, more thorough communication needed to happen between all parties involved. This could have been mitigated had we either:

  1. Been given certain assignments, or
  2. Been required to discuss the outline of the project and the sections needed prior to content being added to the article.


Wikis in general are great tools for technical writers, but will they improve the public’s understanding of technical writing? That's hard to say.

Do they offer a place where technical writers can hone their skills? Absolutely, but at the same time, those same articles can be edited by anyone, technical and non-technical writers. Therefore, I can’t definitively say that wikis can improve the public's understanding of technical writing.

However, I can say that wikis will always be a place where technical writers can practice their skills. We just need to keep in mind that not only does the written language used need to be clear and concise, but so does the communication between collaborators.

Nate Cole

Nate Cole

I work for an airline as the Publications and Records Manager. When I'm not working, I can be found either hanging out with my family or on a bike tooling around...preferably both!
Fairbanks, Alaska