Changed my prejudice against Wikipedia

I’ll admit that I can be changed by what I say, think or write if given enough compelling reasons to do so.  I have long held a prejudice against Wikipedia because of its misuse or overuse by American and EFL students wherever I’ve taught.  When I have taught academic writing, I try to steer my Kazakh students to academic journals that have a reputation in the publishing field.  The authors of these academic articles that my students look up for their research projects have had their words peer reviewed and the authors have supposedly contributed something new in their field of expertise.

After assigning an article for my students to read and then reading “Writing for the World: Wikipedia as an Introduction to Academic Writing” for myself, I’ve been swayed to agree with the author Christine M. Tardy. Article was taken out of “English Teaching FORUM” #1, 2010.  As if Ms. Tardy could read my mind, she wrote the following that would apply to my prejudice against Wikipedia: “Despite Wikipedia’s popularity with the general public, the site has received a somewhat negative reputation in certain academic circles, where instructors often criticize students who use Wikipedia as a primary research source or even incorporate large amounts of Wikipedia text into their own writing.”

After seeing what this seasoned teacher, who is an Assistant Professor in Chicago, did to encourage students to write on something in their expertise, I see this as a very good assignment for my own students to follow.  Here are the steps that Ms. Tardy outlined, it follows a rigorous editing process from the Wikipedia administrators:

  1. Examine Wikipedia (look for similar articles on your topic)
  2. Gather information (find other links in Wikipedia that relate to your topic)
  3. Outline and paraphrase 
  4. Draft
  5. Revise
  6. Format sources
  7. Polish
  8. Publish

I think the following piece that Bota wrote is a good example of something that could be inserted into Wikipedia.   For those interested in Kazakhstan, they would happen to read about a little known musical instrument.  The following is a first draft, stay tuned to see if this piece will actually be published in Wikipedia once all the above steps are followed.  I certainly hope so.  Maybe I should try this assignment myself but I’d have to figure out what I know a LOT about and prove my expertise by getting my own words published.  I don’t want to steal Bota’s Wikipedia thunder but enjoy the following:

Kazakh National Musical instrument – Zhetigen (7 strings)

Zhetigen is an old Kazakh national musical instrument.  The history of zhetigen began many centuries ago. It takes its roots deep from the 16th17th century.  The instrument itself presents a square box with 7 strings and 7 bones (“askyks” in Kazakh) up on the surface.  Kazakh people created the music just moving the bones (“akyks”) and playing on the strings.  Different positions of the bones make different sounds from low ones up to heavy ones.

The history of zhetigen is closely connected with the Kazakh legend about a man, who lost all his seven sons.  When a man lost his very first and the eldest son, he grieved a lot and wanted to put his grief into music.  So he constructed an instrument with one string.  Later, his second son died.  The second string was added.  The death of the rest of his sons one by one nearly broke the man.  That’s why today’s zhetigen consists of seven strings. 

Nowadays the musical instrument is played in many national musical groups of Kazakhstan.

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