Actually Beginning a Concerted Wiki Project: Alma 14
Posted by joespencer on June 19, 2011
I’ve been quite pleased with the number of people (on and off the blog) who have expressed interest in pursuing a concerted wiki project. I’ve made an executive decision and determined that we will work on Alma 14. In this post, I’ll lay out what I think should be our basic protocol, and we can work from there. If there is any necessary metadiscussion, it can be done here to begin with. Otherwise, follow the instructions below and get started!
1. Something like a schedule.
I don’t want to set up a formal schedule, but something more like the following. At the wiki, Alma 14 is distributed across six different pages (five-verse blocks). I think we should begin, straightforwardly, with the first of these and then move along to the second as we feel things are wrapping themselves up with the first. You can find the first of the six pages here.
2. Using the wiki itself.
If you know how to use the wiki or are happy just to figure it out as you go, you can skip ahead to the next point here. For those who are unfamiliar with the use of the wiki, or who are a bit intimidated by the prospect, allow me to recommend that you take a look at Brian J.’s wonderful “wikinitiation” post from a few years ago. It has screen shots and everything to help you figure out how to use the wiki. Moreover, please don’t feel intimidated. Those of us who are a bit more experienced are more than happy to clean up after any mistakes, to answer any questions, and to work together to make the project work.
3. What kinds of things to put at the wiki.
Remember that the wiki is supposed to be written from a neutral point of view. It is not appropriate to put personal stories there (“I once learned the meaning of this scripture when . . .”) or to write in the first person (“I” or “we”). The idea is just to write about the scriptures in question.
You will see that the wiki divides commentary into four parts: (1) questions, (2) lexical notes (notes about meanings of words, etc.), (3) exegesis (a fancy word for commentary), and (4) links. A good way to get started in contributing is to fill out the three non-exegesis parts of the page. Add some questions about the text (“What does such-and-such a part of verse 2 mean?”). Do a bit of work on a lexical note by looking at how a word in the text is used elsewhere in scripture, in nearby texts, or according to a dictionary (“The word ‘faith’ seems to be important in the Book of Alma. Note how it is used . . .”). Fish out links that might be helpfully added to the bottom of the page, which can include books (a link to amazon.com for example), talks (lds.org), blog posts (look around the ‘nacle), scripture resources (Blue Letter Bible, for instance), or other websites. (“For a good discussion of the issues surrounding verse 3, see . . .”) Those drawing on what is added in these three sections can use the provided resources to produce commentary.
4. Writing commentary in a concerted fashion.
The idea of launching a concerted project is something like the following: someone adds a bit of commentary—however half-baked, semi-thought-through, inconclusive, inadequately written, controversial, etc.—and then others edit, rewrite, build on, or rework what has been posted… and then others do the same to the revamped material. (Note that you can see who has added what to the page by going through the history link; and note also that there is a “recent changes” widget on the main page of the wiki.) From all this, you should conclude the following: “I should feel free to write a little something, even if it only serves to get someone else to write something better!” Even if you add only a single sentence expressing a half-crazy speculation, it is better than remaining silent!
5. Working together with charity.
Let’s do this with great charity. If you find that something another has written simply doesn’t work for whatever reasons, it is best to copy it to the talk page with an explanation of why you’re removing it from the commentary page. Others might feel that it can be worked into something productive. The core principle is: “Build up!” Look carefully at whatever another contributes and see how it can be better, furthered, and turned into something still more interesting and helpful.
Let’s see what we can make of this project. I have high hopes.
This entry was posted on June 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm and is filed under On studying, Scripture topics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.