FAI: Freedom and Authority on the Internet

Wiki Work

Starting in about the second or third week of the semester, I will ask you to start posting a variety of work on a class Wiki. Wikis are collaborative online writing systems. Each of you will post topical notes, reflective notes, and essays to the Wiki. Once you have decided on your central research topic, you will be responsible for a section of the Wiki on that topic. Since Wiki's permit collaborative editing, I also encourage each of you to feel comfortable making changes and adding to the work of others.

Our class Wiki is located at http://wiki.cs.grinnell.edu/mediawiki/index.php/FAI:_Front_Door. This Wiki uses the MediaWiki software, one of the standard Wikis.

Working in a Wiki

As I noted above, Wikis are designed to be collaborative writing spaces. To make them appropriately collaborative, the designers of our Wiki software have made it (relatively) easy to edit and extend existing pages and to create new pages.

Writing in a Wiki

It is remarkably easy to use a Wiki to write and compose. Pick a page of interest and click the Edit tab. Note that every characteristic of the page is represented in plain text. So, if you want fancier stuff, like links, section headings, italics, and the rest, you must use standard characters in a new way. There are dozens of guidelines to using MediaWiki (and there are convenient buttons in the edit window), so I'll keep my own notes short.

Creating New Pages

I would generally not recommend creating a new page without first thinking about how you will link to that page. Once you know the page that links to your page, go to that page, and insert a link. (Recall that a link to a Wiki page is preceded by two left square brackets and followed by two right square brackets.)

For example, if I wanted to create a page of random notes for this Tutorial, I might decide that the page should be called FAI: Random Notes. I would then make a link on the front door of the course section of the form [[FAI: Random Notes]].

Once you've created the link, follow it to your new page and the edit it. (While there are other ways to make pages, this technique makes sure that you have a link to it.)

Research Topic

Once you have decided upon a research topic, you should create a section of the Wiki for that topic. The naming convention for those sections is FAI: Topics: Name of Your Topic. You may organize your area as you feel best. However, I would recommend that you minimally have sections for: links, bibliographic entries of potential interest (and notes on those entries), assorted notes you have gathered on the topic, and any writings you create on the topic. Some of these things will clearly need to be separate pages (such as essays you write). Others might be incorporated on the main page for your topic or linked from that page, according to your preferences.

So that I know that you are thinking about your topic, I expect you to add at least three non-trivial notes to the notes areas each week. At least two of those must be notes about your topic, but you should also feel free to post notes on your colleagues' pages.


For each Scholars' Convocation (or similar event) that you attend, I expect you to post a paragraph to the Wiki page for that Convocation. Your paragraph might be an independent reflection or it might be a response to a colleague's reflection.

Other Wiki Work

Feel free to make updates, corrections, and additions to any part of the course Wiki. However, I expect you to be responsible in making those posts.

Signing Your Work

When you are posting notes to your colleagues' pages or to the Convocation area, you should sign your posts. I would prefer that you sign posts with two dashes and then your name (first, last, nickname, whatever) in italics. For example, i would use -- ''SamR''.


Although I considered making the Wiki work a separate grading category, I decided that enough of the work you will do for the Wiki pertains to your other activities for class. Hence, you will not receive a separate grade for your Wiki work. Nonetheless, the work you do on the Wiki will be reflected in the other grades you receive in Tutorial.



Thursday, 18 August 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Saturday, 19 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu