Advisor: Sneha Narayan
Times: Fall-Winter 4,5c
When you read an article on Wikipedia, you're actually reading the latest version of what is often a long sequence of edits made to create that article. For example, this is what the article on Carleton College looks like right now, but behind that article is a version history that shows every state that article has been in, including what information was added, when, and by whom. There have been hundreds of edits made to that article, some as recently as a few days ago.
Indeed, every article you read on Wikipedia is the product of an ongoing community process that generates it. Some articles have been written by a couple of editors, others have been edited by hundreds. Some sections within articles could be the subject of intense controversy, while others might be entirely written by one person (which might imply less reliability or likelihood of peer review). Some might even be mostly bot-generated, or automatically translated from a different language. All these features tell a story about how a given article came into existence, and are not necessarily clear to a user that is only reading the most current version of the article. Although entire revision histories and discussion pages for articles are available for users to examine, it's often difficult to make sense of what these histories mean at a glance.
This is where you come in! In this project, you and your team will create a browser extension that creates an overlay or other modification to a Wikipedia article page that provides the reader with additional context on how the article was created. There are many potential projects you can work on in this design space. Perhaps you might want to highlight which sections of an article underwent the most revisions, pointing to potential areas of controversy or rapidly changing information within an article. Or you might want to create a visual timeline that shows when the most editing activity happened in an article, which can give users a sense of when the editing community collectively paid attention to the topic. Perhaps you're interested in visualizing the extent to which articles about a particular city are actually written by people from that city, by including a map that displays approximate locations of editors from their IP addresses. Whatever you choose to work on, your extension must thoughtfully display that information in a way that can enhance a user's understanding of how the article they are reading came into existence.
Some questions you'll consider when designing this extension include: in what ways can data about the creation of Wikipedia articles be usefully summarized? How can it be elegantly presented to someone navigating Wikipedia? What kinds of questions might it help a user answer? Working on this project will entail looking at existing extensions for Wikipedia, gaining an understanding of how Wikipedia articles are developed, and coming up with a tool that surfaces relevant information for users navigating the site.
Here are some basic criteria that the extension should meet:
The project entails the following activities:
Background from CS 304 (Social Computing) and/or CS 344 (Human Computer Interaction) will likely be useful. Coursework such as CS 257 (Software Design) or related experience would also come in handy. This background can be distributed among different team members and isn't required for any one person.