The fall 2020 academic calendar in the United States overlapped with one one of the most talked-about elections in history, the November 2020 election in the United States. English Wikipedia’s community of active editors followed well-established procedures to tackle misinformation, a huge topic of debate. But college students editing Wikipedia as a class assignment through Wiki Education’s Student Program also worked to improve a variety of articles related to public policy, improving the availability of citizens to get information as they headed to the polls.
Voting was a hot topic in fall 2020, and students at the University of California at Berkeley who took a course on civic technology helped improve a lot of articles related to technological connections to voting. One student added sections to the voter suppression article on social media’s impact on voter suppression and examples of voter suppression in the United States and Taiwan. Another student in the class created a brand-new article on ballot tracking in the United States, a topic of even higher importance during the COVID-19 pandemic since more people voted by mail than ever before. A different class at Berkeley collaborated to improve the article on 2020 California Proposition 17, which enabled people on parole to vote.
A criminology course at Eastern Michigan University tackled the article on community policing, another hot topic during the 2020 elections. Students made copy edits as well as adding sections on experiments with community policing in Dallas and Cincinnati. There was a large section on criticisms in the article prior to the students’ work; the students added a complementary section on benefits to community policing as well, making the article more balanced.
A student editor at Babson College improved the article on eviction in the United States, adding information about the landlord-tenant law at the state level and expanding the section on eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion addressed several pieces of public policy to temporarily halt evictions during the pandemic. Also related to housing was a new article on leapfrogging, a term used in urban development. The student discussed what leapfrog development is and some policies adopted by regions to address it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for college students, a number also addressed policies related to education. Students at Rice University completely overhauled the article on educational inequality in the United States, dramatically increasing the availability of information on this problem. Students at Chapman University collaborated to expand the article on Disability Studies in Education, and a separate student at the University of Illinois at Springfield improved the article on special education in the United States. These students’ contributions help people seeking information about education policy to understand the state of educational inequalities, especially in the disability and special education realm, in the United States.
Through these students’ work, we’re helping make Wikipedia’s coverage of politics and public policy more representative, accurate, and complete, helping inform citizens. We welcome more faculty who want to help improve Wikipedia’s coverage of topics like this to visit teach.wikiedu.org.