As I plan to write my dissertation on the plays of Enda Walsh it seemed obvious to approach his page on Wikipedia for the marathon editing session. I already knew quite a lot about Walsh’s biography as I have been reading/watching/ listening to interviews that he has done. And, it seems to me, Walsh loves doing interviews. He loves to talk and he loves to laugh. Often, even in audio or print you can feel him acting out the stories he tells and if you look at around the 64th minute of the video of him talking to Joe Dowling at the Walker Art Centre you can see him physically communicating his experience of OCD. He makes it hilarious even though it’s actually a debilitating condition. In different venues and with different interlocutors Walsh tells the same anecdotes over and over again, many of them relating to his family – he is the youngest of six children – and, to some extent, explaining how his plays originate in family relationships.
I thought that his Wiki page, although detailed in terms of his output, was rather dull.
There was only one image and no picture of Walsh himself. I got a very recent photo from the Irish Examiner and uploaded it.
I took out the section that says how old he is as that will change when he has his birthday (although I have been unable to verify the exact day and month). So now you can just see his year of birth (1967) and work out how old he is. I filled in further detail about his family and education although there is confusion over the name of his daughter: variously recorded as Ada and Ava. In his play Gentrification Walsh names one of the characters Enda and this character talks about his daughter Ada. So I reckon that Enda Walsh knows his own daughter’s name. I also learnt how to do links and citations.
All this was practice before the designated session of the Wikipedia Editathon. So my first screenshot shows work that I had already done during my practice sessions.
One of the things that I did not like about the Enda Walsh page was the fact that the writer, who was clearly really committed, had listed Walsh’s awards and prizes in the same lines as the names of his works. This made the page look very messy and difficult to read. Also there were awards mentioned for such things as sound design and actor performance. I thought the awards shown on Walsh’s page should be his awards only. So best play or best screenplay or best book (for a musical) or best film etc. The new section 4 that you can see above in the screenshot is ‘Awards’. Here is what they look like now:
I am pleased with this as it is clean-looking and clear.
I put in another new heading which is ‘Themes’. There is an issue with this I think. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia and the idea of themes might be a little too interpretative. To get around this I used only Walsh’s own words. He is a great one for saying what his plays are about, unlike Beckett or Pinter, but he doesn’t always say the same thing. I love his sweeping statements which suggest that all his plays are about . . . whatever he says at that moment. So, even if someone eventually cleans this section off the page I have put in on as I think it is fascinating. ‘Themes’ becomes the new section 3, pushing ‘Awards’ down to section 5.
I feel quite guilty about my intervention on Enda Walsh’s page as I deleted some painstaking work done by the previous contributor. But I do think my work is clearer and better written than theirs. I left sections 2 and 4 more or less intact although I could not help interfering a bit with tense use, syntax and spelling. For example, the London theatre Menier Chocolate Factory was misspelled; once corrected a link could be enabled.
I found the technicalities of citations, links and screenshots very straightforward. I also managed to send some rather dull tweets although I am not sure whether I am following enough people or if enough people are following me. Thank you Annie, Roy and Donna for your ‘likes’. I am indebted to Donna Alexander and Emilio Bonome-Ares for teaching me how to edit Wikipedia. They were both very kind and supportive. Also calm in the face of my panic.