Wikipedians of the Galaxy

Upon its release in the summer of 2014, the comic book adapted movie Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise success. People knew very little about the source material that the movie was pulling from so it was unexpected that the movie became so wildly poplar so quickly.

The plot follows the adventures of the space outlaw Starlord as he meets and befriends an eclectic group of galactic outcasts and forms the “Guardians of the Galaxy” in an attempt to stop the terrorist Ronan.

While still technically a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie had very little over lap with previously established story lines from movies like Iron Man, Captain America and The Avengers. People wanted to know what exactly this movie was and where it came from. To do this, they did what we all do in times of crisis: They Googled “Guardians of the Galaxy film” and clicked on the first link, the Wikipedia article.

Wikipedia is the ultimate example of what media scholar Henry Jenkins calls “Collective intelligence” (Jenkins). In the case of the Guardians Of the Galaxy Wikipedia page, there have been 726 distinct authors that have made 3,255 edits since the page’s creation on July 16th, 2012. These editors are not employees of Wikipedia and have no actual obligation to moderate articles on the site. They are just normal people who voluntarily contribute their knowledge to the pool of intelligence surrounding each article. The reliability of the site comes from the fact that everyone moderates each other and from Jenkins’s idea of “Judgment- The ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information source” (Jenkins). Jenkins discusses in his weblog the idea that “nobody knows everything, everyone knows something, and what any member knows is available to the group as a whole at a moment’s notice.” (Jenkins). This is seen very clearly in the early stages of the Guardians of the Galaxy article, which was created before the movie came out, and served mostly to give out newly found out information about things like casting, production and plot points.7681007

In the above screen grab, we see part of a Talk Section from April, 2013 where some editors discuss the possibility that Zoe Saldana will play the role of Gamora. They recognize that it is just a rumor and cannot be proven so they can’t put it in the actual article yet.7681039

In this later talk section from August of the same year, an editor cites the official casting lineup as a source saying that Zoe Saldana will in fact play Gamora. It was then agreed upon to add that to the article.

Due to the high number of editors of this page and the heavy traffic the page receives, I would conclude that this is a reliable source to get information about this movie from. The collective intelligence surrounding this one article is astoundingly thorough and well researched. The editors of the Guardians of the Galaxy Wikipedia article exemplify Jenkins’s claim that members of a knowledge community should “trust their collaborators to fill in information they don’t know and challenge their claims about the world” (Jenkins) in order create a reliable and useful space for readers to learn and collaborate.

Sources:

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART TWO).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Wikipedia contributors. “Guardians of the Galaxy (film).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

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