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WikiRice seeks greater student input and new funding

By Ellen Liu     10/6/11 7:00pm

WikiRice, the online encyclopedia for all things Rice, is expanding its article base and offering of Rice history to the general community through new initiatives like podcasts.

WikiRice is a student-made website that serves as a public record of all aspects and traditions of Rice, from Beer Bike to the college system. Anyone who creates an account on the site can contribute to and edit its articles. McMurtry College sophomore Eli Spector and Wiess College sophomore Rohini Sigireddi created the site last year after Leadership Rice awarded them with an Envision Grant for their proposal.

"The idea [for the site] came from our ultimate goal of preserving history as Rice's centennial nears," Spector said.



Spector said he set up the website while Sigireddi handled marketing and promotion it on campus.

The full WikiRice project involves two parts: the site itself and podcasts that feature interviews of Rice students, faculty, staff and alumni who were around for iconic moments in Rice history, Spector said. Director of Leadership Rice Judy Le added that the podcasts are intended to present rich historical narratives about Rice from a first-person perspective.

Spector and Sigireddi are currently setting up the podcasts and have also been handling some incidences of spam by installing spam blockers, Spector said.

Another challenge Spector and Sigireddi have faced with WikiRice is finding a balance between information and humor in their articles, according to Director of Leadership Rice Judy Le. Spector said a few of the articles lacked substance and were written in an inappropriate tone.

Overseeing and regulating the site would be a tough task for Spector and Sigireddi, Le said. Spector wanted more structure in the site so that he could communicate WikiRice's intent to a larger portion of the public and foster greater interest in Rice's history and culture, Le said. However, he also wanted to preserve the creative "Rice style" that presented itself through the articles.

"Eli's vision is that [the site] is this organic process that will express the sentiments and Rice experience of now," Le said. "He wants to celebrate why this place is unique while staying true to Rice's culture."

Spector and Sigireddi formed a long-term plan for the site, which they presented at the Student Association meeting on Monday, Sept. 19. Once the Envision Grant money is exhausted, the two students hope to partner with the SA to fund WikiRice, maintain the site's private third-party host and domain name and keep the site active after they graduate, Spector said. However this plan is still under consideration.

The two are seeking one student from each college to be an unofficial WikiRice ambassador who would spread the word about the site and encourage people to contribute.

"As with all Wikis, they are never complete in that they are constantly being edited, updated and revised," Spector said. "WikiRice is in an early stage, and we're still looking for people to write articles and provide content."

Martel College freshman Julia Hossu said she thinks the site is a good idea that has a lot of potential.

"I remember trying to look up information online about Rice before coming here, especially regarding the residential colleges and traditions, but it was a big pain," Hossu said. "This site could be a great help."

However, she said she found the site a bit disorienting at first and hopes the creators can reorganize its layout a bit.

Interested writers can create an account at wikirice.com to start composing and editing articles.



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