Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wikipedia -- Is it this easy?

Are you a Wikipedia Editor?

I'm not.

But I have now made two remarkably bold (?) edits on a Wikipedia page. I'm astounded at how easy it is to change the information that people read.

A month ago, I found an error on the Wiki page of Peter Jensen. I corrected the publish date of the Archbishop's book At the Heart of the Universe. To 1991. These things matter, right?

And tonight, I removed a pejorative term from the St Helen's Bishopsgate Wiki page in London. Someone had written "St Helen's Bishopsgate is a bigoted conservative Evangelical church in the city of London."

Anyone want to guess which word I removed?

Are you a Wiki editor? Whats it like? Got any stories to tell?


Christopher said...

I think you removed "is" :)

I am not a wiki editor, my spelling and grammar is just not up to scratch.

Martin Kemp said...

There are three types of sources: primary, secondary and wikipedia. Wikipedia is the one you don't footnote.

-Rob Doyle

Justin said...

Re Rob Doyle: Of course. I couldn't imagine...

But I wonder what the actual reasoning is. Can you really put a prohibition like this? Is it because a book has to go through some level of review and testing (that Wiki lacks)? Is it because a publisher legitimises the work? Is it because for a work to have value, it has to be bought by enough people to be of substance?

There is no doubt a simple answer to these questions.

But in the meantime, kids, its not allowed!

seapea said...

i'm an internet moocher - i don't edit, i only copy & paste

Andrew H from Matcham said...

"Wikipedia is the one you don't footnote."

I've put wikipedia in the bibliography of a Year 12 Assessment. They ask you to list everything you used, and since wikipedia is where everyone goes first... I figured I'd put it in.

Of course, I made sure it wasn't my only reference.

David Entwistle said...

Yes, Andrew is right, context is important. I'm a high school teacher, and I would accept Wikipedia as a reference in students' assignments, just as I would accept Britannica or any other general reference works. Wikipedia is not an appropriate reference in higher ed, but Britannica never has been, either.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is a great site, but you need to find the right articles if you want to use it properly. One also needs to remember that it's a tertiary source like an encyclopedia, made up of a conglomeration of already published works.

There's some interesting articles on different things around the globe. For example, take a look at this article on a railway line in Sydney, which is quite extensive. Or from your area of the globe, the article on New York City. Or for something completely random, an article on the history of saffron. All of these are "Featured Articles" and are supposed to be some of the better articles on Wikipedia.


baker st jones said...

It's quite interesting actually; if you look at the st helen's page, you can select the "history" section, to see previous changes to the page.

Someone going by 'gazalondon' inserted Bigoted on the 23rd July.

Earlier in July, gazalondon also made some very gentle changes to the St Boltoph's page, another church also in Aldgate, London, updating information about Thomas Bray, the Rector in 1730. The St Boltoph's entry is dominated by a section on 'The Organ'.

Another change by gazalondon was to describe St Boltoph's as a "liberal inclusive parish church", so I think you can see the fault lines for this dispute fairly clearly.

Justin said...

Baker st Jones...

Now THAT is fascinating!