04 March 2008

Wiki Wiki Joy

I don't read the New York Review of Books with any regularity, but I come across articles from time to time and often really like them. Yesterday, I read a wonderful piece about Wikipedia, by Nicholson Baker, an idiosyncratic writer of both breadth and minutia.

Baker's piece is ostensibly a book review of a "manual" on how to contribute to Wikipedia, but really it's part history, and part personal chronicle of his own volunteer work inside Wikipedia. Baker dives in deep: he edited pages on bovine somatotropin, Sleepless in Seattle, and cobbler. He worked to save pages that were slated for deletion by editing in reputable citations and became thoroughly and compulsively enmeshed in the, yes, minutia of Wikipedia.

Have you ever edited a Wikipedia page? I have, and I can well see how one could get completely sucked into it. I've only brushed against a couple of pages that are work-related, but a comma here, a link there, and soon Pop Tarts need a little attention.

Where would your Wikipedia obsession begin? What do you itch to edit?

12 comments:

susiej said...

I discovered Wikipedia, when it was encouraged by the kid's teachers to use it for homework. This year, the mantra at school from the teachers is, "Do Not Use Wikipedia!" They do not like the fact that users can "edit" the information, and have found some of it incorrect, and some changes even motivated by commercialism.

Still, I often go there first, when searching for information... it always seems to be have the most straight forward answer -- although if my kids catch me, they call for the wikipedia police.

Julia said...

I edited a page once. Something about accurate scientific terminology and, I think, process of reproduction. I went back a couple of times to look at whether the edit stood, and yes, it's clear how easy it would be to get sucked in.

alejna said...

I haven't tried my hand at editing Wikipedia. It's probably a good thing, as I am easily sucked into projects. (Exhibit A: blogging.)

But I can see the appeal of, for example, fleshing out some of the linguistics articles that most closely related to my research. But quite honestly, I mostly look at Wikipedia for trivia and random stuff. (Like for my various themed lists.)

Suz said...

I've never even thought about editing Wikipedia. I'd like to, though.

flutter said...

I already have, but I am not telling you what ;)

the mama bird diaries said...

I am obsessed with Wikipedia. I'm so impressed with how they keep the information accurate. I read that when folks with an agenda edit pages, they go in and correct them. And very quickly. It's all very cool.

Mad Hatter said...

I have a colleague whose great great grandfather killed the last known surviving person of a First Nations tribe. This is not in the Wiki entry and he struggles as to whether he should add it. With Wiki, we notice the hack jobs done by spammers or people with an agenda; we seldom notice the errors of omission and in the case of my colleague omission itself can have an agenda.

Also I once linked to a Wiki entry from a blog post only to discover that it got spammed overnight and all of a sudden Oprah owned the Triangle Shirt Factory and Santa Claus set in on fire. So, yes, as a librarian I see why teachers are wary of Wikis. Still, the Wiki concept of distributed knowledge is brilliant and empowering.

niobe said...

I like reading the discussion section of Wikipedia articles. It's kind of like watching a mud wrestling match. Which I probably wouldn't like, but you get the idea.

emma said...

As a librarian in training I'm definitely being indoctrinated with the idea that Wikipedia is basically responsible for trhe decline of Western Civilization as we know it. But honestly, I've hardly been to the site and never edited it or anything.

Janet said...

I've never thought of editing a Wikipedia page. Typically, when I consult Wikipedia, it's regarding a topic I don't know much about. If they ever need a page on constantly running out of milk and how to cheerfully thrive living in your own filth, I'm their gal. ;)

Victoria said...

I (heart) Wikipedia!! I've edited my company's business page, my hometown's page (ha!) and a few other things here and there. I'm addicted to reading, not editing. But I (heart) it. =)

PS - I totally missed reading you while I was MIA. Thanks for letting me come back. *smile*

evie1131 said...

Wikipedia is really a good site. It's the online encyclopedia as what I have known. This is a great help to our kids if they are going to research on something. You can even join to their discussion.
__________________

cutie_tech123
I challenge you to a game of trivia! Click here to battle against me online at ConQUIZtador. Let's see who's the winner...
https://www.conquiztador.com/?a=26041