Here's what Wikipedia says: "Don't be afraid to edit – anyone can edit almost every page, and we are encouraged to be bold!"* Saying it and meaning it are two different things. Big controversies get started over picky little things! How anyone ever manages to deliver 5,000 words on J-Lo's new lipstick color (with citations, no less), I'll never know.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Spent some time rereading Wikipedia's rules...
I worked a bit on a Wikipedia article (stub class, of low importance--so I couldn't mess up much). I think I pared down some of the speculation and made the content more objective. I added references to the historian who (apparently) got the whole moon-eyed mess started. I truly hope I'm not the one who propagated moon eyes by putting them in the Wikipedia article in the first place. But if so, it would have gotten there anyway. The "fact" of an old myth has been picked up and repeated in state-park brochures. I think the stuff was already in the article when I first edited it a few years ago. I just tried to cite the facts and remove the speculation, or qualify it by adding historical references (to show how the "fact" came to be repeated). Even in doing that, I guess I broke several Wikipedia rules, which are pretty complicated. They don't want "original research," which is hard to avoid, since they also don't want plagiarism. (It's hard to rewrite a thing or summarize it without accidentally putting an original thought or statement in there). Cite a newspaper, but not if the newspaper cited Wikipedia (circular citation--and I'm supposed to track down the newspaper's sources)? Cite a website, but only if it has been archived. (And I know that... how?) They beg for citations, but then scold if citations are: primary (better to use secondary); not authoritative (but--isn't primary more authoritative than secondary?); too old; too new; too in-between. Yesterday, I dug up a citation from Official Records to cite something on a Civil War event, thinking, "Wow, O.R., best citation you can get on anything Civil War." Now, I have to wonder--did my reference to O.R. (Official Records) break Wiki's rule on "O.R." (original research)? Isn't my very quest to look up a citation for Wiki "O.R."? Is a published letter from U.S. Grant too "primary" for something on the Civil War? But... the very fact that it was collected by the War Department, edited by a bunch of guys (don't even get me started on how to cite five authors), and published in O.R. makes a source secondary, doesn't it? Or does it? Sigh... I'm so confused. No one has complained yet about the use of Official Records to cite the article, and no one has reverted my citation. I really am trying to do things right. The only time I ever log in to W in the first place is to fix some obvious grammatical error, such as "The man went the the store." I go in and fix it. Then I get drawn into some old article I edited five years ago. I did (I hope) manage to set up the auto-archive thingy on my "Wikipedia Talk" page, so maybe I won't see those old articles when next I log in. It's difficult to know what to edit in the first place. The editors seem to want people to lend a hand, and say they can use a person's special knowledge; but really, can they? My knowledge is only useful for O.R., I think--or maybe that's just what I enjoy.