Wikipedia: Mostly Harmless

Wednesday 9 May 2007

David Nichols recently wrote at Sarsaparilla about the vagaries of Wikipedia, its errors and omissions, some accidental and some by misguided intention.

Wikipedia has a real future, and this to me is it: it is a beautiful, worldwide record of what people think they know. Day by day it is going to become a bigger, bolder better record of changing attitudes and ideas…

A commenter described his own experience of adding Australian content to the site, only to see overzealous volunteers (presumably not Australian) marking articles for deletion because they’d never heard of the people or places involved: “What struck me about the process was how difficult it seemed for volunteers to verify whether the work was deserving.”

Fortunately, some articles are self-evidently authoritative and thorough. Below is the current Wikipedia entry for the Holden Standard, the base model Australian family car of the 1950s and 60s, reprinted in its entirety:

The Holden Standard was a vehicle manufactured by Holden in Australia. It’s a pretty standard vehicle. As far as standard cars built by Holden go, this is by far the standardest and most Holdeney.

This doesn’t even need a “citation needed” tag. For additional fun, check out the entry’s revision history, showing the careful expansion and polishing it has undergone during the past six months.