Osiern’s Weblog

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Wiki History

Posted by osiern on September 29, 2008

I enjoyed Dr. Rosenzweig’s essay on Wikipedia. I thought it was a well rounded argument, making me really think about the value and issues of the popular on-line encyclopedia.

I personally do not have a problem with individuals using Wikipedia as a research tool.  Students and the average person are going to Wikipedia, it’s incredibly accessible in more than one way.  It’s free (no monetary charge), it’s the first thing that shows up when you google a topic (fast to access), it’s organized in a concise manner (a table of contents and a page is broken down into topics), it’s written at a reading level that most are comfortable with.

My concern is that people do not use it in the correct manor.  However, I do believe that most teachers address this.  I have recently developed a web-page for my job about doing research on the Internet and I specifically address the proper use of Wikipedia, I want people to know it is okay to use it but only for the purpose of an initial introduction to a topic.

I choose three pages to look through and read the history and discussion of:

The Cubin Missile Crisis

The overall entry on the topic is fine.  This is where I actually did some initial research for a project I did for one of my graduate classes, from Wikipedia I was actually able to find very useful links to primary and secondary sources both on-line and in physical locations.

The history of the page shows that there has been a good amount of activity surrounding the site.  Usually every two days there is some adjustment, which there should be, this is recent history and the events are still coming to light.

In the discussion section I found one particular entry very interesting.  One person comments about how the exact times should be stated instead of “in the afternoon;” however, as my classmate who did research on just that discovered, naming the exact times is a daunting task.  This is especially true because of the time difference of Russia and the United States.  I really appreciate the conversation that is set in motion, since it is something that historians have also struggled with.

Ellis Island

Vandalism Found

Vandalism on Wikipedia

Vandalism on Wikipedia

When I started looking through the Ellis Island page I noticed some vandalism right away.

I took a screen shot, knowing that this would most likely be fixed in the near future. When looking back at the history I noticed that these changes had actually all occurred today.

This is one of many concerns with doing research on Wikipedia, however most people would notice this as a mistake right away.

Horace Mann

My last search was on the great education revolutionary, Horace Mann.  This site has also been having some problems with vandalism, which I noticed when I read the discussion page.

Time for a protection

This page is literally being monitored and followed by vandals. Nine vandal editions in just seven days (from March 17) and this is just an addition to a large file of previous attacks. Isn’t it time for a protection? —Filius Rosadis 16:48, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree with you that this page has been subject to much vandalism. However, Wikipedia:Protection Policy seems to indicate that protection is used very sparingly, and mostly for either high-profile pages or pages subject to heavy or coordinated attacks. I’ve seen plenty other higher-profile, more highly-vandalised pages that are still unprotected. I think we should just keep this page on our watchlists and revert as needed. We can handle 1 or 2 reverts a day. You take 1, I’ll take the other 🙂 AbsolutDan 05:25, 24 March 2006
This was just random that I stumbled upon two history based sites in a row with vandalism issues, however both were being addressed and there was a vast amount of great information there.
Again, the conclusion is: use Wikipedia wisely!
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