A friend of ours once asked, “Does What Did You Look Up on Wikipedia? have a Wikipedia page?” and our minds were blown. So last night, in a sweaty apartment with a box of wine, we attempted to do that very thing. Despite being huge fans of Wikipedia, we discovered that we actually didn’t know anything about editing a Wikipedia article. We attempted to add What Did You Look Up on Wikipedia? to the article Wikipedia in Culture under the sub-heading Wikipedia as Comedic Material.
As we were clinking glasses to celebrate, our email got a message that said we were indefinitely banned from editing Wikipedia because our addition violated the rule that said entries can’t be commercial or self-promoting. To which we said, touche, Wikipedia, because pretty much everything we do is self-promotion these days. Interestingly, our self-promotion involves fangirling about Wikipedia, but much like a strict dad, Wikipedia stood his ground, our entry was removed and we were grounded for life. We totally understand why this happened and yet have the brain hurts when thinking about how most entries about, say, Jenna Marbles, were made by someone else and are therefore promotion but not self-promotion. Yes, yes, we know Jenna Marbles is 10,000x more popular than we are, but having a Wikipedia page is most definitely a kind of promotion, even if you didn’t make it yourself.
So let’s make this a learning opportunity, says we. We realized we never actually looked up the Wikipedia page for Wikipedia. Everyone knows that crowd-sourced encyclopedia has a whole host of problems (i.e., us) and the real mission of Wikipedia is to have a free, crowd sourced, correct encyclopedia. And, just to defend ourselves here, we never made anything up, at least not in our Wikipedia addition. As their on Wikipedia page says, Wikipedia has been made fun of numerous times in television shows and music based on this editing problem, that there have been many posts that are straight up incorrect and that sometimes, people get away with it. Lastly, we were interested in this chart, which shows the statistics for the typical regular contributor to Wikipedia (in 2009).
Just food for thought. Although Wikipedia is open sourced, there are watchdogs, as we found out the hard way. But it’s also quite obvious from this chart that in terms of gender (and familial lifestyle) that writers and editors of Wikipedia articles are coming from a small group of people.
So, does it matter who edits Wikipedia? Have you (our viewers and readers) ever edited or created a page for yourself or someone else? What was your experience?