Wikipedia’s tenets

Flying back home yesterday I read this article about Wikipedia in the New York Times: Wikipedia, What Does Judith Newman Have to Do to Get a Page? –

The three tenets of Wikipedia articles are “No Original Research,” “Neutral Point of View” and “Verifiability” — terms that, in and of themselves, are open to debate. At any rate, Mr. Wales wanted to make real the words of Charles Van Doren, one of the editors of the Encylopedia Brittanica, who wrote in an essay in 1962: “Because the world is radically new, the ideal encyclopedia should be radical, too. It should stop being safe — in politics, in philosophy, in science.” (He was also at the center of the quiz-show scandal in the late 1950s. It’s in Wikipedia; look it up.)

It seems that there have been a number of good articles about Wikipedia recently which prompted me to write this. For example a few months ago, again in the NYT, magazine there was Jimmy Wales is not an internet billionaire.” 

Anyway the present article is interesting to me because I had not previously seen the ‘tenets’ spelled out that way:

  1. Neutral POV
  2. No Original Research
  3. Verifiability

 In fact the only one I was aware of was “Neutral POV”. 

I hesitate to mention this (and why will be clear in a second) but there are three wikipedia articles that mention me: Pito Salas, Lotus Improv and Pivot Table.

Let’s be honest, being mentioned in Wikipedia at all is an honor and good for my personal brand/reputation. I don’t want to mess with that. Because of that I don’t know who wrote them and haven’t really paid attention to them over the years. And as I write that sentence, I think to myself, “Wait. I vaguely remember fixing a typo or a date in one of them years and years ago; is it safe to make a claim that I didn’t touch them? Will I be punished? So I remove the statement that I never touched them.”

And I now look at the articles and notice that the Pito Salas article has gotten shorter, and the other two have some inaccuracies that I know for sure because they involve my own first hand experience. But still I hesitate to correct them.

That’s why the New York Times article I started with speaks to me. I don’t really understand or try to predict how the wikipedia community judges entreies. I am proud to be mentioned even with minor inaccuracies. I think if I try to correct the inaccuracies I might call attention to the entries and lose them altogether. Even writing this post feels a little bit risky…

0 thoughts on “Wikipedia’s tenets

  1. All you need to do to correct a Wikipedia entry is:1. Click on the "Talk" link near the top left of the page.2. When the Talk page opens, click New Section3. This will open two boxes: a one-line "subject/headline" box, and a big comment box. In the subject/headline box, put {{request edit}}. Then make your comment in the big comment box. Just explain what is wrong, what is right, and give a reference (and link) to a published source independent of you that verifies the correct information.4. Click on "Save Page" at the bottom.Then wait a few days until someone reads your correction and acts on it. 4. If several days go by and it is not corrected, check the talk page again to see if anyone has responded to you there. If not, leave a message here: