STA#1 – Wikipedia

Being a second generation kid, I grew up immersed in the Canadian history that was taught to us in school, and the Philippine history that I learned from my family. As such, I decided to look at the Suez Crisis and the Marcos Administration.

I found that the Suez Crisis article succeeded in its attempt to bring the events to life, reading more like a narrative than a dry text, enticing and engaging the reader, though it may be contested whether such a style of writing falls under the Wikipedian mandate of unbiased information. What surprised me was the great detail that went into its writing – the final note count numbered 369, not including references or external links. The external links also contained a number of media links, which I found to be promising, but was ultimately disappointed upon finding out that as of December 2009, they have ceased to work. As well, in looking at the notes, there are certain sections that are heavily reliant on one or two sources, which suggests two things to me: 1) Any biases the author of the source might have may be reiterated in an article that’s meant for public consumption; and 2) Issues of plagiarism may arise, even if done so inadvertently, or with the best of intentions behind it.

The fact that the Marcos Administration article started off with the dreaded ‘needs additional citations’ disclaimer suggested that I was going to be somewhat disappointed. On the one hand, the article did lay out the facts more in the traditional encyclopaedic style. However, the lack of notes, references, and external links (the total of which combined numbers eight) may bring into question how much of this information is assumed to be general knowledge, and whether it can actually be trusted. Another point I noted was the fact that this article was relatively short for one that discusses over 20 years’ worth of history, especially in comparison to the length of the Suez Crisis article, as well as the duration of the crisis itself.

After consulting the talk and the edit pages for both Suez and Marcos, I found several main points to consider in determining whether a Wikipedia article can be deemed successful. The first is whether there are the materials readily available to consult and share. There are far more articles and written or media resources on the Suez Crisis than there are for any component written about in the Marcos Administration article, and aside from the heavily reliance on a few resources in Suez, there are enough external articles that can be looked at if one wanted to do further research.

The second point I noted was that the success of Suez was also due in part that there has been ongoing discussion of the article since it was first written. The earliest date given for the Suez Crisis is 2002, and although there haven’t been minute-by-minute changes, as might be the case for more popular articles/subjects, the fact that there have been changes each year suggests that there has been enough interest in the article to ensure that academic merit remains inherent. In the case of the Marcos Administration article, which dates back to 2007, there hasn’t been the same monitoring found in Suez, which may be related to the earlier point of available resources to write a comprehensive article.

However, this leads me to a third observation that may be considered more ominous about Wikipedia as a ‘”multilingual encyclopedia of the highest quality,”’ and that is the fact that there may be a bias towards events that have affected the western world, and perhaps not as much emphasis on events outside of this. This may again be due in part to available resources for a given topic, but if there simply isn’t the interest in a given topic, as seems to be the case for the Marcos Administration, then whatever information is given on Wikipedia is subject to non-questioning, that is to say that it simply remains as is. As well, I was also a little disappointed to see that even though there are quite a number of languages represented, thus substantiating the claim to be multilingual, there actually wasn’t one for Tagalog (Filipino), which I imagine may discourage people, in this case Filipinos, from contributing to the article.

Comments are closed.