For quite a while I’ve felt like there were two types of people writing about history (or well anything). The first type, wrote from passion. They wanted to share with everyone something they enjoyed and what they had learned. The second type were writing to prove they knew something. The first type I considered a teacher. The second type I considered an academic. Well, the academics have invaded Wikipedia and ruined it. In an attempt to look up something obscure this morning, I turned to wikipedia and found this at the head of my article:
Now, I don’t mind that someone finds the quality of information not quite up to snuff, but the alarmist box at the very top of the article is nearly longer than the article is. What was great about Wikipedia was the idea that it was a community voice. I can go ask my friend a question about something and he can share with me what he knows. I don’t need citations, or protection from commercialism. I just want to know about something and it seems to me there should be a little more appreciation for the people that take their time to share this information and a lot less shouting from the people looking for proof.
Can you imagine if we treated everyone we talked to like this? Every scrap of information from your Doctor, to your best friend, to your government – come to think of that why can’t we get text books that are as accurate as Wikipedia? Or is that too much to ask? Probably is because then what we would have is books full of these types of screaming banners and we’d teach kids more about nit picking than life learning. So in the mean time, why not tone down the alarmism Wikipedia and relegate these warnings to a few tags out of the way. In other words, get out of the way and get back to what you were good at, allowing people to share information – even if it isn’t perfect.