Wiki History Assignment

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

Response to “Can History be Open Source?”

In this article, Roy Rosenzweig uses Wikipedia as a case study for open source history. He states that although Wikipedia has a larger number of articles and is more widely available (free, actually) than commercial encyclopedias, it may not present the same level of historical accuracy. Wikipedia editors, he says, tend to focus on more interesting or publicly recognized topics in history, rather than working towards providing a comprehensive, accurate, and representative historical narrative. Often, he notes, less important historical figures receive longer biographies because of their appeal to the “geeky” nature of Wikipedia users. Other articles about important historical events or periods simply have fewer edits and user input because they are not as interesting to the largely white English-speaking male readership. In addition, the focus of the Wikipedia community and the constant presence of “trolls" and has driven away many academics (including one of the founders) from the project.

In my opinion, history can, and should be, open source. I do agree with the criticism that Wikipedia needs more safeguards to ensure the credibility of important articles, but overall I see it as a benefit to society. Another criticism that I understand is that many sites on the first page of “google” results seem to back up Wikipedia’s information, yet many of them have drawn their information from Wikipedia itself. Generally, people should use an encyclopedia only as a stepping off point, and not as a final authority. Apart from these criticisms, I recognize that including the community is necessary in any generation of a comprehensive work – I would much rather put my faith in the objectivity of the general public working together than in a handful of historians, no matter how well educated.

External Links

//maybe add some headers, capitalize "google", but otherwise, nice job. - Student D

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