Wikipedia Discussion and History pages

24 Sep

I found the featured article of the day was a historical site, so I used that as one example (Italian War of 1542 – 1546).  I went to featured content and selected one of the featured articles that wasn’t shown on the front page, and that article is Christopher Smart’s asylum confinement.  I attempted to use the Random Article feature to find a third history page, but that was not as fruitful as I’d hoped.  More on that below.

1. Italian War 1542 – 1546, featured article 24 Sept 2009

On the discussion page – there’s a serious discussion between Kirill and qp10qp about the nuances of the political action behind the scenes.  There’s also some brief discussion of the technical aspects – one of the maps was unclear, it was fixed.  They do also get into interpretation – what’s the strategic context, what’s the significance of one of the players being a Bourbon, do we discuss the implications of extensive war on the taxpayers and subsequent changes to tax code?  It seems almost unintentional between Kirill and qp10qp, but there are some really interesting conversations about interpretation.  Kirill wrote the post and it seems that qp10qp is acting as his beta.  The dates of the talks are all over a few days in Jan 2008, and the original post was at the end of 2007, so the immediacy of change is really brought home.  There’s a second thread that’s just happened TODAY – the last post was 20 minutes before I opened the page, regarding citation style.

bender235 wants to change the citation style used, got into a discussion with Kirill, 2 others (PeterIsotalo and Cosnahang) started to get involved.  It appears bender235 changed the citation and OP Kirill changed it back – which pissed bender235 off. Although after all of that, SADADS came in and supported OP Kirill.  I thought it was an interesting little fight, but way overblown, until I looked on the history tab.  History offers a visual of what was posted in “talk” – we can see where Kirill made changes, and we can also see where the posts are made.  I found where bender235 changed the citation style – he changed it to one type of citation, then another, and then Kirill changed it back to the original style, with a polite note asking that no one change the original citation style.  THEN the argument began in “talk” – and it wasn’t nearly so polite.

**I was initially confused because I couldn’t see evidence in the history tab of the changes mentioned in the discussion tab.  I figured out that I went from talk to history, which gives just a history of the discussion.  I had to be on the “article” tab and then click history to get the revision history of the article itself.  Then I found the revisions made by bender235.

2. Christopher Smart’s asylum confinement, featured content page, accessed 24 Sept 2009

Discussion has a conversation between OP Ottava Rima and contributor Usernamenotalreadyinuse.  User is challenging Ottava Rima’s entire post, and admits to introducing errors.  Ottava Rima states she’ll block User if she continues.  User responds with a sarcastic remark in an attempt to have the last word.  Here is another example where I felt the venom was unjustified, until, once again, I went to the history page.  Ottava Rima makes an edit stating she’s corrected several small, intentional errors introduced by an outsider.  User deliberately put in small errors to see if Ottava Rima found them, which she did; Ottava Rima corrected them.  User says she changed the language, not the facts, unless those facts were contradicted in the article, but puts “facts” in quotes, implying Ottava Rima’s information is wrong.  User’s comment about a sock puppet in the discussion becomes clear when we see in history that Rima blames the errors on an “obvious sock puppet”, a clear insult to User.  This is a page I would no longer trust – the argument between Ottava Rima and Usernamenotalreadyinuse is problematic.  Does this sort of trolling behavior on User’s part attract more trolls?  (Like ringing a dinner bell?  “Here’s an easy mark?”)

3. Humpback Covered Bridge, USS Satellite, random articles, accessed 24 Sept 2009

No discussion in the talk tab and the history of both sites only shows automatic site maintenance.

Only certain sites get a lot of traffic, so a lot of sites just have the basic updates.  I guess no one’s looking at them?  I also randomed across to 1988 Writer’s Guild Strike.  It hasn’t been updated since March 2008 – end of 2007-2008 writer’s strike.  I checked the site for 2007-2008 strike and it’s been updated sporadically since March 2008, so I moved on with the random article feature.  I kept getting stubs when I got to history, so I gave up and entered an event that I hoped was controversial enough to warrant some talk and updating.  Victory!

4. Battle of Kings Mountain, direct search, accessed 24 Sept 2009

The talk on this site is markedly different from the other sites I’ve viewed.  Here, the users are discussing the various interpretations.  At one point there’s a discussion of the use of “Patriot”, “Frontiersman”, “Colonist”, “Loyalist”, and “Tory”.  The original poster, AW, and the commenting posters all wrestle with appropriate terminology equally.  Here there isn’t any back and forth with a vandal/troll, although on the history page, there are edits marked “rvrt vandalism” (29 March 2009, 21:50, North Shoreman)

On the Kings Mountain page and the Italian War page, we see historical discourse played out – something that many believe can’t happen with Wikipedia.  I think that this post in particular refutes the Chicken Littles who believe the scholarly sky is falling.  There is obviously a great deal of thought put into the articles, as well as the questions being asked.  There was a great deal of work put into the Christopher Smart page, but the questions were based more on Ottava Rima’s language choice rather than the content.


Posted by on September 24, 2009 in Readings


6 responses to “Wikipedia Discussion and History pages

  1. theoldscholar

    September 25, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Your approach to looking at these was so good I stole it for my blog. Do I owe you royalties?

    I think the sites where we find actual historical discussions back and forth a lot more interesting than the discussions about size of font and the silly “happy” to “glad” arguments.

    I just do not understand why people put in errors to test Ottava Rima. What do they get out of vandalizing and creating problems?

  2. DennisVega

    September 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

  3. Bill Bartmann

    October 9, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I usually don’t post on Blogs but ya forced me to, great info.. excellent! … I’ll add a backlink and bookmark your site.

  4. Frank Scurley

    October 15, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    I dont know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    …..Frank Scurley

  5. Savannah

    October 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.


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