Friday, January 06, 2006

Quakerism on Wikipedia

Folks who read blogs probably also know about Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. Rather than rely on pre-selected "experts" to enter and correct information, Wikipedia lets anyone do so. Of course it is easy to enter erroneous information, but then it is also easy to correct erroneous information. A handy feature also lets you see the history of changes to any given article.

Recent articles in the mainstream press have examined whether Wikipedia is more or less likely to contain errors than traditional encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Brittanica. The tentative conclusion seems to be that Wikipedia may be a hair less accurate at this time, but not much. (One study found that in a sample of science-related articles Wikipedia had an average of 5 errors per topic against 4 errors per topic in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. In both cases, many of the "errors" were extremely minor).

Having read about all this, I decided to go look at Wikipedia's entry for Quakerism. I found a couple of things I would like to add or change, and did so. If you go to the article and click the "History" tab at the top you can see my changes as well as those that went before. I am registered under the user name Richquaker.

In addition to the main article about Quakerism, I also went to the List of Quakers which says that it is a list of "notable" people associaed with the Religious Society of Friends". Lots of notable Friends were not on the list (at least as I define notable), so I added just two: Lewis Benson and Martin Kelley. In Martin's case I put in some links to the Quaker Ranter blog and Quaker Blog Watch. (I did this before I had created the userid of Richquaker, so the change is anonymous). Maybe soon I'll supplement Lewis Benson's entry with links to some of his works or to the New Foundation group.

All of which I mention for just this one reason: if blogging Quakers get active in adding-to and correcting the Wikipedia information about Quakerism, a fuller picture of our faith can be presented to the world. Go to it, Friends!

- - Rich Accetta-Evans


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I came across the Elias Hicks entry just today. It was very well done, but missing the most fascinating part of Hicks's story.

It's not missing that any more.

-- Mitch

11:19 PM, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Joe G. said...

Nice edits, Rich. I have noticed over the years a certain give and take about that Christian-thing and the descriptions of Quakerism at Wikipedia. Your adds were great and add a lot of clarity to this issue. Thanks! I like your adding Martin, too.

1:17 AM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Ah-ha, I wondered when I saw I had made Wikipedia. Now I can rest and just coast on my laurels. Well, as long as you don't implicate me in the Kennedy assasination that is....

5:51 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Joe G. said...

Guess what, Rich? Your great additions about the Inner Light were edited back to what it was before your contribution! :) Here is how it reads currently:

The Testimonies involve a commitment to such issues as peace, equality between the sexes and among the races, living simply, and maintaining personal integrity. The central concept among Friends is that of the Inner Light, which is a guiding force within each person.

I have half a mind to change it back to your edits. I still don't quite know how to navigate Wikipedia as a contributor so I didn't do so. Anyway, the give-and-take continues!


12:31 PM, January 10, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Martin: Be careful, if I see any signs of laurel-resting you'll disappear from Wikipedia faster than you can say "George Orwell".

Joe G: Thanks for the heads up about the change. I've restored something like my original addition and have also added something to the discussion page about why I made the change I did. We'll see if it sticks.

I also have some problems with navigating Wikipedia. I had to try four times to change my link to Fox's "Some Principles..." into a footnote. Turns out the problem was that my feeble vision can't tell the difference between a curly bracket { and an open parenthesis ( so I kept using the wrong one.

3:52 PM, January 10, 2006  

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