Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why Wikipedia will never graduate from Reed College

Any sub-culture has its rules, and Wikipedia certainly has its share of rules.

For example, it is well known that Wikipedia discourages original research. Let's say, for example, that Robert Scoble chose to edit the Wikipedia article on Robert Scoble. Should he do so, he would get slapped with nastygrams from tons of Wikipedia editors, claiming that he did not identify a written source for his edits. Never mind the fact that Robert Scoble should presumably know stuff about Robert Scoble; if it's not documented somehwere, it doesn't meet Wikipedia's standards.

In a sense this is understandable, since Wikipedia should ideally lead you to original sources where you can learn more about the topic in question.

But one of Wikipedia's rules borders on the ridiculous.

I was reading a Wikipedia article on Schools of Chinese Tea Ceremony, and I ran across this nastygram at the top of the article.

This article relies on references to primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject, rather than references from independent authors and third-party publications. Please add more appropriate citations from reliable sources.

Horror of horrors!

As an example of the extremely offensive material in this Wikipedia article, it refers to Tenfu Tea College, and includes a link to ... Tenfu Tea College.

The worry of the Wikipedia editors is that Tenfu Tea College will have a positive outlook on Tenfu Tea College. And that obviously won't do. (That's as bad as Microsoft expressing its views about Microsoft.)

What Wikipedia wants is a separate account of Tenfu Tea College - a non-biased view.

So rather than linking to the college itself, presumably Wikipedia would prefer a link to someone who visited the area once:

I also visited the local aquarium and did a day trip to the TenFu Tea Museum in Zhan'Pu (sp?). I had an amazing time at the museum. Since it was in the middle of the week, I pretty much had the place to myself. According to them, it's the largest tea museum in the world. We (myself and 5 chinese business men who were the only other guests there) watched a presentation on traditional Chinese tea ceremony and one on Japanese tea ceremony. The Chinese one was simple and very nice. The Chinese one was put on by about 8 girls with very new looking period costumes who did the whole thing coriographed (sp?) to a rather nice classical Chinese folk sound track. They served us 3 types of tea, all of wich were delicious (well at least two out of three were delicous and one was really interesting, if not quite delicious - it was bitter tea.) My guide who spent the whole time with me at no extra cost was very helpfull and informative. She showed me the cave where they age their Pu Ehr teas and we walked around their lovely lake that is fed by a local mountain spring.

You will note that this 2003 post does not mention the college at all. That's because the college didn't open until four years after the visit chronicled above.

But whatever keeps Wikipedia happy. Oh, we know what keeps Wikipedia happy.

Needless to say, if I want to know about item X, I definitely want to ask item X itself/himself/herself. I'll grant that I'll want to contact other sources also, but I wouldn't ignore item X entirely.
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