ellen rhymes
Jun 24 · 2 min read

To my considerable embarrassment, you‘re quite right about the Guardian article, John Limey. I originally wrote this article about Wikipedia for my college newspaper in 2014. Having joined Medium recently, I wanted to experiment with posting various content, and since I still agreed with the general sentiment of this article, I decided to share it here. I’m really not sure how I initially got that conclusion from that Guardian source — or if I might somehow have unintentionally cited that source in that section of the article back then — but either way, I believe would not have done it today, as I’ve grown a lot since then.

However, it’s clear that I still have relevant growing to do: I really should have picked up on the absolutist tone and questioned that section with a more critical eye to my own past writing.

Context aside, I don’t think leaving the article published here “as is” would be excusable — and I also think, although we disagree on the content, that you might be able to help me make this article ethically sound, if not to your taste in other ways. So, if you will indulge me, I want to know what you would think about an edit to that general section to this effect:

Upon reflection, I’d say my actual belief these days is less black & white than it was in 2014. Today, I’d say Wikipedia should be treated as a source, but not the only source. (This articulation of this idea is obviously missing from the current article). Rather than saying there’s “no reason not to consider Wikipedia credible,” I’d say there is some persuasive evidence for Wikipedia’s credibility, especially in the realm of general facts. Wikipedia seems to score fairly well with experts on accuracy, though not completeness, as it’s prone to errors of omission in various fields (I would include this data point, as well as this one and this one, and perhaps others). and even in that area, there have been a number of mixed results like these among others.

When discussing the treatment of Wikipedia with respect or ‘like a real source,’ I’d redirect the emphasis to the more ‘philosophical’ points further down in my article, like the last sentence: “When academics step up and acknowledge the value and power of Wikipedia, they’ll start contributing to it — and that leadership will make this highly accessible treasure trove of knowledge even better for everyone on earth.”

Your input is welcome and valued.

ellen rhymes

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Writer, editor, writing coach, optimist. My home base is ellenrhymes.com.