Wiki Wednesday: Who ARE These PEOPLE?


It’s Wiki Wednesday again, an occasional series in which The Chronicle reminds readers of the online encyclopedia, ArborWiki, to which they can contribute their knowledge of the community. In the inaugural edition of our Wiki Wednesday series, we suggested adding to some ArborWiki entries consisting of name lists. One of those name lists was a historical record of people who have served on Ann Arbor city council.

Following that link reveals a whole host of additions, since last week, some dating back to the 1950s. Other additions are more recent.

What good is a list of names, though, if we don’t know who these people are? Take as an example one of the recent additions to the list of city council members who’ve served sometime in the past: Jean Carlberg. If you click on her name in that ArborWiki list, the result (as of this writing) takes you straight to a blank editing window for the page about Jean Carlberg, which doesn’t currently exist. It’s ArborWiki’s way of saying, “Hey, this page needs to be created – how about giving it a shot?” That makes it easy to add whatever you might know about Jean Carlberg. ArborWiki needs an entry for Jean Carlberg. She’s been mentioned in The Chronicle as recently as today. And that’s not the first time.

And there’s plenty of other people who need an entry as well. For a quick overview of all the people who already have an entry in ArborWiki, visit the People page. You can’t click on something that’s not there, so what if you notice a gap – a name that’s not on the list that should be? There are a couple of different ways to create a page for somebody. We’ll highlight just one. Head to the ArborWiki home page and scroll to the very bottom. Here’s what you’ll see:

add ArborWiki article

This image is linked to the ArborWiki home page. If you'd like to create a page about a person, follow the link, type the person's name into the form, and hit the "Create page" button.

Bear in mind that in creating a page for someone, the idea is to provide encyclopedia-type information, not a promotional resume. It might not be a great idea to try to write your own entry. Have at it.

Section: Education

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  1. By Vivienne Armentrout
    March 4, 2009 at 11:13 am | permalink

    “It might not be a great idea to write your own entry.” So who is authorized to write an entry on a person? Someone who is not a friend or supporter? Then is there an arbitrator if there are disagreements as to fact or tone? (Almost any public person has detractors as well as supporters.) Many people may have some recollections about an individual that are not particularly useful or accurate. What are your standards for research on such matters? Should independent documentation be presented?

    My name appears in ArborWiki because I was a council candidate. The coverage is not very reflective of my actual experience because it (apparently) was a good-faith effort to extract useful material from my campaign website. I’ve resisted the impulse to edit it. May I ask for it to be removed entirely?

  2. By Dave Askins
    March 4, 2009 at 11:30 am | permalink

    Fair questions, all, Vivienne.

    “So who is authorized to write an entry on a person? Someone who is not a friend or supporter?”

    The nature of the enterprise is that literally anyone is “authorized” to write or edit any entry.

    My suggestion that one not write one’s own entry was not meant to suggest the practice was prohibited, merely that it requires a lot of self-discipline to write about oneself in the detached way one would expect from an encyclopedia entry.

    You might have more discipline than the average bear, so don’t let my suggestion dissuade you.

    If you feel that there are factual errors in the entry about you, I certainly think you should feel comfortable editing those errors yourself.

    As for asking that the entry be removed entirely, the request can certainly be made to ArborWiki administrators. For my part, I think it’d be an obvious gap if there were not an ArborWiki page about Vivienne Armentrout.

    Generally, the vast majority of disputes about content on Wiki sites (not just ArborWiki) have resulted in an evolution of consensus about the wording or the presentation of relevant facts in any entry. In the event of an all-out editing war (rare), I’d expect that Matt Hampel would step in for ArborWiki and restore some kind of order.

  3. By Vivienne Armentrout
    March 4, 2009 at 10:16 pm | permalink

    To clarify, I don’t recall any factual errors.

  4. March 6, 2009 at 12:51 am | permalink

    Vivienne -

    I’m one of the people who is a regular editor of Arborwiki.

    In general, when I’m looking to put up a page about a person, I do a Google search for something like
    “Eli Gallup was *”
    “John Hieftje is *”
    and look for the sort of carefully crafted, lovingly edited professional identity that people sometimes build for themselves. That’s almost always a good start for getting a page that starts with a paragraph that makes sense and that reflects what people say about themselves.

    For some people that’s pretty easy to do; for others that’s hard, because they have a complicated life, or because they haven’t published a lot about themselves or had others publish a lot about themselves. And so figuring out how to place someone in context is hard, especially if you didn’t grow up here.

    The best way to get an accurate bio entry in Arborwiki is to get an accurate bio printed or written somewhere else on the internet, and then to have the Arborwiki entry quote from it and link to it. The other best way is just to edit the page until it’s better. Unlike Wikipedia, there’s no explicit prohibition on editing your own entry, but there are people who will go in and remove over-the-top marketing language (in business descriptions).

  5. By Vivienne Armentrout
    March 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm | permalink

    Thanks for all you do to increase connectivity in our community, Ed.