Here’s why I’m a Wikipedia apologist

In certain circles I am known as the Wikipedia apologist. Actually every circle, it’s just that some are more Wikipedia-averse than others. I think Wikipedia is the greatest website on the Internet, has been for years, and is only getting better. I will say this any time to anyone of any level of so-called sophistication. No matter how much you hate on Wikipedia, I will defend it.

Don’t you know anyone can just put false information up there?!

Ever try it?

First of all, editing a Wikipedia article is hard. It requires registration, sourcing, and a detailing of the change. Even if you make it through these steps, falsely and maliciously (and honestly, who has time for that?), trust me, in 10 minutes that info will be gone and your info will be red-flagged. There’s a secret army of truth doctors out there and God bless them for it.

When I was a kid my family had an encyclopedia. Not just an encyclopedia. The encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica. There were probably 30 or so books at a couple pounds each and it took up several shelves of the bookcase in our living room. Yeah it looked nice and everything and had a lot of info, but it didn’t have one tenth of one percent of what’s available basically for free on Wikipedia today. And–here’s the best part–the entries on Wikipedia are constantly updated. I mean literally every second. That encyclopedia was outdated the minute it went on your shelf.

But you knew all of that. Here’s the story for today.

Yesterday afternoon I heard on sports talk radio (that old thing) that Josh McDaniels had been announced as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. My first reaction was surprise, of course, though I had no reason to doubt the info. My second reaction was to look at Wikipedia. Wow. Someone had already updated McDaniels’ bio to list him as the Colts’ head coach. Scrolling further I read his timeline: yup, New England Patriots offensive coordinator 2012-2018 and head coach of the Colts 2018-present. Wow.

Imagine my surprise later in the evening when I saw on TV (that old thing) that McDaniels had reneged on his deal with Indianapolis. The first story hadn’t been false; he really was the head coach of the Colts for about an hour, then called off the deal. I immediately went to Wikipedia. Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots 2012-present. The last paragraph of his bio did mention the Colts hiring and his subsequent withdrawal, with three different sourced links describing that strange timeline of events.

Just another day at Wikipedia.

(By the way, there are over five and a half million additional entries on the site.)

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About moc

My name is Mike O'Connell. I am 35 years old and live in Northern Virginia. I am a teacher, a musician, and an enthusiast of all things American.

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