Wednesday, February 3, 2010


UPDATE: Looking to contribute but don't know where to start? WikiProject Korea has a page that spells out what is in need of contribution. For that matter, consider joining WikiProject Korea.

A small call to fellow historians, history-lovers and bloggers: wikipedia needs your help. I don't mean financial help. Well, I'm sure they do but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that wikipedia is a force to be reckoned with in terms of accessibility. The goal of coalescing all the world's combined knowledge is noble and worthy of contribution. We all use wikipedia, right? Usually I feel like there's not much someone like me can do.

Until I start looking at the entries regarding Korean history.

Like all new technologies, the more prominent topics get covered first. The entry for Jesus is quite extensive while the entry on something like 서학 doesn't even exist yet. UPDATE: added it. While it may indicate that Jesus is more important than 서학, it doesn't mean that there aren't people out there without knowledge of 서학 or that it doesn't deserve a post, too.

The altruistic inspiration comes from another blog long since dead but has left an impression on me. It was, after all, what made me think to create the blog you're reading right now. Examples of the 2008 class of Korean History at George Washington University's Wikipedia project can be found here and here.

My charge is this: if you see something that sticks out, take a quick moment to fix it. That's all. I'm not asking scholars to contribute volumes of knowledge; which would be great however in the grand scale, it's not practical. It's all about a small contribution here, a quick fix there, an annotation here and a cite source there.

What is a bit disconcerting is the people who actually contribute original data. I'm all for the spread of knowledge. I take comfort in listening to people who have lived and breathed a subject for decades and who know the ins and outs of their field. These are the ones who should be contributing the most. Yet, when you click on a random Korean history page's edit history and notice that many edits in English are being done by Korean high school students with a functional knowledge of English, you start to doubt the resource's utility. These kids are regurgitating Korean textbooks that are fresh on their mind and devoid of critical analysis; not to mention originating from a relatively single and understandably biased source. This is fine for a collaborative effort but when they become the primary content creators, something is wrong. The table should be balanced. I can't even imagine what's going on on the Korean language version of wikipedia.

Anwways, if you enjoy wikipedia and would like to contribute a little bit to free knowledge, the next time that you are browsing, take a moment to punch up an article or two. Wikipedia's formating language is simple. If you can make a blog or write an email, you can format a wikipedia page. Be constructive, start small, read the tutorials, sit back and feel good that you did something constructive.


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