Home / Education / On Editing Wikipedia
Print Friendly and PDF

On Editing Wikipedia

Written by Gary North on March 5, 2016

As I approach retirement I am trying to explore new activities, and recently have registered as a Wikipedia editor. My idea is to start small and revise a few articles about things and people I know. I get the impression that the median type for an editor is “millenial techno-wonk”, conversely I am your classical liberal arts type. Anybody been through the ropes on this one? In particular, I have difficulty with basic things like uploading pictures.

I don’t know how to do footnotes on Wikipedia. The only thing that I know how to do is to correct the text. From time to time, I do correct the text of articles that I know are inaccurate. I think this is a worthwhile endeavor. It extends the division of intellectual labor.

I have never seen a website devoted to making Wikipedia corrections. Maybe there is a Wikipedia entry on this. But if the site member does learn how to make comprehensive corrections, it would be a tremendous service for him to set up a blog site on how to make Wikipedia corrections. It would have YouTube videos on the correction procedures. It would have frequently asked questions, and the answers would be a combination of text and YouTube videos embedded on a page.

All it would take to do this would be $15 a year to get Screencast-O-Matic with no advertising marks, plus a good-quality lapel microphone that would cost about $25. The YouTube channel is free.


The great thing about Wikipedia is that it takes advantage of the law of large numbers. Group knowledge is greater than individual knowledge. Getting lots of minor corrections made by people who do this free of charge is a tremendous way to improve the knowledge of the world. It is a true educational revolution. There has never been anything like it in history. I think Wikipedia is the greatest institutional example in the history of man of F. A. Hayek’s concept of the spontaneous order. It is the greatest institutional example in history of the division of intellectual labor.

There are conservatives who keep complaining that Wikipedia is slanted. They should stop cursing the darkness and start lighting candles. Anybody who complains about a Wikipedia entry, but who does not edit the article, is a slacker.

If you’re going to be in the mental mode of making corrections, make corrections where they count: on Wikipedia. The corrections here could last for years.

If somebody fixes an entry, and then some ideological reader changes it back, it is time to contact Wikipedia and get the thing arbitrated. To grouse about the fact that somebody changed your entry, but without complaining to Wikipedia to send in an arbitration team, is to waste everybody’s time.

Here is why I know Wikipedia is accurate most of the time. In the contest between the IBM computer, named Watson, and the two most successful participants on Jeopardy, Watson beat them. Watson collated information that he had gotten from Wikipedia. If Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, Watson would not have been able to beat them. How do I know this? I read the entry on Wikipedia.

Watson had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content consuming four terabytes of disk storage including the full text of Wikipedia, but was not connected to the Internet during the game.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

Continue Reading on www.garynorth.com

Print Friendly and PDF

Posting Policy:
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

Comments are closed.