#44 Correct a Mistake on Wikipedia

It may be of concern to some readers that Wikipedia can, on occasions, make mistakes.

So when I discovered a minor, but troubling error on the popular site recently, I thought it would be interesting to learn how to:

#44 Correct a Mistake on Wikipedia

Growing up in an era when we depended on Encyclopædia Britannica to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, discovering that a publication with the august letters ‘pedia’ in its name might, now and again, tell us a porky makes for uncomfortable reading.

Perhaps the spelling of the word Wikipedia should have alerted me. It’s missing the all important  ‘æ’. Let’s be honest here, the letters ‘æ’, especially when they run together, proclaim from the rooftops that information in the publication in question has been overseen by pipe-smoking dons from prestigious universities.

Universities that look a little like this:

Sandstone uni

photo: Toby Hudson Wikimedia

Wikipedia, on the other hand, with its missing ‘æ’, admits that it’s written almost exclusively by volunteers.

Volunteers who look more like this:

Wiki volunteers

Photo by Fuzheado at Wikipedia [yes, really]

Being an ex-university lecturer now turned volunteer myself, I understand only too well the stark difference between a salaried, tenured academic who produces meticulous research for peer-reviewed journals, and an unpaid hack wondering ‘when’s morning tea?’

So I’m not blaming Wikipedia at all if a mistake should creep into its pages. I’m just delighted that they allow retirees with not enough to do readers a hassle-free way to correct errors. This perfectly demonstrates The Wisdom of Crowds. Try doing that with Encyclopædia Britannica.


Checking the Wikipedia site for my home town recently, I found a rather surprising mistake.  It’s illustrated by the glowing yellow lines and the pointed red arrows which I’ve only just worked out how to add to a photograph.

Albury pre

You can see there are two problems here:

Top arrow: If Albury were only 462 kilometres from Sydney, couldn’t we drive there in under 5 hours? Who’s ever made the interminable trip to Sydney that quickly?

Bottom arrow: But then they tell us Albury is 554 km from Sydney. Huh?

Sorry, a factual mistake is one thing. A factual mistake PLUS an internal inconsistency is another altogether. One of these just has to go…

So with the help of a little button on the Wiki page called ‘edit’ I could do just that:

Albury post 3

Voilà!  All fixed!

I am now officially a Wikipedian, the name given to those who work on Wikipedia.

Or, as I prefer, a Wikipedant.











9 thoughts on “#44 Correct a Mistake on Wikipedia

  1. Katherine

    BRILLIANT…I love it…Wikipedant…I think you should clap a copytight copyright on that moniker!
    Well done for noticing such a detail! Now on these wet days you can trawl through Wiki and correct some of what must be innumerable errors! Couldn’t they put you on a ‘professional’ payroll?

  2. Anna

    Very humourus as always. Bit scarey how easy it is to change or add to Wikipedia. Luckily you’re a wise and trusted soul, but not sure about all the other Wikipedians out there.

    1. outsidethesquare101 Post author

      Too true, Anna. I was surprised by just how easy the process was. But as so many millions use Wikipedia, I guess obvious errors don’t remain for too long.
      As an aside, Australia’s Chef de Mission for Rio, Kitty Chiller, recently had an unflattering comment added to her Wikipedia entry after she banned two swimmers from attending the closing ceremony. By the very next day, the comment had been removed. So for every troll who posts on Wikipedia, there seems to be an anti-troll to delete it. Yay!
      (But I’d take what I read on Wikipedia with the proverbial grain…)
      OTS 101 xx

  3. ThoughtsBecomeWords

    Wonderful post! As a former librarian and researcher, I’m continually appalled at how ‘opinion’ is being taken as ‘fact’. Another pet peeve is Google Maps (compiled by people thousands of kilometres away from my city) who place buildings, roads, etc, in the wrong place. The only thing they get right is paid business locations.

    1. outsidethesquare101 Post author

      Hi ThoughtsBecomeWords,
      We could have a grand discussion on our pet peeves. I have been known at times to pull out a marking pen to correct those errant apostrophes so often seen on signs. 😉
      Kind regards

    1. outsidethesquare101 Post author

      May I confess that I was given a tea towel with the quote: “Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong” and I had to cross out the word ‘are’ and substitute it with ‘is’ using a permanent marker. 😮


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