In Case You Were Wondering How Reliable Wikipedia Is, It Just Cited Me as a Source
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Have you heard that old Tom Lehrer routine that starts out “The reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people“?
It’s not a bad sketch. It’s also a good theory; “the people” are, by and large, unreliable for just about everything.
This calls the practice of “crowdsourcing” our knowledge of everything — which is essentially what Wikipedia purports to do — into serious question. This was driven home rather forcefully for me yesterday, when a glance at my WordPress stats summary showed incoming traffic from a Wikipedia page, and a quick check of the page in question revealed that yes, I was indeed being cited as a source on Wikipedia.
Now, it’s a pretty minor citation. An old MA101 article about something I call the Wisconsin Winter Toddy is being cited to support the claim, on the “Hot Toddy” Wikipedia entry, that it is common in Wisconsin to make the drink with brandy:
(You can click to enlarge both of those, obviously.)
But I have to say, someone is being a little irresponsible in his/her citations here.
For one thing, the MA101 post is attributed to “Princeton WorldNet,” which may well have indexed the article at some point, but which most assuredly did not write it.
And for another thing, I’d like to think that phrases like “it’s a drink that doesn’t even bother with putting hair on your chest, because if you’ve lived in Wisconsin this long you can already rent yourself out as a bearskin rug” would have raised a few alarm bells as far as taking the post literally goes.
Because not to knock on myself too hard (I do love me something fierce), I am not a terribly authoritative source.
I did not make up the theory, repeated in that old post, that Wisconsin favors brandy-based cocktails because the soil here is excellent for grapes, but the sunlight is too lacking to produce decent wine grapes. Nor do I find it implausible. But I didn’t exactly research it, either, and I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever heard it presented in bars, where grains of salt are not just for your margarita.
It probably shouldn’t be counted as a “reliable source” on Wikipedia, is what I’m getting at here.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — you need to double-check anything you find on Wikipedia! A footnoted citation means nothing when the footnote might well be redirecting to some asshole like me with opinions and a blog.
…but all that said, I got cited as a source on Wikipedia. How cool is that?! It is pretty cool.
Just not entirely deserved.