China Beat Archive



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October 20, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright October 20, 2008. Used by permission.


Charles Hayford shared the link to his recent China Beat pieces (Parts 1 and 2) on using (and altering) Wikipedia with the Asia Scholars listserv, H-Asia. A brief discussion ensued there, which included references to several new (to us) resources. Though we won’t mention names or specific discussions, we did want to share some of the resources we learned about as a result of listening in:

1. At this website, Vincent Pollard has written a student guide on internet credibility that could be easily adapted to an exercise on testing/editing/using Wikipedia.

2. One contributor noted a particularly outstanding Wikipedian (not a professional historian…yet…) whose many entries have been singled out by Wikipedia as “featured” content (supposed to be the very best of all entries). To get a sense of what Wikipedia considers the best (and to appreciate this student’s work), see the entries on “List of Chinese Inventions,” “The Ming Dynasty,” “Shen Kuo,” and “Society of the Song Dynasty.”

3. For those interested in chatting with other China history buffs (including some who regularly edit Wiki entries), you can check out China History Forum.

4. Per Hayford’s point in his pieces that Wikipedia tends to rely very heavily on a small number of sources (mainly those available online), one contributor pointed listserv members to this interesting article, “Is the Internet Bad for Science?” fromWired. In it, the author argues that conducting research online narrows the sources used.

We have heard feedback from several college instructors who plan to adapt Hayford’s pieces for their classroom in an effort to “learn to live” with Wikipedia. If you plan to do so, please feel free to send feedback on your efforts–we’d be happy to post it (anonymously or not–up to you) in order to continue over the coming months the conversation Hayford started .