Wikipedia: A Step Closer to Bias Free History


Assignment 1

Can History be Open Source


In his article "Can History be Open Source", Roy Rosenzweig posits several things about the mix of history and open source in the context of Wikipedia. Rosenzweig begins by describing the history of how Wikipedia was formed and how it works, and in doing so, manages to form several opinions about the efficacy of open source in producing historical cataloging.

Rosenzweig's Issues With Wikipedia/Reader Response


His first fear seemed to be that he disagreed with the idea that Wikipedia tries to stay neutral on their articles; he claims that it is impossible to be neutral in open source without using “mushy prose”. I would disagree with this statement on the basis that Wikipedia polices itself...they require that authors cite their sources, and, in addition, will flag articles that may be biased or lack proper citation. In this way it is better than some more mainstream versions of history; e.g. many historians question the accuracy of “Mao: the Unknown Story”calling it biased and under-cited, but the book comes with no such disclaimer on its cover; at least with Wikipedia you know when you're being faced with a potentially biased article.

Scope/Potential Bias in Picking of Articles

Rosenzweig also laments the incomplete nature of Wikipedia history as one of its shortcomings, saying that a true historian would turn his nose up at the amount of missing or misinterpreted information. However, because of the open source nature of Wikipedia (if these historians are so smart) those very historians who are disgusted are free to add/correct any information that they care to add. In comparison to other online sources and books, Rosenzweig damns Wikipedia with faint praise. What he neglects to recognize when lamenting the short comparative length of some Wikipedia articles, is that each article is peppered with hyperlinks that make the text much richer than it appears to be. In general, I could see this was written by a was full of verifiable facts, surrounded by bias from a man who sees a threat to his livelihood in Wikipedia.


Alex: This is good and pretty complete, the only thing you'd need to fix is to remove the unnecessary tags and maybe since we don't have the template installed to do the numbered reference links at the bottom of the wiki page, just make the hyperlinks be the thing you are linking to, ie: the mao story you linked to on nytimes, make the name of the article be the link instead of "3." - L. Rioual