Crowdsourcing History

This week we discussed crowdsourcing, Wikipedia, and their potential role in digital history. For this assignment I looked at the discussion and history tabs for the “Women in the World Wars” page. I reviewed this page to see if Wikipedia related the importance of these women to the world wars.This page in particular was a valid history as it had accurate and sourced information recalling women’s involvement in the world wars, but, the page does not go in to any detail on what these women did. For example, the page says that women enlisted in different organizations involved with the armed services without actually saying what the organizations or the women associated with them did specifically. However, because it is a crowd sourced site, all one has to do is edit the page to add any relevant information or go on the discussion page to ask some one else to do it.

Critics of Wikipedia are right in denouncing it as an academic site. Generally crowd sourced history pages tends to be more inclined to relating popular history instead of academic history. Wikipedia removes most interpretations from its history in order to avoid controversy and, in turn, arguments on the site. It is also impossible to cite Wikipedia in a paper as it is continuously changing so information you find one day may not be there the next. However, it does provide background information for any potential research paper and the sources can also be used for further research.

1 Comment

  1. I think the article you choose displays two weaknesses of most Wikipedia articles: lack of interpretation and a strong Western perspective. As you pointed out, the article does not go into detail about women’s experiences in the wars and I think some information about the significance of their work would be helpful. Also, most of the entry is about Western women during the wars – a big flaw considering they were WORLD wars!


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