Wikipedia and Crowdsourcing

I chose to analyze the Wikipedia page in reference to the French and Indian War. I wrote a research paper in methodology on this topic and feel that it is my strongest area of historical expertise to this date. Crowdsourcing has created significant changes to the information gathered on this topic compared to the information I obtained from the 10 or so sources I used for research. In particular, the name of the war is a topic of discussion given the various geographic perspectives of the contributors. Throughout the artcle (named ‘The French and Indian War’) the war is referred to as French and Indian War, Fourth Intercolonial War, Great War for the Empire, Seven ears War, and War of Conquest. Each title lends itself to a different historical perspective (American, Global, European, Canadian, British, and French) and reveals the inherent bias of perspective that makes titling events in this discipline so contentious.

Utilizing the theme of dominant narrative, I┬áresearched the role and motive of Native American tribes in this conflict to gain perspective on an American war that rarely includes the plight of indigenous peoples. The Wikipedia webpage approaches the traditional topics present in American History textbooks but fails to incorporate even one section heading to the role of Native peoples in the war. Further, the webpage diminishes the actions of Native American peoples in igniting the war. Land speculators from the Virginia Company are never mentioned in the causes of the war as well. While the webpage incorporates traditional historical thematic material such as the cause and consequence method of analysis, Wikipedia’s democratic form of crowd sourcing and measurement of accuracy alienate and eliminate key producers in this war.

Personally, I feel that Wikipedia is a last option when gathering evidence for academic purposes. I agree with the detractors who believe that the value of one professional historian’s expertise trumps the contribution of thousands of self-experts. Perhaps if the monarchical power that Jimmy Wales claims to have was place in the hands of a qualified scholar, the democratic form of content and data collection would serve to buffer the content of the article, not dilute it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.