John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You mean you can check things for accuracy?

Expecting me to rise to the bait, a number of readers have sent me links to announcements that Wikipedia is going to be engaging editors to review revisions of entries before they can be made public.

Everyone loves a repentant sinner, but it’s not clear that the conversion is complete. The review of flagged changes is to be limited to entries about living people, and the qualifications of volunteer editors and the quality of their editing remain to be seen.

Still, after being challenged repeatedly over posts about the limitations of Wikipedia*, I was interested to see Michael Snow, chairman of the Wikimedia board, quoted thus in The New York Times:

“We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. There was a time probably when the community was more forgiving of things that were inaccurate or fudged in some fashion — whether simply misunderstood or an author had some ax to grind. There is less tolerance for that sort of problem now.”

A-men, Brother Snow.

Now, if it would be possible to spare one of those volunteer editors for a moment or two to look at the Jaipur entry on Wikipedia, something might be done about this sentence that a reader brought to my attention:

Mansarovar housing colony is the largest housing colony in the entire universe.



*No I am not going to provide links to all those posts. A search on Wikipedia at this site and at the previous site will turn up as much as you ever want to see.