Blog/How would you say Hebrew Wikipedia in Nepali?
Dror Kamir, embedded reporter
The international and optimistic atmosphere of last evening's party at the MIT Museum ended as I landed on the hard terrain of Hebrew Wikipedia this morning. I check the recent changes there regularly, but I find it a bit hard to respond or edit, since I cannot type in Hebrew. Today I read another of those Village Pomp's discussion (Miznon in Hebrew), in which one of the Wikipedians cries: "We are not good enough, let us kill ourself before we get humiliated in public". Well, let's get things straight:
- We are not good enough.
- We are good.
- There is nothing too bad of being humiliated if it happens in the course of doing good.
- Killing ourself (i.e. stranding the Hebrew Wikipedia) is not an option.
This is not what you would call in Hebrew "motivation talk" (sikhat motivatsya), i.e. the kind of talk a general gives to his soldiers before sending them to battle. This is really the case. Wikipedia is something different. It is a different concept of exchanging knowledge and knowledge distribution, and we'd better start thinking differently, because it just might be considerably better than what we have had so far.
It is really not my nature to preach, quite the contrary - I tend to be overcritical, but one thing I cannot stand - it is people whose thinking is so rigid, that they wouldn't recognize a basket of goodies had it been served to them in a plastic bag.
I see those repeated complaints about not having enough contributors from academic staffs, and complaints about having too many articles describing soap opera stars, and all this is actually beside the point. People can decide to read and write only materials which comply with academic standards, people can decide to read only about important issues, but they cannot expect Wikipedia to conform with these criteria. Had it been the case, Wikipedia would have been useless.
People who regard academic standards as the only standards for knowledge distribution, can indeed do without Wikipedia, but I think they are the minority. People who think they cannot live with articles about less-important or unimportant issues (even though nobody forces them to actually read them) should indeed refrain from using Wikipedia. Perhaps it is the term Encyclopedia that confuses people. There is this famous saying about the Holy Roman Empire - "not holy, not roman, not an empire" (indeed it was a loose union of German countries during the Middle Ages). Wikipedia, "the free Wikipedia" is not entirely free and not an encyclopedia in the sense we've been used to. There are rules for writing and editing, but they are different from the academic rules, because they are meant to serve a different purpose. It is not encyclopedia in the sense that you cannot cite it as an authoritative reference book. Any piece of information in Wikipedia must be verified and cited with regard to its original source. Actually one should do the same with any piece of information, but the good thing about Wikipedia is that it forces you to do it, simply because it is not meant to be an authority.