Wikipedia & History

Our assignment this week was to edit or create a Wikipedia entry.  I found this task to be easier said-than-done.  Firstly, I struggled to find an entry I felt confident expanding. I recently did some research on the Egypt Exploration Fund, a British organization founded in 1882 by Amelia Edwards and Reginald Stuart Poole.  This society hired Egyptologists to excavate in Egypt and it afforded opportunities to train students in Egyptology, many of which went on to have well-known careers in Egyptology.  I browsed through Wikipedia looking for an entry relating to the Egypt Exploration Society that could be expanded.  I found Francis Llewellyn Griffith, a student who trained under Egyptologist Flinders Petrie while working for the Egypt Exploration Fund.

Wikipedia entry before I started editing.

Francis Llewellyn Griffith Wikipedia entry before I started editing.

While I was expanding this article, I could not stop thinking that some high school student working on a history project could someday copy and paste my work.  It wasn’t so much that my efforts would go without credit, as it was the idea that I was writing potentially quotable “facts.”  In a way, I was creating new knowledge, or at least, I was creating a new way to obtain this knowledge.  Is this how publishing an article in an academic journal feels?  I worried that my biography on Griffith would not be adequate for public consumption because, unlike my research paper, I had not spent months preparing and researching this entry.  What if I misread my source and now my mistakes would be spread throughout the internet?  I hadn’t expected editing Wikipedia would give me such an unshakable sense of responsibility to history and knowledge.

What editing a Wikipedia pages looks like...this format made me panic!

What editing a Wikipedia pages looks like…this format made me panic!

I created an account with Wikipedia to edit Griffith’s entry.  Creating an account was simple and there was a brief pop-up tutorial that explained how to edit.  I panicked when the editing screen opened and I saw that I needed to use basic html (that might not be the proper term I am looking for…) to write my changes.  It took me a few trial and errors to figure out how to cite my sources with < ref > < / ref > codes.  I based my citation format from the two citations that were in the original post, although I am not clear if Wikipedia has a standardized citation format.  There no biographical works on Griffith, so I relied on a few primary sources and a biography of Flinders Petrie written by Margaret S Drower.  I took a screenshot of my edited post.  Let us see how long it takes before someone comes along and edits my work!

Wikipedia entry after editing.

Francis Llewellyn Griffith Wikipedia entry after editing.

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