A Public History Newbie's Thoughts on Everything and Nothing

Public History. Comments. Questions. Sarcasm. Maybe Some Hippie Rants.

Lets Poke Around in Some Talks

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It can be amused that not everyone is tech savvy. I, for one, am not a master of the art of HTML or website building from scratch. To let my own mind wrap around the the depths of the internet I compare editing and website building to tinkering under the hood of a car or poking around backstage at a theater.

Wikipedia is a great place to poke around. Go ahead and Google your favorite thing- it is likely that you will be presented with a Wikipedia page on that favorite thing. Step two, click the Talk section to see what other people think about the same thing.

My academic and career interests include local history and museums. This led me to snoop around in the Talk sections of cigars, the Connecticut Historical Society and museums in general.

In the Wikipedia Cigar page I found that the conversation was heated over tones regarding American biases toward Cuba. One editor is particular, Manxwoman, finds the article in violation of the code of neutrality. She, and other Talkers can be summed up as more interested in the opinions and politics surrounding the Cigar than presenting positive or neutral comments that would benefit the page.

Manxwoman states that she was “surprised, no appalled, at the very pro-American bias of the article. You have to read a long way before you get to any mention of Cuba. It reads as though the Cuban cigar industry is an also-ran. If you ask most people to associate cigars with a particular country, I am sure the large majority would say Cuba. America would come very low down my list. I wonder if some Cuban-American influence has overtaken this article… I really feel that this article should be turned on its head and seriously re-written. For those of us in Europe, to read such a slanted article is shocking and is not worthy of Wikipedia’s usual code of neutrality.”
Manxwoman (talk) 19:49, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

A more polite and positive interaction can be found when jumping over to the Connecticut Historical Society Wikipedia page. One inquiry was made regarding permission to edit and what followed was a professional discussion about who can improve the page. Happily there was no drama. One commenter says, “Feel free to change the page to make it more accurate. Contributions and updates are always welcome on Wikipedia articles.” Swampyank (talk) 18:14, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

How nice! If I am to venture a guess as to why this Talk page upholds the neutrality code of Wikipedia, it would be because the page is directly linked to an organization compared to the Cigar page which is literally a matter of taste.

When looking at Museums on Wikipedia in general there was a resurgence of tone and accusation that was very much unlike the Connecticut Historical Society. One Talker apparently likes the candid ‘back and forth’ conversations. They asked if heated debate was welcome on that page or removed.

One Talker brought up a question, of why are History Museums under Art Museums? “Reading through the headers, there was nothing for history museums, but then they show up under art with little or no transition from one concept to the other. I think it should either be a separate section, or the section should be re-title Art and History Museums. History Museums merit their own category in that their collections often range outside the normal definition of art; moreover, the entry includes first-person interpreted historic house museums as history museums, which really can’t be considered art museums by anyone. Best, Mragsdale” (talk) 16:05, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Mragsdale and the commenters from CHS are excellent examples on how to hold conversation on Talk pages.

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Author: greengoddesshistory

Public History Masters Student. Museum Director. Trail Runner. Gym Lover. Dove owner.

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