Sunday, November 18, 2007


One of the Things I hate to do

Is reverting contributions like this one to Wikipedia articles. But I must, for a simple reason: while it's probably reliable information, I can't verify it. Nor can anyone else until the government of Ethiopia starts doing a better job of making more information -- like simple modifications to their internal administrative structure -- publically available. If this were done in English (because I don't read Amharic or any of the 70-odd languages spoken in Ethiopia), and on one of many websites the Ethiopian government maintains would be great, but as far as I know current information is not even available in print.

At least Wikipedia's articles about the subdivisions of that country -- the Regions or States, the Zones, and the Woredas or local districts -- are much more current than many other sources. It's not uncommon to find materials published in the last few years which still refer to the provinces that existed in Emperor Haile Selassie's time -- about a generation ago.

I well know the reasons why this is the case: the agencies responsible for this are underfunded and understaffed -- as well as a constant brain drain from the public sector to non-governmental organizations, if not out of the country. But alot of these barriers could be overcome with help from volunteer online groups if the information were somehow made available.

Until then, I'm forced to apply the rules in a way that I really don't want to, because the alternative is to do assert no quality control whatever. Better to have information that is reliabbly correct, but out of date, rather than information that may be current and correct -- but not at all reliable.


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I agree. Some of the anon edits seem to be good-faith edits, but if I can't verify them, they have to go, especially if the modifications are to information that is already reliably sourced and verified.
Though I'm one to talk, with my eclectic (to say the least) contributions, why the enthusiasm for Ethiopia? Oh, and if you're needing a break (just from editing, not from the topic), I suggest you read the latest Flashman novel: Flashman on the March. Set in Victorian-era "Abyssinia" dontcha know.
Steven: Because, once upon a time, someone pointed out that Wikipedia suffers from systemic bias -- it favors subjects of interest to White computer nerds in North America and Europe. So I picked Ethiopia to try to address this imbalance.

The problem isn't with the subject; I can think of plenty of other topics I could usefully contribute to. The problem is that our edits ought to encourage people knowledgable in the topic to contribute -- and deleting these contributions with only a comment that "we need a source" can't help but discourage these people.

because anyone can edit wikipedia, and with that comes an obligation to trust everyone, i leave edits like those alone. how can i know if they are wrong? if it is something that needs a cite, i revert, but for minor stuff i leave alone. worse comes to worse, someone else will come along and change it back who knows whats what.
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