Adventures on Wikipedia

Everyone procrastinates. One of my favorite ways to waste time while not feeling too bad about myself is to edit Wikipedia. The first edit I made on the site was back in 2006, and I’ve been known to dabble a bit with writing my own articles, cleaning up dead links, and reuniting orphan pages with the rest of the wiki. This is my user page

A few of the articles I have written were biographical articles about musicians I listen to. My rule of thumb is that if I’ve heard of someone, they must meet the notability threshold for inclusion on Wikipedia (very scientific, I know), which brings me to the real subject of this post. Like all good internet citizens, I watch videos on YouTube. Some of these videos are of artists performing original material and gaining impressive amounts of views. One musician in particular who goes by Danielle Ate the Sandwich is a personal favorite of mine. She is a singer-songwriter who plays ukulele and guitar, and has been posting videos for a few years. I’ve been following her on YouTube for long enough to know that she has gotten popular enough to tour smaller folk venues and make a living off of music full time. A few days ago, I googled her name so I could find her website to check her upcoming tour dates: I thought she was coming to a town near me. However, instead of clicking her personal site, I decided to check out her Wikipedia page, the second or third link on the results page.

Danielle Ate the Sandwich's Wikipedia Page

Danielle Ate the Sandwich’s Wikipedia Page, current version

Much to my surprise, Danielle Ate the Sandwich’s Wikipedia page was a mess. No references, no internal links to other articles, and to make matters worse it had been nominated for deletion! I had only a few days to act so I could save this page and ensure its continued existence on the web. I worked to add internal links, referenced the unsourced statements in the article, cleaned up the formatting, and added an infobox with a picture (Creative Commons licensed from Flickr, of course). As I moved to delete the proposal for deletion, I wondered about the user who nominated this article for deletion and clicked the username. As it turned out, this user was one of the most active editors on the wiki and had authored an insane amount of articles. With the article much improved, I don’t think he’ll be back to propose deletion again. More likely, he’s reading through other articles in need of serious work and thinking about what really belongs on the world’s largest open encyclopedia.

This interaction sums up many things I love about the internet. First, the fact that I even ended up on this article speaks to my experience discovering music online. Second, my ability to edit Wikipedia reflects my commitment and fascination with the site, and a desire to make it as accurate and useful as possible for the next person to come along and wonder how they can listen to this woman’s songs. Third, I am routinely reminded of how many dedicated folks are out across the internet every day, working on these same goals. They inspire me.

Either that, or I was looking to procrastinate and felt like spending some time making sure this article didn’t disappear from Wikipedia.

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