HW: Wikipedia talk pages (due 2/4)

In class on Tuesday, we’re going to start building a timeline of Albany history using Wikipedia as a starting reference.  For the homework due on Thursday February 4, choose two of the Wikipedia pages from our timeline (links available either through the spreadsheet we edited or under the images in the timeline itself).

Investigate the Wikipedia articles’ Talk pages–these are accessible through the Talk tab at the top of each article.  Remember that we are not talking about the Article portion of the Wikipedia page!

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.43.23 PM

Comment below and discuss:

  1. What are the major points of discussion on the Talk page?  For example, in the War of 1812 Talk page, there is a conflict over whether to characterize America, Canada or Britain as the aggressor in the war.  How do users on the Talk page attempt to resolve these disputes?
  2. Do your example Talk pages illustrate any of the concerns in today’s reading (The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia by Robert Wolff)?
  3. Remember that your comments are graded on correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  4. One point of extra credit (one point max) if you’re the first person to post about a page no one else has mentioned yet.
  5. Reply to one other student’s post about the similarities between what was discussed on your Talk pages and what the other student describes in theirs.  You’ll lose one point off of ten if you don’t make a comment replying to another student!

40 thoughts on “HW: Wikipedia talk pages (due 2/4)

  • February 2, 2016 at 6:02 PM


    The first page on Wikipedia is about the thirteenth amendment. There are two main points on the talk section of this page. One being an issue of clarity. One user asks for clarification on a section of the article that was confusing. An editor saw his request and was able to edit the post to make it easier to understand. This is definitely a benefit to Wikipedia and its ability to have users edit. A second point of the talk section is both a grammar and credibility issue. A user points out that a sentence has been formulated incorrectly and that there is a lack of a reliable source for the information that was provided. This shows the negative side of Wikipedia and also relates to the reading because it gives an example that anyone can throw information on the website without giving a credible source. For all we know the information that the author posted could have been made up, and on top of that there was a grammatical error.


    The second page is discusses the Underground Railroad. The talk section of this page regards a lot of information verification asking for real sources in order to prove what the editor posted. This is definitely a common theme throughout Wikipedia and is most certainly a negative. Another interesting point in this talk section is that one link that supposedly goes to a source, in fact leads to a spam website that has nothing to do with the subject. There is also several posts about false information and this example goes hand in hand with the reading because it shows that everyday people that are clearly not professionals on the subject post important information that is not factual.

    • February 4, 2016 at 12:17 AM

      Some similarities that I noticed between your talk pages and mine while reading your comments were the issues of clarity and citing sources. It seems that clarity and citing where information was obtained from is a popular issue when it comes to Wikipedia. I noticed on your pages, mine and a few others that users would often challenge one another because information provided by another user may be incorrect or someone would ask for clarification on something because they do not understand. From what I have seen, the users do a good job at fixing these issues that come out and trying to ensure that other viewers do not come across the same issues.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:34 AM

      Good points re: credibility. The flip side of the openness of Wikipedia for anyone to post information is that as you point out in your examples, they have a system for policing this too–with multiple people verifying that the spam link was a malicious link, editing it out, and requesting additional sources and verification.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:57 AM

      I had a similar issue going on with my article about the Lowell Mill Girls. Someone who presumably had some expertise in photography called into question that the way that the photo appeared was not correct of the time that the photo was supposedly taken. This is a real issue when using photos from such a long time ago. This is very similar to how the author of the reading “The Historians Craft” calls into question the expertise of the people that can post to Wikipedia

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:24 PM

      I also noticed an issue of legitimacy behind sources and citations. On the talk page regarding the invention of the cotton gin, editors found that at least 2 names in the article were linked to porn actresses. The talk section for “Underground Railroad” seems to have more user conversation and may prompt change faster than the “cotton gin” article, which is not filled with as many editors. It seems that vandalism is one of the leading problems for wikipedia, but with the amount of editors problems are always fixed.

  • February 3, 2016 at 2:00 AM

    The major points of discussion of this first page is about the time frame that the photo of the two girls were taken, the references that were used in the article itself and why the girls are referred to in the article as female textile workers instead of the “Mill Girls” which seem to be what they call themselves according to one user on the talk page. Users on the talk page attempt to resolve these issues by providing sources as to where they may have gotten their information, offering one another advice as to whether or not a reference used is credible and posting reviews about the work the editors of the article has done to improve the article and provide further information to others that may have questions.

    The second page discusses the fifteenth amendment and some the things spoken about on the talk page of the article includes a review about the article which received very good ratings and there is an issue pertaining to content from 40th United States Congress article being added into this one, it was clarified that one of the editors did indeed borrow from the 40th United States Congress article but he reworded the statements that were taken and sources were also added.

    A few of the issues brought up on the talk pages correlates with some of the things said in the reading which I found quite interesting. For example, Wolff says “People with little or no formal training in the discipline have embraced the writing of history on the web, which raises the question, whose histories will prove authoritative in the digital age?”, this goes hand in hand with an issue in the first article about when the photograph of the two girls was taken; there is a lot of back and forth between users about when the photo was taken and the type of photo it is, but no one can find a source to prove it which shows that the information provided is by “people with little or no formal training in the discipline”. Wolff also says “Although Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig rightly observed that “the Internet allows historians to speak to vastly more people in widely dispersed places,” it can just as easily be said that the Internet allows vastly more people to speak about history without professional historians” and this is also evident in just about every article on Wikipedia not just mine, anyone can access these articles and change it to their liking whether they are well versed on the topic or not. Another thing mentioned in the reading is Wikipedia giving people the ability to leave comments about the articles such as what should be fixed or taken out, this seems to be hurting the site’s credibility and I believe that it very well may be, I say this because if there is continuous talk between users about the accuracy of the information it may look to the reader that the entire article may not be accurate and the site is not one that should be trusted.

    • February 4, 2016 at 1:58 AM

      One of the similarities between the talk pages in your articles and the articles that I viewed seems to revolve around the idea of whether or not the sources that were used for the information could be trusted as credible or not. However a difference that I noticed is that it seems as though the users on your pages had a lot more discussion between them about which sources may be better, or why or why not they felt that a particular source was credible. The articles that I chose seemed to focus on the idea of credibility however I did not notice any discussion between any of the users on how to resolve the problem. I think that the ability for users to discuss among one another about how to resolve potential problems with the articles on Wikipedia is a very valuable tool that all users should take advantage of.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:42 AM

      Is the Talk page really that visible though? It’s a little different from something like Yelp or Amazon, where the user reviews are front and center–if a reader is just looking at the front page of the Lowell Mill Girls article, are they even going to know the debate about the source of the photo is there? And would we know that there was an issue with the photo source or the reuse of text from another article if there weren’t users pointing these issues out on the Talk page? It’s kind of an interesting tension between your very good point that something like Wikipedia gives a lot of people the ability to write history, but it also puts all that information up for fact checking and editing as well.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:42 AM

      We had very similar ideas about Wolff’s article and our talk pages. “People with little or no formal training in the discipline have embraced the writing of history on the web, which raises the question, whose histories will prove authoritative in the digital age?” was the main point I was making about to connection from his article to my talk pages.

  • February 4, 2016 at 12:42 AM

    The first page I selected on Wikipedia was about the invention of the printing press. A major point of discussion on this page was about the need for more references. For instance, a user asked for a reference to a statement in the article which stated the printing press was also used in the urban context for printing patterns on cloth. The user believed this statement was questionable and suggested a source for the information. Another point was irrelevant information presented in the article. A user felt that including china’s use of the printing press was irrelevant to the overall theme of eastern printing. A final point of discussion was misleading information. For example, the article stated that “the invention of printing is credited to Johannes Gutenberg”. A user believed that readers would take this information to literally mean that Gutenberg was responsible for all types of printing. Instead, the information needed clarification. The user suggested that the article state that Gutenberg was responsible for improving the movable type of mechanical printing. Each point discussed on this page can relate to the reading by Robert Wolff. In the reading, Wolff stated that people with little or no formal training have taken it upon themselves to write history for the web, such is the case of Wikipedia. Often times Wikipedia users are not experts in the topic they are searching for. As a result, anyone who edits or provides information to readers might not provide information that is accurate.

    The second page was about the invention of the steamboat. An issue discussed on this page was about the misuse of words. A user noticed throughout the article the words steamboat, steamship and paddle steamer being repeated. He suggested that although steamboat and steamship had the same meaning, paddle steamer had a separate meaning. The editor took into account the user’s suggestion and agreed that paddle steamer should have its own separate article. As the discussion continued other users joined the conversation stating that the paddle steamer should remain linked with the steamboat. A user rebutted this idea, stating that the article should only provide general information on steamboats for those with no knowledge on the topic, adding paddle steamer would be too specific. The ability for users to discuss behind the scene is relevant in the reading by Wolff. It allows readers to become a part of the writing community and take control if needed.

    Responding to Angie’s post, I saw we had some similarities between our posts. For example, we talked about the lack of reference and credibility we found in the discussion. We also used the same quote from the reading to show a connection to the issues we found on the talk page to the reading by Robert Wolff. Finally, we both observed that Wikipedia should not always be considered a reliable source because anyone can change information in the article even if they are not an expert on the topic.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:46 AM

      Great points about writers’ expertise and the credibility of their writing. Something we might talk about (and that I might ask you to talk about in class tomorrow) is how do we define an expert? One measure of credibility might be that someone’s able to cite their information, so if a writer for Wikipedia was able to cite their sources to the satisfaction of the other users, would that make them an expert? Does everyone need to be an expert on the thing they’re writing on and write on nothing else?

  • February 4, 2016 at 1:41 AM


    The first wiki talk page I used was the cotton gin. The major points discussed were the cotton industry and slavery. The first issue discussed was the year when the cotton gin was invented. One author claims that it was invented in 1792 however, different accounts said 1793. The author explained it was discovered that in 1793 Eli Whitney had improved upon the invention but the earlier date was it was first used. There was also an issue of what information that belonged on the page. One author took information out stating it better belonged on pages dealing with the Reconstruction Era and the Civil War, not information important to the cotton gin page. There was also a discussion on how the cotton gin actually works and if it actually increased the slave trade. There was some confusion on how it reduced the number of slaves to pick cotton but it increased the slave trade. The talk page connected well with the reading in the vandalism section. With people just putting up incorrect information or in this case there seemed to be links to porn sites.


    Second talk page I used was the Emancipation Proclamation. The major points on this talk page was the Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves immediately. One author argued that the question asked “did the Emancipation Proclamation actually free any slaves?” was tagged incorrectly. That the link should have brought the reader to another source instead of the one it did. It seems as though there is some argued discussion on the accuracy of the Emancipation’s actual implementation. Some argue the fact that it didn’t free any slaves is a historical myth and were annoyed with the lack of sources referenced to that fact. There were also issues brought up on the inaccuracy of dates mentioned. Again this related to the reading with the idea of too many people blinding contribution to work posted on the internet. Wolfe mentions the troubling issue of people with no credibility to post information retaining to a subject do so anyway.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:54 AM

      You found some contentious pages! These two are especially interesting because they replicate some debates that professional historians have had and are having between themselves right now–whether the cotton gin increased or decreased the slave trade, and whether the Emancipation Proclamation actually freed anyone. How does it seem like Wikipedia resolved these kinds of debates?

  • February 4, 2016 at 1:53 AM


    One of the major points of discussion in the talk page of this wikipedia article was whether or not Johannes Gutenberg was responsible for the invention of printing. One of the user’s claimed that he did not invent printing, but rather that Gutenberg was responsible for the invention of mechanical moving type. Claiming that there is a significant difference between hand printing and mechanical printing. It seems that most users feel that a credible source is needed to settle the debate on who should be credited with the invention of modern printing. Another topic of discussion is about the content of the article its self. One user feels that too much time is spent on the history of the invention of the printing press and not enough time is spent the printing press its self. The user recommended that a solution to this problem may be to create an entirely separate article that could focus directly on the history of the printing press while another article could be created that could talk directly about the printing press its self.


    One of the main points of this page is about how some users feel like much of the history of the electrical telegraph is missing. For example, one user feels that an important aspect that should have been included is what it would have been like to live with the electrical telegraph and morse code as the main system for communication across large distances. One user also noted that the article should also include the fall of the electrical telegraph. They state that the article talks about the invention and how it quickly came to be the dominant mode of communication but they feel that the article also needs to state what led to the downfall of the telegraph, and what technology was chosen to take its place.

    One problem that was discussed that relates to our reading for today is that one user mentioned that most of the article was erased by another user with no clear motivation for doing so. This is a very important aspect to consider regarding Wikipedia. The ability for any user to be able to make changes to any article that they choose means that you must be very careful when reading the article and choosing which information to use as credible.

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:57 AM

      Interesting point about what gets left in and what gets included–one of the things that makes something like Wikipedia useful is that it gives a pretty brief overview but allows you to click around for more information or follow the sources for more. I wonder if that’s what the person who deleted a big chunk thought they were doing, if other users were talking about the article included too much information on a certain topic.

  • February 4, 2016 at 2:35 AM


    The first Wikipedia site I selected was on the American Revolutionary War. The main discussion on the page centered around the actual name of the page. One of the users on the Wikipedia page suggested instead of the American Revolutionary War, the page should rather be named the War of American Independence. Another user contested the name the American Revolutionary War is more common in English speaking sources, while a third users opinion included the idea that since the American Revolutionary War was not only fought for American Independence, or strictly fought by only Americans that the original post arguing for a name change was completely validated because of historical reasoning. This main discussion on the American Revolutionary War Wikipedia page relates to the reading by Robert Wolff. In the reading Wolff states that technology allows more people with incomplete knowledge to argue a false history, or a misinformed historical opinion. Wikipedia allows user who view themselves as experts to relay information that is not always historically accurate.


    My second Wikipedia site I selected was on the Seven Years’ War. The major (very minor discussion on the actual page) discussion on this page is whether the actual occupation was limited to Havana and Manila, or not. A user who disagrees with the initial discussion question states that their bookshelf is in “disarray at present” but that in their opinion the British captured Manila on October 5, 1762, and then proceeds to give citations to books that may provide the correct information. The same user then posted “I don’t have any info on the British in Cuba and have not done any research” but still continues to deliver his opinion on the original discussion question, which no other users appear to question his citation sources or adequate information. The Seven Years’ War relates to the reading by Robert Wolff. Wolff states in his writing that there is a major issue with people who have no historical background, or credibility still continue to post information pertaining to a subject anyway.

    • February 4, 2016 at 3:00 AM

      Really good point about the name of the war–why does this matter so much? You suggest that the name of the American Revolution vs. American War for Independence gives us a connotation of what the war was about, which is a little different from accuracy vs. inaccuracy. Could something be true but not fully true? Or true from one perspective but not true from another perspective?

  • February 4, 2016 at 2:39 AM

    The two Wikipedia Talk pages I decided to look at for this assignment were Harry S. Truman and The American Revolutionary War. As far as Truman’s page goes the main argument seems to be about Israel. People believe that the author was biased in writing about Truman’s decisions regarding Israel and Palestine. There was also an argument between a few people over whether and mention of the Klu Klux Klan should be included. It is stated that he joined and then immediately changed his mind. Some argue that this should be taken out because he was not really a member or because of what he did in regards to the Civil Rights movement. Some argue that it should be included especially because of what he did regarding the civil rights movement. The American Revolutionary War has a large talking page, but the largest part of it was definitely about the British Empire. There are a lot of disputes over what should be included and what should not. There is a lot of disputed information, but mainly the end of the first empire. It is a large debate over when it ended and when the second one began. The main problem with the pages I looked at that was also brought up in the article “Writing History in the Digital Age” by Robert Wolff was that the changes being made are not always by scholars or people who know exactly what they are talking about. Anyone can request any change they desire in the Talk pages and that is kind of scary. Wikipedia being very changeable has advantages and disadvantages and that is a major disadvantage and why so many academics do not use it as a reliable source.

  • February 4, 2016 at 2:49 AM


    On this page, the main topic on the forum was the terminology used on the page. One person argues that that the use of the term “female textile workers was not appropriate as the the girls called themselves, the Lowell Mill Girls. This issue was yet to be resolved. Some secondary issues that were more related to housekeeping matters like the name change of the page that was similar to the Lowell Mill Girls-female textile worker debate. Another issue that came up was a possible dating issue in a couple of the photographs used on the page. Overall, this article only has a little bit of conversation going on about issues that are not really related to any content.


    Unlike the first article this page seems to have some sort of regular discussion that goes along with it. It appears that this article has a core group of members who moderate the page and regularly communicate on the “Talk” tab. Most of the discussion comes from multiple articles being linked to the steamboat page and people talking about which ones belong and which do not. The main content issue was the confusion between the use of steamboat and steamship.

    I think the main issue that relates to the reading for today was how hobby historians are able to change things on sites like Wikipedia and it possibly being considered fact. The article shows how an actual historian and a hobbyist may not exactly agree upon what is right and wrong about a certain topic.

    • February 3, 2016 at 10:06 PM

      It sounds like there was disagreement between the hobbyist writers themselves! Why does it matter what gets linked and what doesn’t? Why would we not want everything possible linked to the steamboat page?

      (And on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog historian 🙂 )

    • February 3, 2016 at 11:56 PM

      Both your comments are similar to what I faced in my two entries. My first one on the telegraph featured comments wishing to separate certain information and create its own page because of the slight differences and to shorten the length of the page overall.

      Your point of debating which terms to use also directly correlated to my page on the Boston Tea Party. Almost all of the comments were either statements saying they had removed a word or substituted another. Others were asking if the community as a whole would not mind if something was changed which is something I found interesting. I was not expecting to see anyone care what others thought, it is the internet after all!

    • February 4, 2016 at 1:04 AM

      I can surely relate to your first paragraph about terminology errors, in the article I read about the electrical telegraph there was dispute about the use of the word “battery” and which type of battery they were speaking about. This simple misunderstanding turned into a conversation about dates.

  • February 3, 2016 at 10:38 PM


    The first wikipedia talk page used is about the American Civil War. The issue mentioned is whether or not there is some kind of day by day timeline for the war. The following section talks about the different potential number of casualties during the war. The section after describes a communication problem within the article. Basically, the user stated that a specific sentence could’ve been worded better in order to improve clarity. Other issues included statistical errors, as well as errors in the transfer of data from the source.

    Wolff Describes that instead of having straight facts, the content on wikipedia tends to be “editorialized”. What this means is that many of the posts tend to have some kind of bias towards something within the article. Wolff also states “popular understanding of the past that informs Wikipedia’s moral economy has never accepted PhD academics as definitive experts.” What is suggested is that the so called “experts” (PhD educated) are pushed to the side lines for anyone who has minor education of the process. Basically, it becomes difficult for the audience to conclude whether or not information provided comes from a reliable source.


    The second wikipedia talk page is about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The first issue brought up had to do with the feature picture used. Because of picture’s location at the very top of the page, it is important it interests the viewer. The user stated that the picture replacing the original one “looks to be a rather unfortunate, poorly mangled Photoshop job”. Another issue mentioned was about a historical inaccuracy. Basically the article states that in 1865, Grant boarded a train in Union Station that didn’t exist in that time period. Another historical inaccuracy is mentioned through another picture. The said picture is incorrect because of the way the people within it are depicted. Basically Lincoln was shot in the back of the head which suggests that that shooter (Grant) was behind him. The picture in question shows Grant in front of Lincoln, which is impossible based on the way Lincoln was killed.

    Wolff’s “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory and Wikipedia” begins by explaining the positives of the digital revolution. Wolff states that “people with little or no formal training in the discipline have embraced the writing of history on the web, which raises the question, whose histories will prove authoritative in the digital age?” This issue is very closely tied with the issues brought up in the Lincoln Assassination article because of the historical inaccuracies that it contained, which would’ve been less likely to occur if it had been in fact a professional historian who edited the wikipedia page to begin with.

  • February 3, 2016 at 10:54 PM


    My first talk page I visited was talking about the printing press. It seems one of the major points of the talk page is the uses for the printing press. According to the talk page, the printing press was also used from early on in urban contexts as a cloth press for printing patterns, and printings engravings on paper. Another point I discovered was a dispute over the individual credited with the invention of the printing press. In the article the invention of the printing press was credited to Johannes Gutenberg, when according to the talk page he is credited with movable type, not printing overall.


    Second page I visited was Jamestown’s first strike. On the talk page a main point was rather or not if it was a hoax. That idea then transitions from being a hoax into being based on a fraud. the sources don’t seem to be all that creditable in correlation to what the claims on the wiki page are claiming. Both pages seem to handle these disputes respectfully. The people on the talk pages seem to be very courteous and nice to one another. I believe the talk pages I have selected illustrates the concerns by Wolff in the reading due to his valid question of who’s history will be authoritative in the digital age. Anyone can go on these talk pages and offer information but how do we know if they’re credible? Wolff also raises more concern by asking ” How do contributors resolve debates about history?” and “What happens when popular understandings (memory) clash with academic discourse (history)?”.

    • February 4, 2016 at 12:33 AM

      I found it interesting that the editors of the Jamestown page were so respectful, unlike the Betsy Ross page which there seemed to be hostility because there were so many things wrong with the information. I mentioned the part in Wolff’s reading regarding the validity of opinions on the talk pages as well. Anyone can correct something but now other editors have to agree on whether that edit is true or not.

  • February 3, 2016 at 11:50 PM


    The first article I chose to write about was the invention of the Telegraph. In reading the numerous comments regarding specific edits, it is difficult to find any one issue that dominates the discussion. The most prominent one is actually closed to any further discussion. User raised a concern about one of the sources lacking any substantive information other than the author’s last name and a single page number, no mention of a title or anything of the sort. The editor of that certain area, Spinning Spark, responded the next day explaining that someone else had further edited his post and had copy-pasted information from a separate article without copying over the citations as well.


    For my second choice of a talk page I chose the Boston Tea Party. In this case it is not a question of sources that are missing. It is that information included in the article is incorrect. From the wrong name given to describe Great Britain (in the article “England” is used and at this point in time that name was not around) to a joker including a section stating that levels of caffeine can still be measured in the Harbor.

    Both pieces relate to Robert Wolff’s “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia” in that he speaks of the dangers of allowing anyone to edit these entries. It is easy for someone to simply forget to include citations, and thus plagiarize, or add nonsensical information.

  • February 4, 2016 at 12:25 AM


    Looking at the talk page for content regarding Ruby Bridges, some issues surrounding the information included quotes from Bridges, “fair use” images, and references. I noticed some opinions around Ruby Bridges’ actual story because they actually have seen and heard her speak on her childhood. Images included on the page were questioned and removed because they were not cleared for fair use. Other sections lacked proper references regarding the information.


    Unlike the first page, there was clear frustration between editors of the Betsy Ross page. There was skepticism on whether Ross actually created the first American flag and if she met George Washington. Her personal life had several opinion on what was fact or opinion about her husbands, children, and burial. More than one editor thought the page was subject to vandalism. There was questions on whether information about the grand union flag should have been added since it is an American flag that could have influenced the creation of the flag we know today. Based on Wolff’s article, proving an article on Wikipedia to be completely true is difficult, especially when anyone can edit information. Even with the edits made, it is hard to figure out if the the edited content is valid pieces of information. It is however a continuing learning experience as people rely on the digital world for education.

    • February 4, 2016 at 5:24 AM

      Our examples are very similar in regards to choosing to write about the Betsy Ross article and how it relates to today’s assigned reading. We’ve both come to the conclusion that Wikipedia web page is an unreliable source due to the fact that anyone has access to editing the content of the web page.

  • February 4, 2016 at 12:32 AM

    One of the major talking points for the Wikipedia article on the cotton gin was ‘Increase in the slave trade’. The major point in this section is one of the foremost points of the entire article: If the cotton gin made cotton production less labor intensive, why did it cause a spike in purchasing and trading of slaves? The participating users on the talk page resolved this dispute by using realistic analogies and factual evidence. For example, one reply clarified the topic itself by explaining how the cotton gin only made cleaning the cotton easier, not harvesting the cotton. This user also made clear the connection between the cotton gin and the slave trade –wealthy plantation owners needed less slaves to produce cotton, therefore less money was needed to purchase and maintain slaves. In this case, common white southerners were now able to purchase slaves because their value decreased. Since every day white southerners could purchase slaves, slave demand spiked until there was a tariff placed on slaves. Another point that was briefly made but equally important was that names in the article were incorrect –names were replaced with those of porn stars and there were other instances of vandalism. This article definitely relates to the class reading by Robert S. Wolff because its inaccuracies can take away the advantage of having history at your fingertips as oppose to on a library shelf. From personal experiences, much of what Wolff is saying is true, usually one of the first things I see when I use a search engine is a Wikipedia link (after advertisements).
    In the article about the telegraph’s invention made a point that seemed to question the author’s credibility because the article mentioned the used of the batter in 1746, when the battery wasn’t invented until the commencement of the next century. The user that replied, did so eloquently by saying the battery they were referring to wasn’t that of voltage, they were referring to Leyden jar capacitors that were referred to as a “battery”. In relation to the Robert S. Wolff reading, this proves his point about digital history being as authoritative as history that world typically be found in a textbook. If Wikipedia did not have a discussion forum, I could’ve taken the information about the battery in relation to the telegraph for an assignment and cited it, risking the possibility of being penalized for incorrect information.

  • February 4, 2016 at 5:19 AM


    The first Talk page to grasp my attention is the Printing Press article. Editors of this web page brought up concerns about the accuracy of the information portrayed on the article web page. For example, concerns were brought up about the early uses of the printing press other than what was mentioned. One editor believed that the printing press was used as a cloth press for printing patterns. Editors also wanted clarity on who invented the printing press. “The invention of printing is credited to Johannes Gutenberg is badly misleading,” says Andy Dingley. As stated in the Talk page, the wrong person was credited with the invention of printing.

    After analyzing the Talk page portion of the Betsy Ross article, the contributors of the page had many concerns about the details displayed on the web page. there were several major points that were made by the editors of the web page. Such concerns included: Who really contributed to the making of the first American Flag? Did Betsy Ross meet George Washinton or is it safe to presume that was just gossip? Silly things were also discussed such as who was buried in Betsy Ross’s tomb and if she was born with a full set of teeth. The Talk page mostly consists of a collaboration of opinions. Some editors wanted clarity on information regarding Ross’s three husbands and children.

    The example Talk pages I chose demonstrated concerns that were in today’s reading “The Historians Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia” by Robert Wolff. Both examples of the Wikipedia Talk pages proved to Wikipedia to be an unreliable source. Most information accounted for on Wikipedia web pages consist of opinionated information that is not accurate.

  • February 4, 2016 at 8:36 AM


    The talk page for the Women’s Suffrage page heavily discusses the differences between exactly which women were allowed to vote where and when. For example, there is a dispute as to whether Aboriginal women in Australia were given the right to vote along with colonial women (when Australia was still a colonial power of Britain). There’s also heavy discussion on the extent of information available for the United States and the United Kingdom, but the lack of information on many Middle Eastern/African countries.

    The talk page on strikes is much more ambiguous and there doesn’t seem to be any definite points being made by the posters. Many are mostly finding fault in the word “strike,” the many connotations it can have, and how many different articles the wiki page should redirect to.

  • February 4, 2016 at 2:17 PM


    The Nineteenth amendment allowed black women to vote. On the talk portion of the site, editors complain of a couple problems in the article. Some editors believe the article is too vague and doesn’t truly look into the process of implementing the amendment. Some things editors feel need to be added are what arguments were made for and against the amendment and what parties/faction supported/opposed it? Other editors believe a greater depiction of the women suffrage movement would be helpful in developing the article.


    As for the talk page regarding the invention of the cotton gin, editors faced a variety of interesting issues with the article. One editor felt the date of the invention was incorrect and needed to be changed. Another user believed although the article states the cotton gin was the cause of the economic boom in the south, new breeds of cotton should be added as a factor to that economic boom. There also seemed to be an issue of vandalism in the article, editors found that 2 of the names on the article were linked to pornstars. This is a clear connection to Wolffs article where he states although the internet, specifically wikipedia, have a vast array of history information, users are not always the most credible.

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:42 PM

    Two different history topics that I looked at for this assignment were “The First Battle of Bull Run” and “Dred Scott”. For the First Battle of Bull Run, the talk page was very long and there were many things being discussed. The editors on the talk page were looking for a better map because the one that they had did not include CubRun Creek, and also was not labeled. They also had difficulty figuring out who said one of the quotes that was posted. The biggest problem that was run into was that the page was not protected. Every day multiple people were just logging on and changing what ever they wanted to in order to vandalize the page. With the Talk page, it made it pretty easy for people who had knowledge on the subject to go on and correct what was wrong, and work together in order to make the article reliable.
    The second article I found was on “Dred Scott”. This page didn’t have as many problems, but a few quotes needed to further be explained and the article needed a “cleanup” because of grammatical errors and lack of information. In this Talk page there was a quote “I cope edited this article but the remains are initial contradiction as follows: poopy the correct answer is farts” written by a ransom person. This is an example of how anyone can just go on and edit these articles.
    These Talk parts of the Wikipedia articles relate to the article “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia”by Robert Wolff because although professional historians are the people who mainly enter information into these pages, they’re not always 100% correct, because anyone is open to editing them.

    • March 23, 2016 at 3:57 PM

      Our Wikipedia talk pages seem very similar. My first page discussed the grammatical errors being made, much like your page about Dred Scott. Most of the discussion was focused on correct wording (such as using the word “in” as opposed to “near”). My second source also seemed similar to your page on the First Battle of Bull Run. It was brought up on my page (1619 Jamestown Polish Craftmen Strike) that the entire event was being portrayed as having taken place, where no sources or reliable historical evidence exist. Anyone could make a page, so anyone could read about an event and simply post that it was real, without taking the author’s assumptions into consideration.

  • March 23, 2016 at 3:52 PM

    Fort Nassau (North River)
    1. In the Wikipedia page about Fort Nassau (North River), there are only few discussions about wording. One discussion focuses on the name of the page, saying that they should change the name to a more recent name or one that sounds more prestige. The discussion continues on (very politely), questioning if the name should be changed to a more recent one. However, no one does the research to find if there even is a more recent name to re-name the page under.
    2. This goes along well with Robert S. Wolff’s article, because this brings up how to present the area historically. Does one leave the page under the original name, or under a more recent and presage name; while mentioning the old name?

    Talk:1619 Jamestown Polish craftsmen strike
    1. This Wikipedia talk page discusses whether this event is even real. It notes that the article does not focus on any primary sources and the two secondary sources that seem trustworthy were written on one man’s “assertions” about the event. Yet, another person points out that not one person was named in the page, so how could this be based on one man? Not much discussion is done here.
    2. This also relates to Wolff’s article by stating that Wikipedia could be based more on historical interest than history. One person may have read a few books based on the event and skimmed over the assumptions; leading to a web page based on an event that may have not existed at all.

Comments are closed.