Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dear Class ...

I'm pasting in this whole article which ran Oct. 8 in the NYT because otherwise you'd have to register. Diane Farrell has since been restored.

SOMEWHERE in the hierarchy of personal celebrity, between the discovery that you are listed in the phone book and, say, being knighted, sits the Wikipedia entry.

The online encyclopedia (, which is created by a worldwide community of volunteers, has more than 1.4 million articles in English, with some 120,000 devoted to biographies of living people — from Terje Aa, a Norwegian bridge player, to Todd J. Zywicki, a George Mason University law professor.

Yet each day dozens of new Wikipedia articles about people — and about historical figures, fictional creatures, obscure concepts, run-of-the-mill organizations and even shopping centers — are deleted, having been deemed sufficiently unnotable or otherwise unworthy of being listed.

Wikipedia volunteers have produced detailed suggestions as to what makes a person or organization “notable.” For musical groups, for instance, the criteria include, “Has had a record certified gold or higher in at least one large- or medium-sized country.” Notable people must have achieved “renown or notoriety for their involvement in newsworthy events,” the guidelines suggest, or be “the primary subject of multiple nontrivial published works whose source is independent of the person.”

Roughly 4,000 articles are added each day, and about half that number are deleted that same day, Wikipedia says, by administrators who determine that an article is not up to standards. Tougher cases are debated for five days — at times, a decision is postponed if deep divisions remain. What follows is a sample of recent entries proposed for deletion, and the debate by Wikipedia volunteers whether to delete or keep them. NOAM COHEN

Songs Featuring Cowbells

A Wikipedia user creates an entry that consists simply of a list of hundreds of song recordings that feature cowbells, including “Africa” by Toto, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang and “An Alpine Symphony,” by Richard Strauss.


I’m sorry, but we cannot have an article in an encyclopedia which is a) unsourced, and b) claims that Bob Dylan, David Bowie, the Beatles, Jay-Z, The Byrds, George Harrison, Black Sabbath, Dizzy Gillespie ... had songs featuring cowbells. There are two references in the entire article that verifies two songs. The rest is taken from “The Cowbell Project” (I’m assuming, since that’s the only external link, which itself is just some crazy fanatics home page, and cites no sources). ...Honestly, can you call yourself a good Wikipedian if you want an article in an encyclopedia that claims that Jimi Hendrix used cowbells. Kill it, kill it fast! Wikipedia user “Oskar”

Delete, or significantly pare down to what is sourced. I could see how this list could possibly be useful if it were properly sourced, as any list of songs featuring any particular instrument could in theory be useful. However, “The cowbell project” doesn’t look like it can be considered a reliable source. VegaDark

Delete. ... Just on a side note however, Jimi Hendrix did in fact use cowbells. The song “Stone Free” has a very noticeable amount of cowbell. It would be very hard to miss it.


As a percussionist I can tell you the cowbell is a very fine instrument. As a Wikipedian, I can tell you this is a very pointless list. Delete. danntm

Delete as not remotely suitable for an encyclopedia. Commit anyone who thought writing it added to the stock of the world’s knowledge. Legis




An article about the teddy bear belonging to Garfield, the cartoon cat. According to the Wikipedia entry, Pooky first appeared Oct. 23, 1978; Garfield found the teddy bear when he was searching through a drawer of his owner, Jon Arbuckle.


Delete. If Pooky ever actually did anything, maybe keep it. But Pooky is a stuffed bear; not a lot of character development possible there. Badbilltucker

Delete. Yes, it can be improved, but washing garbage just gets you clean garbage. This is a cartoon prop that was used for awhile and since discarded — a fictional item of no real importance. Calton

Props can warrant entries. Consider it a prop with character or otherwise important value. For example, if one were to propose the deletion of the “tricorder” entry on the basis that it is simply a prop, an army of Trek fans would start burning houses down.

That’s Just It


Merged with Garfield list of characters.

Chuck Greene

The entry for Mr. Greene describes him as a 48-year-old javelin thrower who competed for Western Michigan University, finishing eighth in the 1981 N.C.A.A. Championships. He later won a gold medal at the 12th Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv.


Delete — 8th place in one N.C.A.A. championship is not exactly the Olympics. Fan-1967

Keep, based on his gold medal in the international competition in Israel. Dekar

I’d like to point out that the Maccabiah Games are basically the “Jewish Olympics” and even the article says that they are on a lower tier than even the Commonwealth Games, which most medal winners do not have articles based on those accomplishments.




The Constantian Society

An article about a political group, founded in 1970, that advocates for monarchy in the United States.


Utterly nonnotable fringe political group. Statement “It cannot be determined whether the society has been active since 1997” gives you an idea of its influence. Fishal

Keep. American Monarchists are probably always going to be a fringe political group, but the movement does exist, and fringe doesn’t automatically equal non-notable. ... They apparently publish a journal, which means both their existence and the substance of their views are verifiable. Monarchism, as a movement, is rather outdated, but hardly non-notable (as many monarchies still exist worldwide.) Dina



Diane Farrell

The Democratic candidate in the Fourth Congressional District of Connecticut, running against the incumbent, Christopher Shays.


Delete. Come back if elected. Fan1967

Keep: It would be highly unfair to delete this article unless you were also deleting the article of her opponent, congressman Chris Shays. I say this as a representative of the Farrell campaign. Unsigned

Delete. ... Do you really think people will choose not to vote for someone because they don’t have a Wikipedia page? Samael775



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