I have one of my British blogging colleagues, Clive, of the wonderful site Take It Easy, to thank for the idea for today’s post.
Clive had left a comment on my recent blog about Skittles by mentioning that he would stick to his wine gums and Fruit Pastilles. I replied by saying I had never heard of them and he said they are widely available sweets over in Britain. That led him to look up wine gums on Wikipedia, and this is what he then commented: “it (Wikipedia) committed the cardinal sin of calling British sweets the American ‘candies’: it doesn’t say that any more.”
So I took that to mean that he actually went in and edited the Wikipedia page, which is exactly what he did. If you read the entry now, the word candies has been replaced with the word sweets.
For whatever reason, I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I didn’t know anyone who had ever edited a Wikipedia page, and now I did. Who knew a regular guy could just go in and do something like that.
So of course, my first reaction was to say that now I wanted to do something like that, and of course, write a blog post about it, which is what you are now reading.
So I created an account on Wikipedia, and then spent time trying to think of what page I could safely edit without messing things up too badly.
The first idea I came up brought me to a WIkipedia page that had “semi-protected” status, which meant that I had to have a certain status before I could edit such a page (be a member for at least 10 days, and have made at least four edits).
So that idea had to be scrapped since I wanted to write a blog for today. I kept checking out a few other Wikipedia pages, and I finally settled on a page about carotid artery dissection.
Now I am not an expert on such a dissection, but I did have one recently, which I had written about.
As I read the Wikipedia page, I noticed that it did not list one of the symtoms that I had – a swollen tongue.
Well, now it does.
I loved how easy it was to make such an update, but I was also a little taken aback by how easy it was to make such a change. I’m sure some people go to Wikipedia for medical advice, and I wonder how many other health issues on Wikipedia are being edited by people like me, someone with no medical background whatsoever.
I did try to make up for that by providing a link to a research article in a medical journal that talks about two case studies of patients having swollen tongues as a result of a carotid artery dissection, but I wonder how many people go to such efforts when they are editng a Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia has long been one of my go to places when I want to look something up, but now I may need to be a bit more discerning.
To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I would never want to rely on an encyclopedia that allows someone like me to offer medical advice…