Kind of Cool, Kind of Scary

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…



62 thoughts on “Kind of Cool, Kind of Scary

  1. That sounds like Clive! And for the record, we have wine gummies over here in the international food section.

    As for your edit, good on you …but, as you say, if it’s that easy to alter an entry, then how reliable is Wikipedia?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I may need to explore the international aisle a bit more frequently.

      And now I know why research librarians are always telling students to be careful when using Wikipedia as a source…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, that is a little disconcerting. I remember hearing that before about Wikipedia, but had never tried it. Great idea though that you had to add “swollen tongue” to the list of symptoms. You may really help someone. I would like to think that the majority of people would enter correct things into Wikipedia, lending their knowledge of additional facts to a certain subject, but … I am sure there are others out there who just like to see what crazy stuff they can add.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is why I try to examine multiple sources, including related Wiki articles that deal with the same subject. I’ve found conflicting information, but most info is consistent across the board. The consistent stuff is what I trust the most.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m in love with traditional Scottish shortbread! Walker’s is the best in my opinion, and most grocery stores carry it, as does Amazon. So, is sturley120 the infamous Jim Borden, or his cohort Clive? Yeah, I will definitely be more cautious about taking Wikipedia at its word in the future!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My father was fairly prominent and has a short Wikipedia page that was clearly edited by my nephew who lists himself as a descendant without mention of any other family members. The post is factual and links to a longer Wikipedia page of my nephew. It was minimally factual like a padded resume but over the years his original fluff piece has clearly been re-edited by critics who have introduced embarrassing factual material. So I believe processes exist for appeals of disputed information. Mischief is probably the greatest where subjects are obscure without prominent advocates who are recognized experts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am sure that some people, like your nephew, use Wikipedia to pruse a personal agenda. But it’s nice to know that the power of the people results in some sort of system of checks and balances…


  5. Well done Clive, I vaguely knew it was open to anyone to edit and to bear that in mind when reading. I also had never contemplated daring to do so myself. I have visions of a transatlantic battle with sweet and candy constantly being changed back and forth. When we emigrated to Australia we children soon learnt that sweets were called lollies – lollies to English children were frozen things on sticks. Wine gums were my late husband’s favourite sweets for a journey, they are very chewy and I preferred softer fruit pastels. As far as I know there is no wine in wine gums!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lollies, sweets, candies – they all sound good to me! and Wikipedia seems like it may be a bit like an unchartered territory, with few laws governing its use…


  6. Wow! I’d like to understand the justification to allow some average Joe to come in edit an entry. You don’t even have to have someone approve the edit? That would be crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I believe there are adjudicators (again, volunteers) who check out articles for veracity and ask for references where appropriate (and, no doubt, cull the troublemakers).
    As for sweeties – jelly babies are the best! You have to eat them soon after opening though or they go hard (that’s my excuse anyway). My teeth can’t deal with fruit gums these days; I’d probably lose a tooth.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Look at you, my friend, out there changing the world one page at a time! I am with Tippy on this one. Wikipedia is where I may start my research, but I definitely make the effort to check other resources or reference materials to form a consensus of thought. Great post and kudos to Clive!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. a bit scary, isn’t it? i see it as a source for some general info, but only use it in conjunction with other sources, that are more reliable, if it’s something i need real information on.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. An online friend who used to be a rock star and now heads up a nonprofit high school with a focus on arts once asked me to write a wiki page for her. I chickened out. It seemed like something I didn’t deserve to be able to do. I rely on Wikipedia frequently and it sort of bothers me that lay-people can simply log in and edit a page.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for the idea – loved your post as well. It makes me both apprecaite Wikipedia more, as wella smake me more cautious with using it. And I’ll try to sue the proper term moving forward for sugary snacks…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’m fairly safe using it for music background details, but do sometimes use other sources too. Following links to specialist sites is usually a good double check.

        As I said yesterday, divided by a common language: jam, jelly, biscuits… and then there are chips. And grits are something we put in trays for cats to pee in…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was just about to write a comment to you about going into Wikipedia and changing every reference to a British biscuit to cookie 🙂

        I’ve had grits, not too bad, but it does need a name change…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Touché 😂

        You could do some real damage on this! The tiers below the Premier are known collectively as the English Football League – the EFL. Changing that to soccer would give you ESL, which is the common abbreviation used here in education for teaching English as a second language. Confusion would be rife!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I see a second career building here. Will you be able to work it into your teaching? Maybe edit a few accounting pages to include yourself as an acknowledged world expert?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Give it a few weeks and we will all be editing Wiki pages…hehe…however there must be some redress for malicious editing one would think…I am with Janet on the fruit pastels rather than wine gums 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

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