Testing whether Wikipedia gets it right

I had a brief look at the Wikipedia article on  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brasenose_College,_Oxford, to see how accurate the crowd-sourced encyclopedia is.

In short, the facts tend to be correct, but there are sometimes glaring omissions of important content. I think this is the result of two phenomena. Firstly, the Wikipedia development process is piecemeal. This is good from the perspective that it sources different perspectives, but it means no contributor is responsible for ensuring the end product holistically covers the topic at hand. Secondly, as contributors, we are much more likely to correct errors that add new content if we notice some is missing. Errors stab us, forcing a reaction; omissions merely pinch us, and so are easier to brush off.

Comprehensiveness:

i) History: The article omits to detail the importance of the Jacobite influence on Brasenose College, particularly during the first half of the seventeenth century.

 

ii) Location and buildings: While the Wikipedia page provides a decent overview of the buildings used to teach students, it omits to note the existence of a second annex residence used to house graduate students. It would also be worth adding that the seventeenth century kitchen underwent a major renovation between 2010-12, which reconstructed the ceiling which was at risk of collapsing.

 

iii) Events: Every two years, the college hosts a major ball, with a budget of circa £50,000. In 2009, to mark the 500th anniversary since the founding of Brasenose, the college hosted a particularly large ball. It was the first college to secure the right to have exclusive use of Radcliffe Square for an evening, in order to allow attendees to watch a firework display, launched from the gardens of All Saints College. To mark the anniversary, Queen Elizabeth II visited the college.

Sourcing:

The Wikipedia article does well to make good use of Joseph Mordaunt Crook’s 2008 book, entitled ‘Brasenose: the biography of an Oxford College’, published shortly before the college’s quincentenary celebrations. Joseph Crook was appointed as the official Brasenose historian, having before been a professor of History at the College. 

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One thought on “Testing whether Wikipedia gets it right

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