- Alexander the Great (the original Greek appears to have been garbled)
For a while now I've been working on getting twentieth century popular song articles compliant with site policies and the law. That means removing copyrighted lyrics, taking out citations to Angelfire, and excising other things that simply shouldn't be there. Lots to do there because the area is poorly tended. Wikipedia has 16,000 song stubs and an additional 10,000 unassessed song articles, most of which are also stubs.
This sort of gnome work means removing material. And when an area isn't maintained to normal standards it ends up with well-meaning people who think whatever they see around there is the way things ought to be. So we end up with thousands of stub articles that are almost meaningless.
Three from 1957:
post from JzG looked interesting:
Most of the problem is that there are now so few significant topics left to write about that those who lack specialist education or resources have nothing left other than politics and their favourite band to occupy their time here. They come along, want to be significant in this huge edifice, and fail to realise that they missed the boat. Plus many of them are grossly immature and lack any understanding at all of anything other than the mores of their own town. I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of Wikipedia editors have never left their home country and have no idea at all about the social codes of other nationalities. And the less they know, the more uptight they get about it.Ah, he mentions music. Well here's a quick summary of Wikipedia's coverage in the area:
- Category:2007 songs: 437 articles
- 1997: 176
- 1987: 115
- 1977: 147
- 1967: 216
- 1957: 70
- 1947: 40
- 1937: 56
- 1927: 35
- 1917: 5
- 1907: 16
- 1897: 3
- 1887: no category
So in order to balance out the karma I've been expanding a few of those stubs into real articles. For example, most people know I'm Just Wild About Harry from the 1955 Warner Brothers short One Froggy Evening, and perhaps recall that it was Harry Truman's presidential campaign song in 1948. Actually the song has a bit more history than that: it was the most popular number from the first successful Broadway musical to have an all African-American cast. And the song broke a major racial taboo. Times have changed so much that few people would guess what that taboo used to be. The article explains that now, although it didn't say much at all before the expansion began.
The goal with these expansions is like cloud seeding: create examples of what an article should actually look like. Then--with a little time and luck--other editors will expand more articles into pages that convey meaningful information instead of unreferenced regurgitations of when something supposedly charted and names of artists who recorded it. I'm Just Wild About Harry is a foxtrot--one of only four lonely entries at Category:Foxtrots (a major ballroom dance genre and Wikipedia barely touches the subject).
More than foxtrots, though, I've been working on ragtime. Ragtime dominated North American popular music for a quarter of a century. And ragtime was the basis for jazz. I used to read up on jazz history and get frustrated when the explanations stopped with a gloss about ragtime. So signing off and heading back to the biography of May Aufderheide, the genre's leading female composer. The expansion probably won't take her bio past start class, but I have hopes of raising List of compositions by James Scott to featured list. It was a lot of fun chasing down all that sheet music.
So to JzG: Wikipedia has enormous gaps and it doesn't take specialized education to start filling a lot of them. Ever tried Google Books?