17 February 2011

Editing Wikipedia

As part of my fourth year course on Electronic Communication, we look at Wikipedia, specifically at how we might improve some of the entries. And the pages on Brunei are a good starting point, as there are rather a lot of problems.

For example, look at the 'Language' section in the main entry on Brunei (here). It starts off:
The official language of the nation is Brunei Melayu
Well, that is simply not true. In fact, the official language of the nation is Bahasa Melayu (Standard Malay). Even the link offered to support the assertion (here) starts off:
THE official language of Brunei Darussalam is Bahasa Melayu
So, I got one of my students to correct it. But then, guess what? The change was undone. I can't be bothered to work out exactly who did it, but from the Revision History it looks like it might have been someone by the name of 'Gotipe'.

Now, the most widely spoken language is indeed Brunei Malay. Although some people might wish it were the official language, it is not. So why insist on putting incorrect information into Wikipedia when you know it is wrong? I don't understand that. But I can just try to do my best to improve things a bit, to improve the accuracy of the entries a little, and if it doesn't work out, then so be it.

Actually, there are worse problems on the Brunei page. Have a look at the section on geography (here). It claims that the mean maximum temperature for February is 24.8 degrees Celsius. That is patently absurd, as anybody who has ever been here knows. The temperature reaches at least 30 degrees almost every single day. But I don't have the correct figures, so I'll leave that part alone.

It is rather unfortunate how bad this page on Brunei is, and it gives us a warning not to rely too much on Wikipedia. For basic information, Wikipedia is maybe OK. But don't rely on it. Ever!