DPI-659 Assignment 3: Evaluate a Wikipedia article

My favorite part of Clay Shirky’s TED Talk was the beginning when he spoke about Martha Payne and her food blog, NeverSeconds.

As this blog began as a food blog, I was instantly interested in Martha and her clever idea. In fact, I spent the rest of Shirky’s talk reading Martha’s blog on my iPhone, and had to go back and watch it all over again because I forgot to pay attention to what Shirky was saying. Oops.

Given that this week’s assignment is to evaluate a Wikipedia article, I thought I’d check out what Wikipedia had to say about NeverSeconds.

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The post is 780 words long and contains 29 references, mostly from news articles. The entry gives a broad overview of what Martha’s blog is and the money she has raised for charity. The entry does a good job of publishing information about Martha’s blog, without focusing too much on her, outside of activities associated with her blog.

I kind of hated that there are no photos of Martha or any of her school lunches on this post. Given that photos are the premise of the blog, it was kind of a bummer. I realize that’s because Martha hasn’t published any of her photos under a creative commons license, but I still miss it. I think this is a challenge that Wikipedia faces: oftentimes there are no photos on an entry or the photo is low-quality because people don’t publish them under creative commons licenses.

About 320 words of the entry are dedicated to the controversy created by the Argyll and Bute Council when they banned her from taking photographs of her lunch at school. This is one of the concerns I have about Wikipedia: it seems to amplify scandals and disagreements. It appears that the article was published in the midst of Martha’s trouble with the town council, which isn’t surprising. Without the scandal many thousands of people might never have heard about NeverSeconds.

But it seems that with the passage of time, as interest in the issue waned, so did interest in the Wikipedia article. Though the article appears to have been edited twice this year, NeverSeconds is still listed as “operational” despite the fact that Martha hasn’t posted in more than two and a half years (last post February 4, 2014). And since individuals can’t edit posts about themselves, Martha can’t contribute any new information that might be relevant, like the fact that her blog is no longer operational. The post also doesn’t mention that Martha and her dad wrote a book in 2012.

Finally, the article notes that by June 2012 Martha had raised more than £90,000 for Mary’s Meals, which intended to use the money to build a new kitchen at a primary school in Malawi. A quick Google search shows that Martha topped £100,000 later that year.The sidebar on the page notes that Martha has revenue of more than £142,000, which she’s given to Mary’s Meals. But why hasn’t that total been added to the body of the article? (Martha’s Just Giving page notes a total of more than £145,000).

Given that this all took place two years ago, I wondered: did the kitchen ever get built? A visit to the Mary’s Meals Wikipedia page indicates that it did! But why isn’t that information on the NeverSeconds entry?

 

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