Stop paying for Wikipedia pages
WFFH: The user-generated site is popular but credibility is sketchy
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on August 6, 2022.
When I saw the email confirming I got a green light to interview a particular R&B artist, I was ecstatic. He’d been nominated for several awards, including the American Music Awards, and had a single that was number two on the Billboard charts (and stayed there for 15 weeks) to top another top-20 single the year before. We chatted for a couple of minutes to get him ready for the prepared interview questions. I offhandedly mentioned his age before launching into my questions, and he interrupted me to say a different age.
I paused. People don’t usually lie about being older. In the music industry, youngsters tend to be preferred. I mentioned that his Wikipedia page said this age and birthdate. He laughed and said both were wrong. I told him, “No problem. I’ll fix it right after the interview is complete.” He thanked me. I finished transcribing, writing and editing the interview. A week later, it was available to send him to share as he wished. I updated his birthdate and age on Wikipedia. I patted my hands together, proud to have a new name to add to my celebrity interview lineup.
Then something odd happened. My edits were rejected and reverted back to the old information. So I tried again. Then a third time. Finally I went into the Wikipedia editor notes to find out why the user-generated site continued to reject my change. It turns out they refused to honor my request because the interview was written by me. In their opinion, my article link was self-serving.
In the forum, I reminded them that this wasn’t a random blog about the artist. This was a one-on-one interview with me talking directly to the artist. They still declined. They told me I’d have to find this same information elsewhere. The only problem was this wasn’t an artist who did many interviews. Quite frankly, I’m surprised he talked to me at all. (And I damn near fell on the floor when he made a surprise appearance during “Verzuz” this year. The spotlight is not his thing, but the crowd cheered as soon as he started singing.)
I scowled, trying repeatedly to fix this update. After all, I’d already told the artist I would. Wikipedia refused to keep the change permanent. I threw in the towel — on correcting the birthday and visiting the website.