I was excited for this practicum because not often does a professor give you permission to go on Wikipedia for a class. I was also excited because I had never thought to look up wiki articles and trace back the edits to see how the information of the article had changed over time. I chose to look at articles that peaked my hobby history interest, criminal history. I chose the “Axeman of New Orleans,” which is more of a local history, and the “Zodiac Killer,” which has become meme worthy in the past few years. I wanted to make sure that the articles I chose had a range of fan bases to see if that changed the way people edited them.
I looked at the “Axeman of New Orleans” wiki page first. The very first post about this subject was made on July 9, 2003. Just that day there were three edits to the page, not including the original post. The information went from a basic explanation of the crime to the mafia being behind all of the murders within hours on the first day of being posted. Over the years a few pictures were added, as well as how the case played into pop culture over the years. There seems to even be a song written about the case. Editors also began to list to victims and the suspects to the article. There also seems to be much more references used in the more recent years. This makes me a little happy for multiple reasons but mainly because other readers can at least look at these sources to find out information on their own.
The next page that I looked at was the “Zodiac Killer.” This case seems to be more popular within pop culture. I would say that most everyone has heard of the Zodiac Killer, even if it’s just the comparison between Zodiac and Ted Cruz.
Because of this popularity, I wanted to see if the edits on this page were any different than those on the Axeman page. At first glance on this page, everything seems wonderful. The page was started on June 30, 2003. There are over one hundred resources to go through as well as five primary sources (FBI documents) that viewers of this page can use for their own research. A few things that differ from the Axeman page are the logs of deletions. The Zodiac page show multiple deletions from recent years. There’s no way to tell if these deletions were good or bad though. The amounts of edits on the Zodiac page in 2007 is 1,798 compared to Axeman’s 32 edits in 2007. Obviously more people know about Zodiac which lead to all of the edits. Each amount has it’s pros and cons though. The more people editing, the bigger chance for a mistake. The smaller the amount of people editing, the less vetting of the information that is happening.
Wikipedia should NEVER be considered a scholarly source by ANYONE. Most people know this. One thing that is good is the sources that follow the articles. Sources allow people to investigate on their own. People should keep in mind while visiting any wiki page that the people behind the page’s content don’t always know what they are talking about or have the sources to prove what they are saying.