#HAWMC day 11: wikipedia is totally a source

Wikipedia: The bane of academics and the friend to journalists who need a quick and dirty lesson on something completely out of their field, like stormwater retrofits and non-infringing use.

But, as much as I may enjoy it professionally as a jumping off point (fledgling reporters, take note: It is never OK to use Wikipedia as a source in copy), the psoriatic arthritis entry kind of leaves me cold. It’s as sterile as a an operating room and about as pleasant to encounter. Seriously, take a gander. Back? Good.

If I were to have the endless spare time necessary to rewrite the entry on psoriatic arthritis, I would definitely make a few changes. First, why is it seriously the shortest medical entry ever? And the most sparse? There are lots of details that could be filled in, lots of areas that could use expansion. Starting with everything. Writing one line per subhead does not an article make. It should not take me more time to flippin’ braid my hair than it does to read some copy on a serious medical condition.

Also, could they have found a worse picture to showcase what PsA is? Oh, look, your feet are horrifically puffy and your nails look kind of funky. Other than that, it’s all sunshine and lollipops.

For a jumping off point (and a community-edited source), I guess it could be worse. But I would home someone interested in the disease would click on one of the few links to find something, somewhere that was a little bit more in-depth. Like a children’s book or a comic strip.


2 thoughts on “#HAWMC day 11: wikipedia is totally a source

  1. The nice thing about Wikipedia is that someone like you, Nessie, who has this disease and knows a lot about it–AND just happens to be a journalist–could maybe dive in one Sunday for a few hours and work on that psoriatric arthritis entry. I agree, it’s pretty sparse. The photo of the feet looks pretty serious to me. The others–MRI scan images–are pretty much indecipherable to the average layman, even with the captions. It would be great if they could use images that were more typical.

    As a journalist, I too take Wikipedia with a grain of salt. But I love that it exists.

    • It’s true. It’s something I should undertake. Now, I just need to find the time to do it! An editor’s job is never really done. As you know. 🙂

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