I had never ventured into the critical analysis of a Wikipedia article ever. My interaction with Wikipedia was restricted to the occasional referring for information on various topics. The only reason why I came in contact with Wikipedia was that its articles always appeared on the first page when search was made. This helped me gain gradual acquaintance with the structure and general layout of wiki articles.I must also admit that my faith in the reliability of Wikipedia facts increased only after I read about their manner of working in the book “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirkey and “Wikipedia Revolution” by Andrew Lih.
For the purpose of my analysis, I have choosen the Wikipedia article on Ajmer, my home district in the state of Rajasthan in India since I consider myself more familiar with a place where I have lived for twenty two years than anything else.I thought I knew every little detail about Ajmer till I went through this article. The inference which I have drawn is based on my understanding and assessment of the same.
The Wikipedia article on Ajmer covers the demographic, geographical and historical description of Ajmer.The article gives a partial picture of the tourist sites, transportation facilities, shopping areas and educational institutions of the district. The number of institutions, industries and organisations of all kinds could have further improved the article.The climatic details are mentioned but a reference to some of the major floods in recent past would give a better idea of the inherent uncertainty of weather in this city.
The page on education can be further improved since it does not give proper coverage to the major educational institutions of the city and merely names a few of them.The historical information is quite elaborate but the major governmental offices like Rajasthan Public Service Commission do not find any mention. Though the article lacks some information, yet it is quite comprehensive and is beyond all the expectations which I had before perusing the it.
Quality of Sourcing:
The article has 29 sources in all which range from the British India Gazeteer for Ajmer, historical works authored by prominent historians, pamphlets released by Ministry of information and broadcasting, India and state yearbooks and a few websites. Information about a few citations is not made available but most of it is clearly indicated. The quality of sourcing can be further enhanced by including an exhaustive list of references.
The information about a few less important educational institutions is quite detailed as compared to some bigger and more important ones which are merely touched upon in the article.The Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, for example, is just mentioned whereas an institute like Jialal Institute of Education for teachers’ training gets more prominence in the article.The contributor bias is clearly visible in this case but all other areas appear neutral. The Kendriya Vidyalayas(Central Schools) , Navodaya Vidyalayas and other government schools are not mentioned at all (neither names nor numbers) . It seems that contributors have an inherent bias and the site will take more time till it finally is able to get rid of such apparent biases with the help of the increase in number of contributors.
Though the article is written in simple English without any major grammatical or syntax errors, the disjointed nature of many parts is clearly visible.The sentences and their sequencing needs to be reorganized so that the flow of information becomes smoother.This is because most contributors have added information in bits and pieces but the effort of rewriting the whole page about Ajmer on the basis of this has not been made by anyone so far.The article has a lot of content but the pleasure of reading is less than what it ought to be. The inconsistencies are noticeable in the format as well.The uniformity in formatting can further enhance the quality of the article.
The Wikipedia article on Ajmer provided me a lot of information with which I was not very familiar prior to reading it. It was like revisiting my city and I am astonished to see how various contributors have succeeded in creating such a comprehensive article on a small district of India. The article is in its evolution stage and will certainly improve further. I opened my Wikipedia account yesterday and have laid it as my foremost objective to edit this article to remove all such inconsistencies and biases. This exercise has certainly opened a window towards the mechanism of editing and contributing to Wikipedia articles. At a personal level it seems a wonderful journey has just begun.