Sunday, June 19, 2011

Google Alerts (Doonesbury & Jenny McCarthy too)

Have a favorite topic or person you want to edit on Wikipedia.  Hoping for some "new" information to fall into your inbox.  Don't be afraid to use Google Alerts (just search for the phrase on Google and you will find full instructions on how to set up your custom alert).

This awesome easy to use tool allows you to completely customize your search to include or reject words, narrowing down your search to just want you are trying to find.

I have at least 10 searches set up to notify me daily.  I'm not overwhelmed with results, maybe one or two a day come in allowing me to quickly see what is new to the Internet.

For example I have James Underdown on Google search, with this I received the newly uploaded YouTube videos from a lecture he gave at ReasonCon last month.  I quickly cited the videos and stuck the citation after the blurb I had already written on his not-yet launched Wikipedia page.

Another example for using Google Alerts deals with a issue I have with Jenny "bodycount" McCarthy and the cartoon Doonesbury.  Some of you may remember Doonesbury writing a awesome Sunday cartoon about her rants about vaccines and autism.  Well I tried to put up on her Wikipedia site a reference and link to the cartoon.  That was quickly pulled and there was a bit of a discussion about it by us editors.  Here is the exchange...

I think this is more than relevant to Wikipedia. Doonesbury is a major player in the cartoon world and choosing to lampoon McCarthy is like an top-fold political cartoon. This isn't up there with McCarthy liking her feet rubbed, it is a carefully thought out statement by Doonesbury and I think it is relevant to her controversy. Feb 20, 2011 Cartoon Doonesbury lampoons McCarthy's endorsement of the discredited Wakefield report saying "she's done real harm to preventive healthcare...". [1] SGerbic (talk) 16:29, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
While I agree that Doonesbury is a major player, not just a run-of-the-mill cartoon, we have other sources saying the same thing, so using a cartoon seems gratuitous in this case. If other disagree, fine with me, but I think it warrants discussion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:39, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, Doonesbury is a significant cartoon. However, we're still in the realm of the dreaded "In popular culture" here. Using the suggested test there, let's see how we do: "Has the subject acknowledged the existence of the reference?" No. "Have reliable sources that don't generally cover the subject pointed out the reference?" No. "Did any real-world event occur because of the reference?" No. "If you can't answer "yes" to at least one of these, you're just adding trivia. Get all three and you're possibly adding valuable content." - SummerPhD (talk) 19:07, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Agree with SummerPhD above. Doonesbury is notable, McCarthy is notable, but Doonesbury having a strip about McCarthy isn't necessarily notable unless other reliable sources pick it up. Dayewalker (talk) 19:47, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

And that's the beauty of Wikipedia.  Some rules work perfectly in conjunction with our plans and some work against it.   In this case the editor is saying that we don't want to just place "Trivia" up on people's pages, we need to make sure it is relevant otherwise it is just "fill".  Sometimes trivia should be used to humanize us and I think in some cases that might be interesting but it should be done with a "light touch".

We are looking for NOTABLE references which is why I state we need to work backwards.  Start with the notable reference and then move to the blurb and citation.

So in this case I have a Google alert for Jenny McCarthy and Doonesbury.  I haven't received any notification and will probably give up this search if the media were going to pick up the reference they would have done so by now.  But it was a good effort, if McCarthy had gone to the public (Tweet, Blog, Interview or whatever) and mentioned her Doonesbury lampoon then I would have received notification of it.  And WHAM there it would be on her Wikipedia page. 


 

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