[WikiEN-l] Wikipedia's destiny

Michael Snow wikipedia at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 28 06:47:49 UTC 2006

Delirium wrote:

> Michael Snow wrote:
>> If the history of webcomics has not yet been written, that would be a 
>> good reason to write it on Wikipedia.
> That seems directly contrary to the long-established "no original 
> research" policy.  When it comes to history articles, Wikipedia is not 
> the place to publish novel historical narratives of any sort, whether 
> they be on the Cold War or on webcomics, but a place to document 
> *existing* historical narratives.

Broadly speaking, there are two possible kinds of historical narratives. 
One is to bring together various facts about a subject in reasonably 
coherent fashion, without imposing any interpretation on it. Done 
Wikipedia-style and well-referenced, I don't see the problem with this. 
I think as far as the "no original research" policy is concerned, this 
kind of historical narrative "exists", to use your phrasing, no matter 
that perhaps nobody has actually written it yet. I'm not sure how else 
you can justify having argued so strongly for including the history of 
the Brian Peppers phenomenon in Wikipedia. In fact, this is a great deal 
of what some of our better articles on obscure topics do. A thorough 
history of webcomics may not be possible until the secondary sources are 
better developed, but certainly enough primary sources are available to 
make a start at it.

The second kind of narrative is one structured to draw some particular 
conclusion or advance a theory. In this scenario the history is written 
with a specific thesis and attempts to show its validity. That approach 
isn't really necessary to writing a history of webcomics, though it's 
certainly a pitfall to watch out for.

--Michael Snow

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