December 5, 2011

Too Much Information, pt. 1A

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrite @ 1:02 pm

Monday, mid-day.

Well, it’s about 12:30, time to take a break.

The bio that I’ve been writing is that of Ida Crouch-Hazlett, a pioneer Socialist orator, newspaper editor, and “woman suffrage” activist. The main source I started the piece from calls her the “first female candidate for Congress,” (1902) mentioning this in passing like it’s no big deal.

Ever heard of her? I didn’t think so. Me either, more than barely… The only reason that I had ever heard of her at all is that I spend all my time playing with old books and newspapers…

Wikipedia had nothing whatsoever, the only article that even mentioned her was one of my things that dealt with her participation in an early “Free Speech Fight” in Washington state. A couple of hours of grinding this morning and she is already saved from oblivion (run a Google search of her name and see). A couple more hours this afternoon and I’ll have pieced together the best extant biography of her, unless there’s something out there that I’m so far missing. (I don’t think she’s the subject of a published biography or of a dissertation.)

That stuff will be freely available to any and all comers on Wikipedia forever, presumably expanding and getting better over time. Maybe some grad student in search of a topic bumps into the crap and gets inspired to dig deeper and to flesh out the tale. Who knows?

That’s what I do with my days.

That’s it, that’s all there is, that’s what it’s all about.

Either you get that or you don’t.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

So how did I pick HER? Did I know she was that important and overlooked beforehand?

Not at all. Here’s the process:

1. It’s Monday morning, it’s time to write. I had no pressing projects consuming my interest, I was more or less a blank slate. I’ve got something like 12,000 volumes in my library, I don’t need to get out and do anything, I just need to pick up a book. I like to do political biographies, so I grabbed Fink’s Biographical Dictionary of American Labor and spent about 5 minutes thumbing through it looking for a good candidate.

2. Ida Crouch-Hazlett’s name popped out. I knew she was Socialist Party (one of my primary focuses), I knew that she was a 1920s person (my main period), I doubted that Wikipedia had “done” her very well. I ran a quick search on WP and only found her mention in my own article. Clear for takeoff.

3. I started setting up the page. This is basically my 135th start, so I can set those things up in my sleep by now.


‘Person Name”’ (date – date) was a (nationality) blah blah and a blah blah blah. She is best remembered for doing yadda yadda yadda.


===Early years===

===Political career===

===Death and legacy===




Add a few categories and off we go…

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

One critical thing about starting a Wikipedia article is that one must demonstrate that a topic is noteworthy from the get-go. And then one has to put up a good footnote or three fast. After that, things are pretty safe. The rule of thumb is that a topic has to be the subject of substantial coverage in “multiple, independently-published, reliable sources.” I figure I need three good sources to “bulletproof” my work. In this case I started with one in hand, but knew beforehand that I could find others.

I also like to set up the attached “talk” page to the article, casting another line in the water for future contact with relatives of my subjects. Just yesterday a great grandson of Socialist Party 1936 Vice Presidential nominee George A. Nelson dropped me a line. Maybe some good information will result. I also got a couple family photographs of an “underground period” member of the Communist Party of America, Seth Nordling. I like corresponding with relatives…

Anyway, if one is a new contributor the use of a construction banner at the top created by typing {{construction}} will buy ya a little time. New submissions at Wikipedia are very closely patrolled, with many of those doing the patrolling hardcore deletionists. They have a jargon tag called “A7,” which indicates a failure of a piece to demonstrate noteworthiness. “Speedy Deletion” generally soon follows. So noteworthiness MUST be addressed, the sooner the better. Once that threshold is met, the deadline is extended somewhat.

After a person starts 40 or 50 articles at Wikipedia, thereabouts, usually an administrator will grant what is called “Autopatrolled” status. Articles started by Autopatrolled people don’t have the deletionist dickweeds looking them over moments after creation at the front gate. It’s a much better state of affairs.

By the way, in case you’re interested at taking a look at the crap newly appearing at Wikipedia up to the moment, here it is — with “unpatrolled” new articles highlighted in yellow.

Time for me to get back to work, lunch break is over…


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