While Wikipedia articles may be very informative, we must remember to engage in critical thinking and reading about them.
When looking at the Digital humanities page, for example, it is prudent to ask who is involved with this article. There are many people working in DH, and they have varying opinions about its definition. To find out who created the page, and who edited it, users should select the View history tab on the top right area of the page. After doing so, the users will learn that it was created by Elijah Meeks, a very active DH scholar, and that digital humanities scholars from various academic disciplines have been involved with the editing since 2006. It’s also helpful to explore the Talk section of the page, on the top left part of the page, to see what the discussions relating to the page are. In this case, someone expressed concerns about the page just this year, In addition, there are comments by Meeks about why he started the page and discussions by individuals on a variety of topics. Reading these items in the Talk section, it is evident that there is not just one definition of Digital Humanities or one viewpoint on what should be on this page.
Another important place to look before reading a Wikipedia article is the Bibliography at the bottom of the page. What pieces are being mentioned? Which ones are not? How recent is the scholarship? Are the contributors to the page mentioning their own work? For example, Matthew K. Gold is a prominent figure in DH who was involved with this Wikipedia page. Debates in Digital Humanities, which he edited in 2012, is mentioned in the Bibliography. Gold’s presence on the page does add to the page’s credibility. It also may be a case of his wisely using the page to promote his work.
The See Also section is another area of a Wikipedia page to investigate. In the case of the Digital humanities page, this section links to numerous important DH Centers throughout the world. Looking at that section, however, one wonders why the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College, London is listed first. While this is a very active DH Center, could it be listed first because many of its scholars have contributed to the page? Why were the Centers not listed in alphabetical order? When reading any Wikipedia page, it is important to question why. The section also links to Meetings, Resources, and Miscellaneous topics, the latter in alphabetical order.
Like many, this page’s text is broken into categories. Readers should examine each carefully and read the sources that are connected to them in the References section. It’s wise to connect to the links within the article and give serious consideration to all viewpoints. Here, one notes that there is a quote from Gold’s book. Could he be using this site to promote his book? Asking questions is always important, and critical reading and thinking are the keys to reading a Wikipedia article.