Moonlighting on Wikipedia

wikipedia_logoThis week I’ve been clearing out the cobwebs by taking a break to write a Wikipedia article or three. Since Saturday I’ve added these obscure items to The Free Encyclopedia Anyone Can Edit:

  1. Georg Schäfer, a German capitalist, erstwhile Nazi official, and art collector. He needed to be distinguished from the globe-trotting, tale-spinning, acid-dropping painter Georg Schafer, who left the little dots off the A.*
  2. Museum Georg Schäfer, the most acclaimed art museum in the less-than-euphoniously-named city of Schweinfurt.
  3. Gesellschaft für das Gute und Gemeinnützige, a venerable do-gooder organization from my favorite Swiss city, Basel.

All three are loose translations of the German Wikipedia articles. I stumbled onto the Schafer/Schäfer ambiguity while translating the Wikipedia Commons info on the genre painting “The Bookworm.” Schäfer collected it, but a reader depending on English Wikipedia might have assumed that it was acquired by the painter Schafer, also known as “Oma Ziegenfuss.”

By the way, I’ve enjoyed seeing some of my contributions to the English Wikipedia get translated into German — for example, Poarch Creek Indian Reservation, which was deutsched into Poarch-Creek-Reservat.

Of course, starting a new Wikipedia article, while it can be gratifying, does not entitle one to any kind of ownership, or even to assurance that the piece won’t be deleted tomorrow.

* The latter Schafer’s brief Wikipedia biography appears to be mostly fiction, contributed by his widow (who probably believes every word). Note that it has been flagged as unreliable by at least one other editor. 

6 thoughts on “Moonlighting on Wikipedia

  1. Your description of Oma Ziegenfuss is refreshing
    and the critique of his widow’s contribution on Wikipedia
    is most welcomed.
    I have very reliable sources about his life and work
    and would like to share it.
    Any ideas?

    Thanks for your article.

  2. If your sources are secondary and meet the Wikipedia standard for reliability (described here), then I recommend using them to contribute to the article on Georg Schafer alias Oma Ziegenfuss. There’s more about contributing to Wikipedia here.

    If your sources are primary and unpublished, that’s a whole ’nother story. Then you would need to either edit them or summarize them for a peer-reviewed journal, probably on art history, and get critical feedback that may or may not lead to publication. You can email me through my Wikipedia user page if you want to discuss it further.

    1. It would be very helpful if the author
      of “Alarob” would e-mail me that we may have
      communication. I attempted to contact you
      but to no avail. I look forward to your response.

      In best regards, Shorba

  3. Alarob,

    I would like to contribute verifiable information of content to the article about Georg Schafer, later known as
    Oma Ziegenfuss. The present condition of the article is confusing,
    was edited several times, removing documented and sequence of events in Mr. Schafer’s life. I can restore the biographical
    content of this article with documented sources, yet what prevents the same thing from happening again? Is there no respect for the truth of this man’s life???

    I recommend writing a completely new article.
    Will you help me?




  4. As in comment #3 above, please contact me at my Wikipedia user talk page. That’s the best way to discuss work on a Wikipedia article.

    I haven’t seen any substantial changes to the article since August 2010. As to preventing changes to the article, that would be impossible. See the last paragraph of the post, above.

    If your sources are unique, such as personal papers, they are not appropriate sources for a Wikipedia article. We can discuss the reasons for this on my talk page. I hope you will let me know how to contact you at the Wikipedia site. If you have not registered as a user, I encourage you to do so.

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