This 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:
- 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.*
- Museum Georg Schäfer, the most acclaimed art museum in the less-than-euphoniously-named city of Schweinfurt.
- 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. ↩