Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wikipedia Loves Weapons, Not Soldiers


This week I had a meeting with a "Wikipedian in Residence" at a history of science museum.  I was asking her about how to put people on Wikipedia.  Specifically, I wanted to write about National Guard First Sergeants and Sergeant's Majors and I thought it would be possible to create Wikipedia pages about some of the top sergeants I would write about.

Not possible.

My friend the Wikipedian went through the rules for creating a page about a person, and it is not possible to create a page about an enlisted soldier, or any soldier below the rank of Major General unless they have received the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross.

I understand they have to have rules, but there is no weapon or vehicle that does not have a page. Also, in the context of the entire world of who gets on Wikipedia, it is very clear soldiers are not all Heroes.

Because the real heroes of our culture can and do have Wikipedia pages:

The culture may use the word "hero" to refer to the guy who lives down the street and goes to war every few years, but our real heroes get fame and money.  A first sergeant who spends a year in the desert making sure his men are ready to fight and hopefully get home, that guy does not does not meet the athlete/movie star/porn star/televangelist/serial killer threshold required to be the subject of a Wikipedia page.  

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