Why I Love Wikipedia

It really works. It magically aggregates knowledge, like a slow and methodical mirror, mirror on the wall.

Back in September 2005, I started a Wikipedia article about Cougar Annie. Here’s what it looked like back then.

Cougar Annie was a pioneer who settled near Hesquiat Harbour in Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Born Ada Annie Rae-Arthur, she moved to the land in 1915 with the first of her four husbands. She gave birth to at least eleven children, eight of them in this remote location. She acquired her nickname because of her famed marksmanship, which she learned while living with her family in South Africa. She shot dozens of cougars on her property over long life.

185 words, one external link and no photos. That’s pretty good, considering she has some very regional notoreity–she’s barely a household name in Tofino.

Fast forward to today. Five people have edited the article seventeen times. It now has 806 words, three extenal links and two photos. Most importantly, check who just came by to add about 400 words:

The changes are made by Annie’s granddaughter, Patricia Meadows and are substantiated from interviews of her Grandmother before she died.

How cool is that? The article I started on cage dancing hasn’t received quite so much attention, but all in good time.


  1. I heard of her through my Canadian Design History course!

    It appears someone somewhat butchered what you wrote, so I had to read the “early years” introduction a few times! That is why I don’t love Wikipedia — that there is poor grammar, spelling and writing on the occasional page, but I congratulate the fact that open editing like that has maintained a high level of writing overall.

    I would love to start my own entry there but what do I know that isn’t there already? I can’t be bothered to sign up anyway. 🙂

  2. I love Wikipedia too, though it certainly gets a lot of flak from the media. Nonetheless I think it is a wonderful model of collaboration and of how a structure can arise spontaneously on the web. Your story about the Cougar Annie reaffirms my love of the medium.

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