Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Expand" tagging on Wikipedia is a joke

This morning, doing random page browsing, I wandered across Wikipedia's "article" on Lucine Amara. At the moment, exclusive of noncontent templates and external links, it reads: "Lucine Amara is a diva". There are two external links, one to EB (which has broken syntax that invalidates the link, leading EB to throw a 500 error; removing the | fixes this, however) and one to Sony, which throws a "403 Forbidden" error.

This article was created in May 2006 with exactly the text it has now. In the 15 months that have passed since, only four subsequent edits have been made to the article. Three days after it was created, a bot added bullets before the external link to EB (without also fixing the obvious syntax error). In December, an editor added the "expand" tag, and a week later another editor added the link to Sony (which is now dead). In January, a bot replaced the general "expand" tag with a datestamped one -- with the wrong date (while the bot put in January, in reality the article has been tagged since December, not that this really matters).

The only other related change is that in April, another bot declared that this article is "within the scope" of WikiProject Biography and that it is "supported" by WikiProject Musicians. If this is what their support accomplishes, I'd hate to see what happens to articles that they don't support...

This article has existed for 15 months now without any substantive change. It has been tagged for expansion for 8 months, again without any substantive change. Any person with a web browser can go to the EB article and obtain, even with the cut excerpt that EB gives you if you don't pay, her date and place of birth, birth name, singing part (soprano), and notable place of employment (the New York Met). And yet, none of this has happened. Just what is it that WikiProject Biography and WikiProject Musicians do? Why do people bother to put "expand" tags on articles if nobody is actually going to expand them?