And where did I acquire this useful nugget of information? Where else but the collective font of human knowledge: Wikipedia. (The above information comes from the 18.09.2006 version of the article on STAR)
Try out this experiment. Google “Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh” and see what the search engine throws up. If my blog has not grown further in popularity, you will find that at the top of the list is the Wikipedia article on STAR. I dare say that Wikipedia would be the first port of call for anyone seeking to find information on STAR rather than, sadly, tigerlaneboy.blogspot.com.
Which begs the question: Who minds the STAR article in Wikipedia?
I raise this issue as our image and brand value depends on it. If the article is not properly edited, a stranger to the school could easily conclude that students of STAR are a bunch of near-illiterate hooligans with really bad grammar (even if we are, there is no need to publicise the fact). The problem lies in the fact that it is a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”, as it describes itself on its main page. Just to underline that point, I’ve taken the liberty to add this blog to the links at the bottom of the STAR article.
From the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia itself, a criticism of it is that “Wikipedia has been accused of exhibiting systemic bias and inconsistency; critics argue that Wikipedia's open nature and a lack of proper sources for much of the information makes it unreliable. Some commentators suggest that Wikipedia is usually reliable, but that it is not always clear how much.”
The current version of the article on STAR seems to be quite acceptable, though. There are no controversial facts stated and (thankfully!) no grammatical howlers. But only because the entry is rather short and thus lacks any usefulness.
But because the policy is that anyone could edit it, there have been instances when people who are rather lacking in factual knowledge and language skills have, if I could put it crudely, screwed it up for all of us.
Consider the 15.6.2006 version:
“STAR currently held students from form 1 to form 5. Previously there have been classes up to form 6, but later the ministry of education only allow up to form 5 for the boarding school. At hostel students are gathered via the sports house. There are 6 house color, which is Rumah Hijau (Green House), Rumah Biru (Blue House), Rumah Hitam (Black House), Rumah Merah (Red House), Rumah Putih (White House), Rumah Kuning (Yellow House). The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning.”It’s just painful to see the numerous grammatical mistakes littered all over the article. If the same article goes on to tell that we won a number of PPM English Debate trophies, I’m sure the readers would think we cheated.
I notice that some versions are self serving. Take this one from 26.08.2006:
“The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning. Rumah Biru is the best!!!!” (emphasis added)While I do not disagree with that, statements like that only devalues the credibility of the article. The reference to Blue House was later edited out on the same day but the Blue House fanatic still refusing to be outdone, re-edited the article (yet on the same day) to still claim glory for his beloved house:
"The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning.Hidup Royal Blue!!!(Style Pudin)"Now, the mystery of who "Pudin" is still needs to be solved (I wonder if it was the notorious Cikgu Sharifuddin?) but this serves to demonstrate how the article is open to vandalism.
It is not only limited to self-glorification of houses. This is taken from the 9.11.2005 version where the contributor attempted to enlighten us on STAR’s cricket triumphs:
“The turf in the middle of the school field is a place where the school's cricket team did their routine training. The team consists of highly-talented players which keen to win many matches. Proof to that, Faliq Azemi (Fivers 2005) had been selected to play for the state team in national tournaments.”I say well done. STAR has produced many great sportsmen but to single out a particular individual would not be doing justice to the rest.
There are factual howlers too. The version dated 12.12.2005 states:
“Rugby is very synonymouos with STAR. The team is nicknamed Cobratasha.”I’m sorry but our team is NOT nicknamed "Cobratasha", dude.
This was eventually corrected on 25.2.2006:
“Rugby is very synonymouos with STAR. The team battlecry is Cobratasha.”That’s more like it but too bad you still can’t spell "synonymous".
But I must say that some of the entries have been more than enlightening. From the 31.10.2005 version:
“The school consists of The Great Hall (the school's hall), administration building, one academic block, a pavillion called Astaka, 7 hostel blocks including one matriculation block - named after the sport houses Yellow, White, Red, Black, Blue and Green. Uniqely, these hostel blocks were not arranged in geometry as they were stretched from the academic block till the worker's quarters. There are also Highway (the main road in the school), Airport (language lab), hang out place, Lot 10. And one of the best architecture feature available here is a one-of-its-kind songkok-shaped water tank. Recently built including a 100-feet high flag-post to commemorate the Golden Jubilee countdown.”Highway, Airport, Lot 10 and Songkok? I consider myself informed now boys, thanks. I wonder if Lot 10 is what we used to call Pertama in our days? (An allusion to Pertama Complex, the hottest shopping complex in KL during our time).
So what do we do to protect the integrity of information on STAR in Wikipedia? It is obvious that an administrator needs to be appointed. This administrator should at least make sure that the information posted is accurate while monitoring the standard of language used. This would mean that Form 3 boys should not edit the STAR Wikipedia article to experiment with the latest vocabulary they picked up during English lessons.
On what we should include as content, there is no need to look far. We could use the articles on MCKK on SDAR as models. Regardless of how we feel about MCKK, I must say that their Wikipedia article is well maintained, accurate and informative. The SDAR article looks fine too although the previous version had our school’s name wrongly spelt, which I corrected of course, in true Wikipedia tradition. Our new article should have distinct and informative sections on our school’s history, crest, founding, academic achievements, co-curricular achievements, anthem, traditions, headmasters, alumni and external (Web) links. Just who the administrator is going to be remains to be seen but it should be someone who has a very strong commitment to the school’s brand management without any self-serving motives.
Phew, that was a long entry! Now if you would excuse me, I’ve to spend some time editing the section on traditions in the MCKK Wikipedia article. I’m sure some MCOBA wives would like to know why their husbands still keep gay porn under the mattress.