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wikipedia & citations

Citation-mania on wikipedia has had a really negative effect on the style and fluidity of many of the articles I’ve been reading of late. There was a time when you could count on wikipedia articles for a roughly-neutral, often slightly idiosyncratic, sometimes really clunky summary of whatever you were reading about. But there was a certain unfinished, wild charm to it.

But it seems more and more articles I’m reading are just lists of citable, and cited facts, and wishy-washy “he-said/she-said” quotations, footnotes, and little annoying “citation needed” superscripts.

Which is fine as far as information goes, but hell to read. To whit (those little bracketed numbers are citations):

John Francis Anthony “Jaco” Pastorius III (December 1, 1951 – September 21, 1987) was an American jazz musician and composer widely acknowledged for his virtuosity of the fretless bass,[1][2] as well as his command of varied musical styles.

His playing style was noteworthy for containing “dazzling solos in the higher register”[3] and “fluid machine-gun-like passages that demanded attention,”[1] often featuring his instrument in lead rather than rhythm section.[3] His unique innovations also included the use of harmonics[3] and the “singing” quality of his melodies. In 2006, Pastorius was voted “The Greatest Bass Player Who Has Ever Lived” by reader submissions in Bass Guitar Magazine.[2]

Yuk. Maybe it’s just the citation notes, that make it feel like bullets? But it makes me think, for some reason, of this.

Boris wants me to stop complaining about the web. So I guess I’ll stop here. Except to say: remember the good old days of revolution and anarchy? (which for me is 2004, but what the hell).


  1. Scotty Scotty 2007-12-13

    Your blog “cites” wiki for their lack of fluidity in reading. I completely agree with you. [chop] Just kidding!

    I find it ironic that you chose the wiki on Jaco one of the most influential innovators of the fretless electric bass guitar. Such a smoooth flowing instrument, fluid and easy on the ears!

    I’ve been defretting my electric bass guitars for a while now, and have written a fluid and flowing step-by-step book detailing the process! You can find it at

    Peace and happy wiki[ing],

  2. Hugh Hugh 2007-12-15

    thanks for the link…

    there is no problem with citing, it’s overciting which is causing me anguish. you know, having to cite references in order to say jaco pastorius was an american fretless bass player. i mean, come on.

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