Friday, 21 September 2007

Fun with Wikipedia and Google

As I was doing research for my next post, I made an interesting discovery. There is an article about Jeffery Matthews in the French version of Wikipedia but not the English one.

Matthews is the subject of my next post, so I won't say more about him here. And I would guess that nearly all of you are familiar with the Wikipedia, the web encyclopedia that anyone can edit. (Before you say anything, I know about the problems with Wikipedia, ranging from factual mistakes to slanderous articles, but I consider it a very useful reference site, and I always double-check anything I read there if it is something I need to be certain about.)

So while I was checking out Matthews, I looked at the Machin-related articles. There are some in both English and French, though they are different. In the English edition, someone went to a lot of trouble to put in a list of Machins, including swatches of color that indicate the color of the stamp. On the other hand, the French article about the Machin series is considerably more comprehensive. And although there's no English article about Matthews, there is one for Douglas Myall.

If you want to look for yourself, here are the links.

English version:

Machin series

List of Machin stamps

Arnold Machin

Douglas Myall

French version:

Jeffery Matthews

Machin stamps

Arnold Machin

So by now you are asking where Google comes in. Well, I can read a little French but there's a lot I don't understand. So, just for fun, I thought I would use Google's language tools to translate some of the French pages. The translation is, shall I say, a little uneven.

Some of the funny translations:

"Arnold Thing" because Google translates the word "machin" as "thing." (And you'll notice the inconsistency, sometimes Machin's name is properly left as it should be, and other times it is translated.)

"Royal Email"

"Island of Man"

Go ahead and try it.

And if you would like to start an English language entry for Jeffery Matthews, go right ahead!



Sebjarod said...

I thank you for noticing these articles, some of which I wrote for the Wikipedia in French.

Anonymous said...

I too edit philatelic articles on the English Wikipedia. There is a WikiProject Philately especially devoted to philately and we are always looking for knowledgeable editors to contribute.

Despite criticism, data verification is especially important, but on the other hand Wikipedia is not supposed to be a stamp catalogue either, so extensive detail is not called for. The Machin articles are ideal for someone with enough reference material and language knowledge to merge the French article with the English one, to attain a more comprehensive one.

If you are interested, there are many philatelic topics that need expansion or, as noted above, even writing. Those philatelists with good libraries can help but it is surprising what else you learn while browsing other articles.

Ask questions if you are unsure how to proceed. Remember that even one short addition to an article can improve it, but please supply your source when editing. Look out for me.