Why Wikipedia information is not as reliable as most people think it is.

Ringmania banned from Wikipedia

Earlier this week, I was researching information on ring size standards around the world. Several websites that are available provide some useful facts. I decided that I would get confirmation from what I thought was the “Oracle” of all websites, Wikipedia.

Browsing their site for “international ring sizes” I found a page entitled “Ring Size”.

My first impression was that the information provided was exactly what I was looking for. The page included an International Conversion Chart and would help me with an update of my own  ”Ring Size” page at ringmania.com. However, on closer inspection I found several quite obvious examples of misinformation.

Some of the articles are full of errors.

The first error that I noticed was in the conversion chart itself. Several measurements were inaccurate compared with information which is generally available regarding measurement standards. Secondly it was clear that some info had been provided by at least two jewellery suppliers. These were also promoting themselves on the page via hyperlinks to their own websites.

The most obvious error was, and still is, the entry regarding ring sizes in Asia.

“In India, Japan and China, ring sizes are specified using a numerical scale, that only has whole sizes, and does not have simple linear correlation with diameter or circumference. [sic]

I know from experience that this statement is grossly incorrect. I thought that it should be updated for every reader’s benefit.

I read the following statement at the top of the homepage and decided to join Wikipedia as an editor:

“Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

Following a simple sign up process, I then started editing the offending article. The other jewellery companies had already included references to their own websites. I thought perhaps I should do the same even though the links at Wikipedia are not followed by search engines. Anyway, it couldn’t do me any harm (or so I thought)

Not knowing the correct procedure for adding links, I added several references to the same page on my website. Unfortunately, each reference added a new hyperlink to the same page so I quickly deleted them. This must’ve set the alarm bells ringing at the Wikipedia camp. An onscreen message popped up to inform me that I could no longer edit articles. Consequently, my account had been blocked indefinitely.

I was given the option to change my username as it was related to my business. In addition, the ban may be lifted if I promised not to edit articles that are related to my business.

Below is an excerpt of the “Talk Page” for my account:

Account blocked because of promotional use

“There have been two problems with this account: the account has been used for advertising or promotion, which is contrary to the purpose of Wikipedia, and your username indicates that the account represents a business or other organisation or group or a web site, which is also against policy, as an account must be for just one person. Because of those problems, the account has been blocked indefinitely from editing.If you intend to make useful contributions about some topic other than your business or organisation, you may request an unblock. To do so, post the text {{unblock-spamun|Your proposed new username|Your reason here}} at the bottom of your talk page. Replace the text “Your proposed new username” with a new username you are willing to use. See Special:CentralAuth to search for available usernames. Your new username will need to meet our username policy. Replace the text “Your reason here” with your reason to be unblocked. In that reason, you must:

  • Convince us that you understand the reason for your block and that you will not repeat the kind of edits for which you were blocked.
  • Describe in general terms the contributions that you intend to make if you are unblocked.[sic]”

I responded to Wikipedia’s request with the following reply:

“I’m sorry if the information that I provided was viewed as spam. I am the owner of several websites and do not have any intention of promoting them via Wikipedia. As I was unsure about how the system works here, I inadvertently referred to the same link several times on the same article and consequently the update that I was trying to achieve probably set off the warning. The Wikipedia article that I am referring to is about ring sizes and much of the information is highly inaccurate. I frequently refer to articles on Wikipedia concerning many subjects and find it an invaluable source of information. However I found that the information regarding ring sizes is very misleading and is in serious need of correct and useful information. I have been selling rings for over 40 years and it is obvious that almost all information that is available online is contradictory to any standard of measurement. I don’t think there is much point in posting updates on the talk page as many users including myself are unaware of it’s existence. I feel that the best option is to edit and update the original article so that everyone can benefit. If my username is a problem I am quite willing to change it if required. Ringmania2018 (talk) 04:06, 4 October 2018 (UTC)[sic]”

Lack of response to messages

That was sent 2 days before writing this blog post and so far, I have not received any response from them.

So it seems that if I change my username, I will be able to edit articles on topics that I know absolutely nothing about and not my chosen subject.

All I can say to that is “What is the point of providing information which is written by people who know nothing about the topic that they are writing about?”

I for one will certainly not be relying on information extracted from such a site in future and will be looking further afield for my next project.

I have informed the team at Wikipedia about this article but I think it’s unlikely that they will respond here due to their apparent delusions of grandeur.

Avatar für Malcolm Scott

I have been selling fashion accessories since way back in the mid 1970s and began trading as Ringmania in 1995 wth a small market stall in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England.
Since then I have created and managed several websites which I hope to feature at this blog. I relocated to Thailand in 2004 and returned to the UK in June 2019. I am Currently Working as a Web Developer based in Sheffield.

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