Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not All Wikipedia Pages Are Created Equal

While doing a recent project on my grandmother's German ancestors, I was getting more and more frustrated because of the lack of information I was finding on Wikipedia.  Yes, I know Wikipedia isn't the most reliable, or scholarly, but I like using it as a "jumping off point."  I'll get information which can send me off looking for more information in more credible locations.  Also, I'll often look something up there and find links at the bottom of the page to additional information - and more scholarly works.

Clearly, I was having one of my more denser days because it took awhile for it to sink in that maybe I should check other Wikipedia sites for the same information.  Case in point: Rinnthal, Germany.

My grandmother's family came from this small (very small) town.  The English version of the Rinnthal page is thoroughly underwhelming (  The German version of the same page is much better and even includes a picture of the church (  Since I don't speak German I use Google Translate, and while it isn't the most accurate or logical at times, I can pretty well get an idea as to what the original German says.

Another example is my great-grandmother's hometown: Peschici, Italy.  The English page ( gives some information, but nothing like what can be found on the Italian Wikipedia (

This holds true for other articles besides those on communities.  I found wonderful Wikipedia pages on dialects, foods, culture, history, etc. all on non-English Wikipedia sites.  It is easy to use also.  Just look up what you are interested in on the English Wikipedia, then when you think a non-English Wikipedia site might have more information, click on the language of your choice on the toolbar to the left.  Doing so will take you directly to the same Wikipedia page you were on, just in a different language - and more information in many cases.


  1. I never thought to check Wikipedia in other languages. I'll have to give that a try.

  2. I'd never have thought of that! Thanks for the tip.


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