June 4, 2012

Romania, Hungary and Tranyslvania and Using Wikipedia

When you are researching two countries which have a great deal of history between them and you want to make a point, would you base your facts on a website such as Wikipedia?  

If you are a person who has easy access to libraries, would you go there instead of the web?

If you are only looking for a basic answer, then Wikipedia might be the place for you to go, but for the most part, it's not as good a source as the original works that you can find at the library.  These works contain deeper facts about the history of Transylvania.

Most of these so called facts on wikipedia are suspect.  I know, for instance that Transylvania was never a kingdom and for a while there, it referred to the principality of Transylvania as the 'kingdom of Transylvania.' This was on wikipedia, for about a week before someone changed it.

In fact, I find that most people who search for basic information will go to Wikipedia just to find out some more places that they can go to read.  However, I've debated with people, how accurate is it?

In my experience, if you were to want to look up the history of say, Romania or Hungary, depending on the day, it's rather hit and miss; the reason being that most of the information there comes from other websites.  (These are listed as a sources in Wikipedia, but those recycled web sites are not the sources that people should look for.

Primary sources like books and academic articles are far more important.) Not that I hold anything against a website.....but....

It's like a broken chain, I would be worried that the correct facts are not there, and that there might be important facts about the subject that are missing. Since Wikipedia doesn't go into as many details as some books out there do, people might miss events or historical reasons that give context to the challenges in Transylvania, and why there is bitterness between the populations of Transylvania.

As an example, the meeting in Alba Iulia, where the Saxons and Romanians voted for unification with Romania -- but each voted in favour of it for different reasons. The Romanians wanted more power, and the Saxons wanted to hold on to the power they had, reasoning that Romania would do this better than Hungary.  However, the Hungarian population voted against unification with Romania, it was settled at the Paris Peace Conferences in 1919, in which Transylvania was given to Romania.  This information is found in travel guides, as well as books.

 Almost anyone can write and edit information on wikipedia, and this might be completely incorrect. There is no one to stop them from doing so. Information is valuable, and it can point you in the right direction, but as with anything there is a proper time and a place for getting it.

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