[Smt-talk] Wiki

Devin Chaloux devin.chaloux at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 12:52:15 PDT 2011

Dear colleagues,

While I know some people expressed how this topic should not be prolonged,
given the fact that Wikipedia is the seventh most visited website according
to Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/topsites), I feel like we should not cheat
this discussion. Certainly Paul Sheehan and Martin Braun bring up a valid
point - students should not be using Wikipedia as a direct source. Certainly
their effort into research was minimal if that was the case.

However, as a student myself, I feel like I need to address the issue from
the other side of the table. If I'm on my laptop and there is a concept that
I might want to find out more about - maybe because the discussion in the
source I'm currently invested in does not do the appropriate job or I'm in
an article that is above my level of understanding - I'm going to type that
term in my search bar on my browser. Try it yourself, Google/Yahoo/Bing
"Prolongation music" (because with some terms, it's necessary to distinguish
music versus another common term) - and bam! - that blasted Wikipedia page
is the very first entry!

Whatever you may think about Wikipedia yourself, the general circles among
my friends is that it is a resource that is generally reliable (obviously it
has its faults) and gives a basic breakdown on whatever our heart desires.
Of course, I'm going to click on the Wikipedia link. The fact is, many a
night, I've caught myself up in the "Game of Wikipedia" where you just
endlessly click on the linked pages for hours and hours until I realized I
forgot to eat dinner! (I would think it's not a far stretch to assume the
typical wired student today would do something similar.) The fact is, as a
student, I am comfortable that Wikipedia is a reliable enough source to get
me on the ground running and will point me to the areas where I can find out

I think we belabored the point earlier that it will be - at times - more
work than it is worth to create as thorough as a page as there is on Jupiter
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter). (I think the prolongation article
will be one of those articles) - but this is where I advocate that if we as
theorists in SMT want to get involved in Wikipedia, we will get the most out
of this incredible resource by buffing up the "References/Further
Reading/External Links (if applicable)" sections rather than debate over
which possible way we are going to present prolongation. For those of us who
want to become more active in that part of Wikipedia, which this discussion
is personally making me more and more interested, then we can take it upon
ourselves to do the debating (or a Wiki War as someone earlier put it) and
eventually compromise on a page.

Of course we should be discouraging students from citing Wikipedia straight
up, however, in this day and age, and it will be even more compounded in the
generations to come, it will be unavoidable to prohibit students from at
least looking at Wikipedia. In that case, as experts on the field, we should
make it an obligation to not neglect this resource. Unfortunately we are at
a severe disadvantage given the general size of our field in comparison to -
say - astronomy (and hence the amazing article on Jupiter.) To avoid
Wikipedia, however, is a disservice to our field of study. As farfetched as
it may seem abstractly, making solid articles on these subjects may just
inspire more people who are interested in music become interested in theory.
All it takes is a 16- or 17-year old musician aspiring to go to college for
music spending one of their slow evenings on Wikipedia accidentally
stumbling on a well-written and thought out article that sets them on a path
to learn and want more theory.

*Devin Chaloux*
University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music
M.M. in Music Theory '12
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