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Citing TOEOT in Wikipedia

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Saved by Andrew Alder
on March 21, 2009 at 7:06:27 pm
 

The Online Encyclopedia of Tunings is probably a better source than many sites that are already in Wikipedia reference lists. But there are also good reasons to take pause before citing it.

 

Background

 

The main reason I created this site in the first place was that I was looking for online sources to cite in an article in Wikipedia, and some of those I found were dismal.

 

There are some excellent sites out there for particular instruments, but the ones I found that covered the instrument I particularly wanted were all highly opiniated, inaccurate, poorly formatted to the point of being illegible, incomplete, or all of the above. And there seemed to be no general reference site on tunings, not even on all guitar tunings, which surprised me a bit.

 

So, could Wikipedia itself become the general reference site that was lacking? At first glance it seemed obvious that it could and should. Much of the framework was there already, and lots of good material. But as I progressed with this idea there were also many problems. Particularly, the notability and verifiability standards of Wikipedia eliminated much of the material that I personally wanted to find in such a site. So at second glance, it was very doubtful.

 

I had also found many ambiguities and even inconsistencies in articles already in Wikipedia. The result of this was the Wikipedia Manual_of_Style_(Stringed_instrument_tunings). There are still many issues with individual articles, but hopefully they'll now all be fixed in time. That's how Wikipedia works.

 

Writing that Manual of Style section highlighted some things I wanted in the site I was looking for:

 

  • I wanted complete, explicit tunings such as E-A-d-g-b-e' for the guitar, not just pitch class descriptions such as E-A-D-G-B-E, which might be fine for the expert but for the layman, even the expert on another instrument, the actual pitch wasn't always easy to guess. In the case of coursed instruments, just giving the pitch class of the courses also left out whether the strings were in unison or at octaves, and if octaves which string came first.
  • I wanted a more general lack of ambiguity. List a guitar as E-A-D-G-B-E or as E-B-G-D-A-E, but decide which and stick to it, and more, tell the reader which way around it is.
  • I wanted it to work well on all browsers, both for readers and contributors. I had serious doubts about the flat and sharp symbols Wikipedia uses, and their version of Helmholtz notation. (I looked at scientific pitch notation but it was even worse for other reasons.)
  • I wanted it to list as many instruments and tunings as possible, without making judgements as to which were notable.

 

So now this is the second thing to come out of it. But it will be some time before it becomes a source that I can personally feel happy quoting in Wikipedia. If that ever happens, it's a bonus. I think the site has a purpose all its own, and even if I write it all myself (and I hope not to) it's worth doing.

 

So...

 

If you think that this site is ready to cite in Wikipedia, don't let me stop you. I hope it will be in time! But do have a good look at the guideline at the Wikipedia guideline concerning Iinks_normally_to_be_avoided and particularly item 12: Links to open wikis, except those with a substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors.

 

It's worth noting that this is mainly about the External links section. The requirements for a reference are in some ways less demanding.

 

Alternatively, have a look at the External links sections here. They may contain better citable sources than this site itself, or they may not. In particular, I hope that this site has been checked and cross-checked a bit more carefully than some of them. There's a lot of inaccurate stuff out there!

 

Anyway, good luck!

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