Wiki Geeks: Meet the men keeping football's Wikipedia pages up to date

If your club is linked with a non-league striker dubbed ‘the new Vardy’, the online encyclopedia is likely to be your first port of call. But who the heck is updating that goal tally? And, more importantly, why?

Tom Parry-Jones, TV production co-ordinator/researcher

Supports: Manchester United

My first edit was on the Manchester United article, to correct Adam Eckersley’s position from just ‘defender’ to ‘left-back’! I am a United fan through and through, so when I found there was a way I could make the club’s Wikipedia page a little better through my own knowledge, I jumped at the chance.

I think I do OK at maintaining impartiality when it comes to my editing. Obviously my focus is primarily Man United, but I think the key is remembering to stick to the facts.

A few years ago, I banded together with a few fellow United fans, and over the course of what was actually only a couple of weeks, we managed to create articles for every single known player who’s ever played a professional game for the club, as well as an article for every season in the club’s history, starting with our first entry in the Lancashire Cup in 1883!

THINGS WIKIPEDIA TAUGHT US

  • That Port Vale goalkeeper Sam Johnson saved three penalties and then scored the winning penalty on his debut in professional football

The amount of time I spend editing has dropped over the last few years, but back when I was in uni, it was practically my life. I have stacks upon stacks of football books at home to use as sources to back up my edits.

One of the articles I’m most proud of is the one for Old Trafford, which appeared on Wikipedia’s front page on the stadium’s 100th anniversary. Maybe there’s a little bit of self-satisfaction involved in my reason for editing, but it's primarily about keeping an accurate archive of football history.

Sometimes the ‘anyone can edit’ policy can open the door to vandals and trolls who have nothing better to do than to put ridiculous ‘facts’ on articles about well-known players. Sometimes you'll see some stuff updated on Wikipedia before the major news outlets have even had a chance to investigate the story. Some people are so desperate to report a new signing for their club that they’ll update the articles on the player and the two clubs before a contract has even been discussed.

The amount of time I spend editing has dropped over the last few years, but back when I was in uni, it was practically my life

I’d like to think that fans appreciate the work that goes into maintaining Wikipedia’s football pages. The amount of traffic we get on articles about the big clubs and players is certainly a testament to the value people place on the work we do, especially during big tournaments like the Euros. For example, after the group stage finished we had more than a million views on the Euro 2016 article in one single day, which I put down to people wanting to know what all of the last 16 match-ups would be, because of the convoluted nature of the tournament this year.

I work for a TV production company, and our producers and researchers use Wikipedia’s articles as a resource. I think that we provide a valuable service to football fans everywhere.

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