Wikipedia’s Take on the Matter

This blog is all about being left-handed.  I (Deftleft in Wikipedia-land) shall use this post to take a look at what Wikipedia—according to itself (or more accurately its volunteer authors) “the largest and most popular general reference work on the internet”—says about left-handedness.  Disappointingly, there isn’t a Wikipedia page for left-handedness; it turns out that a search for the term “left-handedness” brings up the Wikipedia page for “handedness”.  However, this page has got ample information—probably the most of all—pertaining to the use of the deft hand and therefore it enjoys the privilege of this blog’s review.

By a rather crude estimation, one would have expected this page to cover left-handedness and right-handedness equally.  Yet, this is not the case—this page reads like a page for left-handedness, and I estimate that more than 80% of the page’s content is about being left-handed.  Of course one could argue that, given there are only two aspects to handedness, by discussing one, the page is effectively discussing the other.  Furthermore, there are only so many things one can discuss about being right-handed.  Therefore overall, I was quite prepared to forgive the apparent lop-sidedness of this article.

The page for the term “handedness” is long and appears comprehensive.  Without first looking at the page, I would have expected it to cover the key issues of being left-handed, such as the causes, the science behind handedness, peculiarities of left-handed people, discrimination of lefties, and design of products for lefties.  All of these issues were covered, and more.  However, so much material was covered that I thought some of the minutiae, such as the section about the handedness of US Presidents, could just be separately placed in a trivia section at the end of the article.  But all in all, no problems with the comprehensiveness of the article.

The sourcing was mixed.  A look at the source list at the bottom of the page yields sources that are virtually all serious and credible, with not a few being scholarly articles.  On the other hand, there were some assertions in the article that required citations but came with none.  Wikipedia itself suggests that the number of “weasel words”—assertions that come with vague or weak attribution—in the article is many.  On neutrality, I had previously stated that the article was about 80% (probably more) on left-handedness.  It does appear as though that most of the contributors of this article are left-handed and not right-.  The whole article comes across as having a left-handed bent to it.  I am inclined to think that not many who are right-handed would be too enthusiastic about this topic.  This article would therefore benefit from a right-hander’s (or two) perspective on this issue.  Apart from this, even certain critical issues, like the causes of left- or right-handedness, are seeing debate on its talk page.  Wikipedia states up front that the neutrality of the article is disputed.

The formatting of the article appears haphazard and not very readable.  Given the volume of information included in the page, this article would benefit from better organisation and a culling of less important aspects of handedness.  There lacks a systematic order to the way the topics and sub-topics are arranged.  This could be rectified by closer adherence to Wikipedia’s manual of style.  Illustrations are present but are rather sporadic throughout eh article.  A couple of graphics accompanying the more important issues of handedness might help—for example, one to illustrate the genetics of handedness.

Overall, this page is good on content but has room for improvement on the aspects of neutrality, organization and readability.  It could definitely do with a structural reorganization, to begin with.  Editors could then comb through the article to resolve the issues of sourcing and neutrality in general.  It is a slight downer to see your pet topic addressed in a less than ideal manner as it is on this page.  Nevertheless, reading this page was a fairly educational experience that would raise good awareness behind the notion of (left-)handedness. Let’s see what we can do to help this page along.

3 thoughts on “Wikipedia’s Take on the Matter

  1. jemimah says:

    Left-handedness is a blessing and am really proud to be left-handed. According to my own research left-handed people are skillfull and have some particular ability hidden in them.

    • teochenghang says:

      Jemimah, thanks for commenting. You should be proud! I feel somehow a strange bond with all left-handers. Can’t put my finger on it but there must be something good there!

  2. Alma says:

    geez, so now that I’ve been made a righty, I’ll never be able to find out what that hidden ability is 🙂

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