Friday, November 02, 2007

Władysław II Jagiełło had a name change, it is now Jogaila

I haven't written anything in a while, but a Wikipedia article by the name of "Jogaila" forces my hand. Never heard of Jogaila? Well that's because it is the Lithuanian version of the name of one Poland and Lithuania's* most famous kings, Władysław II Jagiełło, a name this King took upon taking the Polish throne. The encyclopedic article on Jagiełło has received the "featured article status" reserved for the best that Wikipedia has to offer.

Let me give you some background, this article was originally named Wladislaus II of Poland, a name properly used in many English language history books. This latinised version of the Polish name has gone out of vogue, as more contemporary works now use the the Polish spelling and pronunciation Władysław II Jagiełło. Of course the Polish version of the name opened a can of worms, since someone somehow saw this as an affront to the fact that Władysław II Jagiełło is Lithuania (I have never seen anyone try to dispute this indisputable fact), and more importantly to this group of folks, he was the ruler of Lithuania. So now it became the "mine is bigger then yours" argument reincarnated as "Lithuania was just as or more important then Poland" argument, therefore some idiot changed the name of the article to Jogaila of Lithuania with a note that this was a "More sensible, less Polonocentric name". As if the popularized version of the name was secondary to the the nationality of the individual. I'm sure the Duke of Lorraine preferred to be called by his Polish name of Stanislaw Leszczynski (I need a roll my eyes emoticon here). After months of gamesmanship the article was finally left with the awful and useless Jogaila title. Is awfl to harsh a word? Well for comparisons sake, should Pope John Paul II's article be named "Karol Wojtyla" the name he was born with in Poland? Should people looking for Stalin have to type in Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili? Or maybe Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov instead of just Lenin?

So to this date the name of the article has never been changed to what it should be, the historically recognized name that the King himself chose to be called by. It hasn't because in Wikipedia a few rabid individuals can make an accepted name into a "controversial" move.

I have abandoned Wikipedia in the past year or so, venturing onto the pages only to get some information instead of participating in building a great reservoir of knowledge. Why participate if some nationalistic editors hijack an article and rename it, and then use Wikipedian rules to enforce the name change? Other things, like the idiotic notion of "notability" for an article to be included, have hampered my enthusiasm as well. (Stephen Colbert's term Wikiality is persona non grata on the great Wikipedia because, as it turns out, not only are many of the editors humorless, but they also hold vendetta's)

Well I think Wikipedia has hit a wall, the numbers of users and growth has peaked and now growth is slowing, statistics show users are putting less time into articles, and I can see why. Having to spend time arguing over whether an article should be called Jogaila or the obvious Władysław II Jagiełło is off putting, only the rabid point of view pushers remain, while the pragmatic middle is forced to jump ship. To bad.

*Jagiełło was Duke of Lithuania

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