Anyone following the Grand Experiment that is Wikipedia knows that it hovers between the twin extremes of addictive/useful and error-riddled/lame-brained. The Howard entry has been no different. For the most part, my enormous rewriting of REH’s entry has remained intact since I posted it in September of 2006, despite my not having the time to properly footnote everything I included. But every few weeks someone comes along and tries to editorialize on the entry, usually to Howard’s detriment. The most recent example:
He is well known for having created — in the pages of the legendary Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales — the character Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, a literary icon whose pop-culture imprint can be compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond.
He is well known for having created — in the pages of the legendary Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales — the character Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, a
literarypulp literature icon whose pop-culture imprint can behas been compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond, albeit to a lesser degree of fame and literary success.
Note the ever-so-slight attempt to ghettoize Howard. Incorrectly, I might add — I would put Conan’s level of success against any of the above-mentioned luminaries. Sure, he doesn’t have as many films as James Bond, but he’s had lots more comics, video games, and pastiches. Conan is a byword among even moderately culturally literate people, and we need not be embarrassed at his popularity compared to any other character’s.
In any case, some anonymous reader out there quickly reverted this change to the original wording, but that’s the kind of thing you have to constantly deal with when using Wikipedia. Admins are always rushing through your entry and deleting things as well, mostly pictures that they deem are not adequately shown to be in the public domain. It can get frustrating, and makes me think that if I am going to write an entire entry anyway, I may as well host it on my own site where it is safe from such predators.
There are lots of REH-related Wikipedia entries that still have to be created, much less written in detail. But I’m happy to report that it seems that various fans are helping him along. I was gratified to see a new page called List of Works by REH, compiled and created by one Adam B. Morgan. This is a list that largely mirrors sites like Howard Works and Dave Gentzel’s old checklist on his website. But it’s on Wikipedia in table format, which allows anyone to add little tidbits and trivia to any story they wish. Over time, this might turn into a pretty useful repository of data on REH stories. It’s always nice to be able to click somewhere and get the date something was written or published, or some other bit of needed information. Good job, Adam — and if you are a fan with some time on your hands, spend a few minutes to learn the ins and outs of Wiki-editing and create a few REH entries on your own. All the items in red on Howard’s page are currently lacking a page of their own.