I’ve been a heavy user of Wikipedia ever since its launch in 2001. Even though I was told in the first week of the first term that Wikipedia would not be accepted as a reference, it has always been a source of first ideas and orientation. Logically, I opened Wikipedia, typed in “nightlife”, and pressed ‘Enter’ at the first day of my PhD. Six lines? Okay, “Nachtleben” then. ‘Enter’. Three lines. Wikipedia, seriously? No definitions, no basic activities, no description of cultural differences, no crime statistics, no history, no central protagonists, no scientists’ names, nothing. Although articles about partial aspects of nightlife are more extensive – e.g. DJs, binge drinking, nightclubs, alcohol and sex, drinking in public – Wikipedia stays silent on nightlife itself. Why?
It is almost self-explaining that the content of The Free Encyclopedia is highly influenced by the interests and knowledge of its contributors. A survey on Wikipedia’s contributors (interestingly “page not found”, i.e. I’m referring to articles that report on it) has shown how a gender gap leads to “female” topics being underrepresented or underreported. In consequence, if nightlife is underrepresented on the website, this means Wikipedia’s contributers are (1) too busy with intensely particiating in nightlife to actually write about it or (2) simply not interested in nightlife. Drawing upon all my ideal-typical (sociologists’ clichés) perceptions of computer nerds, I vote for option (2). Need a proof? The entry about the oldschool RPG Nightlife is longer than the article about nightlife.
Why haven’t I edited the entry on nightlife instead of complaining? I’m too busy doing science.