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What Happens to Scots Wikipedia Now?
The banner posted across Scots Wikipedia bears an important notice: “Followin recent revelations, Scots Wikipedia is presently reviewin its airticles for muckle leid inaccuracies.” In addition to that general warning, hundreds of articles also display this more specific disclaimer: “The ‘Scots’ that wis uised in this airticle wis written bi a body that’s mither tongue isna Scots. Please impruive this airticle gin ye can.” This warning and its related call to action are currently stamped over hundreds of Scots Wikipedia articles on topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to Kamala Harris to the Sermon on the Munt.
In August, someone going by the handle Ultach posted threads on 4chan and Reddit revealing that an American teenager who does not speak Scots was responsible for nearly half of the articles on Scots Wikipedia. That teenager is the 19-year-old North Carolinian behind the username AmaryllisGardner, whose alias is often shortened to AG. Ultach wrote in his viral posts that Scots Wikipedia was “legendarily bad” in part because AG did not understand Scots grammar or vocabulary.
Turns out, AG had misused common elements of the Scots language like syne and an aw. Many of AG’s articles did not use proper Scots grammar; instead, he had seemingly inserted Scots words at random into ordinary English sentences Take AG’s original article for “Veelage,” which stated, “A veelage is a clustered human settlement or commonty, larger than a hamlet but smawer nor a toun.” This page has since been fixed with proper Scots and now states that a veelage is “muckler nor a clachan but no as muckle nor a toun.” Ultach concluded his Reddit post by writing that AG had “engaged in cultural vandalism on a hitherto unprecedented scale.”
>> Continue reading my latest article for Slate
Plus an Announcement
Excited to share that I have a chapter in this new book, Wikipedia @ 20, coming out Oct. 2020 through the MIT Press. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Wikipedia as a global information resource. Together with my co-author Omer Benjakob, I covered Wikipedia’s turbulent relationship with the press during its first two decades. Check out the book at: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/wikipedia-20.