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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Wikipedia has articles about a lot of things, but there's no article about Nashua's Greeley Park with its iconic fountain and stone building which, despite its handsome appearance, merely houses bathrooms. Telegraph readers need to fix that oversight.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Wikipedia has articles about a lot of things, but there's no article about Nashua's Greeley Park with its iconic cannon.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Wikipedia has articles about a lot of things, but there's no article about Nashua's Greeley Park with its much-debated bandshell.
  • Staff photos by Bob Hammerstrom

    Familiar sites in Greeley Park include the cannon, fountain and stone bathroom building.
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Greater Nashua residents asked to help edit Wikipedia’s ‘Greeley Park’ entry

One of the most unlikely Internet success stories of the last decade has been the do-it-yourself encyclopedia called Wikipedia.

Initially ridiculed by many people (including, I hate to admit, me), it has grown into a mind-bogglingly comprehensive source of information.

How comprehensive? Over the last decade, many thousands of people, from casual readers to Wiki-fixated folks who’ve risen to the level of administrator, have created more than 2 million English-language articles that include reports about such Nashua-area tidbits as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, Baboosic Lake, Sam Tamposi and the city’s triangular manhole covers.

You sure won’t find any of that in the World Book.

But Wikipedia isn’t totally comprehensive. And since it’s about to turn 10 years old – the site was launched Jan. 14, 2001 – Telegraph readers can celebrate the anniversary by helping to fill one of Wikipedia’s gaps.

The problem is finding a gap. A saunter through the Wikipedia article about Nashua – meaning “Nashua, New Hampshire,” not Nashua the racehorse or the Nashua River or the four other U.S. cities called Nashua or the South African cricket team called Nashua Dolphins – shows just how detailed Wikipedia has become.

The Nashua article has links to other articles that cover almost any city-related topic you can think of. Sanders Associates, the Pheasant Lane Mall, the FAA center and the Boston Express bus line, not to mention The Nashua Telegraph and every single public and private school – they’re all there.

Wikipedia even has an article titled “Nashua-Hudson Circumferential Highway,” about the long-planned but never-built road that was supposed to circle the city. When an encyclopedia has an article about something that doesn’t even exist, it’s pretty comprehensive.

However, I’m happy to report that a serious hole exists in Wikipedia information that we can fill: There is no article about Greeley Park.

This gap is something of a surprise because an article does exist about Mine Falls Park; in fact, there’s even a separate article about the Mine Falls Park gatehouse.

But until yesterday, there was nothing about Greeley Park. Now there is, but it’s really crummy, consisting only of a single sentence: “Greeley Park is in Nashua, New Hampshire.”

It has no historical background, no geographic information, no photos, no footnoted references – none of the detail that has come to be a regular part of Wikipedia.

This is where you come in, dear readers. You’re going to change that.

Between now and Friday, Wikipedia’s anniversary, you’re welcome to call up the article and fix it. You can write new material, edit or rearrange or delete what has been written by others, upload pictures or maps, add links and notes and references, do whatever. You can do it anonymously, or you can create a Wikipedia account first.

It isn’t a complete free-for-all. You’ll have to follow the various Wikipedia guidelines that have grown over the years.

Also, you can’t get upset if somebody else changes what you’ve done, because that’s the essence of Wikipedia. Anybody (within a few restrictions) can edit anything on a whim.

I’ll keep an eye on the article, but won’t write or contribute anything, and on Friday, I’ll report how it has gone.

It sounds like fun, right? There’s also a more interesting goal: to get more people to see how Wikipedia works.

I figure lots of you read its articles on occasion (you can hardly avoid the site if you do any kind of Internet search), but few have gone beyond that stage. This is your chance.

I have no connection to Wikipedia except that I’ve been playing with – er, I mean, working with it since 2003, and I’m one of many hundreds of volunteers who have become an administrator, which gives access to a bit of extra editing software.

I started watching Wikipedia because I thought it was a novelty act and wanted to watch what I expected would be its entertaining flameout.

Since then, I’ve been fascinated to watch it morph into a valuable resource, although one with certain serious drawbacks.

This is your chance to play along. Have fun.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or