Wikipedia:A warning to concert organizers

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This is a warning to concert organizers: Don't use Wikipedia as the only source for concert programme notes.[1] Whether or not you give Wikipedia credit (see Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia for information on how to do that), there are many problems with using Wikipedia for this purpose. Wikipedia just wasn't meant as a source for ready-made programme notes: instead of clever lead and conversational language, the Wikipedia article will usually have the facts stated plainly; and you can be certain Wikipedia won't have information about your choir's or orchestra's history with the particular piece of music in question. But more importantly, Wikipedia is likely to be missing important facts you should want in your programme notes.

An article may stagnate after being written, thus containing only the information the original author considered relevant. Information may also be unreliable. Most Wikipedia editors try to get the facts right, but there is no guarantee they won't make a mistake, and others may put deliberately false information in new articles.

Worse, the article may become the subject of an edit war, in which the content usually suffers. The "winners" determine what is trivia (any information added by the "losing" side) and what sources are considered unreliable (any sources used by the losers). The facts ideal for your programme notes might be buried in the edit history.

If you want good programme notes, either invest the time to do your own research, using Wikipedia as a starting point, or invest the money to hire a musicologist to write your programme notes.

Many Google searches have a Wikipedia article as their top result, so if you announce what pieces are going to be in your concert, members of your audience will likely look up the music in Wikipedia prior to attending the concert. When you get the draft of the programme notes, you could look up the pieces in Wikipedia and tailor the programme to address questions an audience who has read the Wikipedia article might have.

  1. ^ It has happened thrice in the past year: I've gone to a classical music concert, and the programme notes are copied straight out of Wikipedia. Only for one of the concerts was Wikipedia acknowledged. It has also happened with classical CDs: a digitally remastered recording of Franz Konwitschny conducting Britten, Khrennikov and Orff contains a brief biography of Konwitschny which was copied straight out of Wikipedia.