Monday, April 6, 2009

Follow-Up: LOC & Wikipedia Misspellings

This time, the LOC did send me a quick e-mail noting that they had changed the misspelled “Great Britian” in the record I found last Wednesday. I submitted the mistake form late that evening, and the e-mail I got was sent early Thursday morning, so that was pretty fast.

“Great Britian” and “Untied States” are common mis-typings/mis-spellings that were the sort of thing that a certain class of Wikipedia lurkers scour that site for and correct. But now Wikipedia has a “category” of entries called “Redirects from Misspellings”, so that if you search for “Great Britian” is sends you to the article on “Great Britain”. Of course, now this prevents folks from both finding instances where this mis-spelling is intentional, as in albums names, or in finding these mistaken spellings so that they can be corrected. Thinking about this for a bit, I realized a Google advance search limiting the domain to Wikipedia will still look for these misspellings, of which there are 103 instances of "Great Britian" and 78 instances of “Untied States” as of today (Some of these are in discussions and comments and not in the text of articles, as well as in at least one book with “Untied States” in the title and the above-referenced article to an album.)

Later I stumbled on the Wikipedia “Typo Team” that has volunteers who do this sort of thing regularly, and which also suggests using the Google advance search and other search techniques to find these types of errors.

The example above are, of course, more numerous than the misspellings you find in the Library of Congress Catalog, but those exists and aren’t hard to find. I turned up that one instance last week by browsing for subject headings starting with “Great Britian” but if you do a subject heading keyword searches for this and the other one, you get five and six mis-spellings:

"Untied States"Image Hosted by

"Great Britian"Image Hosted by

Might as well try some other possibilities - here’s one for:

“Soveit Union”:Image Hosted by

Looking at some of the records from the above three searches, I saw that these were recent titles - all but one of them were published in either 2008 or this year. I asked the LOC guy who e-mailed me the acknowledgment and asked if they comb the recent records for such common mis-spellings and just hadn’t picked these up yet. He got back to me pretty quickly and confirmed this - they do check their records for stuff like this, and they get plenty of error reports from the catalogs, but he was nice and said they still appreciate the effort. I told him that this one would be my last and that I would stop after it:

“New Orlaens”Image Hosted by

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