“Ya can talk, ya can talk, ya can bicker ya can talk, ya can bicker, bicker bicker ya can talk all ya want but is different than it was.”

What’s the population of Albania? Where does the Sears Tower rank in terms of tallest buildings? Who invented the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

Albania's Talk Page

Using our three questions and Wikipedia, the pages with our answers are Albania‘s page, Sears Tower‘s page, NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship‘s page. Easy to find the answers, and the end of the story. Let’s not be so hasty. Here’s your chance to peek behind the curtain of Wikipedia.

Today when a question comes up at work, a family gathering or the local pub there are always one or two people eager to show off their smartphone and find the quick  answer to a random work question or to settle a  family debate or determine the winner of the bar bet. Many of these seekers turn to Wikipedia, a user generated compendium of human knowledge.

Every word, link, fact, image and stat on Wikipedia has been entered by your fellow humans. But unlike encyclopedia’s of old this information is not researched by a writer and reviewed by an editor privately before it is published as an Article. Wikipedia’s transparent process allows for anyone to edit(and re-edit) any page on the entire site. This process over the years has evolved with rules and best practices. The place this starts is the “Talk” page.

The Talk page, what’s that? Let’s turn to the Wikipedia Talk Page Guidelines to find out.

The purpose of a Wikipedia talk page  is to provide space for editors to discuss changes to its associated article or project page.

Think of this page as the online conference room for editors and writers, open to the public to participate in the discourse. Of course Wikipedia adds:

Article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views on a subject.

What does Talk say?

Albania’s Talk page explains quite a lot about the Article page. Some notes as of this writing include the Article page on probation for disruptive edits as well as part of the Outlines efforts and WikiProjects subjects. It also details the prominence of a Albania’s facts appearing on the Wikipedia Main Page as well as a full archive of information for further research. It also contains thirteen items up for current discussion.

Some of the more colorful discussions revolve around the depiction of the country’s ancient history and the demographics and census (Techlife’s question). These occur in multiple sections of the Talk page.

The Sears Tower Talk page is a bit smaller and less controversial. It includes a brief how to and guidelines for participating on the page, access to the archives and the various WikiProjects this topic is included. Interesting to note the name of the building has been discussed “at great length” and is asked to not be brought up again.

The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Talk page is part of a WikiProject and and Outline effort. The majority of the Talk page is discussions. Including at the time of this writing 42 sections on things like future host cities, historical brackets, mid-majors, maps, tournament trends and past champions. One of the entertaining items relates to Kentucky’s 2012 Championship entry. Apparently some Wildcat fans were so eager to be the editor to crown them the reigning champion they edited the page before the game actually ended prompting a discussion.

And the answers:

Albania: 2.8 million as of 2011 census  

Sears Tower: Tallest when constructed, tallest in the USA, seventh tallest in the world.

NCAA: Harold Olsen.

Bonus: First line of “Wikipedia Talks” from The Music Man in “Rock Island”.