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December 18, 2014

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pop culture:

Band is in millions of homes but not on Wikipedia

Image

Leila Navidi

Beth Mullaney, left, and Lisa Viscuglia of the local Celtic rock band Killian’s Angels play at Brendan’s Pub in the Orleans.

Killian's Angels

Killian's Angels, shown playing at Brendan's Pub in the Orleans, has two CDs and worldwide exposure through the video game Launch slideshow »

Entry

The ideal starter entry on Wikipedia for Killian’s Angels might look like this. The bold-faced terms would be hyperlinks to other Wikipedia articles:

Killian’s Angels is an all-female, Celtic rock band in Las Vegas that is featured on the soundtrack for “Grand Theft Auto IV.” Its “Killianized” version of the theme song for “Jeopardy!” for King World Productions was featured in national radio ads for the game show. Band members are Beth Mullaney, Ginger Bruner, Dolly Coulter, Lisa Viscuglia, Nannette Fortier and Vita Corimbi.

Wiki or not

A random sample of Las Vegas people, places and things on Wikipedia

Has a page

  • Green Shack, demolished family restaurant
  • Smith Center for the Performing Arts
  • Las Vegas Art Museum
  • Green Valley, Henderson
  • Huntridge Theatre
  • Neonopolis
  • Dave Hickey
  • Clint Holmes
  • Donn Arden
  • Charles Bock

No page

  • Betty Willis, designer of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign
  • Las Vegas Philharmonic
  • Tim Bavington, artist
  • White Cross Drug
  • Freakin’ Frog
  • Glenn Schaeffer, casino executive, founder of UNLV’s Institute for Modern Letters (now Black Mountain Institute)
  • Black Mountain Institute
  • Peppermill Restaurant
  • Fluff LaCoque, longtime associate producer of “Donn Arden’s Jubilee!”
  • Las Vegas Weekly (posted, but later deleted by a disgruntled Killers fan)

Beyond the Sun

UPDATED STORY: From unworthy back to worthy, in just one day

The online reference Wikipedia includes listings for bear bladder drums in Greenland, country music in Palau and seven dozen names for the jew’s-harp.

But you won’t find mention of Killian’s Angels, a Las Vegas Celtic rock group that has cut two CDs and is featured on the wildly popular computer game “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

Wikipedia’s editors have refused to allow the band to be listed because it is not significant enough, certainly not as important as, say, the 50 species of sea kelp.

Killian’s Angels has developed a devoted following in and around Las Vegas and hit the big time when “Grand Theft Auto IV” pumped its “The Celtic High Step” into millions of living rooms around the world.

But when googling the game, lead singer Beth Mullaney noticed that the Wikipedia listing for the soundtrack had Wiki links to all the bands — except for Killian’s Angels.

No problem there. The band just needed to create a page. That couldn’t be too hard.

Wikipedia, the international online encyclopedia, provides information by the people and for the people and claims up to 700 million users. Anyone can add. Anyone can edit. Killian’s seemed notable enough. In addition to “Grand Theft Auto IV,” the band received national exposure for its “Killianized” radio jingle for “Jeopardy!”

So Kate Silver, a Las Vegas-based writer and Killian’s fan, wrote and posted a simple synopsis for the band.

Great, right? Not really.

The page was deleted that day.

Band members were slightly confused.

“I can’t see who would have found that thing and complained because it was barely up for a few hours,” band member Ginger Bruner says. “But what do I know? I’m just the tuba player.”

“It just seems random,” Mullaney says.

Who would abruptly boot the Angels off?

The answer lies in the way Wikipedia works.

Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the online encyclopedia, explained: “It could be one person. It could be a group of people. What makes Wikipedia work so well is that it’s an active editing process. It’s a platform that anyone can come and edit. They can add and they can remove. Wikipedians may ask, ‘Is the article notable?’

“If a page is deleted it is because there usually isn’t information available to sustain it as a topic.”

It may have been because Silver mentioned the “Jeopardy!” jingle but not “Grand Theft Auto.” By the time she logged on to add it, the entry was gone.

She contacted the deleter and provided the information, but the page was never reposted.

The mysterious deleter is among the more than 75,000 active contributors who edit more than 10 million Wikipedia articles in 260 languages.

The authority to remove pages belongs to relatively anonymous “administrators.” About 1,500 of these volunteer editors are working in English, and Walsh says that an active Wikipedian might make a couple of hundred edits a week.

Someone from New Orleans deleted a page on Libby Lumpkin, art historian, writer and lecturer and, until recently, executive director of the Las Vegas Art Museum. A young woman in Finland deleted Las Vegas artist David Ryan. “Xezbeth” deleted another Las Vegas band, A Crowd of Small Adventures.

The Killian’s Angels page? That was deleted by Hbdragon88, who cited a Wikipedia guideline saying that the entry “does not indicate why its subject is important or significant.”

Walsh says it’s not uncommon for an item to be deleted the first time it is posted. Bands have a particularly hard time because their information can seem promotional rather than informational.

“There are thousands of people out there and anyone could say, ‘This shouldn’t be an article,’ ” Walsh says. “There are hundreds and thousands of bands, how does one band distinguish itself from another?”

Articles that last, he says, usually include high-quality references, high-quality text and neutral information. Newspaper articles help. Brevity is key.

“The biggest and the best articles on Wikipedia started out with two sentences,” he says.

Silver’s post — her first on Wikipedia — was precise and included the basics: all-female Las Vegas band, versatile play list, Celtic flair, two CDs and radio honors. It listed the band members — Mullaney, Bruner, Dolly Coulter, Lisa Viscuglia, Vita Corimbi and Nannette Fortier (all professional musicians with impressive resumes) — and their instruments — violin, tuba, mandolin, tin whistle, guitar, keyboard, harmonica, drums, bodhran, spoons, bass.

It’s possible that Hbdragon88, who did not respond to requests for comment regarding the deletion, found the band’s page through the “Grand Theft Auto” link.

That administrator has edited dozens of Wikipedia posts on video games. Other edits include articles on sports, history, politicians, cameras, movies, and random topics: the Golden Raspberry Award, General Motors, United Kingdom Bank rescue package, Sylvia Plath, Las Vegas hotels and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Hbdragon88 edits almost daily — swapping a photo, changing tone, shortening entries and general copy editing, making sure somebody was “hanged” and not “hung.”

Hbdragon88’s page tells us that he or she hates “sunshine, kittens, puppies, lava lamps (apparently), happiness, free speech, lists of Jews, your articles, opposition to the Cabal, dissent, oranges, Wikipedia.”

Whether Hbdragon88 knows the band is hard to say.

Mullaney says, with a laugh, that she didn’t set out in life to be on Wikipedia when she grew up. But the absent page does hurt the band, she says. “People can’t cross-reference us to get to more information.”

The band has received e-mails through its Web site from “Grand Theft Auto” fans who like “The Celtic High Step,” which is played during a scene in a New York City beer garden.

For now, readers on the “Grand Theft Auto IV” page will have to leave Wikipedia to search the Internet for more information on the band.

But hey, it’s not over.

Wikipedia is evolving. Starting over is common, Walsh says.

“We encourage people to be patient because eventually they will come into Wikipedia. It’s possible.”

Kristen Peterson can be reached at 259-2317 or at [email protected].

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