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Amazing wikipedia

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday January 19, 2007 )

A hat-tip to Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia editors sometimes get information wrong; yes, it can be a pain in the butt competing in search engine rankings with Wikipedia; but wow, what a resource; even when it comes to breaking news.

In case you haven’t come across Wikipedia before or have never used it, it’s the largest free multilingual encyclopedia on the Internet and currently contains nearly 1.6 million articles in English.

Wikipedia was launched in 2001 and uses Wiki software for its framework. Sites run on Wiki software allow anyone with a web browser to add or edit documents; and that’s how Wikipedia has been built – through the contributions of a community of thousands of editors from all walks of life and all points on the compass.

Some Wikipedia editors are incredibly fast at updating entries. When Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, was tragically killed a few months back, the Wikipedia page on Steve was updated within just a couple of hours. I’ve noticed this quite often when big stories break. Sometimes I’ve read the latest happenings on a topic at Wikipedia before I’ve heard about the developments via other news sources.

Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, going well beyond what other encyclopaedias offer in terms of breadth of topics covered. You just need to cross reference information to ensure it’s correct. I’ve found valuable info on the most obscure topics on the site; saving me a great deal of time in hunting and pecking through general search engine queries.

One of the most amazing aspects of Wikipedia is that the concept actually worked. If someone had said to me in 2000 that they were going to create a free encyclopaedia using a community of people they didn’t know as contributors and what’s more, those people weren’t going to be paid, I would have thought they had a few kangaroos loose in their top paddock. Wikipedia’s success has been nothing short of stunning; a model for online collaboration.

If you avoid Wikipedia purely because of some of the mud that’s slung at it, you’ll find that quite often the slingers are secretly quite envious of the resource. Don’t ignore it, include it among your reference sources; you’ll be glad that you did. Just be sure not to take everything you read on it as gospel; but certainly use it as a launching pad for further research.


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