Tag Archives: encyclopedia

Weekly #7: Wicked Wikipedia

When I first discovered Wikipedia years ago, I thought the online encyclopedia was rather shady. I relied on the site to find quick information about a topic, but never believed the background I obtained was completely trustworthy. In fact, I always went out of my way to ensure I did not cite research from the source.

I don’t feel that way anymore, however. I now have complete faith in Wikipedia and use it religiously to obtain information on the fly. It couldn’t be more convenient, particularly when you contrast it with an old school, heavy encyclopedia. Who has space to store an entire encyclopedia collection these days, anyway? I certainly couldn’t fit a collection in my 340-square-foot apartment. Well, maybe A-F could squeeze into my closet.

Why go to the library when everything you need is one click away? Type a subject or word into a search engine and one of the top results is likely a Wikipedia page dedicated to the topic. In fact, come to think of it, I never need to venture to the Wikipedia homepage to find relevant articles. They always show up in my search results. Why else is Wikipedia better in my opinion? Articles are continually updated with the latest news and information. Traditional encyclopedias can become out of date the second they hit store shelves.

I’m not the only one who has jumped on the bandwagon. Wikipedia is becoming more and more trusted as a valuable resource among influential audiences. Believe it or not, even judges are citing Wikipedia in their decisions. In fact, a 2005 study found Wikipedia to be as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia has a strong social concept of neutrality. The organization does not take a stance on controversial topics. It encourages articles to expose both sides of an argument. This is helpful in eliminating one-sided, biased research.

Eighteen percent of Wikipedia articles receive edits from anonymous users. This means that over 80 percent of article edits are made by trusted contributors. Additionally, users continually monitor page updates and peer review articles in real-time. For example, vandalism issues are resolved quickly.

I never fully understood how Wikipedia worked until I watched its founder Jimmy Wales’ infamous 18-minute TED speech about his creation. I highly encourage you to check it out.


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