When researching topics on the web or reading a book, Wikipedia can be an invaluable resource. As the largest reference work ever created, it’s free for everyone to use and written by volunteers using a wiki-based editing system.
It’s a free, collaborative encyclopaedia written in 300 languages by volunteers around the world
Established in 2001, Wikipedia is a free and collaborative encyclopedia written in over 300 languages by volunteers around the world. It is managed by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation which receives most of its funding through contributions. Furthermore, Wikimedia also hosts other projects like Wikiquote and Wikibooks for added accessibility.
Wikipedia was created with the mission of being free, open, and impartial. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger created it as a complement to Nupedia – another free online encyclopedia – but Sanger eventually left Nupedia on March 1, 2002.
Wikipedia’s policies require users to provide verifiable sources of information and keep a neutral point of view. They state that “principles matter more than literal wording” and pettifogging is strictly forbidden.
Wikipedia’s popularity and openness have drawn criticism. Some have stated that the project is an experiment in different systems; on the other hand, others have praised its transparency.
Wikipedia has been accused of bias, yet some have defended the project by noting that it is a collaborative endeavor.
It’s a great starting point for research
Wikipedia can be an invaluable research aid, but only when used correctly. While it provides excellent background data, it should not be mistaken for a formal book or reference source; rather, use it as a starting point in your project.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, meaning it provides comprehensive data about a topic. However, the quality of Wikipedia entries on academic subjects can vary considerably; generally speaking, they provide more summary than depth; scholarly encyclopedias offer far more precise details.
Wikipedia is an invaluable tool for researching topics outside your expertise. It can provide the fundamentals of a topic, such as basic categories, keywords and its general history; additionally, it serves as an access point to other texts.
Wikipedia often includes a “see also” section that includes related topics. Additionally, it has an external link section with links to other websites, which can help locate other reliable sources. You may want to take note of the references section as well; this provides a list of various sources from which this article was based upon.
It’s a work-in-progress
Wikipedia differs from traditional encyclopedias in that it’s constantly evolving, driven by community contributions with no set timelines or deadlines. As such, the information presented there can always evolve and improve over time.
Wikipedia is a collaborative community composed of thousands of editors. As such, some may have different goals or approaches than others – they may not be building an encyclopedia but instead advocating for a certain viewpoint. It’s common for newcomers to need some time to become integrated into the environment before contributing their insights.
Wikipedia strives to be an impartial, open-access summary of reliable knowledge; however, it isn’t always accurate due to human editors making content decisions.
Wikipedia has established policies to ensure content integrity. These include collaborative editing and avoiding personal attacks. It’s essential for editors to be collegial, not getting upset if they miss out on creating a new article.
Wikipedia is also vulnerable to vandalism, particularly on controversial topics. For instance, readers have made offensive edits to the George W. Bush article.
It has a problem with systemic bias
Wikipedia, despite its stated aim of being an objective source of information, has a systemic bias issue. Its lack of articles on women and other underrepresented demographics, combined with an absence of diversity within its editor community, perpetuate imbalances on the site.
Systemic bias on Wikpedia may manifest itself in various forms, such as gender, racial, geographical or ideological prejudice. There are ways to combat bias on Wikipedia through complaints, canvassing and counter-editing; depending on the type of prejudice some methods may be more successful than others.
One of the most evident manifestations of systemic bias on Wikipedia is its gender gap. In 2011, women made up between 8.5 to 15% of active contributors; however, this disparity has not decreased over time.
This imbalance has a detrimental effect on the content coverage of the site, as there are few articles dedicated to women, women’s history, and minority demographic groups.