{{Citation needed}} - 10 years of Wikipedia

Posted on: 17 January 2011 by Alexander Hay

As Wikipedia celebrates its 10th anniversary, it's time to recognise what a major force it has become.

No citation needed - 10 years and still going strong

Ten years is an awfully long time in Web history terms, and yet Wikipedia has just passed that milestone.  

The site is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit or write for, but which is edited by a band of administrators, has been open to some criticism over the years. 

On the other hand, a well-written Wikipedia entry will have a decent set of citations you can rely on. Far from being an anarchy of lies and half truths, Wikipedia is more a place where information, both good and bad, is disseminated, only as good as its users make it. In a sense then it is the World Wide Web's potential realised.

And it's good fun, too. Where would we be without Wikipedia Freefall, for example? The bizarre process, whereby you start looking up Bhutan and end up reading up on Grays, Essex via Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and tin mining, is perhaps what the Web should be about. 

Wikipedia lets you wander randomly through human knowledge, roaming between lexia, finding things out and trying new ideas at random. It's just a shame that the rest of the Web seems mainly to be about pornography or personal abuse.

Still, Wikipedia makes the latter entertaining. Leaving aside the Wiki clone known as Encylcopedia Dramatica - a sort of tribute to howling sociopathy masquerading as comedy - you'd think the Wiki format would be bereft of humour, as any vandalism is eventually purged by the administrators

Still, some truly amusing vandalism slips through the net here and there, and since every version of a page is saved on the site's cache, you can always look up the pages the admins have removed, for a laugh of course.

This raises the main issue many people have with Wikipedia - its lack of reliability. In fact, a seasoned reader would be able to tell what is and isn't reliable. As a rule, the longer and better written an article is, and the more decent citations it has, the more reliable it is too. What Wikipedia teaches is you need to be discerning with what you read and not just accept it at face value.

The site is, however, at a crossroads. Founder Jimmy Wales has noted that the site is too difficult to use for some would-be writers. He also expresses alarm that Apple is in effect creating a closed network which uses the Web and all its openness, but is not part of it and can restrict what Apple device owners are able to access. This raises an important question - how much use will sites like Wikipedia be if their access is blocked by governments and big business?

For now, though, the future is bright for Wikipedia. (But would no doubt be brighter if they added articles on 50Connect and OlderIsWiser.com - for the sake of completeness you understand.) If it were to one day be available via a device with 'DON'T PANIC!' written on it in big letters, we should not be surprised.

Share with friends



User

Alexander Hay

Do you agree with this Article? Agree 0% Disagree 0%
You need to be signed in to rate.

Loading comments...Loader