Wikipedia



Wikipedia is a Web-based free-content encyclopedia project. It exists as a wiki, a website that allows any visitor to edit its content. The word Wikipedia is a portmanteau of the words wiki and encyclopedia. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most articles to be changed by anyone with access to the website. Wikipedia's main servers are in Tampa, Florida, the United States, with additional servers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Seoul, South Korea.

Wikipedia started as an English language project on January 15, 2001, as a complement to the expert-written and now defunct Nupedia, and is now operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. It was created by Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales; however, Sanger resigned from both Nupedia and Wikipedia on March 1, 2002. Wales has described Wikipedia as "an effort to create and distribute a multilingual free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single person on the planet in their own language."

As of August 2006, Wikipedia has more than 4,900,000 articles in many languages, including more than 1,300,000 in the English-language version. There are 229 language editions of Wikipedia, sixteen of which have more than 50,000 articles each. The German-language edition has been distributed on DVD-ROM, and there have been proposals for an English DVD or print edition. Since inception, Wikipedia has steadily risen in popularity, and has spawned several sister projects. According to Alexa, Wikipedia ranks among the top 20 most visited sites, and many of its pages have been mirrored or forked by other sites, such as Answers.com.

There has been controversy over Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy, with the site receiving criticism for its susceptibility to vandalism, uneven quality and inconsistency, systemic bias, and preference for consensus or popularity over credentials.

Wikipedia uses a type of software called a "wiki", allowing visitors to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change content. It is therefore possible for large numbers of people to create articles and update them quickly as new information becomes available; it also means vandalism and disagreement about content are common.

Wikipedia is currently the largest and most used encyclopedia in the world. Many other internet encyclopedia projects use traditional multilingual editorial policies and article ownership such as the expert-written Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Nupedia, h2g2 and Everything2. Projects such as Susning.nu, Enciclopedia Libre and WikiZnanie are other wikis in which articles are developed by numerous authors, and there is no formal process of review. Unlike many encyclopedias, Wikipedia has licensed its content under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

Wikipedia has a set of policies identifying types of information appropriate for inclusion. These policies are often cited in disputes over whether particular content should be added, revised, transferred to a sister project, or removed. One of Wikipedia's core policies is that articles must be written from a "neutral point of view", presenting all noteworthy perspectives on an issue along with the evidence supporting them. The project also forbids the use of original research. Wikipedia articles do not attempt to determine an objective truth on their subjects, but rather to describe them impartially balancing all significant viewpoints. Following the introduction of a more user friendly citation functionality, articles increasingly include an extensive reference section to support the information presented in the article.

The GFDL, the license through which Wikipedia's articles are made available, is one of many "copyleft" licenses that permit the redistribution, creation of derivative works, and commercial use of content, provided that its authors are attributed and this content remains available under the GFDL. When an author contributes original material to the project, the copyright over it is retained by them, but they agree to make the work available under the GFDL. However, a significant proportion of images and sounds on Wikipedia are not free. Items such as corporate logos, song samples, or copyrighted news photos are used with a claim of fair use.

Wikipedia's content has been reflected and forked by hundreds of resources from database dumps. Wikipedia content has also been used in academic studies, books and conferences, albeit more rarely, and very recently, in movies. Wikipedia was once used in a United States court case, and the Parliament of Canada website refers to Wikipedia's article on same-sex marriage in the "further reading" list of Civil Marriage Act. Some Wikipedia users, or Wikipedians, maintain (noncomprehensive) lists of such uses.

Wikipedia encompasses 157 "active" language editions (ones with 100+ articles) as of August 2006. In total, Wikipedia contains 229 language editions of varying states, with a combined 4,900,000 articles.

Language editions operate independently from one another. Editions are not bound to the content of other language editions, nor are articles on the same subject required to be translations of each other. Automated translation of articles is explicitly disallowed, though multilingual editors of sufficient fluency are encouraged to manually translate articles. The various language editions are held to global policies such as "neutral point of view", though they may diverge on subtler points of policy and practice. Articles and images are shared between Wikipedia editions, the former through "InterWiki" links and pages to request translations, and the latter through the Wikimedia Commons repository. Translated articles represent only a small portion of articles in most editions.

According to Alexa Internet's audience measurement service, the English sub-domain (en.wikipedia.org) gets just over 60% of Wikipedia's cumulative traffic, with the remaining 40% being splintered between the numerous other languages in which Wikipedia is offered.

The following is a list of the largest editions—the ones with 100,000+ articles—sorted by number of articles as of August 16, 2006. (Note that the article count, however, is a limited metric for comparing the editions, for a variety of reasons. In some Wikipedia versions, for example, nearly half of the articles are short articles created automatically by robots. Further, many editions that have more articles also have fewer contributors. Although the Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Italian Wikipedias have more articles than the Spanish Wikipedia, they have fewer users.)

1. English (1,330,676)
2. German (448,478)
3. French (344,489)
4. Polish (276,080)
5. Japanese (245,985)
6. Dutch (219,999)
7. Italian (186,118)
8. Swedish (178,917)
9. Portuguese (171,743)
10. Spanish (143,338)
11. Russian (100,053)

Almost all visitors may edit Wikipedia's content, and registered users can create new articles and have their changes instantly displayed. Wikipedia is built on the expectation that collaboration among users will improve articles over time, in much the same way that open-source software develops. Some of Wikipedia's editors have explained its editing process as a "socially Darwinian evolutionary process".

Many viewers take advantage of Wikipedia's openness to add nonsense to the encyclopedia, although most obviously disruptive edits and comments are quickly found and deleted by other editors. This real-time, collaborative model allows editors to rapidly update existing topics as they develop and to introduce new ones as they arise. However, this collaboration also sometimes leads to "edit wars" and prolonged disputes when editors do not agree.

Articles are always subject to editing, unless the article is protected for a short time due to the aforementioned vandalism or revert wars; Wikipedia does not declare any of its articles to be "complete" or "finished". The authors of articles need not have any expertise or qualifications in the subjects that they edit, and users are warned that their contributions may be "edited mercilessly and redistributed at will" by anyone who wishes to do so. Its articles are not controlled or copyrighted by any particular user or editorial group; decisions on the content and editorial policies of Wikipedia are instead made largely through consensus decision-making and, occasionally, by vote. Jimmy Wales retains final judgement on Wikipedia policies and user guidelines.

Regular users often maintain a "watchlist" of articles of interest to them, so that they can easily keep tabs on all recent changes to those articles, including new updates, discussions, and vandalism. Most past edits to Wikipedia articles also remain viewable after the fact, and are stored on "edit history" pages sorted chronologically, making it possible to see former versions of any page at any time. The only exceptions are the entire histories of articles that have been deleted, and many individual edits that contain libelous statements, copyright violations, and other content that could incur legal liability or be otherwise detrimental to Wikipedia; these edits may only be viewed by Wikipedia administrators.

Spoken versions of some Wikipedia articles are available, in ogg format. The encyclopedia is also available on a CD from SOS Children, and an editorial team are working on creating Wikipedia 1.0 a collection of Wikipedia articles that have been verified, ready for printing or burning to C.D.

Published copies of selected Wikipedia articles are also available from PediaPress, a Print on Demand service.

The Wikipedia concept was not novel — Everything2 (in 1998-1999) had used the same ideas before Wikipedia was founded — and Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a free online encyclopedia project whose articles were written by experts through a formal process. Nupedia was founded on March 9, 2000 under the ownership of Bomis, Inc, a Web portal company. Its principal figures were Jimmy Wales, Bomis CEO, and Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief for Nupedia and later Wikipedia. Nupedia was described by Sanger as differing from existing encyclopedias in being open content, in not having size limitations, due to being on the Internet, and in being free of bias, due to its public nature and potentially broad base of contributors. Nupedia had a seven-step review process by appointed subject-area experts, but later came to be viewed as too slow for producing a limited number of articles. Funded by Bomis, there were initial plans to recoup its investment by the use of advertisements. It was initially licensed under its own Nupedia Open Content License, switching to the GFDL before Wikipedia's founding at the urging of Richard Stallman.

On January 10, 2001, Larry Sanger proposed on the Nupedia mailing list to create a wiki alongside Nupedia. Under the subject "Let's make a wiki", he wrote:

Wikipedia
No, this is not an indecent proposal. It's an idea to add a little feature to Nupedia. Jimmy Wales thinks that many people might find the idea objectionable, but I think not. (…) As to Nupedia's use of a wiki, this is the ULTIMATE "open" and simple format for developing content. We have occasionally bandied about ideas for simpler, more open projects to either replace or supplement Nupedia. It seems to me wikis can be implemented practically instantly, need very little maintenance, and in general are very low-risk. They're also a potentially great source for content. So there's little downside, as far as I can determine.

Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001, as a single English-language edition at http://www.wikipedia.com, and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list. It had been, from January 10, a feature of Nupedia.com in which the public could write articles that could be incorporated into Nupedia after review. It was relaunched off-site after Nupedia's Advisory Board of subject experts disapproved of its production model. Wikipedia thereafter operated as a standalone project without control from Nupedia. Its policy of "neutral point-of-view" was codified in its initial months, though it is similar to Nupedia's earlier "nonbias" policy. There were otherwise few rules initially. Wikipedia gained early contributors from Nupedia, Slashdot postings, and search engine indexing. It grew to approximately 20,000 articles, and 18 language editions, by the end of its first year. It had 26 language editions by the end of 2002, 46 by the end of 2003, and 161 by the end of 2004. Nupedia and Wikipedia coexisted until the former's servers went down, permanently, in 2003, and its text was incorporated into Wikipedia.

Wales and Sanger attribute the concept of using a wiki to Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb or Portland Pattern Repository. Wales mentioned that he heard the concept first from Jeremy Rosenfeld, an employee of Bomis who showed him the same wiki, in December 2000, but it was after Sanger heard of its existence in January 2001 from Ben Kovitz, a regular at the wiki, that he proposed the creation of a wiki for Nupedia to Wales and Wikipedia's history started. Under a similar concept of free content, though not wiki-based production, the GNUpedia project existed alongside Nupedia early in its history. It subsequently became inactive, and its creator, free-software figure Richard Stallman, lent his support to Wikipedia.

Citing fears of commercial advertising and lack of control in a perceived English-centric Wikipedia, users of the Spanish Wikipedia forked from Wikipedia to create the Enciclopedia Libre in February 2002. Later that year, Wales announced that Wikipedia would not display advertisements, and its website was moved to wikipedia.org. Various other projects have since forked from Wikipedia for editorial reasons, such as Wikinfo, which abandoned "neutral point-of-view" in favor of multiple complementary articles written from a "sympathetic point-of-view".

The Wikimedia Foundation was created from Wikipedia and Nupedia on June 20, 2003. Wikipedia and its sister projects thereafter operated under this non-profit organization. Wikipedia's first sister project, "In Memoriam: September 11 Wiki", was created in October 2002 to detail the September 11, 2001 attacks; Wiktionary, a dictionary project, was launched in December 2002; Wikiquote, a collection of quotations, a week after Wikimedia launched; and Wikibooks, a collection of collaboratively-written free books, the next month. Wikimedia has since started a number of other projects, detailed below.

Wikipedia has traditionally measured its status by article count. In its first two years, it grew at a few hundred or fewer new articles per day; by 2004, this had accelerated to a total of 1,000 to 3,000 per day (counting all editions). The English Wikipedia reached its 100,000-article milestone on January 22, 2003. Wikipedia reached its one millionth article, among the 105 language editions that existed at the time, on September 20, 2004, while the English edition alone reached its 500,000th on March 18, 2005. This figure had doubled less than a year later, with the millionth article in the English edition being created on March 1, 2006; meanwhile, the millionth user registration had been made just two days before.

The Wikimedia Foundation applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark Wikipedia® on September 17, 2004. The mark was granted registration status on January 10, 2006. Trademark protection was accorded by Japan on December 16, 2004 and in the European Union on January 20, 2005. Technically a service mark, the scope of the mark is for: "Provision of information in the field of general encyclopedic knowledge via the Internet".

There are currently plans to license the usage of the Wikipedia trademark for some products, such as books or DVDs.

Wikipedia itself runs on its own in-house created software, known as Mediawiki, a powerful open source wiki system written in PHP and built upon MySQL. As well as allowing articles to be written, it includes a basic internal macro language, variables and transcluded templating system for page enhancement, and features such as redirection are also provided within the software.

Wikipedia runs on a cluster of dedicated Linux servers located in Florida and four other locations around the world. MediaWiki is Phase III of the program's software. Originally, Wikipedia ran on UseModWiki by Clifford Adams (Phase I). At first it required camel case for links; later it was also possible to use double brackets. Wikipedia began running on a PHP wiki engine with a MySQL database in January 2002. This software, Phase II, was written specifically for the Wikipedia project by Magnus Manske. Several rounds of modifications were made to improve performance in response to increased demand. Ultimately, the software was rewritten again, this time by Lee Daniel Crocker. Instituted in July 2002, this Phase III software was called MediaWiki. It was licensed under the GNU General Public License and used by all Wikimedia projects.

Wikipedia was served from a single server until 2003, when the server setup was expanded into a distributed multitier architecture. In January 2005, the project ran on 39 dedicated servers located in Florida. This configuration included a single master database server running MySQL, multiple slave database servers, 21 web servers running the Apache software, and seven Squid cache servers. By September 2005, its server cluster had grown to around 100 servers in four locations around the world.

Page requests are processed by first passing to a front-end layer of Squid caching servers. Requests that cannot be served from the Squid cache are sent to two load-balancing servers running the Perlbal software, which then pass the request to one of the Apache web servers for page-rendering from the database. The web servers serve pages as requested, performing page rendering for all the Wikipedias. To increase speed further, rendered pages for anonymous users are cached in a filesystem until invalidated, allowing page rendering to be skipped entirely for most common page accesses. Wikimedia has begun building a global network of caching servers with the addition of three such servers in France. A new Dutch cluster is also online now. In spite of all this, Wikipedia page load times remain quite variable. The ongoing status of Wikipedia's website is posted by users at a status page on OpenFacts.

Wikipedia is funded through the Wikimedia Foundation. Its 4th Quarter 2005 costs were $321,000 USD, with hardware making up almost 60% of the budget.

Bomis, an online advertising company that hosts mostly pornography web rings, played a significant part in the early development of Wikipedia and the network itself.

During December 2005, Wikipedia had about 27,000 users who made at least five edits that month; 17,000 of these active users worked on the English edition. A more active group of about 4,000 users made more than 100 edits per month, over half of these users having worked in the English edition. According to Wikimedia, one-quarter of Wikipedia's traffic comes from users without accounts, who are less likely to be editors.

Maintenance tasks are performed by a group of volunteer developers, stewards, bureaucrats, and administrators, which number in the hundreds. Administrators are the largest such group, privileged with the ability to prevent articles from being edited, delete articles, or block users from editing in accordance with community policy. Many users have been temporarily or permanently blocked from editing Wikipedia. Vandalism or the minor infraction of policies may result in a warning or temporary block, while long-term or permanent blocks for prolonged and serious infractions are given by Jimmy Wales or, on its English edition, an elected Arbitration Committee.

Former Nupedia editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, has said that having the GFDL license as a "guarantee of freedom is a strong motivation to work on a free encyclopedia." In a study of Wikipedia as a community, economics professor Andrea Ciffolilli argued that the low transaction costs of participating in wiki software create a catalyst for collaborative development, and that a "creative construction" approach encourages participation. Wikipedia has been viewed as an experiment in a variety of social, political, and economic systems, including anarchy, democracy, and communism. Its founder has replied that it is not intended as one, though that is a consequence. Critics of Wikipedia have also viewed it as an oligarchy which is controlled primarily by its administrators, stewards, and bureaucrats, or simply by a small number of its contributors. Daniel Brandt of Wikipedia Watch has referred to Jimbo Wales as the "dictator" of Wikipedia; however, most Wikipedia users either do not consider Wales to be a dictator, or consider him to be one who rarely gives non-negotiable orders.

Wikipedia has become increasingly controversial as it has gained prominence and popularity, with critics alleging that Wikipedia's open nature makes it unauthoritative and unreliable, that it exhibits severe systemic bias and inconsistency, and that the group dynamics of its community are hindering its goals.[citation needed] Wikipedia has also been criticized for its use of dubious sources, its disregard for credentials, and its vulnerability to vandalism and special interest groups. Critics of Wikipedia include Wikipedia editors themselves, ex-editors, representatives of other encyclopedias, and even subjects of articles.

At the end of 2005, controversy arose after journalist John Seigenthaler, Sr. found that his biography had been written largely as a hoax, which had gone undetected for almost 4 months; this led to several policy decisions within Wikimedia regarding creation of articles and the overview process, intended to address some of the flaws which had allowed the hoax to go undetected for that time.

Wikipedia has been both praised and criticized for being open to editing by anyone. Proponents contend that open editing improves quality over time, while critics allege that non-expert editing undermines quality. Because contributors usually submit edits, rewriting small portions of an entry rather than making full-length revisions, high- and low-quality content may be intermingled within an entry.

Wikipedia has been criticized for a perceived lack of reliability, comprehensiveness and authority. It is criticised as having no or limited utility as a reference work among many librarians, academics, and the editors of more formally written encyclopedias. Many university lecturers discourage their students from using any encyclopedia as a reference in academic work, preferring primary sources instead. A critical website, Wikipedia Watch, was created by Daniel Brandt to denounce Wikipedia as having "…a massive, unearned influence on what passes for reliable information."

Some critics have suggested that Wikipedia cannot justifiably be called an "encyclopedia", a term which (it is claimed) implies a high degree of reliability and authority that Wikipedia, due to its open editorial policies, may not be able to maintain. However, Wikipedia does meet all the criteria for the basic definition of the word encyclopedia. One difference from book encyclopedia is online web editing with wikipedia's history function. A deleted text will remain in the history tab and other users can look up an individual's work history to gauge the author's merit.

Emigh and Herring (2005) in a study of Wikipedia, note that there are not yet many formal studies of Wikipedia or its model. Their main conclusions regarding style and encyclopedic quality were:

1. Statistically speaking, "the language of Wikipedia entries is as formal as that in the traditional print encyclopedia".

2. Wikipedia entries are "stylistically homogenous, typically describe only a single, core sense of an item, and are often presented in a standard format" (attributed partly to policies and partly to the norms of conventional print encyclopedias "which Wikipedia effectively emulates")

3. Wikipedia achieves its results by social means, including self-norming, a core of active and vigilant users watching for problems, and editors' expectations of encyclopedic text drawn from the wider culture.

Wikipedia can be assessed for reliability in several areas, including:

* Accuracy of information provided within articles

* Comprehensiveness, scope and coverage within articles and in the range of articles

* Susceptibility to, and exclusion and removal of, false information (a criterion specific to the Wikipedia process)

* Susceptibility to editorial and systemic bias

* Identification of reputable third party source references (citations)

A variety of studies to date have tended to suggest that Wikipedia is of a similar order of accuracy to Encyclopædia Britannica, provides a good starting point for research, and that articles are in general reasonably sound. But also, that due to its novel editorial model, it suffers omissions and inaccuracies and sometimes these can be serious. A separate study suggests that in many cases, vandalism is reverted fairly quickly, but that this does not always happen. One of the studies, by Nature, identified that Wikipedia and Encyclopædia Britannica had a comparable level both of serious errors (4 and 4 respectively in 42 articles) and also of lesser errors and omissions (162 and 123 respectively).

Critics of Wikipedia often charge that allowing anyone to edit makes Wikipedia an unreliable work, and that some editors may employ clever use of semantics to make possibly biased statements sound more credible. Wikipedia contains no formal peer review process for fact-checking, and the editors themselves may not be well-versed in the topics they write about, leading to criticism that its contents lack authority, and that "[i]t will never be an encyclopedia, but it will contain extensive knowledge that is quite valuable for different purposes."

Although Wikipedia has a policy of citing primary sources, this is only sometimes adhered to. Encyclopædia Britannica's executive editor, Ted Pappas, was quoted in The Guardian as saying: "The premise of Wikipedia is that continuous improvement will lead to perfection. That premise is completely unproven." and former Britannica editor Robert McHenry criticized the wiki approach on the grounds that "What [a user] certainly does not know is who has used the facilities before him."

Academic circles have not been exclusively dismissive of Wikipedia as a reference. Wikipedia articles have been referenced in "enhanced perspectives" provided on-line in Science. The first of these perspectives to provide a hyperlink to Wikipedia was "A White Collar Protein Senses Blue Light", and dozens of enhanced perspectives have provided such links since then. However, these links are offered as background sources for the reader, not as sources used by the writer, and the "enhanced perspectives" are not intended to serve as reference material themselves.

Former Nupedia editor-in-chief Larry Sanger criticized Wikipedia in late 2004 for having, according to Sanger, an "anti-elitist" philosophy of active contempt for expertise. It is possible that articles subject to strong opinions (such as George W. Bush) are more prone to be edited poorly, but this is uncertain - often such articles receive extra attention and strong consensus exactly because they are the subject of heated debate. Other articles that do not produce such emotive responses may tend to be more stable.

Other commentators have drawn a middle ground, that it contains much valuable knowledge and has some reliability, even if the degree is not yet assessed with certainty. People taking such a view include Danah Boyd ("[i]t will never be an encyclopedia, but it will contain extensive knowledge that is quite valuable for different purposes"), Larry Sanger ("Given enough eyeballs, all errors are shallow") and technology figure Joi Ito, who wrote, "the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived."

Bill Thompson, a well known technology writer, commented that the debate is probably symptomatic of much learning about information which is happening in society today, arguing that:

It is the same with search engine results. Just because something comes up in the top 10 on MSN Search or Google does not automatically give it credibility or vouch for its accuracy or importance... One benefit that might come from the wider publicity that Wikipedia is currently receiving is a better sense of how to evaluate information sources... The days when everything you saw on a screen had been carefully filtered, vetted, edited and checked are long gone. Product placement, advertorials and sponsorship are all becoming more common. An educated audience is the only realistic way to ensure that we are not duped, tricked, fleeced or offended by the media we consume, and learning that online information sources may not be as accurate as they pretend to be is an important part of that education. I use the Wikipedia a lot. It is a good starting point for serious research, but I would never accept something that I read there without checking.

Wikipedia

—Bill Thompson, What is it with Wikipedia?

A common criticism is that editors, being volunteers, write on what interests them, and what they are aware of. Therefore coverage both within topics, and across the encyclopedia, is uneven and may at times be seriously unbalanced, with obvious and notable omissions. This was identified as a common flaw by some studies.

Wikipedia has been accused of deficiencies in comprehensiveness because of its voluntary nature, and of reflecting the systemic biases of its contributors. For example, like any Internet group, the site can become dominated by cliques of habitual users who express both condescension and hostility to users not involved in the "in-group" — habitual users also feel a sense of "ownership" over "their" pages, leading to edit wars.

Encyclopædia Britannica's editor-in-chief Dale Hoiberg has argued this case, as has former Nupedia editor-in-chief Larry Sanger who stated in 2004 that "when it comes to relatively specialized topics (outside of the interests of most of the contributors), the project's credibility is very uneven."

The same fluidity that allows articles to be patchy has also led to Wikipedia being praised for making it possible for articles to be updated or created in response to current events. For example, the then-new article on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on its English edition was cited often by the press shortly after the incident. Its editors have also argued that, as a website, Wikipedia is able to include articles on a greater number of subjects than print encyclopedias may.

The Wikipedia community consists of users who are proportionally few, but highly active. Emigh and Herring argue that "a few active users, when acting in concert with established norms within an open editing system, can achieve ultimate control over the content produced within the system, literally erasing diversity, controversy, and inconsistency, and homogenizing contributors' voices." Editors on Wikinfo, a fork of Wikipedia, similarly argue that new or controversial editors to Wikipedia are often unjustly labeled "trolls" or "problem users" and blocked from editing. Its community has also been criticized for responding to complaints regarding an article's quality by advising the complainer to fix the article (a common complaint about open-source software development as well). It has also been described as "cult-like", although, as these instances demonstrate, not always with entirely negative connotations.

In a page on researching with Wikipedia, the community view is argued that Wikipedia is valuable for being a social community. That is, authors can be asked to defend or clarify their work, and disputes are readily seen. Wikipedia editions also often contain reference desks in which the community answers questions.

Currently, the user with the most Wikipedia edits is Ottawa, Canada resident Simon Pulsifer. He has over 78,000 edits to his credit, and has created nearly 3,000 articles. He has been dubbed by the Globe and Mail as the "King of Wikipedia".

The English-language website at times also suffers from frequent timeouts, server errors and occasional downtime due to heavy user traffic. These problems have had a negative effect on Wikipedia's desired image as a fast and reliable source of information.

In an interview with BusinessWeek on December 13, 2005, Wales discussed the reasons that the Seigenthaler hoax had gone undetected, and steps being taken to address them. He stated that one problem was that Wikipedia's use had grown faster than its self-monitoring system could comfortably handle, and that therefore new page creation would be deliberately restricted to account-holders only, addressing one of Seigenthaler's main criticisms. He also gave his opinion that encyclopedias as a whole (whether print or online) were not usually appropriate for primary sources and should not be relied upon as authoritative (as some were doing), but that nonetheless on balance Wikipedia was more reliable as "background reading" on subjects than most online sources. He stated that Wikipedia was a "work in progress".

In response to this criticism, proposals have been made to provide various forms of provenance for material in Wikipedia articles. The idea is to provide source provenance on each interval of text in an article and temporal provenance as to its vintage. In this way a reader can know "who has used the facilities before him" and how long the community has had to process the information in an article to provide calibration on the "sense of security". However, these proposals for provenance are quite controversial. Aaron Krowne wrote a rebuttal article in which he criticized McHenry's methods, and labeled them "FUD", the marketing technique of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt".

Wikipedia won two major awards in May 2004: The first was a Golden Nica for Digital Communities, awarded by Prix Ars Electronica; this came with a EU€10,000 grant and an invitation to present at the PAE Cyberarts Festival in Austria later that year. The second was a Judges' Webby award for the "community" category. Wikipedia was also nominated for a "Best Practices" Webby. In September 2004, the Japanese Wikipedia was awarded a Web Creation Award from the Japan Advertisers Association. This award, normally given to individuals for great contributions to the Web in Japanese, was accepted by a long-standing contributor on behalf of the project. Wikipedia has received plaudits from sources including BBC News, Washington Post, The Economist, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Science, The Guardian, Chicago Sun-Times, The Times (London), Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, Irish Times, Reader's Digest, and The Daily Telegraph. Founder Jimmy Wales was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine in 2006.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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