The Information age: Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

With all of the information out on the internet in modern times, Wikipedia is likely the most substantial source when it comes to overall size and accuracy. This online encyclopedia acts as a normal encyclopedia would, but Wikipedia is over 50 million mages long and available in 314 languages. The founders of Wikipedia believe that it is important for non biased information to be available to anyone in any country, free of charge. There are roadblocks in other countries, however, where Wikipedia and other informational sites are banned due to the lack of free speech.

Anywhere Wikipedia is available, someone can ask or answer questions to add to the huge bank of information they have. Editors review articles and other people who wish to add information can also edit the page. There are even online or in person events called “edit-a-thons” where the Wikipedia community of editors gather and write about a specific topic or type of content. This is to ensure there is a lot of available and more accurate information on significant topics such as culture, art, and history. The edit-a-thons have taken place on college campuses, museums, the Wikipedia headquarters, and online. These “edit-a-thons” are an essential way to add a lot of information at once and make the existing information on those pages more accurate.

According to the article by Dario Taraborellei, studies about Wikipedia have shown it to be just as accurate or more accurate than other encyclopedias and provide a substantial amount of references within the millions of Wikipedia pages. Other studies have shown that Wikipedia is about as accurate as the traditional Britannica encyclopedias, as highlighted in the article by Daniel Terdiman. While these studies don’t have an amazingly immense sample size, it seems to be generally accepted that Wikipedia can effectively produce accurate information for anyone to consume that fares well against Britannica. I have personally found that some people believe Wikipedia is completely inaccurate and useless because anyone can edit it. The claim is often made the online trolls can go and change any information, and it is not uncommon when professors do not allow Wikipedia to be used as a source in a paper. I have found it to be true that trolls “vandalize” some pages as an attempt to be funny, but once it is discovered by editors the information can be fixed.

Overall, it is important to note that Wikipedia’s mere existence has benefitted humanity, and will continue to benefit humanity by providing the free information that everyone should have access to worldwide. It is not perfect due to unavoidable trolls or accidental mistakes in some articles, and it isn’t overwhelmingly uncommon to stumble across misinformation. However, due to most of its articles providing relatively accurate information compared to Britannica and its free availability across the globe, I believe Wikipedia is one of the most useful innovations in modern times.

References:

Taraborelli, Dario. “Seven Years after Nature, Pilot Study Compares Wikipedia Favorably to Other Encyclopedias in Three Languages.” Diff, Diff, 12 Aug. 2012, diff.wikimedia.org/2012/08/02/seven-years-after-nature-pilot-study-compares-wikipedia-favorably-to-other-encyclopedias-in-three-languages/

Terdiman, Daniel. “Study: Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica.” CNET, CNET, 16 Dec. 2005, www.cnet.com/news/study-wikipedia-as-accurate-as-britannica/.