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What is Wikipedia?

Updated on November 10, 2011

The Free Encyclopedia

Remember hearing about people going door-to-door selling encyclopedias? It was pretty neat to be able to walk over to your bookshelf and look up just about anything, inform yourself and then move on as a more intelligent human being. Then along came the Internet, the information superhighway. Everything you ever needed to know or didn't now you needed to know was now at your fingertips. Some information was correct and some of it not so much. Then Wikipedia comes along and totally revolutionizes the way we search the Internet.

What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia, or Wiki for short, is a free encyclopedia that allows its 90,000 volunteers to add and edit entries with factual information. It's a non-profit organization supplying 20+ million articles in hundreds of different languages. According to its site, Wiki serves more than 454 million people per month all over the world and is now the 5th ranked Google site. It's even got the New York Times writing articles about it. People can access Wiki from their mobile apps, computer search engines and even DVDs.

The Downside

While Wikipedia has changed the way we search information on the Internet, it doesn't come without its fair share of criticism. Because of the open nature of the site and the editing ability of the volunteers, it has been a discussion as to the reliability of the information presented on the site. Most college professors will not allow students to use the site as a reference for term papers and even drew criticism from the former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It's difficult to determine whether or not the Average Joe is ignorant to the uncertainty or if they do not care because of Wiki's accessibility, reputation and presence online. Either way, Wiki makes no claims to be perfect and states that it cannot guarantee the validity of its articles.

Another drawback is the graphic nature of some of Wiki's content. Many people feel that some photos and subjects are of adult nature and should not be so easily accessible to children or teenagers.

Relevant Reading

About Wikipedia - By Michael Scott (from The Office)

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    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Very nicely done....very interesting information in your hub...wow the 5th most popular internet site in the world...that is pretty impressive. I imagine that Encyclopedia Britannica really hates Wikipedia as I am sure many young people are not even aware of Encyclopedia Britannica....when I was working my way through college...I sold encyclopedias door to door....talk about a rough job. I voted your hub up and interesting.

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