Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet

On 26 Sept., 2021

This article is about Wikipedia, one of the 15 most popular websites ranked by Alexa; as of 2021, Wikipedia was ranked the 13th most popular site.

Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet

Wikipedia, free Internet-based encyclopaedia, started in 2001, that operates under an open-source management style. It is overseen by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation. wikipedia.org uses a collaborative software known as wiki that facilitates the creation and development of articles. Although some highly publicized problems have called attention to Wikipedia’s editorial process, they have done little to dampen public use of the resource, which is one of the most-visited sites on the Internet.

In some respects Wikipedia’s open-source production model is the epitome of the so-called Web 2.0, an egalitarian environment where the web of social software enmeshes users in both their real and virtual-reality workplaces. The Wikipedia community is based on a limited number of standard principles. One important principle is neutrality. Another is the faith that contributors are participating in a sincere and deliberate fashion. Readers can correct what they perceive to be errors, and disputes over facts and over possible bias are conducted through contributor discussions. Three other guiding principles are to keep within the defined parameters of an encyclopaedia, to respect copyright laws, and to consider any other rules to be flexible. The last principle reinforces the project’s belief that the open-source process will make wikipedia.org into the best product available, given its community of users. At the very least, one by-product of the process is that the encyclopaedia contains a number of publicly accessible pages that are not necessarily classifiable as articles. These include stubs (very short articles intended to be expanded) and talk pages (which contain discussions between contributors).

The central policy of inviting readers to serve as authors or editors creates the potential for problems as well as their at least partial solution. Not all users are scrupulous about providing accurate information, and wikipedia.org must also deal with individuals who deliberately deface particular articles, post misleading or false statements, or add obscene material. Wikipedia’s method is to rely on its users to monitor and clean up its articles. Trusted contributors can also receive administrator privileges that provide access to an array of software tools to speedily fix Web graffiti and other serious problems.

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