Wikipedia:Why use Wikipedia
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Why, then, do I bother with this?
- 3 There are several things wrong with this metaphor
- 4 The Google search argument
- 5 Wikipedian vandalism
"Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." -Front page of Wikimedia This world DOES exist in the Wikimedia project. Wikimedia has created a tome of knowledge with its projects Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikinews, the Wikimedia commons, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, and the infamous Wikipedia.
However, one question remains: What should we do with this tome if it is not to be used?
Why, then, do I bother with this?
Wikipedians take pride in Wikipedia, knowing that they made it the great encyclopedia it is now. They defend it from vandals(the village jerk), copyedit, and research for Wikipedia to constantly improve it.
And for what?
Wikipedia is hated by the general public, who demand "reliable" sources for essays and other research. They give one simple reason: Wikipedia was written by volunteers. Therefore, it contains misinformation. Since Wikipedia is written by volunteers, why is it reliable?
What I mean
Wikipedia itself states: In all academic institutions, Wikipedia is unacceptable as a major source for a research paper.
In plain English, my question is: Why is Wikipedia not accepted as a source?
This is the simple reason, as people claim:
Wikipedia is a community-made soup; farmers bring in their fruits and vegetables, chefs and the women tend to it, and the kids bring water and other ingredients. Then, the village jerk comes and defecates in the soup.
There are several things wrong with this metaphor
This metaphor is based on the fact that any editing done to Wikipedia can not be reversed; in other words, the content that was there before is lost. This is simply not true. When someone thinks they are making a change to Wikipedia, they are actually making a whole new page, and making that page the one that most people view. The original contributions are still in the edit history and can be restored. Of course, repeat offenders can be blocked from editing.
In other words, page content can not be held for ransom, and, to put it simply, the feces in the soup can be removed easily without any damage to the soup itself.
There are several other points, which state that Wikipedians can put in "questionable" information, which would be used. However, the fact that Wikipedia is written by several people actually makes it stronger in this respect. Wikipedia is written by volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds. This ensures that Wikipedia is unbiased and very up to date. Random page patrollers personally make sure that it is free from misinformation. Also, Wikipedia cites sources.
Wikipedia cites sources
This is the main reason why the "questionable information idea" can be refuted. With a regular website with a single author, ths information stays. But here, other Wikipedians can notice it and demand a source or remove it. See Wikipedia:Citing Sources. This ensures that Wikipedia is accurate, as you can find exactly where the information came from. Surely this makes Wikipedia credible?
Wikipedia is unbiased
The reason that Wikipedia is unbiased is because Wikipedia is edited by both sides of the argument. Controversial subjects, such as Abortion and George W. Bush, are even edit protected to prevent misinformation and biased information from leaking though. See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.
Wikipedia is up to date
Wikipedia has the largest numbers of individuals editing the site, at a rate of nearly 25 edits per second. This ensures that Wikipedia and Wikinews, a sister project of Wikipedia, are the most up-to-date sites on the Internet.
The Google search argument
This argument goes thus: Search for any sensible topic on any search engine. Most of the time, Wikipedia or another Wikimedia project will be one of the top results. No other website reaches this level of omnipresence. The reason why Wikipedia is so high on the list is because so many people use Wikipedia despite the warnings. Surely that many people can't be wrong?
Some estimates give the amount of Wikipedian vandalism as over 100,000 vandalised articles per day. From experience, vandalism patrollers can confidently state that over 98% of vandalism is removed within two minutes. 2000 pieces of vandalism is quite a lot. However, consider that there are over a million articles in the English Wikipedia, and a majority of the 2000 pieces of vandalism are obvious. (People don't have time to check every article revision, just some of them, which is why obvious vandalism is sometimes skipped over.) Suddenly 2000 seems like a very small number.
Cursing in Wikipedia
Does Wikipedia contain curse words? Fuck yes.
However, of course, not in that context. The Fuck article will obviously not be spelt "fu*k", because people who do not understand that word will be very confused. People claim that Wikipedia contains a lot of curse words due to the immature volunteers who write it. This is not the case. Click here and if there is a curse word on that random page, then... there won't be OK?
But Wikipedians are VOLUNTEERS!
This is another refutation against "Wikipedian is written by volunteers, so it must be wrong". If you accept other internet-based sources, you need to get your facts straight.
The internet itself is written by volunteers.
For that matter, Even books can be inaccurate.
However, Wikipedia has a LOT of people writing it, so if something seems messed up, it will be removed or verified quickly. If you truly think that all other sites on the internet are mature, Wikipedia excluded, please go to the page mentioned here.