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What is Wikipedia?

Friday, 01 Oct 2010 11:50 AM

What is Wikipedia after all? Wikipedia is a free, Internet-based online multilingual encyclopedia, supported by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation. It is credited with having around 16 million articles in different languages. Each article is written and brought together by a myriad of volunteers and common users around the world. Launched in 2001 by Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia holds the 7th rank among all websites in the world.
Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a web-based English encyclopedia. Originating from the Hawaiian root word “wiki” which means “quick,” Nupedia soon blossomed into the all-useful Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License. Beginning with a mere 20,000 articles at the end of 2001, Wikipedia crossed the 2 million mark in 2007, becoming the largest encyclopedia ever put together.  
The best way to understand Wikipedia is to visit the website: www.wikipedia.org. After the homepage appears, click on your preferred language option. This action takes you to the main page of Wikipedia. This page displays various general columns like “today’s featured articles,” “did you know,” “in the news,” and “on this day…” It is very simple to learn how to use Wikipedia. To search for anything under the Sun, just type your query in the search box, and you can get the information in an instant. There are only a few pieces of information that Wikipedia does not cover. Wikipedia also provides in-depth analysis of the information sought.
Wikipedia helps people conduct online research and write effectively. Wikipedia tutorials are very useful for learning; this multimedia tool is much more interactive than books. 
The most interesting thing about Wikipedia is its open editing model. This means that the contents of this encyclopedia can be edited and modified by almost anyone reading it! However, only registered users can create new articles; nonregistered users do not have this privilege. Interestingly, no one owns the articles, not even the writer who created them. But, here is the catch!  
Though the contents and factual accuracy of the articles are mostly up to snuff,  errors or fallacies are likely to sneak into the contents of Wikipedia due to its model of open editing. Wikipedia critics criticize it for its inherent scope of information manipulation. Many renowned people have even protested against the usage of Wikipedia by the dishonest for incorporating wrong, contradictory, pretentious, and inaccurate information, and for copying information and claiming it as their own. This is something about Wikipedia that needs to be resolved. Some Wikipedia critics believe that the largest encyclopedia of human knowledge cannot be put together unless the whole of humanity has access to it and contributes to it.
There is something very exciting about Wikipedia. Wikipedia also contains some sister sites like Wiktionary (the Wikipedia dictionary), Wikibooks (free textbooks and manuals), Wikiquote (collection of quotations), Wikispecies (a directory of species), and a lot more.
Viewers and users can find answers to almost everything in the pages of Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s objective is to encompass the entirety of human knowledge.   

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