Most of us know by now that Wikipedia turned 10 years old in January. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with Wikipedia. If I need to win an argument, I use Wikipedia as credible source of information. If I’m about to lose an argument, I can come up with a dozen reasons why Wikipedia is bogus.
The truth is, I sometimes think we don’t give Wikipedia enough credit. After all, there are 18 million articles (3.5 million of which are in English) and over 250 languages represented. And, yes, it’s true that anyone can contribute; however, if you’ve ever tried to edit anything on Wikipedia, you know it’s not as easy as a few clicks. On each article, there is a complete history of changes and edits made. Community approval is required to get certain editorial privileges (in some cases, 80% is required). So, although there is a lot of false information (especially when it comes to biographical information), it may not be as rampant as you’d think.
However, the biggest factor impacting the supposedly objective information on Wikipedia is the fact that only 15% of the contributors are women. I read this in a New York Times article, and I was shocked. It’s almost embarrassing. That means that the majority (a large majority) of the information added to Wikipedia is from a man’s perspective. Of course, the moment I read this, I immediately jumped on there to see if the articles about topics like natural childbirth and Sex and The City were shorter and less accurate than articles on topics like remote controls and fishing. However, if you check out that NYT article for yourself, you’ll see that there are efforts currently being made to diversify more. At least it’s being addressed.
Regardless of its shortcomings, based on the information I’ve read (sources linked below), I’m ready to say that Wikipedia is getting better and better as time goes on. It’s no longer the red headed stepchild of the Internet. Just stop for a minute and think about this… you know all those little things you go to Wikipedia to find out? Where would you find that stuff if it didn’t exist? Would you rather sift through a ton of other sites to find what you need? Maybe we should be a little more grateful for that resource. It’s like the little engine that could, and it’s proving it can. [Infographic by VizWorld]