Mitch's Blog 7.0

Mitch's Blog


Saturday, July 31, 2004

Wikipedia is one of those crown jewels on the internet. If you go to the Wikipedia website, you’ll notice that what I’m talking about is an online encyclopedia. But Wikipedia is unlike the other encyclopedias out there on the internet. The one thing that distinguishes Wikipedia from its competitors is that Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), which means that all the content and information contained within Wikipedia is free and widely accessible to the public to do what they want with it, provided they acknowledge Wikipedia as the source of the information.

Besides being completely free – unless you decide to donate to it – and easily distributed all over the internet, Wikipedia is also an open-content project, meaning that it can be easily altered by anybody visiting the site. If you search for anything within the encyclopedia that interests you, you’ll notice that there is an edit button on the top of the page. The edits that can be made on Wikipedia are not just small, “suggestions to the editor,” type of edits either; anybody who visits Wikipedia can fill in missing information or correct false information on any of the pages within the encyclopedia. New pages on subjects not even included in the database can also be made with just one click of a mouse. After that, all that has do be done is write the new article to be included.

One of the best things of all is that a membership is not even needed to help edit the encyclopedia articles. You’d think that this would cause a lot of problems with people vandalizing the pages, but there is actually a quite large police force on Wikipedia that ensures everything runs smoothly and professionally.

I first discovered Wikipedia while I was searching for some information on Google – although I don’t remember what it was I was looking for anymore. Google is probably one of the reasons Wikipedia has become so popular, though. Many, many Google searches now include a page from Wikipedia somewhere within the search results.

I’ve edited a few pages on Wikipedia, all without registering to be a part of the service. I have since registered because there are some nice benefits that come with doing so, but like I said before, anybody using a computer is able to edit any articles that they want. The edits that I’ve made on Wikipedia are mostly minor ones, like modifications to spelling or grammar. I did, however, create the original article for Southdale. There was also no page listing the etymologies of Minnesota counties until I made it.

Another nice thing about Wikipedia is that all the changes to the pages are logged, and everything that has been altered to a page can be seen by clicking on the history tab on the top of any page containing an encyclopedia entry.

Creating and editing pages on Wikipedia is a pretty easy process, but that is not to say that there aren’t some specific formatting rules that need to be followed when doing so. Luckily, there is quite a lot of documentation available to help people who are new. Give Wikipedia a try today; I know if you like it as much as I do, you’ll find it to be a good source of information on virtually any topic you’re searching about.


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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001