While Wikipedia has frequently been accused of inaccuracy and bias, the Internet encyclopedia’s creators should be commended for their contributions to the democratization of both the dissemination of, and access to, information in the last 10 years.
For some time, Wikipedia has been an important source of information for many of the world’s almost 2 billion Internet users. It distinguishes itself from other information sources in that almost anyone can contribute to it. While other forms of disseminating information require one to have a certain amount of money, university degrees, or popularity, contributing content to Wikipedia requires only a computer with Internet access. This has allowed people from a wide array of diverse backgrounds and situations to make contributions to communal knowledge, of the sort that have in the past been restricted to the wealthy, the well-educated, and the popular.
Wikipedia has not just contributed to democratizing the dissemination of information, but also to easing access to it. As many students at Concordia can attest, finding information in a library or archives can be a quite daunting task, even for someone involved in academia. Wikipedia offers a level of accessibility to information that simply cannot be matched by more traditional institutions. Accessing information on Wikipedia can be done without encountering many of the challenges found at libraries or archives, and from the comfort of your own home. In this way, it has democratized not just the dissemination of information, but access to it as well.
The fact that absolutely anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry is one of the main arguments the site’s detractors point to, but like everything on the web, cautious and wary users can make sure to take everything on there with a grain of salt and check the sources of the information.
Wikipedia is available in over 250 different languages
There are over 3.5 million articles in English on Wikipedia, 17 million in total
Wikipedia estimates there are over 325 million readers, averaging out to 21 readers per article
There have been over 1 billion edits to date, and growing
Google searches are responsible for 50 per cent of search engine traffic to Wikipedia
As of 2008, 30 per cent of all entries were about culture and the arts
Wikipedia is an ad-free website that is kept running by donations from its users
Over 80 per cent WikiEditors are male
70 per cent of WikiEditors are single
Wiki is Hawaiian for quick
* Courtesy of Wikipedia’s
Wikipedia entry and ItPro.co.uk