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By Michael Niemeyer
In the ever-fluctuating world of technology, it is hard to know the real deal.
Many websites have false or misleading information, while others just want to flood web surfers with advertisements and make a quick buck.
Wikipedia, website of controversy, is often accused of many wrongdoings and is seen as an unreliable website by some.
The goal of Wikipedia is made clear by one of its founders, Jimmy Whales.
“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's where we're headed” he wrote at the webite of the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns wikipedia.
Wikipedia works vigorously toward achieving this goal by using open source software and by remaining non-profit to create a free online encyclopedia.
To completely understand Wikipedia, one must understand the open source software it utilizes. It operates on “wiki” software, which essentially means anyone can edit most articles. This does not mean an individual can write false or misleading information. There are numerous rules on Wikipedia on how an article must be cited with reliable sources and how it must be written from a neutral viewpoint.
There is an intricate system of editors, or more experienced users, who are given the privilege to remove any vandalism or improperly cited information. Although not all mistakes can be immediately removed, this system proves efficient.
“Nature" magazine conducted a recent study in which experts were given several pairs of articles from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. In a blind experiment, they searched each for errors. Wikipedia had 162 errors, while Britannica had 123.
This is quite astonishing and shows that Wikipedia is nearly as accurate as a “reliable” source.
Not only is it fairly precise, but Wikipedia also contains information on current events that traditional encyclopedias can take years to include. Through open-source software, Wikipedia’s worldwide volunteer base is creating a vast source of knowledge available to everyone.
Wikipedia operates on a volunteer basis. The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. In May, it had 65 paid employees.
According to Alexa Traffic Ranking, this non-profit organization is the sixth largest website in the world. The foundation operates solely on donations and grants from its users and supporters.
Wikipedia is a haven from advertisements and banners because of its reliance on donations. There are about 300,000 volunteers who regularly contribute information to Wikipedia and the cite boasts approximately 15,880,000 accounts, according to the foundation.
These volunteers also help translate Wikipedia articles into numerous languages for global use. As of now, there are 282 different languages represented on the site, making the information available universally.
While it might be rare to see people not motivated by money collaborate to better the world, that is exactly what Wikipedia is trying to do.
Wikipedia is a forward movement that tears down information boundaries and helps unify people across the globe, creating a source of knowledge available free to anyone on Earth.
It is the real deal.
Michael Niemeyer is a junior who is home schooled.