Over the last few months I have been studying the Wikipedia site so I could get a better understanding on how to apply it to my own work. Like most I have used Wikipedia for years and like Google classify it as an authority site. However, I have also found that when using Wikipedia I must be very careful to verify ALL the information before I quote any of it. Although they see themselves as a live encyclopedia, they sure aren’t World Book or Britannica. Here is what I have found…
When we review the facts to the right, we see there are over 21,696,122 registered users, and only 1405 administrators. Now one additional fact is that there are 76,000 active contributors. So although not all 21 million are contributing, we can still see that 76K far outweighs 1400 administrators. Just this one facts proves that Wikipedia, as much as they might try, could not hold true to their own five pillars. For those who might wonder, the five pillars are listed below.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: Although Wikipedia does it’s best unlike an encyclopedia, they allow anyone even an anonymous contributor to post content. And as we saw above, with 76,000 contributors writing daily, there is no way the administrators at Wikipedia can stay on top of things, no matter what their intent.
Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: I truly believe that Wiki would love to be neutral, however, in reviewing pages of network marketing companies, such as Lyoness I found where the balance of information was tilted to a negative slant. As I followed the links to where the info was coming from, I didn’t find traditional news, government or research sites, I found the links in many cases went to critics websites who are known for not being fans of any network marketing company.
Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute: This may be the biggest issue which causes me to question if Wikipedia can truly be called neutral or even an encyclopedia. If the content can be modified by anyone, and there are no guidelines or any real method of determining if the content is true and accurate, then every article should be investigated further to determine if the info is accurate and delivered from a neutral point of view or a biased point of view.
Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: This is the only five pillar that I have seen work well. Although there have been a few cases where some short-lived personal attacks took place those seem to be edited fast by administrators or other contributors.
Wikipedia does not have firm rules: I found this pillar to totally violate first principles of logic. Here is the one firm rule that Wikipedia lives by “If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.” Since this is the main principle that Wikipedia lives by, then the above four pillars are not really pillars, but more like blades of grass which can be trampled down based on each individual contributors worldview.
In closing… I will continue to use Wikipedia as a reference site where I can follow a trail of info on the subject I am studying. However, I will make sure I do not quote Wikipedia as an authority site from this point further. Instead I will flow the trail of info to get the real facts on the subject matter at hand.