Wikipedia’s Challenges: Beyond Accuracy

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Since its inception in 2001, Wikipedia has become the fifth most popular website in the world, with almost half a billion readers per month. According to The Economist, 15% of all internet users in the world visit Wikipedia on any given day. Wikipedia is also massive in size, spanning 287 languages, with more than 4 million articles in its English version alone. Comparatively, that is 1,600 times as many articles as the Encyclopedia Britannica. (“Wikipeaks”) The Wikimedia Foundation - the non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia - only employs about 170 people, but what it lacks in paid workers it makes up for in volunteers: Wikipedia has its own community of about 76,000 unpaid editors that contribute tirelessly to its growth and accuracy. It is so popular that several articles are amended per second. (“Wikipeaks”) Despite the misinformation that having an open encyclopedia can bring, various comprehensive studies have shown that Wikipedia’s accuracy is comparable to traditional encyclopedias such as Microsoft Encarta and the aforementioned Encyclopedia Britannica, exhibiting slightly more or slightly less accuracy depending on the subject area(s) considered and statistical methodology applied. (Lamb & Johnson 68-69)(Rosenzweig 128-129). These statistics on popularity and accuracy, while necessary for scholarly legitimacy, are not the only challenges Wikipedia faces if it is to continue its aim to be the “sum of all human knowledge.” (qtd. in Lih 6). Wikipedia was founded in 2001 by Larry Sanger, an academic philosopher, and Jimmy Wales, a commodities trader and online entrepreneur. Both originally conceived of a project called Nupedia, a free online encyclopedia with content submission limited to academic experts an... ... middle of paper ... ...Susan. "Author of False Wikipedia Biography Apologizes - Nashville Man Sends Letter to Journalist, Says Entries Were Intended as ' a Joke'" USA Today 12 Dec. 2005: 4A. NewsBank. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past." Journal of American History 93.1 (2006): 117-46. Academic Seaerch Complete. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. Seigenthaler, John. "A False Wikipedia ' Biography ' - This Is a Story of How Vandals, Hiding behind Federal Privacy Laws, Can Use the Highly Popular, Free Online Encyclopedia to Attack Fellow Citizens. It Could Happen to You." USA Today 30 Nov. 2005: 11A. NewsBank. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. "WikiPeaks? the Future of Wikipedia." The Economist. N.p., 01 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. "Wikipedia Kills Accounts In War On PR." Advertising Age 84.38 (2013): 7. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

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