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Wikipedia Final Essay - Spornstarr 1 Leo Spornstarr Barbara...

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Spornstarr 1 Leo Spornstarr Barbara Shwom Freshman Seminar 19 October 2010 The Wikipedia Quandary Each day, approximately thirteen percent of all individuals who use the internet visit one website. There are approximately 17 million articles in 275 different languages according to the site’s official page. One might assume that this site is obviously an online dictionary or encyclopedia. Both of those guesses are right: The site is Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the seventh most visited in the entire world according to Alexa (Wikipedia.org-The Information Powerhouse), is often the subject of controversy. Despite the vast number of users and topics, the credibility of these articles constantly comes into question. There are those who doubt that a website that allows for anyone with internet access to edit its content can possibly contain accurate information. On the other hand, some see this as a positive attribute, allowing for the quick gathering of information worldwide. Wikipedia is filled with accurate information and should be trusted as a legitimate research source because the contributors are trustworthy, its accuracy is comparable to other top-ranked encyclopedias, it has the trust of scientists, and false and vandalized articles are removed efficiently and quickly. The prefix “wiki” refers to a certain type of website that is built upon basic internet code. This means that any individual can easily edit the information contained within the website as long as they have internet access. These sites are mainly used for large collaborations of information, community websites, and simple databases. This concept holds true within Wikipedia itself although there are some limitations as to what can be edited easily. Currently, the majority of more common subjects cannot be edited by a random individual, such as Christianity, these pages can only be edited by registered users. Less common topics, such as Mardsen Park in New South Wales, can be edited by any individual. The
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Spornstarr 2 only loophole is that any individual can create a Wikipedia account easily. In addition, there are about five thousand administrators who are in charge of mediating arguments over page edits and filtering certain edits to important pages. As of now, there are approximately twenty-six million registered users on Wikipedia in addition to the millions of anonymous edits made daily by people across the globe. Wikipedia began in 2001 and has built a solid foundation of articles over the past nine years. Over these nine years, hundreds of millions of edits have been made and the amount of articles has increased rapidly. The first important aspect of Wikipedia to consider is if the contributors to the website are trustworthy. A study performed by Dartmouth College in 2007 revealed several interesting characteristics regarding the editors of Wikipedia. The study compared the users of Dutch and French Wikipedia, registered users versus anonymous ones, and the retention rate of these edits. In general, the highest
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