Thursday, May 28, 2020

The simple thought behind the discovery of Wikipedia, the largest online encyclopedia

Wikipedia is so popular among internet users. Professionals, such as journalists, writers, researchers, or students, even teachers or lecturers, of course, familiar with Wikipedia as a reference. Wikipedia has become one of the most popular sites in the world.

Who exactly is the figure behind the creation of the largest online encyclopedia site in the world? He is Jimmy Wales, a technopreneur from Alabama, the United States, who is crazy about science and wants to share it with anyone.

"Imagine if the world of individuals on this planet was given free access to all of science, that's what we did," Wales said in an interview with Slashdot Media.

Wales officially introduced Wikipedia on January 15, 2001, with his colleague Larry Sanger. However, Sanger who served as editor in chief resigned in 2002. After that, Wales worked alone in managing operations and looking for donations that were more spent to pay for servers and hosting.

Wikipedia was born as an experiment in gathering information. But what made it successful was that the encyclopedia was working in a new format, which was booming at the time, the dotcom. The strength of Wikipedia is its success in building communities that are bound by their reputation and voluntary involvement to collaborate in gathering information.

By the organization's image that Wikipedia is a ‘Free encyclopedia that anyone can edit’, Wales's idea is very simple, anyone can create articles, edit, revise, and refine articles. This site received an extraordinary response. At the end of its first year, Wikipedia had 20,000 articles.

In the early days, the flexibility in writing and editing articles turned out to create problems of its own. Some users are not responsible for doing 'vandalism' by editing articles blindly. On the other hand, some users use this media to write articles according to their interests. Not infrequently the 'editing war' of two sides who felt the most correct about the contents of the article.

The most sensible solution and this is happening, is that Wikipedia has millions of voluntary editors who hold fast to reputation and want to convey knowledge properly. When these editors detect errors, they will automatically revise them to the point where other editors agree on the truth without the need for further revisions.

This method creates a balance in assessing the accuracy of Wikipedia articles. Also, this revision far exceeds the speed of any media in making errata. In 2005, the journal Nature compared the accuracy of scientific articles on Wikipedia with the Encyclopedia Britannica. The articles are sent to experts in their respective fields for review. The result found an average of four errors in Wikipedia entries, was only slightly worse than Britannica with an average of three errors per entry.

The community of Wikipedia writers and editors continues to grow and spread throughout the world. On its website, visitors can read articles in hundreds of languages in the world, including regional languages that still have a community of speakers in various parts of the world. Until the mid-2020, Wikipedia had more than 6,085,000 articles in English, 2,436,000 in German, 2,219,000 in French, 1,601,000 in Spanish, and 529,000 in Indonesian.

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