Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia project in many languages. It is free of charge (it does not cost money to use). It is also “open content,” which means anyone can copy it for any purpose, as long as they follow certain rules.
It is owned by the American organization, Wikimedia Foundation, which is located in San Francisco, California.
Its name is a combination of the two words wiki, a Hawaiian word for quick, and encyclopedia. Because the word was made by combining parts of those words, it is a portmanteau.
It was started on January 10, 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger as part of Nupedia. But they separated in January 15, 2001. It is based on an older Internet encyclopedia named Nupedia. It is a wiki that runs using the software MediaWiki (like all other Wikimedia projects).
Anyone can change the pages in Wikipedia, or even make new ones. Wikipedia has a standard format that must apply for all pages in the encyclopedia.
As of December 2007, Wikipedia had about 9.25 million pages in 253 languages, and more than 1.74 billion words across all Wikipedias.
Some people think that the English Language Wikipedia shows bias and unfairness. Editors of reference works such as the Encyclopædia Britannica have questioned Wikipedia’s utility and status as an encyclopedia. Others believe that Wikipedia is more useful than other encyclopedias because it can be updated so quickly. and it’s also the site you’re looking at right now.
Wikipedia contributors, “Wikipedia,” Wikipedia, , http://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia&oldid=2967451 (accessed August 18, 2011). (Chicago citation style)
Questions and Talking Points
- Make sure you know the red words and connections (we shall probably find something more challenging next time, we’ll see).
- Is Wikipedia a good academic source? Why?/Why not? What is the controversy? Is it always reliable? Why?/Why not? (No ideas? Visit Wikipedia: Citing)
- Have you been using Wikipedia during your studies? What for?
- What other Wikipedia projects do you now? How could you use them? (No ideas? Visit Wikimedia Foundation Simple English or English or the Meta-Wiki list)
- Find an interesting fact about Wiki/Wikipedia… (No ideas? Visit Wiki)