Wikipedia isn’t always wrong

No, academic institutions don’t like Wikipedia. And they have their reasons. It’s an open platform for anyone to update, so the accuracy of the content is often criticised. That said, it’s still being used by students across subject areas, researchers and professionals alike. Wikipedia is great at providing an initial understanding of a new topic or interest, and that’s the primary reason it’s such a good starting point for those on the hunt for knowledge.

Well, that’s all well and good isn’t it? Wikipedia is great, but now what? Its huge index of pages ranging from aerodynamic heating to zoology, will undoubtedly include pages of information relating to your book or journal topic. Your content will benefit these people and it’s a perfect way for you to link them to your work. You can add your journal or book to the page of relevance as a reference for other viewers to visit.

What about the debate over accuracy?

Ok, so it may be maintained by volunteers, but isn’t the internet itself a huge platform of volunteers all adding their bit? The fact these volunteers come from all backgrounds, parts of the world and different professions, means Wikipedia is extremely diverse and un-biased.

According to their website, Wikipedia has the largest number of individuals editing any one site, at a rate of almost 25 edits per second. That’s 2160,000 edits a day! Of course information can be mis-entered or factually incorrect, but newspapers can print mistakes or estimate results and only correct themselves in the next daily paper. Wikipedia’s team of editors and copy-writers, however, are on hand to make sure any false claims or bogus pages are removed within minutes of being created; blocking repeat offenders of malicious content along the way.

This speed of constant updating means the latest news or new developments and discoveries don’t take long to appear on Wikipedia. It’s relevant and current and is able to change in real-time as research progresses, unlike a book or journal that may have been published over 10 years ago.

Its content is well-laid out and easy to follow and although you may go elsewhere to get confirmation of numbers and statistics, as an introduction to say binary code or the life of Elvis Presley, it’s extremely useful.

With all these benefits, it’s no surprise so many people are still using Wikipedia as a source of education. If everyone else is using it, then you should be too. The only rule here is to make sure your input is pertinent to the page. There’s no point randomly throwing in links to your journal or work on entries that aren’t directly related; the reader won’t look at them and chances are they’ll be removed by Wikipedia. Make sure when you reference your work, it really is going to benefit the reader.

If there isn’t a page already available about your journal topic or book’s main themes, why not make one? You can find out how to with Wikipedia’s easy guide: Your First Article. As with any internet presence, the more the better, so you could even think about creating a page on yourself as an author, or on the journal you’re published in.

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