The internet’s favourite website
- The world’s biggest encyclopedia turned 19 on the 15th of January 2020.
- English Wikipedia has 6m articles (full list of all 302 language Wikipedias)
- 500 million visitors per month
- 1.5 billion monthly unique devices per month.
- 18 billion page views per month.
- More reliable than you think
- Vandalism removed more quickly than you think (only 7% of edits are considered vandalism).
- Used in schools & universities to teach information literacy & help combat fake news.
- Guidelines around use of reliable sources, conflict of interest, verifiability, and neutral point of view.
- Articles ‘looked after’ (monitored and maintained) by editors from 2000+ WikiProjects.
- Includes a quality and ratings scale
- 87.5% of students report using Wikipedia for their academic work and find it useful in an introductory or clarificatory role.
- Used by 90% of medical students and 50-75% of physicians.
- It is the place people turn to orientate themselves on a topic.
- British people trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph and Times.
- Your Middle School Teacher was wrong about Wikipedia
- People love Wikipedia: the internet’s favourite website.
- Wikipedia comes of age – The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Students’ use of Wikipedia as an academic resource — Patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness
- Updating Wikipedia should be part of all doctor’s job.
- See the page on Bermuda Triangle to see why reference librarians recommend Wikipedia for pre-researching a topic.
Did Media Literacy backfire?
“Too many students I met were being told that Wikipedia was untrustworthy and were, instead, being encouraged to do research. As a result, the message that many had taken home was to turn to Google and use whatever came up first. They heard that Google was trustworthy and Wikipedia was not.” (Boyd, 2017)
Don’t cite Wikipedia, write Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia does not want you to cite it. It considers itself a tertiary resource; an online encyclopedia built from articles which in turn are based on reliable, published, secondary sources.
- Wikipedia is relentlessly transparent. Everything on Wikipedia can be checked, challenged and corrected. Cite the sources Wikipedia uses, not Wikipedia itself.
Wikipedia does need more subject specialists to engage with it to improve its coverage, however. More eyes on a page helps address omissions and improves the content.