The internet’s favourite website
- The world’s biggest encyclopedia turned 17 in January 2018.
- English Wikipedia has 5.7m articles (full list of all 299 language Wikipedias)
- 500 million visitors per month
- 1.5 billion monthly unique devices per month.
- 17 billion pageviews per month.
- Completely open process and more reliable than you think
- All edits are recorded in the View History of a page in permanent links so pages can be rolled back to their last good state if need be. e.g. View History page for Jeremy Hunt.
- Vandalism removed more quickly than you think (only 7% of edits are considered vandalism)
- e.g. Cluebot removing vandalism immediately from Jeremy Hunt’s page.
- e.g. Wikipedia pages and even individual items of data ‘watched over’ by editors and semi-protected if need be.
- e.g. “Preliminary analysis reveals (∼90%) of the vandalism or foul edits are done by unregistered users… community reaction seemed to be immediate: most vandalisms were reverted within 5 mins on average” – University of Glasgow researchers Alkharashi, A. and Jose, J. (2018)
- 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 – the two highest quality levels of articles are community reviewed.
- Information organised in categories using a category tree. These categories can help create dynamic timelines.
- Knowledge discussed on Talk pages and at the Wikipedia Tea House where you can ask questions.
- 87.5% of students report using Wikipedia for their academic work (Selwyn and Gorard, 2016) in “an introductory and/or clarificatory role” as part of their information gathering and research and finding it ‘academically useful’ in this context.
- Used by 90% of medical students and 50-75% of physicians. (, , , , and , 2017)
- Research from the Harvard Business School has also discovered that, unlike other more partisan areas of the internet, Wikipedia’s focus on NPOV (neutral point of view) means editors actually become more moderate over time; the researchers seeing this as evidence that editing “Wikipedia helps break people out of their ideological echo chambers”
- It is the place people turn to orientate themselves on a topic.
- Wikipedia, the Last Bastion of Shared Reality – The Atlantic, August 2018
- Wikipedia in Higher Education – how students are shaping the open web – Wikimeda UK blog.
- British people trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph and Times.
- Science is shaped by Wikipedia. Talk at Harvard on a research paper about how Wikipedia actively influences science development. Getting (PhD) students to write about key topics (as identified by syllabi analysis) on Wikipedia will improve the advancement of Science; providing evidence of causality, instead of the usual correlation.
- Student Learning Outcomes using Wikipedia-based Assignments – Fall 2016 Research Report.
- 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.
- Wikipedia is fixing one of the internet’s biggest flaws – Washington Post
- 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.
Six in six minutes – 3 students and 3 staff discuss Wikipedia in the Classroom
- Karoline Nanfeldt – 4th year Psychology undergraduate student.
- Tomas Sanders – 4th year History undergraduate student.
- Aine Kavanagh – Senior Hons. Reproductive Biology student.
- Ruth Jenkins – Academic Support Librarian at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
- Dr. Jenni Garden – Christina Miller Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry.
- Dr. Michael Seery – Reader in Education at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry.