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July 04, 2007

Wikipedia - How It Works

Wikipedia Last Sunday's New York Times magazine had an article about Wikipedia: "All the News That's Fit to Print Out (by Jonathan Dee).  Wikipedia is a online encyclopedia that can be edited by any registered user. This free source of information is not free of controversy; some question whether the information can be trusted. I go by the "read but verify" while using Wikipedia. But I use the site often, if not only to see how other people view the definitions or as a easy way to obtain links for blog posts. Wikipedia is also a great example of the positive forces of Web 2.0; a free online resource updated by an extensive and loyal user community. Here are some factoids from the New York Times Magazine article:

  • USERS: The first level is for users (4.6 million registered English-language users). Anyone can register. The Wikipedia page explains that users have the ability to start new pages, edit semi-protected pages, rename pages and upload images. The introduction has more information about user abilities.
  • ADMINISTRATORS: 1,200 are "administrators" have extra access, including the power to block others from the site. To become an administrator, the user must answer a series of five questions. Other users have seven days to either approve or dis-approve.
  • STEWARDS: Above the administrator level is "bureaucrats" who can appoint administrators. The level about bureaucrats are "stewards" who are appointed by the seven-person Wikimedia foundation board of directors. There are only 30 stewards. There are also levels above the stewards but it was not clear how many.

The New York Times Magazine article shed light on the dedicated, young and almost cult-like group helping to keep Wikipedia going - all without pay. Some of those dedicated few did get their moment in the spotlight by being featured in the article. I thought it interesting that I obtained information on how Wikipedia works from mainstream media while it seems many young get their news from the Internet. So it is good for the "older" folks to see what the "young" folks are reading on the Internet.


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I'm an "older" folk, and I still watch over my teen's shoulder when he's searching Wikipedia in case he runs into something totally off-base. The folks at Wiki seem to be cleaning up their act and increasing their reliability.

We need to start making some Wikipedia pages of our own!

I never got in to the whole idea of Wikipedia and editing content. I know this sounds lazy but it just seemed like extra work to have to go in and edit stuff. So I never really learned how it works. I just use it as an encyclopedia online, mainly because it's always in the top search results when trying to research info.

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