wonders of wiki

WikipediaThe marvel of the “wiki” movement across cyberspace is beginning to dawn on me. A wiki, as wikipedia itself defines it, is “a software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.” (Wikipedia). The effectiveness and following of wiki sites, particularly the almighty Wikipedia, became evident to me this morning when news broke of Heath Ledger’s death. Within hours, someone had pointed out to me that Heath Ledger’s wikipedia page had already been updated to include details of the breaking news of his death. A section had been added summarising his death, and a notice placed on the top of the page reading: 

This article is about a person who has recently died. Some information, such as that pertaining to the circumstances of the person’s death and surrounding events, may change rapidly as more facts become known.   

 Looking back through the revision version history in Wikipedia’s records, the first mention of Ledger’s death was at 8:44AM AEST this morning. He was only pronounced dead an hour before at 7:45AM AEST. Since that edit to the page, simply stating he had died, there has been an incredible 750 or so updates to the page, resulting in a neat summary of the day’s events. There seems to be an incredible amount of people regularly updating content on these wiki sites (or perhaps a few hardcore wiki-lovers who commit all their time to adding and editing content on Wikipedia)

I admit, I to have fallen for Wikipedia, given in to it to have the knowledge that I am adding to the world’s wealth of knowledge. I try to suppress the thought that what I’m adding is useless to the general population, but carry on doing my good wiki-deeds, convinced I’m making the cyber-world a more educated place. For example, I’ve created a wikipedia page for my school and my church, as well as adding information to pages for my suburb, denomination, and city. From these experiments in Wiki-land, I’ve also seen the robust and active Wikipedia community at work. My pages are constantly being edited to fix my spelling mistakes and some new information is being added to some of the pages I began, despite there irrelevance to many, no, most of the world (Not all of this added info has been correct though – but in the spirit of Wikipedia, I went in and corrected it)  

Despite the large amount of ‘freedom of speech’ gained through these sites – the information is generally accurate and unbiased. This is once again thanks the the very active community who strive to make everything on wikipedia accurate, objective and notable (ie: “worthy of note” – or “not just a page about what you ate last night etc”. I ran into this issue with my school’s page – but luckily, in the end, my school was deemed “notable” enough for a prestigious place in wikipedia)

How active the Wikipedia community is, how much information is being added constantly, and how accurate and impartial this information is amazes me. The only sad thing is it took a tragic event like Heath Ledger’s death for me to see this properly. 

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