Sunday, November 21, 2010

Support Wikipedia

"Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." This vision led Jimmy Wales to found Wikipedia in January 2001. Since then, the English-language Wikipedia has expanded to more than 3,450,000 articles today. In total, Wikipedia contains more than 17 million volunteer-authored articles in over 265 languages, and is visited by more than 408 million people every month, making it the fifth most-popular internet site in the world.

While it is fashionable in scholarly circles to look askance at citations from Wikipedia, the reality is that articles on Wikipedia are often as good or better than other encyclopedias that charge for access and are usually far more current. Articles are reviewed by teams of volunteers consisting of academics with credentials in relevant areas. In addition, the democratic nature of Wikipedia means that inaccurate information, unbalanced perspectives, and contributions of insufficient quality do not remain unchallenged for long.

In 2003, the Wikimedia Foundation began and now supports other valuable repositories of materials, including:
  • Wikimedia Commons, a media repository containing more than 7,700,000 freely usable images, videos, and sound files

  • Wikibooks, a project to create free textbooks

  • Wiktionary, a multilingual dictionary and thesaurus

  • Wikisource, a library of source texts containing more than 474,000 proofread pages in 19 languages

  • Wikinews, a citizen news website

  • Wikiversity, an interactive learning platform

  • Wikiquote, a collection of quotations

  • Wikispecies, a directory of life on Earth

Around this time each year, Wikipedia asks for contributions to support its work. There are no ads on any of Wikimedia's sites, so contributions are their only source of revenue. If you benefit from this free online resource, then I hope you will visit their contribution page and make a donation. And if you have expertise in any field of learning, I hope you will join Wikipedia and volunteer by contributing and editing content.

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