I love Wikipedia


Every time I read something factual on the internet, I try to remind myself to cross reference it, so I don't end up spouting facts out of my ass with no backup (bad habit of mine).
It doesn't always pan out that way, I have been known to go out half-cocked and be wrong.
Something I find particular trouble with, in this tech-savvy world I'm much more likely to be reading something written overseas, and I don't neccessarily always understand the context in which its written.
Enter-Wikipedia.
Now Wikipedia I think is what teachers always used to refer to (in theory) when I was in High School as "don't use Internet references, they aren't always accurate"
I don't think Wikipedia existed when I was at school, but there was a lot of false and misleading information out in the web, and it was always more secure to go and visit the trusty Library to get your source matieral.
Now, if I was at school, I wouldn't dream of using textbooks for sources (unless I had access to a University Library I guess) because the information printed in books can sometimes be outdated before the ink has even dried on the page.
The internet has changed the face of Information gathering, because it can be so much more trustworthy nowdays.
Now I'm not claiming that Wikipedia is unimpeachable in his accuracy, its greatest strength is its one downfall, in that anyone can edit an entry after registering with Wiki. This has been raked over the coals on more than one occassion after misuse. It can mena though, that through collaborative effort, each article is more accurate than if one person writes the whole thing.

Ten years ago, if you were watching an international sitcom, or reading a book, and the characters shared a joke about something that they don't have in Australia, unless you had a friend native to the country of origin, to ask what the pop culture reference meant, you would stay none the wiser. With Wikipedia, this irritation is no more! If I find something online or in a book, I can go straight to Wikipedia for a relatively simply definition of the thing/service/store.
Being a big reader, it has taken me years to figure out what Wal-Mart, Denny's, Wendy's etc are in America. While it won't change my life, figuring out the context in which stores are mentioned helps shape the narrative.
The real fantastic thing about Wikipedia however, is that it doesn't stop at just places or things, you can figure out pop culture through Wikipedia too.
Eg, Paris Hilton, if you've been living under a rock, and can't figure out what all the fuss is, here are some quotes from her page on Wikipedia
This article is about the American socialite. Hilton has worked as a model, actress, musician, and businesswoman.[5] According to Forbes Magazine, she earned approximately $2 million in 20032004,[6] $6.5 million in 2004–2005,[7] and $7 million in 2005–2006.[8]
A four-year-old homemade sex video of Hilton and then-boyfriend Rick Salomon was leaked on the Internet in 2003, later released as the DVD 1 Night in Paris despite attempted legal action. Paris Hilton has been quoted as saying that she is the "iconic blonde of the decade"' and compared herself to Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe (a claim she denied in the May 2007 issue of Harper's Bazaar).[69] She will reportedly appear in the 2007 Guinness World Records as the world's "Most Overrated Celebrity".[70] In a poll conducted by the Associated Press and AOL, Hilton was voted the second "Worst Celebrity Role Model of 2006", behind Britney Spears.[71] Critics suggest that Hilton epitomizes the title of famous for being famous;[72] echoing that sentiment, the Associated Press conducted what they called an experiment in February 2007, trying not to report on Hilton for a whole week.[73]
So this information would give you an idea of what a passing reference to Paris Hilton might mean.
I recently decided I would try to figure out what Craigslist was. Now, if you just go to the Craigslist website, it is a weird looking list of categories. That doesn't really help me figure out what it's place in American culture is. When I go Wikipedia though, the top line of the article is a quick description or definition of what you're viewing :
Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) and forums on various topics.
Yay! I can choose to continue reading, or be satisfied I finally know what this thing is.
Another page I found particularly satisfying was when I was trying to verify an email forward about Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I ended up finding the information in the forward was factual, without having to pay a cent. This is another of Wikipedia's strengths, its available in multiple languages, and is a global effort, so its not just American, it has Australian topics, English topics, ranging from people, to retail stores, to places to things.

This is why I love Wikipedia, you can find anything, anywhere. ( To date there are 2,322,782 articles in English)
I firmly beleive everything on Wikipedia should be taken with a grain of salt, but I'm still a massive fan.
Has anyone else found anything particularly useful or obscure on Wikipedia?

9 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

PrincesseEmma said...
April 08, 2008 9:21 AM

I'm a huge Wiki fan too, I use it to find out similar things. But as I'm at uni I have been sternly warned by every lecturer at the beginning of every course NOT to use Wiki as a reference for essays/assignments.
What do you think of Mia's new coloured masthead? She's trying new colours this week...

Dataceptionist said...
April 08, 2008 11:03 AM

The links in the post keep crashing my browser, but I kind of like it! I didn't get to see the green that everyone whinged about.

PrincesseEmma said...
April 08, 2008 12:27 PM

Well I don't like green at all so I wasn't a fan. It was kinda like the green highlighting the links in your Logies post. Very fluro green with the sparkles stil there.
I'm not a fan of the "sparkly mustard" either... but it's not my blog. She did ask for opinions though.
Did you know Mia's pregnant again?!

K said...
April 08, 2008 3:36 PM

I can't believe how many students in my law course reference Wiki in assignments! It's appalling. Great for personal pop-culture references but I wouldn't use it in business.

Snopes is another big fav of mine.

non-Blondie said...
April 08, 2008 11:39 PM

Wikipedia is the adjudicator in all arguments between me & my boyfriend. Because we don't really argue like normal couples, we have fierce relationship ending fights over who sang 'Go West'. I said Village People, he said Pet Shop Boys. We were both right. It's probably saved our relationship, mainly because he now knows I'm always right!

Dataceptionist said...
April 09, 2008 9:34 AM

Thats a bit ridiculous isn't it K!

Hahaha non-Blondie the same day I posted this, I was having a disagreement with my brother in law's gf about whether Baskin Robbins or New Zealand Natural icecreams had been in Australia longer. The bet-a scoop at the winners icecreamery.
I will have a scoop of Bosenberry thankyou
Wiki helped me to the answer that BR has been in Aus since 1991, NZN since 1985. Woot woot

Reanan said...
April 09, 2008 6:01 PM

Yes I recently read a little article in the paper to the same effect that a new phrase has been coined for essays/assignments totally researched on Wikipedia (and annoyingly enough cannot remember where I read it or what it was GR)

I LOVE wiki for the reason that it is edited and written by people, but indeed I am not about to start believing it as law! Anything that is not on Wikipedia is hardly worth knowing. My high school is on Wikipedia, I absolutely kid you not!
There is only ONE thing that I cannot find on wiki (or the internet)WHO IS J.D BOATWOOD?
You know that guy who appears on those little Collins quote a day calendars... the only thing.

Dataceptionist said...
April 10, 2008 9:37 AM

If I had to chance a guess I'd say JD Boatwood is probably someone who has only ever been credited with One quote.
That, or someone thought JD Boatwood was more plausible than "anonymous" (and that person is now laughing at you for researching them)

Ossipewsk said...
February 02, 2010 3:03 PM

Reanan and Dataceptionist: JD Boatwood was, it appears, at times an Australian itinerant worker with a love for letters and the English language. He lived in various regional areas of northern Australian and the state of Victoria. See: http://community.livejournal.com/quickquillquote/23862.html

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