15th January marked wikipedia’s 15th anniversary. Wikimedia tells us that this week, we celebrate not just Wikipedia, but the birth of an idea: that anyone can contribute to the world’s knowledge.The site was launched in 2001 and since then, it has been a huge part of our lives and we’ve so much of our time with it. Needless to say, it’ll be the first place you visit when you need a quick summary of anything. It is also a source for great references on for any given topic. The depth of information it makes available freely has made it unprecedented. It has become a site to find nuance in things painted black and white. Today, a single contribution can prove to be something remarkable either in the process of revising our knowledge of history or ti find consensus in disputed truths.
In these 15 years wikipedia has grown constantly and now boasts articles in so many different languages. Wikipedia’s strength lies in collaboration. Its articles are continuously being edited or rather updated by people from around the world. Take an example of the paris terror attack last year. Almost immediately someone created a page for it and within a few hours it was edited so many times that it has turned the site into a real time breaking news source.
But over the time, wikipedia has also had it’s share of issues. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia has shrunk by a one third and is still shrinking. And hence, the workforce to protect wiki from vandalism, hoaxes and manipulation has declined in number. The site has remained popular with lazy students who just copy-paste the info in exact words to their assignments. Bias sneeks in with different entries. All these are among the unresolved problems of the world’s 6th most used site. According to different statistic reports, Wikipedia has been growing but not always for the better and these are the issues which need an immediate lookup.
Also, to mark the 15th anniversary of wikipedia, there has been an announcement for wikimedia endowment, a source of continuous funding for wikipedia and wikimedia foundation. This will be a perpetual source of support empowering people to create and contribute to a free source of knowledge. Wikipedia surely isn’t going away.