Wikipedia The Collaborative Encyclopedia
Wikipedia is an easy choice, an obvious website to include as an all time great website. One of the largest and most successful global collaborative projects ever undertaken, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia written entirely by volunteers. Subject matter experts all over the world contribute their knowledge for free, for the benefit of others.
With some ten million articles currently available, Wikipedia is an incredible source of information on a diverse range of subjects. Volunteer editors monitor the newly posted content to make sure that it complies with the rather idealistic philosophy of the project, and by and large they do a fantastic job.
The word Wikipedia is a made up word, a portmanteau. It is a combination of words and their meanings. A Wiki is a type of collaborative website, and the "pedia" part is taken from Encyclopedia. The latter you will be familiar with, but let me briefly explain the "Wiki" part.
A Wiki website allows you as a user, or reader of that website, to actively make changes directly to the webpage. If you read an article for instance, you may be an expert on that subject yourself and like to add something to the article. With a Wiki you can, the webpage is updated instantly and the rest of the population benefits from your knowledge. You could be making a correction to an article if you know it to be wrong, or adding an entire new page or topic area.
Wikipedia is heavily hyper-linked. Every possible keyword that has further information contained about it within Wikipedia, is linked directly to the appropriate page. The result is an incredible web of links that you can jump between to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.
Wikipedia currently contains articles written in 250 different languages, and contributors do not need to be subject matter experts, as the primary objective is to mine as much current knowledge as possible, to make a huge global information resource. All you need to do is click the "Edit this Page" link to contribute.
Obviously by its nature the Wikipedia project is open to some abuse, and newer articles, until moderated, can contain mis-information or self-promoting or abusive content, but such content is quickly wiped out. However, if you are researching then you need to be aware of its limitations. Overall the Wikipedia project is a genuinely impressive human achievement, and in my opinion worthy of a top score.
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