18 September 2007

Knowledge is free online

WHERE on earth can we find 1.74 billion words in 7.5 million articles in approximately 250 languages completely free? Is there a non-profit one stop shop with about 2,010,642 articles as on date and growing with 1700 new English articles per day? Yes, this week we are talking about the online website www.wikipedia.org which has been ranked the 10th busiest domain on the Internet.

The website has a wealth of knowledge authored by over 5 million registered editors. It is an example of online encyclopedia, collaboratively authored by the society serving the community as an open source of knowledge with no practical limit to the number of topics it can cover.

Wikipedia’s name is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a type of collaborative website like ‘What I Know Is’) and encyclopaedia (Wikiwiki in Hawaiian means quick say for reference). Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales in 2001 as a free, community project under the vision of Larry Sanger who was editor-in-chief of nupedia.com wherecan subject experts worldwide authored. He suggested a lighter version with public contribution to create an all new encyclopaedia.
The Wikimedia Foundation was established in 2003 as a non-profit organisation to oversee the wikipaedia project and its expansions. Currently the foundation offers a wide gamut of wiki-projects:
  • Commons — Free media repository
  • Wikinews — Free-content news
  • Wiktionary — Dictionary and thesaurusl
  • Wikiquote — Collection of quotations
  • Wikibooks — Free textbooks and manuals
  • Wikisource — Free-content library
  • Wikispecies — Directory of species
  • Wikiversity — Free learning materials and activities
  • Meta-Wiki — Wikimedia project coordination

All Wikipedia content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing views fairly, proportionately and without bias. Details of this policy can be found online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view.

NPOV requires views to be represented without bias with respect to class, commercial, ethnic or racial, geographical, nationalistic, gender, political, religious, sensationalist or the scientific. Perhaps this neutrality attributes to the information focus on content backed up by verifiability.
Wikipedia is neither a dictionary nor a publisher of original thought. It is also not a personal essay of opinions or a discussion forum. It also does not follow the news streams like primary source journalism. There are no self-promotional articles or sponsor advertisements.

Wikipedia articles are about the people, concepts, places, events, and things that their titles denote. The articles contain relevant referential link to other wikipedia articles and other sources from the public domain. Anyone reading Wikipedia can edit an article and the changes are displayed instantaneously without any checking to ensure appropriateness. But based on reader reviews, inappropriate content is usually removed immediately.

Wikipedia is very much internationalised that as of 2007, almost 75 per cent of its articles are non-English. The license Wikipedia uses grants free access to its content in the same sense as free software. Content is bound by copyright for contributors and freely licensed to the public under the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL).

That is to say, Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used.So enjoy free reading, for example access their English homepage at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.

1 comment:

Al-Maawali said...

I think wikipedia is one of the greatest internet creations. It is a great way to share knowledge with everbody.

I know I use it frequently!