Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikipedia – Why you should care…

Today’s column is not so much a scientific rant, like I normally provide, but a plea:

Support Wikipedia.

What is Wikipedia? It is an on-line encyclopedia of sorts. It is the 5th most visited site on all of the internet. More than 400 million people use Wikipedia and its sister sites every month, so they claim. It has information on just about everything. I use it often when I teach, admittedly checking the facts against my own understanding of a subject before referring students to the site, but it is nearly always correct. It has a level of accuracy, I think, that shames the entire rest of the internet, all sites combined.

Why is Wikipedia amazing? It provides information, for free, to anyone and everyone that wants access. And, after all, that is my motto, Science Is For Everyone. Although wikipedia is not just science, it is a collection of facts that has the same appeal as science, at least for me.

John Goma, an editor for Wikipedia, recalls “I found a Wikipedia article on a topic that I had studied when I was a math student. I noticed that a few important points were missing. I hit the edit button, made some changes, and I've been writing and editing ever since. “ He states “Wikipedia is the sum of all those moments of discovery by millions of editors like me. People across the world add their time and energy to the vast, ever-growing store of knowledge that Wikipedia has become. But what's really remarkable about Wikipedia is that it's the product of volunteers working one entry at a time. And because Wikipedia is free of advertising, those of us who create and use Wikipedia have to protect and sustain it.”

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's Wikimedia’s commitment. The Wikimedia Foundation is the foundation raising the funds to keep Wikipedia alive.

Want to know where your money would go? A donation to Wikipedia/Wikimedia supports technology and people. The Wikimedia Foundation develops and improves the technology behind Wikipedia and nine other projects, and sustains the infrastructure that keeps them up and running. The Foundation has a staff of about fifty, which provides technical, administrative, legal and outreach support for the global community of volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia.
Many people love Wikipedia, use it every day, but a surprising number don't know it's run by a non-profit.

Just type Wikipedia in your browser search bar and you’ll be there. Support the quest for knowledge and free access to it.

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