Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
News

Wikipedia Hits Million-Entry Mark 348

Posted by timothy
from the and-hits-it-hard dept.
Sir Homer writes "The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the one millionth article in Wikipedia. Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is currently both the world's largest encyclopedia and fastest-growing, with articles under active development in over 100 languages. Nearly 2,500 new articles are added to Wikipedia each day, along with ten times that number of updates to existing articles. Wikipedia now ranks as one of the ten most popular reference sites on the Internet, according to Alexa.com. It is increasingly used as a resource by students, journalists, and anyone who needs a starting point for research. Wikipedia's rate of growth has continued to increase in recent months, and at its current pace Wikipedia will double in size again by next spring." stevejobsjr writes "Wikipedia needs our help. The Wikipedia project has no ads, and is run completely by volunteers. Still, it takes money to run such an amazing resource, and so they are running a fundraiser. The goal is to raise $50,000."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wikipedia Hits Million-Entry Mark

Comments Filter:
  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichardX (457979) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @04:55AM (#10306207) Homepage
    But how much do we REALLY need to know about Klingon or memetics?

    Woah, hold off with that "-1 troll", I'm joking - albeit semi-seriously. Wikipedia is a great resource, and so far seems to do a pretty good job of keeping itself in check by the sheer volume of people checking each other's work.. but there is also the risk of important aspects being missed, or errors creeping in unchecked, as highlighted in a previous slashdot story.

    Still a great resource though, but one best used in conjunction with more traditional ones than as a replacement to them, IMO
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by makomk (752139) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:05AM (#10306252) Journal
      But how much do we REALLY need to know about Klingon or memetics?

      Actually, I find it useful to have a reference work for all those things that are too geeky, obscure, or recent to be in proper encyclopedias. For the things I'm interested in, Wikipedia tends to be the best thing to use.

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by The Grassy Knoll (112931) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:05AM (#10306454) Homepage
        Yes, but two things:

        If you use the Random Page link, you very often get a place in the US, which makes me wonder how much of the wikipedia consists of these entries!

        There used to be a mention in the Southern Sri Lanka page of the Mexican Staring Frog, which as any fuly kno is a fictional animal from South Park. I removed the reference, but how much more crud is there in there?

        .
        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

          by ricotest (807136) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @08:14AM (#10306971)
          Wikipedia has a policy on bots [wikipedia.org] that, while largely negative, allows limited use of bots for certain things.

          One example is that a whole bunch of articles from a 1911 dictionary were added. Another is that 30,000 US towns and cities were automatically added as stubs, with information being added later (basic information, such as state and population, were included I believe).

          This might be useful: History of Wikipedia bots [wikipedia.org]

          30,000 is a chunk of 1 million, but not that large a chunk. You just might have been unlucky ;)
      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ImaLamer (260199) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:24AM (#10306508) Homepage Journal
        For the things I'm interested in, Wikipedia tends to be the best thing to use.

        This is where I agree and disagree.

        Sure, Wikipedia can get you information on the stuff you're interested in.

        The coolest thing is (IMHO) that you can find out about topics you never knew you had interests in. This is the cool thing about any wiki. The ability to link pages that have nothing to do with each other can open the reader's eyes to new topics.

        I find myself browsing Wikipedia all day sometimes reading about things I care nothing about because it's cool to at least check it out.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hai.uchida (814492) <hai.uchida@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:09AM (#10306273)
      Still a great resource though, but one best used in conjunction with more traditional ones than as a replacement to them, IMO

      I don't think Wikipedia was ever meant to replace the traditional library. Its strength has always been in tracking popular culture and trends, cultures, pop artifacts and events that are recent and/or developing. The fact that Wikipedia is ever-changing is a good thing in that regard, because the topics it covers best are in the process of change too.
    • But how much do we REALLY need to know about Klingon or memetics?

      I'd venture to guess that there's more interest in Star Trek [wikipedia.org] and meme theory [wikipedia.org] in slashdot than your typical "important" things like how the king of england gets coronated [wikipedia.org]. don't you think encyclopedias should have information on what you want to know?

      the great part, of course, is that both slashdot geeks and history geeks profit because wikipedia covers so much--in sufficient detail.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xetrov (267777) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:17AM (#10306308)
      And what makes you trust the research of, say, Encyclopedia Britannica?

      Back when I used to use encyclopedias on CD-ROM, often the topics I wanted to find out about had nothing, or maybe just a single paragraph.

      With Wikipedia, if that was the case, after I had found some other resources, I could share my new found knowledge with the rest of humanity by submitting it to Wikipedia.
      • by feepcreature (623518) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:16AM (#10306482) Homepage
        I know the feeling:
        Back when I used to use encyclopedias on CD-ROM, often the topics I wanted to find out about had nothing, or maybe just a single paragraph.
        It's not just CD-ROM encyclopedias... Two words:
        Mostly harmless.
      • Re:Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tony_gardner (533494)
        Traditional works have several advantages over wiki works.

        1. Versioning: If I say I got something from the 1975 Encyclopaedia Brittanica, you can go and check that I got my reference right. Then you can check if the fact was right in that version. With wiki, if I say I got it from the 20.2.2002 wiki, simply finding out if I got the quote right can be a problem.

        2. Continuity: Most books fix errors as the version number increases. There is no gaurantee of continuity in the wiki system.

        3. Editorship: Most o
        • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chuq (8564)
          1. Versioning: If I say I got something from the 1975 Encyclopaedia Brittanica, you can go and check that I got my reference right. Then you can check if the fact was right in that version. With wiki, if I say I got it from the 20.2.2002 wiki, simply finding out if I got the quote right can be a problem.

          3. Editorship: Most other sources have clear lines about which author is responsible for a whole article, and one person who is responsible for seeing that facts are preserved and false statements are revie
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:18AM (#10306312) Homepage Journal
      But how much do we REALLY need to know about Klingon or memetics?
      Or Carlsbad Caverns National Park [wikipedia.org], or Miles Davis [wikipedia.org] or the Heavy metal umlaut [wikipedia.org] or Buddhism [wikipedia.org] or Elizabeth I [wikipedia.org] or Horatio Nelson [wikipedia.org] or....

      Its far from perfect, but Wikipedia has come a long way from being the Encyclopedia That Slashdot Built...
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Eloquence (144160) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:18AM (#10306489) Homepage
        It's never been the encyclopedia that Slashdot built. Everything2 [everything2.com] is. In fact, before there was Everything2, there was everything.slashdot.org. The code was created by some of the same people as Slashdot, and so was a content. For a while, Slashdot used to link to E2 articles using "[?]" links. Of course, unlike Wikipedia articles, you can't just start to improve them. Everything2 is a very geeky system that takes a long time to grok, with a complex, role-playing style experience model that hooks people.

        Wikipedia started out as the progeny of Nupedia, a very serious, peer-reviewed encyclopedia which managed to produce all of two dozen articles. If you look at the Wayback Machine [archive.org] in July 2001, you will find that Wikipedia early on was actually quite philosophy-centric (in part because the original, full-time chief editor, Larry Sanger, is a philsopher).

        Of course we have Slashdot readers among our editors, including myself. But we also have credentialed experts and amateurs from many different fields. We try to make it as easy as possible to join in, and many people who know nothing about computers do. If you (the reader, not the parent poster) know a way to make Wikipedia easier to use, please do not hesitate to submit a feature request [wikipedia.org].

        We don't go around deleting articles on geeky subjects if they're well-written and encyclopedic. But Wikipedia never aimed exclusively at a nerdy audience and its editors were never made up exclusively of members of that audience.

        • Re:Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gowen (141411)
          It's never been the encyclopedia that Slashdot built
          Bollocks, mate. I was a wikipedian before you, and remember the days when it was Ayn Rand, the Jargon File, so don't patronise me with alternative histories.
          • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

            by Eloquence (144160) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @08:10AM (#10306945) Homepage
            When was the last time you read a story about Ayn Rand on Slashdot? The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is an objectivist (highly active participant in the We the Living [wetheliving.com] objectivism portal, check the Atlantis archive, also do a groups.google search), and so are many of his friends, therefore there was a strong libertarian/objectivist bent to Wikipedia articles in the early days. That has nothing to do with "the encyclopedia that Slashdot built" type nonsense. These people didn't come from Slashdot. These are the people that started Wikipedia.

            The Jargon file was one of the early sets of data that was imported. This highlights a general problem with importing data, in that large sets of data imported from a single source may skew the overall impression of Wikipedia in one direction or another, without that impression necessarily being based on any real inherent bias. It's just like saying "Wikipedia is made of US census fans".

            I've first edited Wikipedia articles about half a year after it started and am quite familiar with the project's history.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RichardX (457979) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:37AM (#10306381) Homepage
      I'm replying to my own post, because wow, I didn't expect that first line to generate so much heat... thou shalt not speak of Klingon or memetics in any less than revered tones, I guess

      It was meant as a tongue in cheek line - and for what it's worth, I find memetics a very interesting subject, along with plenty of other geeky things (i'll.. uh.. pass on the Klingon though, thanks)

      My point was simply that Wikipedia, by it's very nature, tends to lend itself to being extremely detailed in specific areas of interest that appeal to it's readership and contributor-ship (such as Klingon or memetics). That's not necessarily any bad thing, and in fact, you probably won't find any other encyclopedia anywhere with such a level of detail on some of the more obscure subjects in Wikipedia.. however, my main point (which I don't think I emphasised enough looking back on it) stands.. that Wikipedia is NOT a replacement to more traditional information resources, but a very good compliment to them

      and as for the guy who said I was just going for a "+5 not completely stupid", feel free to mod me overrated if you want.. personally I don't think my first post should be at +5 either, but then I've long since given up on understanding /. moderators logic.. but at least it's better than another GNAA trollfest
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mAsterdam (103457) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:05AM (#10306456) Homepage
        My point was simply that Wikipedia, by it's very nature, tends to lend itself to being extremely detailed in specific areas of interest that appeal to it's readership and contributor-ship.

        s/Wikipedia/Slashdot/
        s/Wikipedia/Telephone directory/
        s/Wikipedia/the bible/

        s/Wikipedia/any document/

    • Re:Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bhima (46039)
      I guess it depends on the use: my Daughter uses it for homework, I use it on slashdot as reference. But it's not like we're using in court or anything. I guess journalists are at the biggest risk, but judging from some of the crap I see in print I don't suppose they care.
      • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

        by quigonn (80360)
        In fact, I saw a major Austrian newspaper regularly refer to Wikipedia when it comes to explaining terms from the IT industry.
      • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bfields (66644)

        I guess it depends on the use: my Daughter uses it for homework, I use it on slashdot as reference. But it's not like we're using in court or anything. I guess journalists are at the biggest risk...

        I think it's useful for the same thing a traditional encyclopedia is useful for: you can read it to get general background, or to sketch out your ideas, but when it comes to actually writing down an argument in detail you need to go to original sources for support. But there again Wikipedia or a good encyclope

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @04:56AM (#10306212) Homepage
    I think the quality of the articles matter more than the mass. A smaller number of good, well-edited articles on topics that people actually care about would be better.

    The worst part of the whole thing is how Wikipedia is gradually making so many Google searches useless. More and more i find myself typing some term into Google, and getting back a number of "reference" sites that simply grab all the content from Wikipedia and slap advertisements on. Sometimes the whole first page of Google results is like this recently. Aaargh.

    • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by log2.0 (674840)
      You just came up for an idea google could use to make searching more efficient.

      Think about it: Google want to differentiate themselves as the best search (I think they are ATM). This is another way for them to succeed! Filter out copies of Wikipedia/Other copiable sites....
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:04AM (#10306248) Homepage Journal
      how Wikipedia is gradually making so many Google searches useless... a number of "reference" sites that simply grab all the content from Wikipedia and slap advertisements on.
      And for this you blame wikipedia? That's like blaming Led Zeppelin for the existence of Motley Crue and hair metal.
      • Re:So what? (Score:3, Funny)

        by bhima (46039)
        well... they did have long hair... maybe hair spray tech just wasn't up to it back then ;)
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mandalayx (674042) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:17AM (#10306306) Journal
      A smaller number of good, well-edited articles on topics that people actually care about would be better.


      they [wikipedia.org] already [wikipedia.org] exist [wikipedia.org] on wikipedia.

      want more? it takes a while to get to a million. maybe you can help...
      • One misorganized article filled with half-truths and omissions, written by people who don't know better, overrides three well-written articles. Misinformation is far more costly than lack of information. This is one of the reasons that a real encyclopedia has far fewer articles than the Wikipedia-- because editing means not letting crap into the work.
        • Here we go again (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:35AM (#10306535) Journal
          You're beef seems to be wikipedia is not any good because it has some bad articles and it's impossible to know what article is good and what article is bad. Here's a tip. Don't use 1 source.

          ANYONE who takes into account only 1 source is a moron, unless they don't truly care about accuracy.

          Wikipedia is 1 source and anyone who uses it exclusively is a moron as all people who only take 1 source into account are either morons or very trusting. Let's take Hatshepsut [wikipedia.org] for example.

          The published historian Gardner claims that she was an overbearing mother who Thutmose III hated. For his proof he states the fact a lot of Hatshepsut's reliefs have been destroyed and replaced with other people and that this is obviously indicative of his pent up frustration and anger at her.

          Gae Callendar (another published historian) says that this is completely false and that there's proof that the relief's were destroyed long after Thutmose III and that even if he DID do it, this was common practise amongst the Egyptian Pharoahs so it isn't indicative that he hated her, but was just following Egyptian tradition.

          Gardner says that Hatshepsut wasn't a true Pharaoh because she didn't have enough military campaigns, Callendar says she was and that Gardner is just comparing her to the people that had the MOST military campaigns which is unfair and that she had more campaigns then other pharaohs and Gardner admits they're true Pharaohs.

          Now I never read a book that laid out the information just as I did. I learnt all that by reading SEVERAL books. If I had only read 1 book I would have had an unbalanced viewpoint, such as the one evident in this page [touregypt.net] with the quote
          (Unfortunately many were damaged or destroyed when someone - most likely Thuthmose III - tried to erase her name and image from every monument that may have had her name.)


          Though this seems a little drastic, there was obviously bitter feelings against Hatshepsut.
          I would say Wikiepdia has a better article on this subject as it says
          The traditional belief among historians is that Thutmose III was responsible; however, researchers such as Charles Nims? and Peter Dorman? have examined these erasures and found that those which can be dated were done after year 42 of Thutmose's reign. As with many detail about Hatshepsut, historians have opposing views on who defaced her monuments.
    • I think the quality of the articles matter more than the mass. A smaller number of good, well-edited articles on topics that people actually care about would be better.

      Wow, that must be the understatement of the day.

      You're saying that Wikipedia has a less-than-small number of good, well-edited articles? Come on [wikipedia.org]...

      Wikipedia has a huge number of well-written articles, but I agree with others that you should use multiple sources if doing some research. As usual. It's not like I write an essay based on Ency


  • Just curious.

    I think I'll have to wait a few years before I'm in a position to make a noteworthy contribution in my current field.
    • That's not necessarily true. There is no requirement that the information must come from your own personal expertise.

      If you see a stub and have the time to donate, you can add a summary using information gathered from another source. The information is already there--the point of the encyclopedia is to put it in a place and format where it is easily accessible.
    • I just gave them 20 . Nothing eartshattering or "noteworthy", but that's my share. They aren't looking for Bill Gates here - give what you can.
    • by ImaLamer (260199) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:44AM (#10306408) Homepage Journal
      I've contributed, but it's easy.

      I don't be having the best grammar, or anything, but a simple edit here and there can really help.

      Take for example a article about the city where I live. For most (or all) cities there are lists of famous people from that city. I noticed some obscure, but a few notable, people were left out. All I had to do was stick them in there with a few brackets around their names and Viola!

      An easy way to get started is to look for stub articles [wikipedia.org] and go from there. Many times the stub articles have related information already on Wikipedia. And many times the information can be gathered from the Internet and texts you already own. Grab a book of the shelf and write about the topic in your own words. See, you don't have to be the expert - people have already written volumes on most subjects.

      Another way to get started with stub pages is to find a stub that has an official website. This article [wikipedia.org] is a good example. Even biography stubs are good candidates for this considering most actors (for example) have their own web sites today. Earlier I noticed that Lou Rawls [wikipedia.org] was a stub page. I simply put his official page as an "External Link" and listed it on "pages needing attention [wikipedia.org]" with a note and link telling everyone that he has an official bio. While the page isn't beautiful at this point it is starting out.

      One last way to start out is just by surfing around reading things your interested in. If you notice that "Star Wars" links to "Luke Skywalker" but not the other way around then you can fix that. If you notice a sentence misworded or a word spelled wrong you can fix that too.

      I'd recommend creating a user name because this allows you to later on claim certain articles as your own. By this I mean; even though you aren't the expert now, you could be someday. Imagine adding that to your resume. "I've created 150 articles for the Internet's free encyclopedia project" or something to that effect. It can help explain what you've been doing between jobs. Looks like charity work almost.

      Even input on Wikipedia's discussion pages can help. There are several articles that seemed weird or unclear to me and all I did was suggest another route. It's worked in a few cases. Sometimes editors just need another point of view.

    • I think I'll have to wait a few years before I'm in a position to make a noteworthy contribution in my current field.

      I've contributed mainly small bits here and there, like grammatical fixes. These usually don't require that much knowledge of the particular topic the article's about, and if I'm not sure about a change I make, I make a note of that in the comment part so people can change it back if I've made a mistake. So far, that system seems to work pretty well.

    • I just contributed my bit. I knew that fancy university edumacashun would come in handy one day.
  • Wikipedia is not what many casual Web surfers think it is.

    It's not the online version of an established, well-researched traditional encyclopedia. Instead, Wikipedia is a do-it-yourself encyclopedia, without any credentials. The Wikipedia is not an authoritative source. It even states this in their disclaimer on their Web site [wikipedia.org].

    It's fairly easy toinsert misleading and false information into Wiki. [frozennorth.org] Don't use it like as a replacement for an encyclopedia, or a properly vetted secondary source, unless you
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:02AM (#10306239) Homepage Journal
      The Wikipedia is not an authoritative source.
      Well, duh. Now then, I'd like you to tell me who is and authoritative source.
    • by mind21_98 (18647) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:05AM (#10306254) Homepage Journal
      There are no authorative sources, really. You should be consulting multiple sources, and if differences can't be reconciled, consider not using the sources that have problems. Trusting a source just because it's from a large company isn't a good idea.
      • Wikipedia is currently working to reference all the facts on it. There is a project set up to do it also here Fact and Reference Check [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]. Here is a quote:

        Not only can we make Wikipedia a more factual, a more reputable, source of information but perhaps the *most*. Imagine an article in which each *fact* is referenced with many academic text books, journals and websites! Wikipedia has the potential to be the *most* crossreferenced body of knowledge ever created, but to get there it need

    • by poofyhairguy82 (635386) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:06AM (#10306266) Journal
      I look at it this way. Sure Wikipedia is not the most dependable source out there. But for a generation that will believe anything on a REGULAR webpage, wikipedia is a God send. Its simply better than 99% of sources on the internet because it can be changed.

      The days of solid sources for non-academic work are long gone. All we need is good enough, thats what Wikipedia is.

    • It's fairly easy toinsert misleading and false information into Wiki. Don't use it like as a replacement for an encyclopedia, or a properly vetted secondary source, unless you're an idiot.

      It's also fairly easy to make corrections or readjust bias in wikipedia. I quote:

      "Recent research by a team from IBM found that most vandalism suffered by Wikipedia had been repaired within five minutes. That's fast: 'We were surprised at how often we found vandalism, and then surprised again at how fast it was

      • The poster you respond to links to a piece on how somebody managed to vandalize a Wikipedia article really easily and go undetected, and you respond with a canned "vandalism in Wikipedia gets corrected quickly" response.

        It's even worse, because the piece that the poster linked was written to debunk the sort of canned response that you offer. To rephrase the "discussion":

        [Grandparent poster]: "Contrary to Wikipedia zealots' insistence that vandalism in Wikipedia is corrected almost instantly, I can dem

    • Wikipedia is NOT an encyclopedia

      Hmm...

      Here's the definition I'm using, which are you using?

      Encyclopedia: The circle of arts and sciences; a comprehensive summary of knowledge, or of a branch of knowledge; esp., a work in which the various branches of science or art are discussed separately, and usually in alphabetical order; a cyclopedia.

      It's from Merriam-Webster too, which should be in your opinion well-researced enough to be used as well?
    • by Rolo Tomasi (538414) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:18AM (#10306309) Homepage Journal
      What a stupid comment. Do you really think a "normal" encyclopedia can't be wrong? At least with Wikipedia, articles are constantly checked and updated. I suppose the five year old encyclopedia on your bookshelf has more accurate info on, say, Iraq, huh? Also, Wikipedia articles have their references listed, so it's easy to verify the info.

      Yes, Wikipedia is "do-it-yourself". And it's damn good. It ranks, IMHO, as one of the best general knowledge sources out there.

      All your comment did was to present well known facts in an overly dramatic and inflammatory manner. You, sir, are a troll.
    • If you think printed encyclopedias are authoritative source of the truth you have not seen soviet "encyclopedias" I suppose. Same is true, to a lesser degree though, for all the others. And anyway - what does a Brittanica or whatever in your local library tells about something like Al Qaeda or similar? How long would it take you to get to the said library, check it out, and get back? Do you really own and periodically update an encyclopedia held at your home?
    • In the latter case, please start to quote the passages which are not written by you.

      Librarian: Don't use Wikipedia as source [syracuse.com]

      It's not the online version of an established, well-researched traditional encyclopedia. Instead, Wikipedia is a do-it-yourself encyclopedia, without any credentials. [...] One of these skills is to evaluate the authority of any information source. The Wikipedia is not an authoritative source. It even states this in their disclaimer on their Web site." (quoting of Sue Stagnitta)

    • by FinestLittleSpace (719663) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:54AM (#10306426)
      The myth that Wikipedia is a plethora of incorrect knowledge is such a load of bullshit. In my school years, I reguarly found errors and anomalies in the textbooks, and kist count of the times I sat at home as a young kid and found factual errors in my encyclopedias & sceience books.

      Wikipedia ISN'T gospel and certainly has quite a lot of errors, but to suggest that it's 'not authoritative' is a load of rubbish. In a printed encyclopeda (i.e. those pretentious brittanica things rich white middle class families seem to hav eon display), you depend on a select number of individuals to share their knowledge.

      There's nothing to suggest that these people could be any more 'authoritative' than someone submitting on Wikipedia; Don't forget that the net is packed full of bored but highly intelligent 'geeks'... just read some of the more insightful/interesting slashdot comments in the sceintific articles & you'll see that the intellect of some people on the net surpasses that of the 'encyclopedia book writing' variety. Whatever suggests that the article in my brittanica encyclopedia WASN'T written by someone who knows less about the subject than myself, but has a good textbook to hand.

      I'd never trust Wikipedia as being the absolute truth, but then again, as a kid & ever since, I've never trusted textbooks and the such to be 100% accurate.

      Comments like yours are what gives - what is wholly a selfless project - a bad name for no really good reason. If they were intentionally creating their own little rift, i'd be annoyed, but it's all in the name of free information.

      For someone like me who left education much MUCH erlier than I was ever advised to, but was always a very high scoring individual at school, I enjoy the resource because it means I can learn new things in my own time... not forgetting to use my head and check the validity of the content before I concrete it in my brain. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's learnt a lot of stuff just by clicking 'random page' a few times a day...
  • by coupland (160334) * <.dchase. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:01AM (#10306234) Journal

    Congrats to all the people of Wikipedia! Nowadays I spend a lot of time "surfing" Wikipedia -- I start on one subject and keep clicking interesting links until somehow I end up somewhere totally different and have a cursory grasp of at least a half dozen new subjects. This used to be a favourite passtime on the web many years back, but has since lost a lot of its appeal.

    Despite a few criticisms from those who have to criticise everything, the fact is that Wikipedia is one of the best sources of information on the web. It's a great place to start the learning process, it's got a little something on virtually every topic, and it's FREE.

    (That's free as in information, not free as in beer.)

    • (That's free as in information, not free as in beer.)
      Actually, it's both.
  • How nice to be asked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alnapp (321260) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:02AM (#10306236) Homepage
    I use Wikipedia often and find it an excellant starting point for most questions and would actively encourage anyone else who does to help the fundraiser.
    I like the fund raising approach as it will allow them to be useful and ad free.

    Can you think of any other sites who might've benefited from this user friendly approach?
  • What is the millionth article?

    It might be something completely useless, but I'm in the habit of making myself a mine of useless information.
  • before you ask (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mandalayx (674042) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:05AM (#10306260) Journal
    before you ask how wikipedia will *ever* work by allowing everybody to write, take a look at this quote:

    According to a Wall Street Journal article from February 2004, researchers have found that there are frequent instances of vandalism at Wikipedia, but that these are often quickly resolved:


    "Recent research by a team from IBM found that most vandalism suffered by Wikipedia had been repaired within five minutes. That's fast: 'We were surprised at how often we found vandalism, and then surprised again at how fast it was fixed,' says Martin]Wattenberg, a researcher in the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, in Cambridge, Mass." [7]

    -source [wikipedia.org]

    Congrats to Wikipedia for the 1 millionth entry...and (less easily measured) even more interesting [wikipedia.org], deep [wikipedia.org], and thoughtful [wikipedia.org] articles.
    • um. (Score:2, Interesting)

      It is hardly surprising to know that all of the vandalism that is *found* is fixed quickly.

      The serious question is: how good is the quality of information in the typical wikipedia article? That's the question that you'll see all the fanatics avoid frantically, either by pretending to have answered it ("it gets better all the time"), by blaming the critic ("that's *your* fault for not spending 3 hours a week editing Wikipedia!"), or just saying something completely unrelated ("...whenever somebody notices

      • Re:um. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mandalayx (674042) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:19AM (#10306317) Journal
        The serious question is: how good is the quality of information in the typical wikipedia article?


        How good? In many cases better than proprietary solutions. Some cases not as good. You're right, many many Wikipedia articles suck. I've seen many of them through stupid google searches.

        Yet I think we all share some kind of open-source optimism that it's getting there.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          You see bad articles? List them on cleanup, Votes for deletion, peer review, requests for expansion and don't stop and until every last one is gone! Your help is much apprieciated!
    • That article on leetspeak [wikipedia.org] is interesting... what other fun toys are Google [google.com] hiding?

  • by VC (89143) *
    A lot of people criticise wikipedia based on the idealistic notion that an encyclopedia should be well researched and not user editable.
    But wikipedia just works, like capitalism. A case of bad in theory good in practice.
    Im donating 10 quid.
  • Before you say .. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:16AM (#10306303) Homepage
    • .."why should I trust Wikipedia, it's written by random people"?
    • .."there's been a successful experiment [frozennorth.org] of inserting false information..."
    • "the neutral point of view doesn't work"
    • "it's just an encyclopedia .."

    Please read this:

    Wikipedia has now hit another quantitative milestone (we reached 500,000 articles in the same year). It is now clear that volunteers can build a free, structured information resource which rivals all such proprietary resources. This is an accomplishment of immense importance, but it is not the end goal.

    Article review

    Wikipedia is not perfect yet. But from day one, we've been thinking about and tinkering with quality control mechanisms. The one which is currently in active use is the Featured Article Candidates [wikipedia.org] nomination process as well as the Votes for deletion [wikipedia.org] negative equivalent. There's also a peer review page [wikipedia.org] which is in active use.

    These are just trial balloons. They're not the end product, the peer review process which we need. There's a WikiProject Fact and Reference Check [wikipedia.org] formed to explore a review system centered around individual factual statements in an article. I have also proposed [gmane.org] such a system. There's also an article rating system that is currently in the CVS version of MediaWiki [sourceforge.net], our free wiki software.

    We are all aware of the problem, and we all know that we have to fix this problem before Wikipedia can be a trusted authority. Doing this kind of systematic quality review will require the same level of dedication and effort as creating the encyclopedia in the first place. But we will do it, and not too far from now you will read "1000 reviewed articles", "10000 reviewed articles" announcements, and so on. And this review will be more in-depth than the review process of any traditional encyclopedia, because it will be done by thousands of volunteers from all political and religious persuasions.

    There will always be an unstable edition of Wikipedia where you can go to read the latest information, with a big caveat lector sign on the front door. But we will also build a stable edition which we will distribute to the entire planet.

    Neutrality

    The Neutral Point of View [wikipedia.org] is our guiding principle. However, that does not mean that it is the only way to write articles. Because Wikipedia's content is free, you can take it and start a fork that is written using a different methodology.

    There's Wikinfo [wikinfo.org], which presents a "sympathetic point of view" on the main article, and critical views on separate pages. There's Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org] and dKosopedia [dkosopedia.com], which makes use of some of our content and develop it from a political/progressive perspective.

    We will support dynamic cross-project transclusion of our content so that it will be easy to set up a project fork with a different policy. Wikipedia will always be the largest knowledge repository, but if you want the "truth" from a particular point of view, you will be able to consult a resource that is written by people who share that point of view. You can start such a fork right now if you want to - just download the database [wikimedia.org] and get going.

    It's more than an encyclopedia

    The Wikimedia Foundation [wikimediafoundation.org] currently operates Wikip

    • So what you're saying is that wikipedia is good because it has the potential to be good some time in the future? I think that wikipedia does have its strengths, but the current version of wiki is not that version, so there's not much point in arguing the greatness of wiki is in its system, when what that system has currently produced is a large number of articles which are so short as to be scarcely worth the name, a large number of articles which include partially/wholly untrue sections and a small number
    • Good post Eloquence, you might want to help with this project here that does fact and referencing checks [wikipedia.org] for Wikipedia.

      There is already an example #2 [wikipedia.org] of how a tab format might auto generate the quotations, and then people can fill in the sources. Click edit to see the tab structure currently based on comment tabs.

      Tim Starling already knows about this, we'd just need a couple lines of code added to Wikimedia to make some custom tabs.

  • ... BUT, you absolutely CAN NOT use it for reference, especially for school purposes and stuff (well, in practise you can, and no one will care, but its not right). Not because the info can be inaccurate or plain wrong, but because the dynamic nature of Wikipedia. The content of the page you are referring to can be changed at any time by anybody, wich means that you could just as well refer to some random chalkboard at your school, wich happened to have some piece of information at some given time.
  • by ceeam (39911) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:25AM (#10306339)
    Or do they? (I have not found).
    At $15-25 a disc they could've get enough money to maintain it IMHO. It hurts me when I see free projects begging with the bowl. :(
  • by nimid (774403) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:26AM (#10306341) Homepage
    I've often turned to Wikipedia when I'm looking something up. It's indepth, it's interesting and it's checked by hundreds of people BUT at the back of my mind I always wonder if someone's deliberately tried to influence the information I'm looking up.

    I'm friends with someone in marketing for a _large_ multi-national organisation and I know for a fact that they use upwards of 50 people in their marketing campaigns to visit websites to post innacurate information. "Buy product X. It's better than product Y. I've used it and it's true!"

    Now translate that to Wikipedia and select something that you want to influence. "Windows LongDredgeUphillWarrior 2043 is the best due to it's powerful features - etc". How much would it cost you to hire 10 people to 'maintain' this information for a year?

    The more popularity WikiP is the more likely this sort of disinformation will become.

    Just my paranoia probably but the possibility for it is there. I realise other information sources are suceptible to this form of manipulation too but it's worth bearing it in mind when you're researching with WikiP as I know many assume the information is valid because it's checked by 'many eyeballs'!
    • by bit01 (644603)

      I'm friends with someone in marketing for a _large_ multi-national organisation and I know for a fact that they use upwards of 50 people in their marketing campaigns to visit websites to post innacurate information. "Buy product X. It's better than product Y. I've used it and it's true!"

      If there actually were law "by the people, for the people" rather than company-bought law those 50 people would be doing time for fraud. Company astroturfers are just the organised crime of spam and the police should be

    • by PenguiN42 (86863) <taylork@@@alum...mit...edu> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @08:59AM (#10307336) Journal
      Now translate that to Wikipedia and select something that you want to influence. "Windows LongDredgeUphillWarrior 2043 is the best due to it's powerful features - etc". How much would it cost you to hire 10 people to 'maintain' this information for a year?

      Here's what would probably happen in wikipedia:

      1) These people would post this article.
      2) Most people using wikipedia would recognize it as violating NPOV (neutral point of view)
      3) The people editing would change the article to be more NPOV.
      4) The hired "maintainers" would change it back.
      5) Other people on wikipedia would change it back again.
      6) An "edit war" would ensue, with the page rapidly being edited back and forth.
      7) Someone would bring the edit war to the attention of a moderator.
      8) The moderator would lock the page -- and put a disclaimer at the top noting that it was locked -- until the cause for the edit war was hashed out between the participating parties
      9) It would eventually be determined that one or more of the "Maintatiners" were putting in the NPOV material on purpose.
      10) These "maintainers" would be banned (by ip address), and the article would be deleted or unlocked (depending on its usefulness as an article)
      11) Repeat until all the "maintainers" are banned.

      The system works because there are more "good guys" than "bad guys", effectively.
  • fundraiser (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Krafty Koder (697396) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:39AM (#10306389)
    "Still, it takes money to run such an amazing resource, and so they are running a fundraiser. The goal is to raise $50,000." why dont they use Google Adsense?
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Why don't they stop submitting their site to slashdot? That should cut down on their bandwidth.
    • Re:fundraiser (Score:3, Informative)

      by Carthag (643047)

      Quoth the parent poster; "Still, it takes money to run such an amazing resource, and so they are running a fundraiser. The goal is to raise $50,000." why dont they use Google Adsense?

      According to About Wikipedia [wikimediafoundation.org], they do not wish to use advertisements. I read elsewhere (which I of course can't find now) that this is partly because they want to appear as unbiased as possible.

  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot&spamgoeshere,calum,org> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:40AM (#10306391) Homepage
    The really interesting pages are the ones that have had to be protected due to vandalism or flame wars. Ie the ones that get people really annoyed/are controversial :)

    Look right down at the bottom [wikipedia.org]
  • Slashdot effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by traffi (800888) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:41AM (#10306396) Homepage
    A good thing about Wikipedia is that it has entries that won't make it to other more "respected" sources until much later. This is good for all sorts of cultural phenomenons, especially web/technical related.

    An example is The Slashdot Effect [wikipedia.org].

    If Wikipedia's entry for the Effect would suffer from it after being discussed here, the world would certainly implode in a puff of poetic logic would it not?

    • Re:Slashdot effect (Score:4, Interesting)

      by imsabbel (611519) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @08:39AM (#10307176)
      Most interestingly, wikipedia is almost 100% slashdot resistent.
      First, they have more traffic than slashdot to begin with. (By now, it should be A LOT MORE).
      Second, they use a squid array to dynamically cache requests. Its a 3 layer system: Database->Apache->Squid. If a lot of traffic goes to the same article, the requests wont even reach the apaches... (and you would need A TON of people to overload the squids, because even at 80% caching efficiency 1000hits/s dont crash them)
  • by _critic (145603) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @05:53AM (#10306424) Homepage
    I've been using the wikimedia software for briefing and note-taking at law school. It's perfect for the job. The syntax for links, outlining, highlighting, etc is simple and really perfect for the job. Not to mention the automatic toc, searches, etc . . .

    I don't understand why anyone would use word, or oneNote for that matter (which a lot of my peers do). For my money (free!), wikimedia beats 'em all hands down.

    Anyone else using this tech for school?

  • by tines (806906) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:10AM (#10306467)
    I wonder if the fundraising will get a huge increase in donations due to slashdot or just plain bandwidth loss. A graph with donation / visitors would be nice for today.
  • Wikipedia helped me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lairdsville (600242) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @06:51AM (#10306590)
    Wikipedia is a terrific medium for obscure and specialised information that would not be of interest to a publisher of a traditional encyclopedia.

    As and example, my daughter was recently diagnosed with an extremely rare condition called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome [wikipedia.org]. It only effects about 1 in 10,000,000 people per year, so you can imagine the difficulty we had finding information and medical practitioners who knew anything about it. I searched the Web and found lots of information and other people with the same condition, but it took a long time to find what I wanted and the information was fragmented and often very old, but eventually I knew more that any of the medical specialists we have been seeing. I wanted to share my knowledge, so I build my own web site, played with a blog, but then it hit me, Wikipedia! So created the OMS page and put all of the knowledge I had collected into it. My daughter will get better and we will forget the horrible episode, but the wikipedia page will live and grow and continue to help people long after I stop maintaining it.

    This sort of information is only going to be accessed by small number of people, but it will be extremely valueable. Thanks Wikipedia!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @07:35AM (#10306747)
    Novices may say that "anyone can edit" Wikipedia, but it's not that simple. Wikipedia is run by Jimbo Wales, who said [wikipedia.org] that "[he] is not by any stretch of the mind leftist politically, philosophically or otherwise!", and "[m]any years ago, [he] was an Undergraduate and a huge fan of Ayn Rand....". The people he gave admin privileges are of a similar ilk, one prominent one is a Moonie, and they work together.

    As far as entries on this or that, Wikipedia may be fine. As far as articles about history, news, or politics, there is a very heavy American bias, in fact it is basically a white collar American's view of the world encyclopedia.

    For example, the entry for "East Germany" (before a friendly editor came across it) opened with: "East Germany, formally the German Democratic Republic (GDR), German Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), was a Communist satellite state of the former Soviet Union which, together with West Germany, existed from 1949 to 1990 in Germany." One wonders why it would be said on the East Germany page that it was a "satellite state of the former Soviet Union" and someone of that point of view would not say that West Germany was a satellite state of the USA.

    It just presents a very upper middle class American view of the world. Muslims/Arabs/Middle Easterners are always in the wrong, the US and Israel is always right. All socialist countries, from the Eastern Europeans to the Chinese to Latin American ones and so forth, are all bad, while the US was spreading freedom and democracy around the world, from Vietnam to Chile. In fact, most of the history of countries comes from the CIA Factbook, the US State Department, or even the Overseas Private Investment Corporation like the "History of Colombia [wikipedia.org]" article. That gives you an idea of what this history is grounded in.

    Anyhow, it's become apparent to me and other people that this is just the way it is, and will be as long as Jimbo Wales runs it and his cabal controls it. There are alternative wikis out there such as Infoshop Open Wiki [infoshop.org] which is a wiki where a "people's history" of the world is beginning to be written. There are also other good wikis like Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org] which deal with lobbyists, PACs, PR firms and so forth.

    I think this is just something we learned after a long time on Wikipedia seeing how it was this way, and despite anyone supposedly being able to edit and a supposed neutral point of view policy, the inability of that to exist since there is a cabal of administrators trying to keep their point of view on top. If you want to read a history of the world not written by the US State Department, I suggest looking at the nascent efforts of Wikinfo [wikinfo.org], Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org], dKosopedia [dkosopedia.com], Infoshop Open Wiki [infoshop.org], and other alternative GFDL corpus access providers.

  • Why no ads..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mantera (685223) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @08:03AM (#10306905)

    How long can an expanding resource like wikipedia depend on donations? Wikipedia needs to start supporting itself and perhaps even a few other open source projects. Yes, I'd hate to see banners, but perhaps a few text ads won't annoy me as long as I know they are there to ensure wikipedia has the funds it needs to grow. As long as it's a not-for-profit organization, if it gathers too much money that it doesn't know what to do with, then just donate them to other open source efforts like mozilla.
  • My Biggest Complaint (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Relic of the Future (118669) <dales@@@digitalfreaks...org> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @09:15AM (#10307479)
    My biggest complaint about Wikipedia is that I'm seeing a growing number of articles that seem to be written more to impress the authors peers than to inform.

    For example, I was reading some articles about music theory the other day (something I kno^Kew nothing about), and it was *dense* like a brick. If the point of the articles were to educate, then they were failing; they were describing beginner-level information, but they were doing it in a way that goes over the heads of most beginers.

    I've noticed the same thing happening to some articles I've helped with. I try to write in a way that's accessible to the layman, but then later some self-important expert comes by and adds extra minutiae that obfuscate the points of the article, extra un-explained un-linked vocabulary that confuses the reader, and meaningless tangents that distract from the focus.

    It's hard to keep up (and so, I haven't been). But please, keep my words in mind when editing! Particularly if you wrote the bits on music theory. Remember, you're writing to educate BEGINERS, not to impress your peers with how much trivia and jargon you know.

  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @01:14PM (#10310084)
    Last Christmas my G/F got me a Slashdot T-Shirt from Thinkgeek. (Yes I am a /.er with a GF) I wear it proudly (except on dupe days) and often times people ask me what the T-Shirt means and I get to share the wonderfulness that is Slashdot.

    Today I donated to FireFox [mozillastore.com], actually I got one of the new T-Shirts and some stickers to put on my car but that counts right? It felt great. Sure it was a bit much for a T-Shirt, but I know that the profit is going to something I actually care about and I can only imagine how happy I will feel wearing that shirt around town, speaking the word of mozilla to all who ask about my shirt.

    Next on my list to donate to is the EFF [eff.org], and I think I get a nifty bumper sticker for that too.

    I really want to donate to wikipedia, I use it all the time. I find myself getting bored, then researching something random on wikipedia, and an hour later I've got 50 tabs open in FireFox and I'm super happy. I just thought I would point out to everyone that Wikipedia has T-Shirts available at cafepress.com/wikipedia [cafepress.com].

    Ok, enjoy the rest of your day.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

Working...