Happy 18th Birthday, Wikipedia; celebrate the age of good project

Original author: Stephen Harrison
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Tuesday Wikipedia turned 18 years old. If this massive encyclopedic project, which works on the principle of cloud sourcing, was a man, in most countries it would be considered legally an adult. But in fact, the free online encyclopedia has long played the role of a bona fide internet adult.

Since its inception, Wikipedia has grown incredibly. It boasts 5.7 million articles in English and 92 billion page views over the past year.

The reputation of the site has also undergone major changes. If you ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Home a question from general knowledge, they will most likely take an answer from Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has been quoted in more than 400 court proceedings, according to a work from 2010, published in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology. Many professors refuse traditional essay writing assignments and instead offer students to expand a Wikipedia article or write a new article on a topic. YouTube director Susan Wojczyck announcedthat the service plans to provide videos, which highlight conspiracy theories, with links to relevant Wikipedia articles. Facebook has opened the possibility of using Wikipedia content to provide users with additional information about news sources in their feed.

The flourishing of Wikipedia is related to the crucial difference of this project from other top ten sites : on Wikipedia, truth outweighs self-expression.

Last year, Wikipedia co-founder Jim Wales told NPR that by and large Wikipedia managed to avoid the problem of “fake news”, which raises the question of how the management of the encyclopedia differs from the management of other sites. Brian Feldman in the articlefor New York magazine suggested that the whole thing in the encyclopedia of the community to delete data. If a user publishes information of poor quality, other users have the right and ability to delete content that is not considered encyclopedic. This is very different from the Twitter platform, on which false statements fanning events can remain for years.

The Wikipedia community has also adopted automatic technologies that protect the integrity of the encyclopedia. If YouTube scans the video for potential rule violations using the Content ID database , the Wikipedia editors community has created editing bots making content-quality judgments. For example, ClueBot NGquickly gets rid of the consequences of possible vandalism based on a machine learning algorithm and a database that collects typical signs , such as verbosity or poor punctuation. In 2016, YouTube got into trouble by trying to push through its rules about abusive words, and many video bloggers complained about censorship. However, the requirement to remain within the framework of decency makes sense on Wikipedia, since its community is united by the general idea of ​​improving the quality of the encyclopedia.

Encyclopedists had opponents in each generation. In the 18th century, Denis Diderot and other authors of the Encyclopedia were declared heretics. Today, Wikipedia editors are in serious trouble: a hostile environment in a community where permanent editorsslander newcomers, the gradual deterioration of the overall situation in the community of editors, intruders hacking administrator accounts for pages vandalism, systematic bias in writing articles, partly due to the prevalence of men from Western countries among editors.

The gender imbalance on Wikipedia came to the attention of the media last year, when Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize, and at the time of the presentation she did not have her own page on Wikipedia. (The editors rejected the previous page about Strickland due to lack of noteworthiness). Catherine Maher, executive director of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, wrote an editorialan article in which she noted that the encyclopedia is not the cause of a bias in the world, but only reflects it.

It is worth emphasizing that volunteers from the Wikipedia community are gradually changing this situation. The Women in Red group of WikiProject volunteers , which was founded in 2015 by Rosie Stevenson-Goodnight and Roger Bamkin, set a goal to reduce the gender gap of the site, and have already increased the number of women’s biographies from 15% to 17.8%. Volunteer communities such as AfroCROWD and Art + Feminism organize editones , public events where volunteers help to improve the encyclopedia coverage of underrepresented groups of people.

Meanwhile stars youtubeearn millions on video games, and influential instagrammers post pseudo-advertising to attract sponsors. Outside the closed world Vika Internet is saturated with adolescent self-promotion.

Compare these commercial stars with 70-year-old Jim Henderson, who has been engaged in cycling around New York for the past 12 years and taking photographs for Wikipedia. In the Queens Daily Eagle they write that Henderson uploaded thousands of original photos that seriously helped the community in covering news. Henderson voluntarily spends his time in order to benefit society, without waiting for compensation or likes in social networks.

The Millennials have come up with the term “adulting” to describe daily activities, denoting the independence of adults. But perhaps this concept can be extended to moral maturity and repeated contributions made for the sake of the common good. In honor of the transition to the next frontier by Wikipedia, it is worth noting that its community has long been trying to grow up, and people contributing to the expansion of the encyclopedia are an example of autonomy, which can be found less and less online.

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