Wikipedia, pros and cons of the most universal encyclopedia


"Well, look it up on Wikipedia!" . This is undoubtedly one of the most popular expressions to instantly resolve the doubts of others . In the first edition of the famous 50 × 15 program , the joker of the call was solved by taking the ladder and looking for the encyclopedic volume that could best fit the correct answer . It was 1999 .

Now, after knowledge has been democratized, after the call to the benevolent friend a constant and frantic clicking is heard , surely in search of the most successful Wikipedia article . But beware, this popular encyclopedia has created (in addition to thousands of articles) a parallel debate that calls it into question . The pros and cons of Wikipedia , below.

Points in favor of Wikipedia

Wikipedia has one of the most infallible systems on the planet . Free will and gratuity. To access the articles reviewed by users (who work at will) it is not necessary to pay a penny , a fact that catapults the encyclopedia at the top of the most useful resources on the Internet . And that, of course, has done harm, a lot of harm to those who until now were dedicated to paper encyclopedias . From the international queen, the Encyclopedia , to the famous Espasa in Spain. He has even forced a giant like Microsoft to withdraw from the business of encyclopedias on CD-ROM , which has decided to close its business.Encarta .

But behind the anarchic freedom of Wikipedia , there is an army of 150,000 volunteers, 20 permanent employees and eleven million articles translated into more than 265 languages , which is no small thing. Among this huge number of entries must distinguish 482,000 articles written in Spanish l . Although not all write the same. The 30% of employees concoct 70% of the content for up to six million Internet users can read them in Spain.

The immense collaborative will means that after making mistakes (voluntary or fortuitous) someone corrects them immediately, as happened with the entry that affirmed that  Jean Marie Le-Clézio , Nobel Prize in literature, had died after the delivery of the recognized award . The obituary lasted just under a minute thanks to the diligence of the collaborators on duty , faithful to the Wikipedia commitment .

Points against Wikipedia

But behind this  idyllic and global way of working we will find a string of cons that few pay attention to . And it is that despite everything, the mania of accepting everything that appears on Wikipedia has spread among the Internet community . The problem comes when journalists and information professionals agree without contrast and feed their texts with perched lies.

One of the main drawbacks is the absence of authors . Unlike Knol, the new Google encyclopedia , Wikipedia does not require the identification of those who generate content and define at will. This is the first trigger of the prevailing anarchy in the system and of the bad intentions , that there are, and that have come to turn, for example,  John Seigenthaler (personal friend of John F. Kennedy ) in the main architect of the assassinations of the president and his brother Bobby .

Data manipulation strips articles of all neutrality and turns historical characters and events into ideological wild cards for the creator of the entry in question.  Added to the absence of objective perspectives is the endless making of mistakes, date dances, and the wrong role assignment . A trend no less common in the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica , in which 123 errors were found .

Somewhat less than the 162 that were registered on Wikipedia after a comparative study in the journal Nature , carried out in 2005 . Data that elevates the free encyclopedia to a category no less worthy than the paid ones . We will see if over time, Wikipedia ends up becoming something much more conventional and paid , as often happens with the free and successful things that circulate on the Internet . Whythat is another of its great dangers. Until now, it has always had the financial support of large companies and thousands of contributions from volunteers, which make it survive year after year. But what would happen if the tap is turned off? Someone would have to pay the cost of serving so many pages to so many millions of users every day.

But the Wikipedia journey does not end here . The 30% of the most frequent collaborators will have to give an accurate impulse to generate content about less popular topics , one of the most notable absences within the Wikipedia journey and the main Achilles heel of the encyclopedia that everyone has at hand in their Internet navigator. There must be a reason.

Photos by: quartermane , nathanborror and Stewart / Via: El País