What is Wikipedia? The URL of the Wikipedia site http://www.wikipedia.org/. Wikipedia is "a free, collaboratively edited and multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation". Wikipedia provides the collaborative platform, where people work together to write encyclopedias in different languages. They use simple words and grammar to respective their languages.
Example: Simple English Wikipedia site: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Simple_English_Wikipedia#Simple_English
This site provides easy-to-read online encyclopedias for people who are learning English. The Simple English Wikipedia is for people with different needs, such as students, children, adults with learning difficulties, and people who are trying to learn English. Other people may use the Simple English Wikipedia because simple language helps them to understand unfamiliar topics or complex ideas. This wikipedia's articles can also be used to help with school homework or just for the fun of learning about new ideas. Non-English wikipedia’s article can also be translated to in English using this website features.
WikiPedia- A Brief History: Wikipedia was formally launched on 15 January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, using the concept and technology of a wiki pioneered by Ward Cunningham. As of June 2012, Wikipedia includes over 22 million freely usable articles in 284 languages, written by over 34 million registered users and countless anonymous contributors worldwide. According to Alexa Internet survey , Wikipedia is the world's sixth-most-popular website, visited monthly by around 14% of all internet users. (WikiPedia 2012).
What are the advantage? (Advantage 2012)
- Database-driven (MySQL databases supported), persistent connections
- Smart caching: rendered pages are saved as static HTML files and served as such unless modified
- Translated into many languages (refer Multilingual coordination on Wikipedia for details)
- anyone can edit
- easy to use and learn
- Wikis are instantaneous so there is no need to wait for a publisher to create a new edition or update information
- people located in different parts of the world can work on the same document
- the wiki software keeps track of every edit made and it's a simple process to revert back to a previous version of an article
- widens access to the power of web publishing to non-technical users
- the wiki has no predetermined structure - consequently it is a flexible tool which can be used for a wide range of applications
- there are a wide range of open source software wiki's to choose from so licensing costs shouldn't be a barrier to installing an institutional wiki
- It provides the Special report pages like List of newly created articles, Ancient pages: Articles sorted by timestamp, ascending List of images, List of users, Site statistics, Popular articles (articles by number of visits, works only if counters are enabled), Most wanted articles (non-existent articles sorted by number of links pointing to them), Short articles, Long articles and list of all pages by title etc.
What are the Disadvantages? Advantages in one context, may be disadvantages in another.
- Anyone can edit so this may be too open for some applications, for example confidential documentation. However it is possible to regulate user access.
- Requires Internet connectivity to collaborate, but technologies to produce print versions of articles are improving
- The flexibility of a wiki's structure can mean that information becomes disorganised. As a wiki grows, the community plans and administers the structure collaboratively.
- (Wikipedia 2012) Wikipedia History accessed on 22-June-2012
- (Advanage 2012) Advantage and Disadvantages 22-June-2012