Wikipedia is one of my favorite Web sites on the Internet. Sure, it’s not perfect by any means, with duff information cropping up on many of the pages due to vandalism or ignorance, but it still provides an excellent knowledge base about an unprecedentedly large amount of topics.
For those of you not up to speed with Wikipedia, it’s a site which attempts to be a universal Web-based encyclopedia available to all. Not only can anyone access the site and read entries on the people, places, and things they want to, they can also edit the pages, adding new stories or developments as they break.
This editing process means that the site is constantly evolving, with Wikipedia pages having elements added or taken away on a regular basis. Which for me is much better than buying a hugely expensive and space-consuming set of encyclopedias that once printed, are immediately out of date.
There are, however, a couple of problems with allowing anyone to edit pages. The first is the already mentioned issue of errors being made, either on purpose or otherwise. And then there is the fact that the editing process is far from simple, meaning that although anyone can theoretically edit Wikipedia, a certain level of technical knowledge is required to even begin to do so.
This issue is now set to be addressed, with The Wikimedia Foundation announcing a project to make the editing process much easier, removing the more complex elements of the user interface. To help the not-for-profit organization achieve this aim, the Stanton Foundation is donating $890,000.
CNET seems to be of the opinion that anyone who cannot currently edit Wikipedia is some kind of Luddite, but anybody who has registered at Wikipedia and attempted to edit a page will surely realize the process is over-complicated and unnecessarily obtuse.
I’m with ReadWriteWeb which supports this effort wholeheartedly. For Wikipedia to grow and truly become the force for good it’s aiming to be, the editing process must be made as simple as humanly possible. Now if only the first issue, surrounding the levels of misinformation, could be solved, Wikipedia could become even more essential than it already is.