Anyone who has ever performed any research online has probably visited Wikipedia at least once. This is easily the most well-known resource used on the web today. Wikipedia is essentially an enormous online encyclopedia available to anyone for free. Users can simply stop by the website, search for a topic and start browsing through the pages to get the information needed. The way Wikipedia works is by empowering the user to share their knowledge and expertise. Users are invited to provide updates or new entries using neutral, accurate information. Other users can police the content to make sure that only honest, accurate information is added to keep Wikipedia reliable. When there is a question about the content, a note is usually added to the page for the topic in question until it is resolved. Users can also add photographs and links to other resources. Wikipedia is currently available in 250 languages from all over the world.
The roots of Wikipedia go back to the founding of Nupedia on March 9th, 2000. Under Bomis, Inc., Nupedia was offered as a free online encyclopedia available in English only. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger are credited as the original founders of Wikipedia. Sanger suggested using a wiki as a feeder source for Nupedia. It was officially released on January 15th, 2001 in English only just like Nupedia. By August of 2009, Wikipedia contained three million unique articles in English.
Wikipedia is unique because it contains a great deal of information on many things in hundreds of languages. It is an excellent resource for internet research. Users can participate in the community and provide information and updates, although these are heavily policed by a group of editors that have become prominent on Wikipedia. Still, the overall value of the information found on Wikipedia is tremendously valuable to anyone searching for it.
The Wikipedia website uses a very simple design that works well for its purpose. Most users are familiar with the black and white design utilized throughout the website. This is offset by blue links and the subtly eye-catching globe shaped logo found in the upper, left hand corner of each page. Every entry is well organized with quick access links to jump to various portions of the entry and an area for links to outside resources positioned at the bottom.
Users are not required to register for Wikipedia to access its information. Anyone can stop by and perform a search without logging in. Those who wish to create an account can do so by clicking the blue “log in/create account” link at the top, right hand corner of the website. At the top of the log in box is another blue link that reads “Create one”. After clicking this, the user is asked to enter a verification code as well as a username, password and optional email address.
Wikipedia is a project that is fueled by its users. The site benefits by having more resources and information available and more users to provide updates on various entries. That being said, there is no cost for using Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia is available to anyone, even those who do not wish to create an account. The site will on occasion ask for donations from its users to keep it going, but this is not a requirement for use.
Wikipedia is an excellent resource for just about anyone. If the user is performing any kind of online research, they can benefit from visiting Wikipedia. It is generally very accurate and well maintained. Numerous languages and a wealth of information make it an appealing option for many students, researchers and everyday users.