Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
Author: Petr Kadlec, Wikipedia, Czech Republic
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) is an international project of an Internet encyclopedia based on a wiki - pages any Internet user can edit. Wikipedia aims to provide free access to the sum of all human knowledge to everyone in their own language. Today, Wikipedia exists in more than 100 active language versions, in addition to the original English one; this includes the Czech version (cs.wikipedia.org). Since its beginning in 2001, Wikipedia has grown very quickly, both size of contents and number of users increase exponentially. But this revolutionary concept presents also important questions: How should vandalism be dealt with? How should the encyclopedia cope with controversial subjects? Can users believe information presented by a more-or-less anonymous mass? Doesn't the uncontrolled approach to article creation result in a systemic bias? Can a project funded with public donations only keep its growth rate? This presentation describes basic principles of Wikipedia and its sister projects, shows the problems the projects are dealing with, but also points out the undeniable successes they have accomplished. The topic is covered both in general terms and in the specific case of the Czech version.
About the author
Petr Kadlec (born 1979) graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of CTU in Prague (in computer science); he works as a software developer. He first edited Czech Wikipedia on July 15, 2004 (as a user #290; he first edited the English version two days earlier as a user #75813), now he has about 10000 edits on his account (in more than 20 language versions); he is one of the administrators on the Czech Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. He also contributes (mainly the Czech translation) to development of MediaWiki – the wikisoftware Wikipedia is using.
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