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Wikipedia passes another milestone

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that students love and educators love to hate, has passed yet another milestone in its short but storied history. Yesterday, the English language version reached the 3 million mark in posted articles.

Ever heard of Beate Eriksen? No, most people haven’t either, at least not outside Norway, where the 48-year-old stars in a soap opera. But she was the unwitting subject of the site's landmark posting.

In an announcement on its web site, Wikipedia described the race to be the author of the three millionth article. Normally, articles are created at a rate of 50 to 70 per hour but yesterday over 120 were received in the final minutes, as contributors vied to earn the distinction of being responsible for number 3,000,000.

Founded in 2001, Wikipedia is a collaborative effort that has become one of the most popular online destinations. Wikipedia articles are written by volunteers around the world and almost all the articles can be edited by anyone who can access the Wikipedia web site. The English version has over 10 million registered users, who between them have created nearly 18 million pages. And that’s not counting the more than 326 million edits.

The total number of articles across all Wikipedias is approaching 14 million, although the English language version remains far ahead of other languages. The German site is approaching one million entries, the French site 800,000, and the Polish, Italian, and Japanese versions are all around the 600,000 mark.

Despite its incredible growth and popularity, Wikipedia has come under scrutiny in recent years, as critics point to inaccuracies and inconsistencies. They also claim that its collaborative approach is susceptible to vandalism and bias and the editorial process favors consensus over expert opinion.

As a result, many educators at high schools and higher learning institutions reject Wikipedia as a legitimate academic resource.

Whatever its weaknesses, Wikipedia remains a flagship web site for both the power of the Internet and global cooperation. It has also spawned dozens of offshoots, associate sites, and impersonators, ranging from Wikiversity, which offers free learning materials, to Wikitravel, a previously featured Web Site of the Week.   

Comment by Alex Henning - kimaso.com, posted 8/19/2009, 4:43 PM:

I never got rejecting Wikipedia all work has biases and at least minor errors, it should be used to teach checking multiple sources and not to trust everything you read, rather than banned because it has some errors.
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