Wikipedia: happy birthday!

It is amazing to think that Wikipedia is fifteen years old today.

If you have never taken the few minutes to read its own entry on itself, this is a good time to do so, and reflect on its achievements. It is even decent enough to admit to its many critics, with the usual careful references.

Perhaps a birthday is not the most appropriate time to join that criticism, but I would like to stress that Wikipedia has succeeded – and few can doubt that now – in spite of its shortcomings, rather than as a result of them. For me, its greatest problem is reliance on ‘facts’ which can be referenced, often without adequate critical assessment of the reliability (or sometimes even logic) of its references.

In doing so, Wikipedia like so much else on the Internet serves to propagate and amplify errors, in many cases. Such seems to be the nature of ‘knowledge’ as provided by most Internet sources, particularly the social media.

But for all its warts, wonts, and wrangles, it is a constant aid to most of us, from schoolkids to bloggers in their retirement. Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger, and the many thousands who have given their time and effort to provide us with one of the Wonders of the Web, deserve our heartfelt thanks.