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Wassup, Wikipedia? Oh … wow!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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It’s one of the world’s most used websites – there are more than 20 billion page views a month. That’s hard to fathom, isn’t it? But right now, don’t try to: just dip into this for a few moments. It’s an audio-visualization of only around 15% of the edits happening right now in the English Wikipedia – that’s just the anonymous ones. (In “about”, you can pick one of 10 other Wikipedia language versions.) The pitch of the sound and size of the bubble indicates size of the edit. (Sound might not work on all mobile devices.)

Screenshot of Listen to Wikipedia webpage

Click here for the audio-visualization of Wikipedia editing happening now

Or watch the geographic version. And here’s a ticker of absolutely all the edits live. If you prefer your data straight up, here’s the Wikipedia statistics page.

Photo of Wiki Women's lunch in 2012

The Wiki Women's lunch at Wikimania 2012 in Washington DC

Wikipedians from around the world are converging now on Hong Kong for the annual get-together (Wikimania). Read about last year’s here in my post, Are you a knowledge philanthropist? If not, why not?

And there’s more at this post about Wikipedia’s recent visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): the world’s biggest encyclopedia met the world’s biggest medical library! There are links there too to resources to get you started at Wikipedia. There’s always someone willing to help if you need. As you’ve just seen, there are plenty online right now!

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The thoughts Hilda Bastian expresses here are personal, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Hilda Bastian About the Author: Hilda Bastian likes thinking about bias, uncertainty and how we come to know all sorts of thing. Her day job is making clinical effectiveness research accessible. And she explores the limitless comedic potential of clinical epidemiology at her cartoon blog, Statistically Funny. Follow on Twitter @hildabast.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Percival 4:27 am 08/2/2013

    I really wish people, especially educators, would stop dissing Wikipedia. It has improved so much over the last few years. Yes, I still have a large grain of salt at hand while reading it (though not the 5 lb. bag I used to have), but I note that the notes and reference links at the bottom of every article are often more valuable than the articles themselves. Wasn’t that kinda the point of Wikipedia in the first place, to give people a place to say “this is what I know, *and this is how I came to know it*”?

    I tell my grandkids to use it as a homework resource, but to cite its references. Maybe as teachers get comfortable with the 21st century, students will be able to cite Wikipedia without fear of a bad grade.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Hilda Bastian in reply to Hilda Bastian 6:27 am 08/2/2013

    Well said, alien8752! Many people don’t give it a fair go – yet, they rely on it themselves more often than they realize. I think that as long as it’s not the only thing that’s cited, and as long as the specific page is good, then why not cite it? Same rules as for citing a medical journal article: the thing you’re citing has to be good. People need to learn how to tell a good Wikipedia page from a bad one. And more people should take editing of it seriously.

    Link to this

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