domingo, 1 de abril de 2007

Wikipedia: 10 things you did not know about Wikipedia

10 things you did not know about Wikipedia is a list of insights about Wikipedia specifically targeted at people who have limited foreknowledge about the project, such as journalists, new editors, and new readers. These explanations should not surprise experienced editors, but hopefully will help the rest of the world to shape an informed opinion of our work.

  1. We're not for sale.
    If you're waiting for Wikipedia to be bought by your friendly neighborhood Internet giant, don't hold your breath. Wikipedia is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida. We're supported by donations and grants, and our mission is to bring free knowledge to the entire planet.
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  2. Our work belongs to everyone.
    Wikipedia has taken a cue from GNU/Linux and Mozilla Firefox and done away with the restrictions of traditional copyright law. Instead, we have adopted what is known as a "free content license": all text and images authored by our users are and will always remain free for anyone to copy, modify, and redistribute. We only insist that you credit the contributors, and that you do not impose new restrictions on the work or any improvements you make to it.
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  3. We speak Banyumasan…
    …and about 250 other languages. Granted, only about 60 of those Wikipedia language editions currently have more than 10,000 articles — but that's not because we're not trying. The Wikimedia Foundation is supported by a growing network of independent chapter organizations, already in seven countries, which help us to raise awareness on the local level. In many countries, including the United States, Wikipedia is among the ten most popular websites.
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  4. You cannot actually change anything in Wikipedia...
    …you can only add to it. Wikipedia is a database with an eternal memory. An article you read today is just the current draft; every time it is changed, we keep both the new version and a copy of the old version. This allows us to compare different versions, or restore older ones as needed. As a reader, you can even cite the specific copy of an article you are looking at. Just link to the article using the "Permanent link" at the bottom of the left menu, and your link will point to a page whose contents will never change.
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  5. We care deeply about the quality of our work.
    Wikipedia has a complex set of policies and quality control processes. Editors can patrol changes as they happen, monitor specific topics they know about, follow a user's track of contributions, tag articles with problems for other editors to work on, and discuss the merits of each article with other users. Our best articles are awarded "featured article" status, and problem pages are nominated for deletion. "WikiProjects" focus on improvements to particular topic areas. We care about getting things right, and we never stop thinking about new ways to do so.
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  6. We don't want you to take our word for it.
    It's in the nature of an ever-changing work like Wikipedia that, while some articles are of the highest quality of scholarship, others are admittedly complete rubbish. We are fully aware of this. We try to keep the ratio of the greatest to the worst as high as possible, of course, and to find helpful ways to tell you what state an article is currently in. Even at its best, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a primary source, with all the limitations it entails. We ask you not to condemn Wikipedia, but to use it with an informed understanding of what it represents.
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  7. We're not alone.
    Wikipedia is part of a growing movement for Free Knowledge that is beginning to permeate science and education. The Wikimedia Foundation directly operates eight sister projects to the encyclopedia: Wiktionary (a dictionary and thesaurus), Wikisource (a library of source documents), Wikimedia Commons (a media repository of more than one million images, videos, and sound files), Wikibooks (a collection of textbooks and manuals), Wikiversity (an interactive learning resource), Wikinews (an experiment in citizen journalism), Wikiquote (a collection of quotations), and Wikispecies (a directory of all forms of life). Like Wikipedia itself, all these projects are freely licensed and open to contributions.
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  8. We are only collectors.
    Articles in Wikipedia are not signed, and contributors are unpaid volunteers. Whether you claim to be a tenured professor, use your real name or prefer to remain without an identity, your edits and arguments will be judged on their merits. We require that sources be cited for all significant claims, and we do not permit editors to publicize their personal conclusions when writing articles. Editors must follow a neutral point of view; they must only collect relevant opinions which can be traced to reliable sources.
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  9. We're not a dictatorship.
    The Wikimedia Foundation is controlled by its Board of Directors, the majority of whom the Bylaws require to be chosen from its community. The Board and Wikimedia Foundation staff does not take a role in editorial issues, and projects are self-governing and consensus-driven. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales occasionally acts as a final arbiter on the English Wikipedia, but his influence is based on respect, not power; it takes effect only where the community does not challenge it. Wikipedia is transparent and self-critical; controversies are debated openly and even documented within Wikipedia itself when they cross a threshold of significance.
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  10. We're in it for the long haul.
    We want Wikipedia to be around a hundred years from now, if it does not turn into something even more significant. Everything about Wikipedia is engineered towards that end: our content licensing, our organization and governance, our international focus, our fundraising strategy, our use of open source software, and our never-ending effort to achieve our vision. We want you to imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment — and we need your help.
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