Wikipedia’s “free” part isn’t why. The “encyclopedia” part is.

Skip your next coffee to donate to Wikipedia. The price of that cup of coffee is all they ask.


I was hesitant on whether to write this, but then I remembered seeing HEY World, which is basically just plain text with images. If they can get away with email-style blogging, then, what better, more fabulous wonders can I create with Markdown? I wonder.


Wikipedia is a pretty solid place to find information. If you come across an article that suggests otherwise, contribute!

Like it or not, Wikipedia has become the go-to source for knowledge for many. Google’s knowledge panel also pulls data from Wikipedia, so “many” probably became “most”.

Wikipedia’s authority cannot be taken for granted; tell someone - anyone - its idea of “anyone can edit”, and that person might tell you it won’t last a day. Wikipedia, though, has lasted for many, many days.

The source of Wikipedia’s authority is the hard work of Wikipedia’s contributors, along with its community guidelines - for example, check out Wikipedia:Reliable sources. Their work is not perfect; someone on Chinese Wikipedia had been fabricating articles on Medieval Russia for 10 whole years without anyone noticing. 10 whole years! But once people noticed, Wikipedia was quick to undo that damage.

This works a bit like scientific journals; we cite them not for their authority, as even established journals like Science, Nature, and The Lancet can contain fabricated articles. We cite them because they have undergone peer review, and use scientific methods to present falsifiable claims - if new evidence suggests otherwise, we are quick to revise and adapt.



Wikipedia also has mechanisms against vandalism. Try deleting a random sentence to see if really anyone can edit? Your IP will be banned.

(Working on this three months later, I have totally forgotten what I wanted to write about. But here goes.) Mechanisms like this is natural if you think about it - if anyone can make important people’s articles say something funny and different, then Wikipedia won’t work at all. I suppose even websites like Urban Dictionary have safety measures, at least against spam.


What I love about Wikipedia is its legacy. A remnant from the early days of the Internet, where you could run a personal website from home or under a folder called ~username. And yet Wikipedia has become up-to-date, thriving, and a go-to place for people wanting information. (I suppose Google’s infobox has become the new go-to, but guess where that data comes from?)

But Wikipedia is also a remnant from the early days, in the sense that everyone worked for a selfless goal. Free stuff like Wikipedia aren’t usually expected to thrive. Open source software might be used by big companies who don’t necessarily give back. Such selflessness is still happening, but at a much smaller scale, and on dedicated websites like 4chan or Reddit.

So the spirit of Wikipedia lives on, on Wikimedia Foundation’s servers, in the Internet Archive, on the countless mirrors that obeyed or disobeyed the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License, and maybe in an arctic vault somewhere.