Wikipedia and Its Effective Usage

Introduction

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia and has abundant information regarding any topic you can think about. It started way back in 2001 and since then has gained immense reputation and fan following from all over the world. The word Wikipedia is made up two words, wiki- (which is used for a site offering multi-functionality) and -pedia (which is taken from the word encyclopedia). Wikipedia is not only an informative website or an encyclopedia but it is also a community of people where different people come together for various reasons. Many a people come to Wikipedia website just for the sake of reading articles while many others come to share their knowledge by adding to the information of the existing pages or writing a new one. Many of Wikipedia’s regular users visit the site’s community portal, where people debate or talk about various issues.
Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia that displays all of its information in the form articles that can be viewed by anyone on the internet for absolutely no cost. These articles are not officially generated rather these are written by volunteers from all over the world and anyone can edit them.
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Brief History

History research of Wikipedia suggests that it was founded on January 15, 2001 with an initial aim to provide support to an expert written encyclopedia known as Nupedia and also to provide free information to the internet users. Gradually it gained popularity among the internet users and over took Nupedia. Now Wikipedia is one of the largest known and commonly used internet encyclopedias. It has over two million articles in over 250 languages. Wikipedia is available in almost every language of the world. It is there in Arabic, in Urdu, in Italian and many such languages. The most commonly known and used Wikipedia is in English. The general website of Wikipedia is: http://www.wikipedia.org.

Rules and Regulations of Wikipedia

Visitors are not required to be specially trained or qualified to be able to add or edit data present on Wikipedia rather the aim of Wikipedia is to promote the users to write articles that cover already existing knowledge up to the extent they know about it, this means that people of all ages, cultures or social groups can not only access Wikipedia for data or information but they can also contribute to it by adding the things they think are lacking. Almost all the articles can be edited by simply clicking “edit this page” link which is available on a particular page. Anyone may add information, cross-references, or citations, as long as they follow the editing policy of Wikipedia. Substandard, controversial or disputed information is generally removed. Users cannot intentionally or accidentally damage Wikipedia when adding or improving information. This is because, editors of Wikipedia are always around to correct or nullify obvious errors or intentional fallacious data. Further, Wikipedia's software is carefully designed in such a way that it allows one to easily remove or undo editorial mistakes. According to Wikipedia itself, it has over seventy five thousand editors, which include both Scholars and casual internet users.
Wikipedia encourages users to write articles but it also imposes some restrictions on them. Wikipedia is quite strict on three main principles and these are to be followed by every editor. “Neutral point of view”, “Verifiability” and “No original research” are these three principles. One of these principles is a neutral point of view. Wikipedia strongly discourages bias opinions and tries to ensure that none of its articles are biased towards an idea. Wikipedia not only tries to promote neutral point of views but it also ensures that the articles are reliable. Verifiability policy of Wikipedia ensures that all the articles that have been written or are being challenged have been done so citing a reliable source. The articles which do not have any reliable source are deleted. Wikipedia tries to portray already existing knowledge so it does not accept original researches in any way. It is one of the main advantages of Wikipedia that none of the information on it is biased towards something and also, everything written in an article has a reliable source behind it. Besides these three principles, Wikipedia does not limit its user in any way. It doesn’t have firm rules regarding addition, removal, modification or edition of data but it does follow a proper code of conduct. The users are required to be civil with each other, even if they do not agree with each other’s opinions. Moreover, Wikipedia also discourages offensive writing against someone and promotes openness to new ideas. Edit wars between any two editors is also considered to be against the code of conduct of Wikipedia.

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia itself, there are five main pillars of Wikipedia which are sufficient enough to give the description of Wikipedia:
• Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
• Wikipedia has a neutral point of view.
• Wikipedia is free.
• Wikipedia doesn’t have firm rules.
• Wikipedia has a code of conduct.

Some Effective Usage Tips

Regarding the effective usage of Wikipedia, the following tips/tricks can be helpful regarding the usage of Wikipedia.
• There are many links inside an article of a Wikipedia article. This is mainly because there are so many cross references (which a paper written encyclopedia lacks). Although this has been introduced for the sake of user research but sometimes it becomes very annoying and troublesome for the eyes to read contrasting colors of black and blue. It is not such a major issue but there is a solution to it. If one wants to remove all the hyperlinks and view the page as a simple page then one ought to go to one’s browser address bar and add “&printable=yes” to the URL of the page, this will remove all the hyperlinks and will present the website in an all black format.
For example,
With links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess
Without links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess&printable=yes
• Suppose if you want to keep tabs on a particular article. This may be due to any reason; you may be interested in the developments taking place in that article or you may want to prevent anyone trying to vandalize the article. This can easily be done by subscribing to the RSS feed of that particular article. To track the story, you simply have to click “history” tab of any article and then select RSS feed from the sidebar. You can also keep up to date with your interested article through email. This can be done by going to http://www.wikifeeds.com and subscribing to the desired article.
• Geographical explorer software such as Google Earth etc all use have the option of Wikipedia which can be used by the user to view the article regarding the place he is trying to see or explore. This add on feature can be used to a great extent in understanding the places and their history better.
• Some users may have a problem with their internet or may have to leave for a place where there is no internet, in such a case Wikipedia doesn’t abandon you, rather there is a downloadable Wikipedia which one can download on one’s hard disk and it doesn’t require an internet connection to run.
• Wikipedia is not only available on the internet but it can also be accessed through one’s cell phone. For this purpose, one needs to simply enter http://wapedia.mobi which is a mobile encyclopedia linked with Wikipedia. It can provide a person with vital information if a person is on the move and cannot connect to internet.
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(In gaining these points, research has been carried out at tips29 and Digital Inspiration
The image credit of Wapedia goes to the latter of the two internet sites)

Features of Wikipedia

Sister Projects

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The sister projects of Wikipedia are a considerable part of Wikipedia. Just like Wikipedia, these are also supported by the Wikimedia foundation and perform various functions. They all are, like Wikipedia, free sources of various types of information. They are nine in number and are as follows:

Wictionary

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Wiktionary is a free, multilingual dictionary. Its main aim is to provide complete understanding of a word that a user may enter to it. It provides pronunciation of the given word as well. Not only it has this but it also contains a rhyme guide, phrase book, language statistics and extensive appendices. It also includes a thesaurus. Moreover, it is a wiki, which means that the pages can be edited, added or removed. For example, the word “Set” has been explained by Wiktionary and can be viewed by clicking the hyperlink. Wiktionary can be consulted by the users all over the world regarding any word they might need to look up.

Wikispecies

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Wikispecies is just like any other Wikimedia project. It is a wiki and it is free. It basically provides all sorts of information about living organisms. For example, the Linnaean taxonomy classification of organisms can be viewed by clicking the above link. It can be used by people such as doctors, botanists or zoologists to enhance their knowledge about various living organisms.

Wikiquote

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Wikiquote is a free encyclopedia of quotes. It contains quotes from famous book, famous people and even movies. For example, quotes of Quaid-e-Azam Ali Jinnah or Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto can be viewed by clicking the hyperlinks. Wikiquote can be used by people who are to orate certain topics, write reports, essays or those people concerned with humanities subjects such as literature, grammar etc. People can not only use these quotes to create a fine impression in their written papers but can also add to their already existing information.

Wikisource

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Wikisource is just like an online library. It contains publications which are collected and maintained by the members of the Wikipedia community. Wikisource is a source of knowledge which can be viewed when one needs to cite from a book or search a publication.

Wikibooks

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Wikibooks is also an online library which costs absolutely nothing. The main difference between Wikibooks and Wikisource is that Wikibooks contains educational books whereas Wikisource contains various publications. The books on Wikibooks are free to edit. Wikibooks can be used by not only professors but also students. It can greatly help them to prepare their lectures, to write their reports or even to cite about various things which they may need to. For example, two of many books present on Wikibooks are Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies and ICT for Disaster Management.

Wikimedia Commons

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Wikimedia Commons contains over three million usable media files that can not be used by anyone over the internet but can also be edited. It has been divided into six categories; Science (contains media files relating the field of science and technology), Video (contains various types of videos), Society (pictures and media regarding our society), Sound (contains sounds), Nature (media regarding our mother nature) and Images (which contains various images). These can be viewed by anyone who is either interested in them or wants to view them for any sake of his own.

Wikimedia Meta-Wiki

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Wikimedia Meta-Wiki is a page that is dedicated to the co-ordination and documentation of the projects that are being run by Wikimedia foundation and generally provides news regarding the developments taking place in these projects.

Wikiversity

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Wikiversity is a vast project started by Wikimedia foundation. It provides learning resources, learning projects, and research for all types of users belonging to any educational level what so ever. It provides information from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. Teachers, students, and researchers are encouraged to join Wikiversity to create open educational resources and collaborative learning communities.

Wikinews

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What comes to mind when you hear Wikinews?? A source of news? Yes, but what makes it so special? It’s a source of news written by the people! Yes it’s the news that you can write or edit. That is one of the unique features of Wikinews.
(The images are taken from the homepages of all the respective sites)

Other important areas of Wikipedia

Wikipedia Local Embassy is a place where Wikipedia related issues can be discussed by users in their very own language. It is to be noted that Wikipedia local embassy is not actually an embassy, rather it is just a site that hands users a chance to communicate with various editors of Wikipedia in their own language.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Local_Embassy

Site News is a place where news about Wikipedia, its sister projects and Wikimedia foundation can be found with ease. It is particularly for those who are interested in the works of Wikimedia foundation and want to keep up to date with their activities.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:News

Are you in a hurry? Or cannot find something you are looking for? Well if that is the case, Wikipedia Reference Desk is there for you. Wikipedia reference desk is a unique feature of Wikipedia that helps users find their desired topic. Wikipedia reference desk gives you an overview of all the knowledge by dividing all the articles in eight categories; Computers and Information Technology, Science, Mathematics, Humanities, Language, Entertainment, Miscellaneous and Archives. There categories have been made to help a user find his desired topic easily. If a person is not looking to find an article related to these subjects then Wikipedia Reference Desk is not useless, it also helps the users find information on the operations of Wikipedia or the reference information on Wikipedia. Moreover, you can always ask questions regarding these categories which would be answered by editors of Wikipedia.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk

Wikipedia Village Pump contains sets of pages which are used to discuss the technical issues, policies, and operations of Wikipedia. It is basically divided into four village pump sections; Policy (to discuss existing or proposed policies), Technical (to discuss technical issues or to report bugs), Proposals (To discuss new proposals that are not policy related) and Miscellaneous (those issues are discussed here which do not fit into any of the above mentioned categories).
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump

Wikipedia Help Desk is basically made for user interface, if a user is having Wikipedia related problem, he is more than welcome to post his questions on the Wikipedia Help Desk. Not only this he can also find queries of other users in frequently asked questions which are also listed for better understanding of the users.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Help_desk

Wikipedia Community Portal is one of the most important features of Wikipedia. It is place where one can find out what is happening on Wikipedia. One can see the tasks that are there to do, what groups are there to join and debate in and furthermore, one can share news about recent events or current activities. It is kind of a social gathering and one can form great friendships, can see help relating to ones profession and can debate so that the concepts of a particular topic in one’s mind may be recollected or cemented.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Community_portal

Spoken Articles

Not many people know that Wikipedia also contains “Spoken Articles”. These articles are not abundant and are few and far between. Some of these articles can be found on Spoken articles. This can save one the effort of actually reading the whole article and straining one’s eyes and can also prove beneficial for those having a hearing disability.
Webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Spoken_articles

Main Contents

The main contents of Wikipedia are shown in the form a portal. This portal is located at the URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents. This portal contains the main overview of all the knowledge, features and information about Wikipedia. It contains all the information that one needs to have about Wikipedia and its articles. There is an overview section in this portal which can be used by a user for his convenience. For example, through this section you can arrange Wikipedia in the form of a college curriculum such that it’ll become easier for you to search desired articles. Moreover this section also contains the main site map of Wikipedia. In short, the contents of Wikipedia can help you browse Wikipedia more effectively.
There is also a featured content section for those who are interested in reading random articles. In this section Wikipedia offers users random articles which it believes are the best. Featured articles are changed on a daily basis.
Contents also contain lists of various topics in Wikipedia, the list of all the portals of Wikipedia and all the glossaries.
There is a timeline section where articles are arranged in the order of dates and times that they’ve been submitted or they are related to. This can also help the user effectively find the page he/she is looking for.
The main contents also contain indices of Wikipedia. They are divided alphabetically and categorically.

Key Portals of Wikipedia

Portals of Wikipedia are made for those users who wish to browse Wikipedia rather search it. The portals are named after various fields of life in which a user maybe interested in. These portals are further subcategorized into other topics regarding that particular portal. There are twelve main portals of Wikipedia which are as follows:

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General Reference includes library and informative sciences.

Culture and Arts includes information and articles about various cultures and old artifacts. It can be used by historians or people who are interested in learning culture of societies.

Geography and Places includes information about various geographical places. It gives a deep insight about various places including their history and current conditions.

Health and Fitness includes various health issues and tips on how you can maintain or make better your fitness level.

History and Events keeps the information and articles about all the historical events that took place. Moreover, it also provides information about history of various places and even famous personalities.

Mathematics and Logic contains all the articles that relate to Mathematics.

Natural and Physical Sciences contains the articles relating to the psychology of human beings and properties of matter in general.

People and self contains information about famous people or celebrities. It also contains different aspects of human psyche.

Philosophy and Thinking contains articles about various philosophers and world renowned thinkers. It also includes things such as poetry and literature etc.

Religion and Belief system is one of the most controversial portals of Wikipedia. As Wikipedia is user written, therefore Wikipedia is bound to have clashes of opinion in this regards. It is advisable not to trust or cite from Wikipedia if the article is related to religion or belief system.

Society and Social Sciences contains information about our society as a whole and various trends of society.

Technology and Applied Sciences is a very important portal of Wikipedia. It contains all the information regarding the upcoming technology of the world. Also as the name clearly indicates, it also contains articles that help a user apply his knowledge onto his surroundings to explain the various taking place around him.

References

The research carried out for this project has been carried out through various websites and their respective URL’s are given below:
http://ar.wikipedia.org/
http://ur.wikipedia.org/
http://it.wikipedia.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/
http://www.wikipedia.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents/Portals#Mathematics_and_logic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents/Portals#Technology_and_applied_sciences
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents/Portals#Natural_and_physical_sciences
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lal_Masjid_siege
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Alan_Johnston
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benoit_family_tragedy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ununquadium
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Five_Pillars
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:School_and_university_projects
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Slovene_student_projects_in_Wikipedia_and_Wikisource
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents/Portals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ununquadium
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Wikiversity:Welcome
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Local_Embassy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:News
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Help_desk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Community_portal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Spoken_articles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents/Portals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess
http://www.wikifeed.com/
http://wapedia.mobi/
http://www.tips29.com/
http://www.labnol.org/internet/tools/wikipedia-tips-tricks-use-wiki-more-effectively/3338/
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Main_Page
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Set
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linnaean_taxonomy
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali_Jinnah
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zulfikar_Ali_Bhutto
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Web_2.0_and_Emerging_Learning_Technologies/Digital_Divide
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/ICT_for_Disaster_Management/Introduction
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Science
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Video
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Society
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Sound
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Nature
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Pictures_and_images
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Wikiversity:Welcome
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Local_Embassy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:News
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Computing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Mathematics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Humanities
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Entertainment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Miscellaneous
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(technical)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(miscellaneous)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Help_desk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Contents

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