Wikipedia subject to influence with rising popularity?Posted: February 1, 2012
The international cyber encyclopedia known as Wikipedia continues to see immense growth in the eleventh year since its 2001 debut, and the corresponding rise in popularity may subject its uniquely public user-generated content to a higher susceptibility of influence.
Despite the site’s claim to quickly locate and subsequently correct ‘undesirable edits’, WIkipedia has faced a bounty of criticism in the academic realm regarding it’s credibility as a reliable source. Now, however, in an age in which information is more heavily collected and exchanged than ever before, the world’s sixth highest trafficking website faces a fresher wave of critics who are more concerned with the effects of the site’s breezy accessibility than the question of its concrete validity.
Accusations have gone so far as to claim that there exists an underlying bias, in some of the site’s articles that may be used to subtly influence readers or sway their political opinions. Some critics link these biases to be the effect of journalistic writing, as enthusiastic journalists have become a significant demographic of Wikipedias’s users and contributors. As journalists contribute articles and increase the presence of their trained writing styles, skepticism is posed about the their influence on how the material is presented.
Attribution to Wikipedia is beginning to be more commonly seen in news as it gains ground as a valuable tool among the journalistic community. The style of the site allows for convenient information routing and journalistic ‘road mapping’ to formulate stories. Many have recognized Wikipedia’s writing style as a positive characteristic, noting some of its finer user-generated content and appreciating the higher level of captivation that the high quality writing can offer to article readers. Bloggers have created lists of the site’s most interesting articles, ranked not for material content, but more relatedly for the interest level of the article based on its quality of writing.
Whether this emerging recognition and distrust will result in disruption of Wikipedia’s rapid growth is not yet evident, or even seemingly likely, as Wiki users expressed nationwide support for the site after the January 16th blackout of the entirety of its English content. The site’s search engine presence remains overwhelmingly dominant and results of the blackout seem to be in Wikipedia’s favor for now. Will influence on Wikipedia’s content, journalistic or otherwise, eventually become significant enough to be addressed by the site’s leadership? Or will it distinguish the site further as the most interesting encyclopedic reference to consult?