Wikipedia – Free and Reliable?

Abstract

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Internet-based, free, wiki-encyclopaedia that is created by its own users.

The aim of the present article is to let users’ descriptions of their impressions and experiences of Wikipedia increase our understanding of the function and dynamics of this collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia.

Qualitative, structured interviews concerning users, and the creation and use of Wikipedia were carried out via e-mail with six male respondents – administrators at the Swedish Wikipedia – during September and October, 2006.

The results focus on the following themes: I. Passive and active users; II. Formal and informal tasks; III. Common and personal visions; IV. Working together; V. The origins and creation of articles; VI. Contents and quality; VII. Decisions and interventions; VIII. Encyclopaedic ambitions.

The discussion deals with the approach of this encyclopaedic phenomenon, focusing on its “unfinishedness”, its development in different directions, and the social regulation that is implied and involved. Wikipedia is a product of our time, having a powerful vision and engagement, and it should therefore be interpreted and considered on its own terms.

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