Today’s output from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute’s state-of-the-art HEMMED (High-Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector) machine is a birthday wish and a big thank you.

Technically, Wikipedia’s birthday was yesterday, January 10th. But I did not find out about it until later in the day and did not have time to get a gift. So this is actually “Happy Belated 10th Birthday, Wikipedia!”.

Wikipedia is “a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 17 million articles (over 3.5 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site. Wikipedia was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger and has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking eighth among all websites on Alexa and having 365 million readers.”

The name “Wikipedia” comes from the Hawaiian word “wiki” which means “quick” and “pedia”, short (wiki?) for “encyclopedia”.

To me it means “linkie goodness” because there are very few blog posts that I can write which do not need some kind of link to a Wikipedia entry.

In fact, unless one is writing a fact-free rant or a personal story, sourcing your Internet blog post is critical. At BPI Campus, our Editorial Guidelines for Contributors states explicitly:

Factual Accuracy – Check your facts, especially the ones you think you already know. If there are conflicting legitimate sources for facts, acknowledge the conflict. Link to sources where possible.

So I could not even write at BPI without Wikipedia. Yikes! The world as we know it would come to an end!

Note this important point about Wikipedia content, however, and the sentence from the BPI Campus Editorial Guidelines stating “If there are conflicting legitimate sources for facts, acknowledge the conflict.”:

[Wikipedia is] written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.

That highlighted section is important. Wikipedia is great for definitions and as a starting point for research. The links and footnotes provide an incredible wealth of material. But the articles themselves are edited by anyone. Some of them are experts in their field, some are people with axes to grind. For example, if you go to some of the more controversial subjects, you can find a lot of material added that has a definite tilt. You will also see the Wikipedia warning “this material is not verified” when something questionable is added.

Some articles are closed, that is, specifically tasked individuals at Wikipedia are the only ones who can edit them. From the About:

Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles (except in certain cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism).

And one more quick plug for Wikipedia. Here are the Five Pillars of Wikipedia’s mission statement:

• Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia.
• Wikipedia has a neutral point of view.
• Wikipedia is free content.
• Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner.
• Wikipedia does not have firm rules.

(Helpful Hint: if you use a search engine like Google to find definitions, put the word “wiki” after the keywords and the first item on the list will most often be their entry).

Besides wishing Wikipedia a happy birthday, I want to thank them for providing an advertising-free source of information to us denizens of the blogosphere so that when we write about the things that are important to us we can link to definitions and other sources.

In fact, blogging would be nearly impossible without you!

Note: Today’s HEMMED In was scheduled for 01/11/11 at 11:11 Eastern just because it tickled me to be able to do that … without sourcing or linking! Kinda, roguish, don’t you think? 😉

Happy Tuesday to everyone and fist bumps!

The BPI Campus Progressive agenda:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.

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Return to HEMMED In three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for more output from BPI’s state-of-the-art HEMMED (High-Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector) machine.

You can follow HEMMED In on twitter at JanF at BPICampus.