Wikipedia Plea For Donations

Wikipedia is currently pleading for donations from users. I’d like to know the general opinion of Dopers as to donating to support Wikipedia.

Personally, I am unable to donate and don’t use Wikipedia much anyway. I also understand, mainly from Dopers, that Wikipedia is not a very reliable source due to the ability of anyone to modify the posted information. If this is true, and I believe it is, why would anyone donate money to support the thing?

It’s not as unreliable as it’s made out to be, especially on more esoteric topics such as mathematics. It’s also really really big, and really really search-able.

Its worth donating a dollar or two.

It’s an excellent source of links to actual research documents. - makes them far easier to find than google.

To use a cliche, that’s sort of its great strength and its great weakness. Anyone can edit it, of course, which also means that anyone can correct incorrect information and vandalism. And most of the idiots who vandalize it do so in an obvious manner that’s easily reversed (often by bots). For example, they’ll replace every occurrence of a word with “penis”.

Wikipedia is a really, really big thing, and a really, really good thing. Just think of the hole it would leave if it would stop to exist in this form. I think that decades from now, it will be thought of as one of the milestones in the emerging of modern Internet.

It also employs about 35 people (paid) full time (besides the tens of thousands of volunteers), has no ads, is independent, and I use it about three times a week. For a large part of the world, it is their only acces to all sorts of information. I can imagine far, far less worthier causes I have supported.

BTW, here is a link to a study published in Nature that compared the accuracy of Wikipedia to that of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Of course the article’s behind a pay wall, so here is the Wikinews article on it. In summary, both are roughly as accurate (or as inaccurate). One costs a bunch of money, while the other is free and more comprehensive. Which would you prefer to use?

I’m critical of Wikipedia-- not of its accuracy, which seems pretty good to me, but of the awful writing style that results when hundreds of people, some of whom haven’t even read the article, get to add their own little bit to a piece. There are very few Wikipedia articles that wouldn’t benefit from a good going-over by a professional editor.

But, I use it constantly, at least ten times a day, more if I’m reading up about something. I use it almost like Google for a quick overview of a topic. It’s just a priceless repository of information. So yes, I have felt morally obliged to donate before, and will probably do so again.

I would love to see a Wikipedia 2.0 that somehow fixes the “every man and his dog” problem, but I’m not sure how it could work. Some kind of reputation-based or Digg-like approval system for edits, and some way of only disapproving parts of edits rather than the whole thing?

I agree with this. I’ve read articles where the same fact is repeated through the article because of multiple editors, or the article switches among the past, present and future tense, based on when the edit was made. I’ve tried to clean up some of the articles, but it needs a lot of attention.

I donated 5 bucks, I love Wikipedia!

I donated a bit of money. I use Wikipedia every day just to get a basic grasp on things I don’t know about.

Because I find it to be a very useful resource that I derive benefit from. In my experience, its reliability and authoritativeness are often at least as good as that of any other freely-available online resource. If I come across a name, title, or term that I’m unfamiliar with, and I wonder, “who’s that,” Wikipedia is often a good place to turn.

They always run their annual fundraising drive in December. I give them a little bit every year. Thanks for reminding me. :slight_smile:

ETA: As for why I support it, Wikipedia is a great resource for many technical subjects (where there is usually an objective “right” answer that doesn’t get bogged down in endless writing-by-committee.) Just today I used it to look up some of the more obscure HTTP response codes. Much easier than slogging through the relevant RFC.

I just donated, thanks to this thread. I use it all the time, as **Thudlow Boink **said, just to look up people and concepts that are unfamiliar to me. I think its a great resource (not for academics, just for everyday life.)

FWIW, I view people who say this like I do people who say “Kids and their texting! Why can’t they just call?!”

It is a valid point, but if it’s the only point made, it illustrates that the speaker does not actually understand the topic. No, it’s not 100% accurate but almost all the time, but common sense (not to mention the list of cites) goes a long way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO2D_sxXAWM&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkBxl8Cq-fI&feature=related

I don’t have any cash, but I don’t want to see this guy ever again. It’s worth it if you have cash to donate imho. The books are no longer the ‘key to the info age’! If that was the info age.

Wikipedia is like that “central repository of information” you hear about on all those sci fi shows (Stargate - Ancient Database, Star Trek - Memory Alpha, Star Wars - George Lucas’ fat head… ;)).

It’s a revolutionary first step to compiling information in an encyclopedia format that’s free to anyone and everyone. Of course, there are downsides to this, but overall it’s about as accurate as any other encyclopedia. Especially if you use the often linked to research papers (cites) down at the bottom of the page, and not just the page itself for the majority of your information.

It’s often written in far more layman terms than actual encyclopedias, and it’s much easier to navigate than hard books, not to mention the absolutely terrible CD’s that Encyclopedia Britainica churns out.

It’s often worded in a confusing way, but the great thing about that is if you don’t like it – fix it! It’s within your power to do more than complain. This really is one of those situations where someone complains, I can say “Do something about it,” and be entirely serious.
So yeah, I donate and encourage others to donate. I’ve definitely donated less than it would cost me to purchase a set of Encyclopedias, and I’ve gotten more use out of it than I would them, because they’re such a pain in my ass to use.

But it really needs the words “DON’T PANIC” in large, friendly letters on the cover.

I am not giving money. Wikipedia is a good thing. But I have never cared for Jimmy Wales running this as the Jimmy Wales show where he gets to protect his own page and those of his friends but no one else gets such a privilege.

I definitely agree with some others here. There are so many articles of poor levels of quality. But WP has not focused on improving these articles. I hear a lot about how people of marginal fame should be able to get vanity pages on the site, but nothing about fixing what they already have.

I have probably written about a dozen articles. But I significantly expanded about 150 of them. In one case, I tried to recruit people to help me improve it. I probably spent weeks doing research so that I could cite everything I wrote. I was looking for some help in areas where I was less strong, Manual of Style, etc. I couldn’t find a soul wanting to get involved. One editor did tell me that it could be a “good article” if I did X, Y and Z related to style and headers and some other nonsense. Since I didn’t want to get banned, I did not say: “I did my bit, now fuck off and try working on it yourself.” But I thought about saying it.

I have significantly expanded a bunch of articles on former members of Congress of the early 20th century. Some of the folks have great stories to tell. I could point out articles which have gone close to a year without any substantive edits other than mine. One person did come and remove the “stub” tag and tell me how I should remove those in the future. Thanks meathead.

But of course, if some dead Congressman had a granddaughter that fucked Tiger Woods, it would get some attention. The article would double in size and an entire career in Congress would be overshadowed by the sordid deeds of a grandchild.

So its been one of those things where I have essentially checked out. Every now than then something comes up about someone. If WP has a crap biography, I might find myself compelled to do some work on it. And I enjoy the research and the referencing of articles. So I think they look pretty good. If I am really lucky, someone will come along and add “Neptunian Slug is a fag” on the article and it will sit there for weeks until it pops up on someone’s watchlist.

I fucking love Wikipedia. I’m a grad student in international policy and I regularly have to learn about some political issue in really short periods of time. A couple weeks ago, I had one day where I had to become an expert on the conflict in Darfur. Wikipedia is just the best place to do something like that. Not sure the info is legit? Follow the sources. Wikipedia can be used really successfully as a collection of sources. I often start research papers by going to the Wikipedia article on the topic and then using the sources listed in the footnotes as the basis of my research.

While I would recommend using Wikipedia for all research purposes, of course, I will tell you that my Foreign Policy professor last year at one point assigned us to read the Wikipedia article on the Taliban (in conjunction with a few other readings) because she thought it was the best and most accessible work on the subject.

If you know and acknowledge its limitations, and don’t ferchrissakes cite it as an authoritative source in your scholarly or academic writing, it’s invaluable. I’m probably on Wiki half a dozen times a day. I strongly agree with Maastricht that, in time, it will be regarded as having been of seminal importance to the development of the Internet.

For a quick overview of any complicated subject generally, and for entertainment and pop culture in particular, there’s really nothing better.

I’d better go make a donation…