One of the ways that the world wide web (www) is described to anyone is : “It is a vast reference tool for any kind of information”. This is an inaccuracy, in that, while it is a medium through which people can easily share information, it is by no means a reference. The very simplicity and power of the world wide web is also the reason why it cannot be thought of as a reference tool. It is simply too easy to publish information on the Internet and as a result looking for a particular piece of information has become like looking for a needle in the haystack.
That’s why the wikipedia is so remarkable! It has used the very ease of publishing information and the easy access to the vast array of content creators that the Internet provides, as the means to create an on-line editable encyclopedia. The best definition of the wikipedia is given in the wikipedia itself –
Wikipedia (IPA: /ˌwɪkiːˈpiːdi.ə/, /ˌwiki-/ or /ˌwɪkə-/) is an international Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It exists as a wiki, a website that allows visitors to edit its content; the word Wikipedia itself is a portmanteau of wiki and encyclopedia. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing articles to be changed by anyone with access to the website.
What sets apart the wikipedia from the other encyclopedias is the vast array of information that is contained on topics that are not necessarily contained in the others. You can find information on literally anything and if you find something for which there is no information, you have the freedom to add the information if you want… It is this spirit of drawing in the user to become an active participant, that allows wikipedia to be such a vast repository of information. It is also how the accuracy of the information is maintained, as the users can edit and correct inaccuracies in articles created by the others. A record is made of every change, so any change can be rolled back. Articles that have contentious or controversial information are marked as such and references are provided as well.