Case Study: Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopedia, written collaboratively by people from all around the world. The site is a wiki, which means that anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer can edit entries simply by clicking on the edit this page link. Wikipedia is a project of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. [Source: Wikipedia, January 2006]

Things to read:

Questions to consider:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Wikipedia approach to knowledge dissemination? How does Wikipedia compare with the traditional encyclopedia? Which would you trust more as a source of accurate information?
  • Should Wikipedia allow material to be posted by anonymous contributors? What are the advantages and drawbacks?
  • It is not uncommon for knowledgeable individuals to disagree over the facts on certain subjects. How does Wikipedia mediate disputes on sensitive or controversial topics? Is mediation likely to yield unbiased results?
  • By the end of 2005, there were over 4,000 very active “Wikipedians” (those individuals who contribute 100 times or more per month) and 27,000 individuals contributing at least 5 times per month. What factors might explain the motivation and commitment of such a large group of volunteers?

Intellectual Property

Selected trademarks: