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Hot Take of the Day: Wikipedia is Actually the Best

The information goat.



When I was in high school and college, Wikipedia was a punch line.

Oh, did you do research for that paper on Wikipedia? Where’d you learn that fact … Wikipedia? Have you double-checked that on Wikipedia? It was always talked about in tones laced with heaviness and sarcasm. Said with a tone and an expression that screamed “… as if!”

Then, I succumbed to People Smarter Than Me and decried its benefits. Told myself they weren’t worth the risks. I still used it, but I either didn’t tell people I was using it or I covered over my work and tried to pretend that I looked everything up in — what? — an encyclopedia or a dense journal.

Now? I use it every day and donate money annually so that it can continue. I legitimately could not do my job(s) without it. You want every finish from every major championship Jack Nicklaus ever played? It’s there. You want the starting date, career record and salary references for Mike Gundy? All there. You want to know what in the world Mark Calcavecchia is up to these days? That’s there, too.

It’s sort of unbelievable and one of the few throwbacks we have to the magic of the internet. Our online lives have taken a turn and what once was an amalgamation of unbelievability and digital wonder has become a cesspool of fear and anger. Wikipedia is the opposite of that.

And in as much as you can trust people who build things on the internet, you can trust Wikipedia. The part that People Smarter Than Me forgot to note is that Wikipedia is constructed by folks why may not know that much more than you or I do, but it’s built by experts. You might not be able to trust the ghostwriter, but as long as the ghostwriter has to cite legit experts and source all of her material, then there’s actually no more trustworthy place.

People in 30 years will read this post and wonder what I’m talking about. That’s how ingrained it will be in our learning experience (as long as we keep supporting it). So while my sophomore-year history teacher might have thought it was the ending to a joke, he was wrong. Way wrong. Far from a punch line, Wikipedia is — and hopefully will remain — the greatest source of easily-accessible information in the history of the known world.

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