Wikipedia

Approximately a year and a half ago I took at look at the completely free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia which is kept alive by a combination of user contributions and donations.Back then I had only just discovered its existence and was instantly impressed by the huge amount of good quality reference material that was available. Further down the line the quality of the site hasn’t deteriorated in anyway with hundreds of articles being added or updated on a daily basis so I thought that perhaps it was time to feature it once again for those that missing the first article along with those who simply need reminding of its existence.

The one problem that I have with the Internet is that by doing conventional searches using an engine such as Google you are often relying on pot luck as to the quality of the results that are returned.For example one topic that you search could yield a host of useful material whereas searching for another topic could come back with a load of completely irreverent, badly written articles.

Using a dedicated encyclopaedia such as Wikipedia takes the guess work out of researching articles and topics because all the articles in its database have actually had to be approved by a moderator before they are added.This contrasts to the general Internet which can be used by absolutely anybody in order to publish anything they wish whether factually accurate or not.

I have found that you can type pretty much anything into the Wikipedia search and it will come back with a comprehensive, well written and interesting article.Now, let’s get this straight; when I say anything I really do mean anything – I’ve just spent the last 20 minutes typing completely random subjects into the search bar and it has come back with a result for each of them.Having said that, since there is over 1 million articles in the database this is rather unsurprising.

When viewing a specific topic you will find that the article is nicely structured into appropriate headings and subheadings as well as links to further reading sources present on both internal and external sites.Any technical terms used in the write-ups are hyperlinked so that you can simply click on them and it will be cross linked to a different area of the encyclopaedia that will explain their meaning to you.

As well as obviously the content of the site I am primarily impressed by several other aspects.First and foremost is the fact that it is run entirely from user contributions and donations – To have a resource which makes the Microsoft Encarta website look laughable whilst being completely free of charge is quite impressive.Secondly is the fact that there are absolutely no adverts on the site to impede your viewing which is extremely rare to see from a free resource nowadays.Finally there are the other features such as this encyclopaedia being backed up by a very capable dictionary and thesaurus which will be useful to all those who find the one included in their standard spell checker somewhat limited.

I really don’t think there is a single person reading this who won’t have a use for this website in the coming year so head to www.wikipedia.co.uk then bookmark and use it as your first resource whenever one of those niggling questions pops up in the future!

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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