Investigative journalist COLIN ROTHWELL is back to tell you why Wikipedia is secretly the best thing since…the Encyclopaedia.

academics Cambridge citation conspiracy Encyclopaedia information Internet Jimmy Wales online research sources the tab websites Wikipedia

Sir Timothy John “Tijo” Berners-Lee, Grand High Knight Protector of the Internet invented the “World Wide Web”, or as it is more commonly known, “the Internet”, in 1927 at CERN, global headquarters of Science research. Tijo, as he prefers to be known on the Internet,  invented the Internet to aid CERN’s research efforts. Nevertheless, he was extremely happy to see it grow to become the largest database of pornography imaginable.

However, the story of the Internet does not end there. From within the porn-induced masturbatory haze of the late nineties, one man, “Jimmy” Dolan Wales, suddenly recalled the original purpose of the Internet: the free spread of information. As a single, crystalline tear splashed on his now flaccid member, he vowed to create a site that would fulfil this purpose.

Jimmy’s idea was to create a website filled with articles on only the most relevant scientific, historical and literary subjects, written and curated by the finest minds in their fields. Firing up Facebook chat, he recruited his nephew to build the site, because “he knows much more about this Internet thing than me [Jimmy]”. Unfortunately, his nephew did a really rubbish job of coding the site, entirely forgetting access control, and accidentally letting anyone create and edit articles.

Not one to let a little thing like this stand in his way, Jimmy went ahead and launched the site, Wikipedia. Much to his surprise, the press loved it, and in a bizarre turn of events, world leading experts actually did end up contributing. This just goes to show that you can be a world leading expert in something and still have no idea what to do in your free time.

A world-beater

Despite the fact that Wikipedia is only written by world leading experts, its open nature has made it the subject of fierce debate and criticism. Many school teachers, Cambridge supervisors, even academic journals, forbid the use of Wikipedia as a reference, claiming that it is “unreliable”. This is nonsense. The world leading experts who write Wikipedia habitually ensure that everything is referenced. The most prominent example of this is the great work “Citation Needed”, from whose august pages much of the content on Wikipedia is originally drawn.

These doubters have their own secret reasons for disparaging Wikipedia. School teachers do not allow it because they are too old, and new things like Wikipedia scare them. Cambridge supervisors do not allow it because everything that you might ever want to know is on there, rendering supervision work entirely trivial. And finally journals don’t allow it because if all references were on Wikipedia, nobody would buy back issues of journals to check their references, and the journal companies would go out of business.

Whilst they are fierce opponents of our guiding beacon of knowledge, these are not its only sources of censure. Not-entirely-unexpected challenges to the usefulness of Wikipedia have come from publishers of traditional “CD-based” encyclopaedias, such as “Encarta”, or “Encyclopaedia Britannica CD Edition”. These sources claim that the competition from Wikipedia harms their business, and deprives academics of their previously lucrative “Encyclopaedia contribution income”. Whilst true, it is far from the whole story. The door to door salesmen employed by these companies do not only distribute quaintly outdated encyclopaedias. They also plant high tech spying and hacking devices in the houses, weapons facilities and nuclear power stations where they ply their trade. Control of these devices is then sold for vast sums of money to Britain’s enemies, such as the French. This was only discovered when it was realised that Encyclopaedias were still being sold door to door despite nobody actually buying them. The foiling of these evil corporations has saved potentially millions of good, British lives.

The Encyclopopo are watching you

So we see that every argument to the detriment of Wikipedia has been shown to be false. The benefits that Wikipedia brings, however, do not stop there. To prove my point that Wikipedia is an eminently suitable source of entirely true facts, every piece of information in this article has been taken straight from Wikipedia. No doubt corroboration with what you already know has convinced you as to the spotless accuracy of this piece, and neatly proved that anybody who tries to stop you using Wikipedia as a source of scholarly information is at best misguided, or at worst, malicious.