Lately, I’ve been puzzling over why people like Wikipedia. What makes it so appealing as a research tool, even when people know any idiot can writing anything in it. Then, I cam to the conclusion:
Using Wikipedia is like eating McDonalds.
Why do people eat McDonalds? They know that McDonalds food isn’t healthy, but people still eat it.
Why do people use Wikipedia? They know that Wikipedia information can’t be guaranteed, but people still use it and quote the information as 100% fact.
So what makes Wikipedia/McDonalds appealing? First of all, the familiarity. No matter where you go, you can be guaranteed the same meal anywhere. McDonalds burgers are the same in Australia, America, and Europe.
All Wikipedia articles are the same. No matter what article you look up, whether it be Alexander the Great, Elephants, or Goldfish, you can expect that all the information will be there, and presented in a familiar format: clean white background, text in a simple font/size, no flashing adverts, and a few pictures. Wikipedia even has sources listed!
Secondly, McDonalds is available worldwide. You can eat McDonalds in France, China, India, Egypt etc.
Wikipedia has articles on everything. Readers and researchers can be virtually reassured there’ll be an article on the topic they need. There’s no need to go scrolling through Google looking for a page on Topic X, which was referenced in Topic Y.
That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the issue. But, if McDonalds is so unhealthy, why do people eat it? The food is fattening, and if one was to eat it all the times, one would face serious health problems. Surely a salad sandwich is much better for you? But, as I said above, McDonalds the same throughout all the stores, and McDonalds can be found everywhere, and people like that.
Wikipedia is the same. Although the information cannot be guaranteed correct, and any old lies could be written in, people still use it. But, like I said, people like Wikipedia because of the familiarity of the site, and because Wikipedia has an article on everything.
I can’t really think of a conclusion, so I’ll leave you with this:
Did you know that from any page on Wikipedia, you can click on five links to end up on Adolph Hitler?