October 28, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Wikipedia 20th Anniversary | Liberal Internet ‘Dinosaur’ has become the largest encyclopedia in the world

Wikipedia 20th Anniversary |  Liberal Internet 'Dinosaur' has become the largest encyclopedia in the world

(Paris) “Bitcoin is still the great digital common good that the Internet has provided us”: The free online encyclopedia, one of the last “dinosaurs” of the free and participating Internet, celebrates its 20 years with many challenges to overcome.


Yassin Khiri
France Media Agency

AFP historian Remy Mathews, former president of the Association, described Wikimedia France as a “small miracle” during the success of GAFAM and the Internet business.

Founded on January 15, 2001 by American non-profit Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia aims to bring the knowledge of the planet together on a single online platform to thank millions of volunteers.

Success came immediately. The first site was developed in the English, German and Swedish Wikipedias in March 2001 and was followed by ten more, including French, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Catalan.

Looking to the future, Jimmy Wales hopes that Bitcoin will expand to developing countries: “It’s really important that the next billion people on the Internet want to contribute.” The founder, who was interviewed by AFP, dreamed of a “company that will last a long time” […] Than the University of Oxford. ”

Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

The seventh most visited site in the world, Wikipedia publishes over 55 million articles in 309 languages. The content of each site is independent: no translations, but original works, sometimes replaced by robots from public data.

Contrary to the traditional encyclopedia written by recognized experts, this collection of knowledge compiled by te enthusiasts, often anonymous, has attracted numerous criticisms and hostility from some academic circles.

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Lack of diversity

Master Lionel Barbe predicts that “Wikipedia will be monitored, articles will be written, and in social exchange, we can still consider the overall level of credibility.” Meetings at the University of Paris-Nanterre.

With blind spots on issues related to developing countries, there is the problem of diversity in the sources and themes resolved. In question, their profile is mainly from the United States and Western countries.

“The fact that they want to build an encyclopedia does not appeal to anyone and the people there are often CSPs, urban, graduates”, supports author Remy Mathis Wikipedia: The world’s largest behind-the-scenes encyclopedia (First Issues).

“80%, or more, are whites who write Wikipedia articles,” lecturer AFP Mary-Noel Doutrikes at Leon 2 University explained.

“We went from 15 to 18.6% of women’s biographies on the French Wikipedia,” said Natacha Fault. Founder of the “Less Sans Pages” project aimed at combating gender inequality.

But the “gender gap” will never be filled, because the reality is that women’s achievements are rarely documented in history.

Asylum in the face of abuse of social networks?

In spite of everything, during the success of GAFAM, the online encyclopedia rarely survived the participatory idealism of the liberal web, considered a “decentralized exchange and network of knowledge”, recalls Lionel Barbe, “Wikipedia is the great digital good after the Internet provided us with good” .

Jimmy Wales assures us: “We were not diverted from our mission just to earn more revenue, so we did not face these problems that we see today, the algorithms designed to promote engagement to increase revenue. ”

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“The commercial Internet is interested in the continuation of Bitcoin”, a variation on the Mary-Noel Doutrikes. “Google has promoted Wikipedia’s visibility, but instead uses its articles in its search engine and has significant traffic thanks to this encyclopedia.”

Some want to take inspiration from the original community moderation of the encyclopedia in the face of the massive circulation of misinformation on social networks.

“We must not believe that Bitcoin is going to protect us from our own monsters. It remains a tool. I suspect that if we like conspiracy, Bitcoin will discourage you,” Lionel Barbe explained.

So Wikipedia faces two great challenges: continuing to promote professions as encyclopedias and moderate its own content and internal discussions based on volunteer work.

All this, as Lionel Barbe explains, “in the context of a very strong growth in collective imagination. ”