Wikipedia reverses the original idea of an encyclopedia: No longer are individual experts alone publishing their knowledge, but a production community of many. In doing so, it feels committed to the neutral presentation of world knowledge, and consciously not to the evaluation of the same. Thanks to the collaborative working method, there are now over 2 million articles in the German-language Wikipedia, which is more than Brockhaus covers. In total there are almost 300 language versions.
The principle underlying Wikipedia is simple: Any user can edit, improve or even add articles in Wikipedia. However, only edits that have been approved by experienced authors are retained. The operators of Wikipedia (the Wikimedia Foundation) generally do not intervene in the "ongoing operation" and instead rely on the self-organisation of the Wikipedia community.
Because everyone has the opportunity to participate in Wikipedia, there are complex rules and roles without which the community could not function and the quality of articles could not be guaranteed. It is important that these rules are followed so that everyone can contribute within their own capabilities. Active authors gain more skills the longer they are involved and the more edits they make to articles. So-called classifiers take on the largest share of all administrative tasks. Their typical tasks include the removal of vandalism, the viewing of content - with the right to check contributions from others in order to either release or discard them - , the administration of archives, the holding of deletion discussions, etc.
The openness of Wikipedia also brings with it vandalism, which in Wikipedia is taken to mean deliberately inserted inappropriate content. Wikipedia authors with viewer status take on the thankless task of eliminating this vandalism. The original texts are usually restored within minutes.
The special nature of the way Wikipedia is created makes it a never-ending project that is constantly being improved, expanded and updated. To ensure that the quality of Wikipedia does not suffer as a result of the participation of many, authors are subject to the rules mentioned above.
With a few tips and a little experience, it is possible to learn to correctly evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, because even within Wikipedia there are differences in quality. It is therefore necessary to be able to judge for yourself how reliable the articles there are. Under "How to recognize a good Wikipedia article", for example, relevant clues are suggested. Basically, Wikipedia is a good starting point for research work, but should not be the only and last source to be accessed and quoted on a topic. When citing, it is generally recommended to refer to primary rather than secondary sources, the latter including Wikipedia.
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