A “completely insane idea”

Is how its founder, Jimmy Wales, describes it “a free online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to and anyone can edit” otherwise known as Wikipedia. The Guardian has a great article on “one of the internet’s most inspiring success stories”.Controversial, over-ambitious and to its fans “a fantastic research source – albeit one that you should use with caution”, the English language version of Wikipedia has over 360,000 entries and is growing every day, yet has cost only £300,000.

Currently the most controversial entry appears to be, unsurprisingly, that of a certain Mr George W Bush – 500 edits between August and October this year and now locked to prevent any further editing.

But perhaps Wikipedia’s greatest contribution so far can be summed up as –

“The truth is that Wikipedia reveals what is normally hidden in an encyclopedia: the countless decisions that lie behind each entry. The only difference is that in Wikipedia, the decision-making never stops…”

And remember, as the General Disclaimer on the Wikipedia site says – “Wikipedia cannot guarantee, in any way whatsoever, the validity of the information found here” – although Wales may have a plan that will justify an edit to that statement too.