Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Do We Need the Web and the Wikipedia?

Wikipedia raises more and more interesting questions as it expands in size and into more and more areas. It is now creating a dictionary and a host of word lists (glossaries). It has a news service, a photo archive, a free content library and is beginning a “Wikiversity” of online courses. The encyclopedia itself has 1,583,681 articles in English, a total of 6,197,339 counting all the articles in the 250 foreign languages now included.

Since anyone who walks in the door and claims to be an expert can write articles for Wikipedia, and Wikipedia is apparently trying to expand into every kind of offering on the Web, the question naturally arises: do we need Wikipedia and the Web or will the latter eventually atrophy away?

Wikipedia currently has a version of just about everything alphaDictionary has on its site and this may be said for thousands of now partially redundant sites around the web. The quality is much lower but then, the hope is that with time, the quality of the Wikipedia will improve. (It compares pretty well with the overall quality of the Web in general now.)

But the main point is this: if Wikipedia succeeds in collecting a definitive article on every topic conceivable, opens a university, provides us with the news, all the dictionaries and pictures we need–and anyone can get involved in creating this stuff, the reason for the Web’s existence is reduced to advertising and sales. At this point it merges with Google and eBay and–voila! There is no more reason for the Web’s existence. It will be replaced by the Wikigoobay.

Did I miss anything in my logic here?

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