Sunday, April 09, 2006


If a performed a search for "Godsend" on Wikipedia, surely the online encyclopedia phenom would not be so modest as to neglect a reference to its own services.

Wikipedia has been an indispensable tool for me in my academic career. More than that, I often turn to the site for quick and comprehensible knowledge on current events that I am not quite up to date on.

I remember performing my first search on St. Louis. The site goes into much depth with other cities, and I wanted to see how the author of the article would depict St. Louis in light of its well-publicized decline. When I first accessed Wikipedia over a year ago, its article on St. Louis was typically critical of the aged city. Highest crime rate in the nation? Check. One of the most segregated cities in the country? Check. Decline from 850,000 people in 1950 to just under 350,000 in 2000? Check. Thank God for the reference page to "Gooey Butter Cake." Otherwise I would assume the author had never been to St. Louis or, worse, had some inexplicable axe to grind.

Luckily, some entrepid Wikipedia visitor, perhaps the original author, has since expanded the article to include recent developments, such as the Washington Avenue Loft District, and has included very recent St. Louis happenings such as another census challenge success that holds the city's population to be at 352,000 as of 2005 (+4,000 since 2000). The article is now very accurate, balancing both the negative and the positive of St. Louis.

With other topics, Wikipedia has proven itself just as notably. Need a brush up on World War II? Wikipedia's got you covered. Want to know the discography of Radiohead? It's just a couple of clicks of the keyboard away with Wikipedia. The features it offers seem to safeguard its potential downfalls. A review board scans the articles for false information and any user can report an article for supposed bias.

I don't know about you, but I'm a believer in Wikipedia. Give it a chance.