By Nasir Hussain
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia available at tap of a finger in more than 300 languages. From 2010 onwards, Wikipedia has revolutionised the source of information. It was 12th January 2001 when two computer scientists namely Jimmy Well and Larry Senger created Wikipedia as a complementary and feeder project of Nupedia. But currently it has been acknowledged by the world and it has become one of the largest and most-read reference work in history. At present, Wikipedia is being run by a member of trustees of Wikimedia Foundation which is a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco in the USA. Like Nupedia, many other collaborative online encyclopaedias were well attempted before Wikipedia but none of them succeeded as Wikipedia has. The secret of the success story of Wikipedia lies in its democratisation of knowledge, free content, multilingual online encyclopaedia and so on.
Wikipedia is not a social media like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, etc. The purpose of social media is to connect with friends and family. Here we basically share our emotions or connect to the masses so that we can mobilise them to promote our goods, services or causes. But when it comes to Wikipedia, it neither expresses emotions nor advertises or promotes anything. It is raw knowledge and information. Whatever is written in Wikipedia is cited with references as happens in academic writings.
What can we do with Wikipedia apart from reading only?
Wikipedia is open to all. Anyone can read, edit, write or delete the articles available in it with the condition that the activities of editing, writing, or deleting must be well referenced. The question arises: why shall we do this? The answer is very simple – to improve the articles and contribute to the cause of knowledge.
It is a very special journey for a student from being a casual observer to becoming a reader and then an editor and writer at Wikipedia.
Also, a sincere student must always be in the mood of contributing to society at large. In this regard, we can remember the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that the upper hand is better than the lower one. It means the hand which gives something to society is better than which only takes. Therefore, being a student we must have read many articles in Wikipedia now we must contribute even if by small edits, and if possible we must write articles as well.
How to edit the Articles in Wikipedia?
To start editing and writing an article in Wikipedia, we must make a Wikipedia account on wikipedia.org. Once the account is made, go to the edit option and choose the interface you are comfortable with and start editing. If someone is already an editor, he must make others aware of the same. Referring to Wikipedia is so common but unfortunately contributing through edits and write-ups is not very common. We may conduct workshops and seminars on the subject to spread awareness in this regard. A commendable initiative was taken by Indian Institute of Islamic Studies and Research (IIISR) where a Wikipedia workshop was conducted on August 22, 2021. Participants were very excited and enthusiastic because this was so new and refreshing to them. More such initiatives are need of the hour.