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Wikipedia @ 20

Reflections on Past, Present and Future

We would like to invite you to join us for Wikipedia @ 20, a discussion series that examines the past, present and future of Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia. In this series of 3 programs, you can learn more about how crowdsourced information affects the way people learn and share knowledge and how teachers and students from grade school to graduate school are using Wikipedia (for better or worse). We'll dismantle some misconceptions about Wikipedia and meet some of the editors who are responsible for coordinating the production of Wikipedia information about COVID-19 and the January 6th insurrection. This program is co-sponsored by the University of Rhode Island College of Arts and Sciences and the Harrington School of Communication and Media. 


If you missed tthe event, you can watch the video recording below

In 2021, Wikipedia celebrates its 20th birthday. Since its creation, Wikipedia has grown to include more than 55 million articles, equivalent to more than 20,000 bound volumes. Wikipedia’s founding vision is best expressed in the famous provocation to “imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.” With more than 500 million worldwide monthly readers, it is one of the most important resources on the Internet. But even after 20 years, it continues to be an information resource that is misunderstood and controversial. In this series of events, we explore the impact of Wikipedia as it has developed over 20 years, examining its epistemology and values; its practical utility as a resource for students, teachers, and information-seekers; and as a cultural phenomenon that relies on peer-to-peer global knowledge sharing.

DATE: Monday, March 29

TIME: 5 - 6:30 PM EST

LOCATION: Online. Click here to register.

Presenters include experienced Wikipedians, information experts, critics, and educators who offer insight on Wikipedia and the changing nature of knowledge in a digital age:

  • SHERRY ANTOINE, Executive Director of AfroCROWD, a Wikimedia initiative addressing gender and diversity gaps in Wikipedia
  • R. DAVID LANKES is the director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Information Science and author of The Altas of New Librarianship
  • RYAN MCGRADY has been involved with Wikipedia since 2007, first as a researcher and teacher, then organizer, program manager, and volunteer contributor
  • JASON MOORE is a Wikipedian who coordinated volunteer editors on topics include COVID-19 and the January 6th insurrection
  • FRANK SCHULENBURG is the Executive Director of Wiki Education and serves as the main interface between Wikipedia and educational institutions in the United States and Canada.

MODERATOR: Renee Hobbs

Watch the video recording of the event

Some of the questions we discussed include: 

Credibility & Trust

  • What do people love and hate about Wikipedia?

  • Why is this belief so persistent: You can’t trust Wikipedia because anybody can edit it?

  • True or false: Anybody can edit it

  • What is the relationship between Wikipedia and other types of wikis (ie, WikiLeaks)?

Editorial Practices 

  • How does Wikipedia document current events as they unfold? What is the relationship between Wikipedia and journalism?

  • How did Wikipedia handle the events of January 6? Was it a siege, an insurrection, or a riot?

  • What are the checks and balances that have developed to increase the credibility of Wikipedia? What are the unanticipated consequences of these practices?

  • Who are the editors of Wikipedia? What are the pleasures of volunteering time for this? 

  • What motivates someone to want to join this online community? What are the barriers to entry?

 Pedagogy and Lifelong Learning

  • How do people use Wikipedia in everyday life?

  • Why does Wikipedia have so many entries about popular culture? 

  • What is the “best” way to use Wikipedia for academic research? What is the “worst” way to use it? 

  • What challenges and opportunities do people experience when they attempt to edit a Wikipedia page? 


  • The relationship between Google and Wikipedia: When and why did Google elevate Wikipedia’s visibility and how has that benefitted both entities? Who has been hurt by this synergistic relationship?

  • The economics of Wikipedia: Why do they ask for donations? How much is the Google subsidy annually? 

  • How will Wikipedia change in the next 20 years?  Will it become commercialized? Will it use algorithmic personalization?