Wikipedia. com is one of the more interesting sites on the web. Its purpose is to provide free information on almost any topic to anyone who has a computer, but the unique part is that people are allowed to add content as they see fit. It is basically an encyclopedia written by anyone who has an article they would like to add. The structure of the website is easy to maneuver. It has a very easy search feature, a very simple, easy to read setup, and additional information about any topic can be found by clicking the links in the article itself.
The target audience for Wikipedia could be anyone. There is information there for young and old, and so many topics are covered that it would be hard for someone to not gain from reading it. Probably, though, Wikipedia is most appealing to students of any age. From looking up information for a book report to posting the latest findings of a college study, Wikipedia tends to lean towards people searching for knowledge. The site has an amazing amount of information, and more is added every day.
This, however, is both a plus and a minus. Many schools will not accept Wikipedia as a reference since anyone can write anything they want and post it as truth. There are people working for Wikipedia who will deny an obviously false entry, but things have slipped by them before and likely will again. The site does tell a person about anything they could possibly be interested in, but it does not promise that the information is not flawed in some way. As far as advertising goes, there is none.
Wikipedia is funded primarily by donations. This is a huge plus to someone who wants to get their information without having to go through ad after ad to get it. Also, one gets the feeling that the motives of the website are pure. They are not in the business of selling, they are in the business of passing along information to people who might not have had access to it before. After seeing some websites that only want to sell, this is a refreshing change.
Using the suggested starting page of “distance learning,” one can see how well the website is set up. Immediately there are links to different parts of the article, thus cutting down on the time needed to find a particular area of interest. The page is broken down into a outline type form, and each section offers links within itself for people who want to learn more about a particular service or, in this case, product. One of the best things about Wikipedia is the references that are at the end of most of the articles.
When one sees all the references, especially the ones linked for further personal reading, it gives the impression that the article is up to par and contains correct and relevant information. Better yet are the links under the “see also” section. These links give more specific information on what was read in the article as well as giving ideas for similar research. Some articles even include “external links,” and through those one can learn even more from other websites.
While some do not trust the information found on Wikipedia, I think that careful research and double checking facts is all that is necessary to make Wikipedia an invaluable resource. There is so much information that can only be found in detail on this site, and for those who do not have access to reference books or a good library, Wikipedia is the only way for them to complete projects and learn more about the world around them. The links to other information are fascinating, and the references that can be accessed are wonderful.
The layout is simple, and, since Wikipedia has articles in so many different languages, the site is right for everyone who needs instant information. I would definitely suggest that people use Wikipedia and keep it bookmarked. With new information coming in everyday, it is an incredible resource for the very latest facts, and I would not hesitate to suggest its use to anyone. It has been valuable to me for many papers and projects, and I intend to use it again. It is an excellent website.