‘This is how you edit Wikipedia?’ ‘No. This is how you play God.’

I’ve been a long-time user of Wikipedia, although I’d never edited it until today.  I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I use it as much as I do, but maybe I shouldn’t be.  After all, can you go to the Encyclopedia Britannica and read an article on the Dark Side of the Rainbow, Rickrolling, or MTV’s Skins?  Wikipedia has a lot of information on pop culture and recent events that you just won’t find in an academic encyclopedia.

Of course, it comes at a cost.  Wikipedia can be edited by anyone.  That’s the beauty of it, and that’s also its curse.  On the one hand, some say that Wikipedia is just as credible or better than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  I found this kind of hard to believe, considering the fact that seriously anyone can edit it.  And on the other hand, Wikipedia is sometimes the target of hilarious vandalism.

I chose to edit the page for my hometown, Sioux Rapids.  I’ll admit, I was kind of nervous to edit Wikipedia at first.  I guess I’ve read so many articles on there that I’ve gained a respect for it.  I know that it’s meant to be edited by anyone, but somehow I didn’t feel like I was worthy of doing it.  When I went to edit the page, I was surprised to see that with a quick sign-up process and a click of the “Edit” button, I was looking at the script for the page, ready for me to edit.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  I had the power to write a page for a globally-read encyclopedia in my hands.

I thought for a while about editing Morningside’s page, but I decided against it.  I know it’s lame, but I really didn’t feel like I should, even though I had every reason to do it.  I felt like I was playing God in a way.  Of course, the people who write for real encyclopedias aren’t gods, any more than people who edit Wikipedia.  But Wikipedia has a certain kind of power.  People read it, and take the information in it to heart, whether it’s right or not.  Heck, a lot of students even use it in their papers, even if they lie and say they don’t.  This just didn’t seem like something I could take lightly.

I felt good for doing it though.  After all, the Sioux Rapids page needed some attention.  Those 720 people deserve to be noticed.

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