Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who Updates Wikipedia? Part I (K2 #26)

Question of the Week

I recently noticed that there's a new article in Wikipedia on the Royal Wedding, but it contains many errors. Who is responsible for these errors?
-- Sonam P., MoE

Dear Sonam,

Many Internet users in Bhutan are not familiar with Wikipedia, so this is a great opportunity to let readers know about a terrific online resource. Wikipedia - accessible at www.wikipedia.org - is an online encyclopedia. It contains millions of articles about every conceivable domain of human knowledge. The Wikipedia website is one of the most popular websites in the world, currently up there in the top 5, together with the more familiar Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and YouTube. Like Facebook, surfing Wikipedia can become addictive, but it is unlikely to be blocked at your office!

Wikipedia tips
  • Wikipedia is available in many languages. To access the English version, go directly to en.wikipedia.org. Use the search bar on the top right to find articles.
  • "Simple English" Wikipedia, written in basic English, is accessible at simple.wikipedia.org. It can be useful to school students or anyone struggling with English
Traditional printed encyclopedias, the most famous one being Encyclopedia Britannica, used to be housed in libraries, because they were too expensive for most people to have at home. At libraries, they populated long shelves, and required heavy-lifting. Wikipedia, on the other hand, is completely free and accessible from any Internet-connected computer. For the first time in history, people now have cheap and easy access to an incredible amount of knowledge and information.

While Encyclopedia Britannica was written by reputable experts, Wikipedia entries are written, edited and updated by anyone who wants to help. It is a collaborative effort by Internet volunteers. This means that information is usually very up-to-date. For example, a few minutes after Muammar Gaddafi was killed, the Wikipedia entry about him already contained his date of death: a volunteer edited this piece of information. But since anyone can update Wikipedia, it also means that information can be incorrect. This does not mean that there isn't plenty of useful and correct information on Wikipedia, but it does require critical reading.

As to Wikipedia's royal wedding article (http://goo.gl/FQqka), it was mostly created and updated by non-Bhutanese volunteer editors, many of whom lack the knowledge that Bhutanese have. For example, the royal wedding article currently designates Dasho Kinley Dorji as "Bhutan's Minister of Information", which is obviously wrong; he is the Secretary of MoIC. Of course, by the time your read this, someone might have already corrected this error. From my experience, there are many errors in other entries about Bhutan as well. In the next column I'll share some tips on editing Wikipedia articles. Until then, check out articles about Bhutan and see how many other mistakes you can find!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com