Wikipedia: Clickbait for Learners

wikipedia christian lautenschleger

wikipedia christian lautenschlegerThe best times to sit down to look up something on Wikipedia are early morning and late night, right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the whole day researching something more esoteric than grad school research or losing sleep over the causes of the proliferation of smart phones in elementary schools (I made that one up, but it probably exists).  Some people clickbait Forbes, HuffPo, or BuzzFeed, others resort to Wikipedia.

You know you’re having a good Wikipedia session when you don’t even know how you got to the page you’re on. You have to look at your recent history to find out how you landed on Robin Williams’s page via originally researching the Magna Carta (MG – USCON – FDR – Teddy Roosevelt – RW).  We do that all of the time, learning both useful and worthless points of trivia.  Isn’t that kind of the point, what made it “sticky”, is getting lost in what else can we learn next? It’s the turn-based-game, one more turn!  It’s addicting.  And they make it so easy to click on a link to go to a new article.

The idea of clickbait in the headline captures the attention that we HAVE to read the article (it’s a metaphor here, because Wikipedia doesn’t need to resort to questionable marketing tactics).  Wikipedia quenches our thirst for knowledge, one article at a time.

And the funny part of it?  Anyone can edit!  Yes, we see goofy, funny, weird, and condescending edits all of the time on Wikipedia.  The point of the website is that anyone can edit it, which means we’re at the will of all humanity.  It brings out tremendous depths of knowledge, with some egregious errors.  We can’t cite it in an article we publish, but we sure as shit can learn the information.  Reasons to not trust Wikipedia.  Some are kinda funny.  Actually, the more you research using Wikipedia the funnier the misinformation is. All the more reason to check it out!

Wikipedia excels at gaining an elementary grasp at any topic.  Not knowing about a topic is no longer an excuse.  Search the topic, find the Wiki articles, and you’ll have a 101 education of it.  It’s not that hard.  For those of us who like the 101 on every conceivable subject, that, though, becomes problematic.

 

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