Graz University-Library reading-room

Many professors caution their students from using Wikipedia even for amusement. However, many students still use Wikipedia for research and would benefit a lot if they could access Wikipedia offline. Today, Wikipedia is one of the most controversial subjects in research, whether in college libraries or in newsrooms. The phenomenal project that set out to make all information available online in all languages has grown to become one of the top sites in the world today. The sheer volume of entries on Wikipedia makes it the largest online encyclopedia, and dwarfs any other source of information available to humanity. While Wikipedia has many glaring problems, it is still easily the most popular source of information for students, journalists, and researchers worldwide. Why is this? Here are five reasons.

  1. IT HAS DEFINITIONS AND SUMMARIES You will not believe just how useful definitions are to a college student. The beauty of Wikipedia definitions is that they are often comprehensive and are sourced from various sources. Furthermore, each Wikipedia entry has a summary at the top of the page that helps users to know whether the article has the information needed. It also separates related but distinct issues very well (Disambiguation). When someone needs to understands something quickly, he is more likely to turn to Wikipedia. Imagine if they would have access to Wikipedia offline.

  2. IT USUALLY OUTLINES SUBJECT AREAS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER ONLINE SOURCE The second reason why people prefer Wikipedia to any other online source is that it organizes information very well. It does not rely on fancy graphics or nested pages. Rather, it provides all the information available on a subject on one page. The content in any of its pages is amazingly well hyper-linked, making navigation easy. The outlines provided are very useful for someone trying to develop his own research outline.

  3. IT IS EASY TO READ Wikipedia can literally transform someone from an ignoramus to an expert in any field within minutes. The language in most of the entries is simple to understand, and keeps jargon to a minimum. Therefore, researchers like it because it is easy to read and understand.

  4. IT HAS LINKS TO “MORE CREDIBLE” SOURCES At the bottom of every Wikipedia page, there is usually a link to the information sources quoted in the encyclopedia. Smart people have discovered that these links can often lead them to the “more credible sources” that professors like. It goes something like this; look up Wikipedia and read it to understand the issue, and then look up the sources to tell your professor who originally said it.

  5. IT IS FREE! The fifth reason why Wikipedia is very popular is that it is free. The point here is that it is very taxing to collect and organize information like Wikipedia and then provide it free. Credible information comes at a price online. Wikipedia offers its users the next best alternative, and it costs nothing to access.

These reasons show you why Wikipedia is very popular, and all indications are that it will continue to be a force to reckon with. Imagine how much more useful it would be if you could access Wikipedia offline with an app like minipedia on your iOS or Android device.