A CDE Definition
The world's largest encyclopedia available on the Web at www.wikipedia.com. Wikipedia is user generated, and anyone can create or edit an article (see wiki). Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, as of 2018, there were approximately 45 million articles in more than 250 languages on every conceivable subject on the planet. Wikipedia has been written and edited by tens of millions of contributors, with more than 100,000 routinely adding to the English version.
Admired and Criticized
Wikipedia's range of subjects is unparalleled, covering topics that would never appear in any conventional encyclopedia, online or print. There are so many "eyes" looking at an entry that erroneous information is often caught rather quickly. However, Wikipedia is also disparaged because people can make edits without divulging their credentials or experience in the subject. In addition, if vendors see comments about their products, nothing stops them from editing the article in their favor (see Wikiality).
There Is a Hierarchy
Although anybody can edit an article, there is a hierarchy. Several hundred Wikipedia administrators have the power to delete entries and block IP addresses to keep people from adding obscene language or stating extremely strong opinions. Jimmy Wales has the ultimate authority. See Wikipedian, Wikia and Uncyclopedia..
A Note from the AuthorWikipedia is a great source for technical details. If you want to know the author and date of Version 1.25a of your application, Wikipedia may be the only source. However, if you want to quickly understand a technical concept, Wikipedia often disappoints. The reason is simple. It takes years to become a good technical writer. I've been writing this reference for more than 30 years, and, today, I'm doing my best work.
Wikipedia's contributing writers on technical subjects are often brilliant and experienced engineers who know their subject cold, but they don't spend years thinking about how to describe it in simple language that anyone can understand. Instead of one inexperienced writer contributing to a technical definition, a Wikipedia article may be written by a dozen novice writers, each with a different writing style, or often, no style ("too many cooks spoil the broth").
Because of Wikipedia and the countless other technical articles on the Web that are difficult to understand, our readers come to us first, because they know that if the entry is there, it will be succinct and to the point... at least most of the time. I constantly revise existing definitions to make them clearer. In fact, I have edited some of them a hundred times to make them easier for you to read, and I thank you for doing so.
Before/After Your Search Term
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Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.