The most famous wiki in the world is probably Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia. Wikipedia has changed the way we search for and find information.
Encyclopedia entries aren't written by scholars with years of study in a particular topic, but instead they're written by anyone with knowledge about that topic. Although this has made information freely available and democratic, the process of adding information to Wikipedia has raised some concern among academics.
For example, although everyone now has a way to share their knowledge about a particular topic, that means that information might not always be completely accurate. Anyone can click on the «edit» button on any page and either add, delete, or change bits of information. Of course, Wikipedia has taken measures to make sure actual facts are maintained, inaccuracies are still quite common.
When searching for information on Wikipedia, there are some things you can do to ensure the information you find is accurate and complete.
First, understand the way Wikipedia works. A popular article is likely to be viewed and edited by a large number of people. Because so many people have added, deleted, and changed the information in that article, it's more likely to be accurate and complete. For example, this biography of President Barack Obama has probably been viewed by millions of people, and edited by thousands of people. With so many revisions and people playing the watchdog role, it's probably as factual and unbiased as possible. But take this article of a small-town mayor. The mayor's assistant was probably asked to add that information to Wikipedia. And not many other people know much about this mayor, so they can only accept the information as truth. But how accurate is the information if it only represents the view of a single person?
The second thing you can do to ensure you're getting factual information from Wikipedia, is to check more sources to ensure accuracy. So instead of relying only on the information you found on Wikipedia, try searching the web for a second and even third source of information. Then compare the information from the various sources to see if they all agree. If one or more of the sources are different, you might ask yourself how come, and then search for even more sources.
With so much information out there, it's more important than ever to find out where the information comes from. Learning about media literacy will surely help you become more active when analyzing information.