Wikipedia – The Missed Opportunity

We all know that Wikipedia is not really a scientific authority – any person who visits a page on Wikipedia can click on the edit button to change what is written on that page without even having to register. Yet even though there is a great opportunity for abuse, the majority of the users of the web seem to, whether consciously or subconsciously, take information written Wikipedia seriously and blindly rely on it without ever checking if the page has a list of references. Wikipedia should never be taken as an authority by itself for the obvious fact that any person can edit it, but I think that Wikipedia is a clear indication of the opinion of the majority of people on any given topic, because a fact that is not commonly believed to be true would be edited by someone else.

One of the main reasons Wikipedia has become such an authority is the fact that it is highly ranked by Google, meaning that it is very likely that any search made on Google for a topic on Wikipedia would most likely have a Wikipedia page as the first result on Google, this makes it very likely for Wikipedia to be visited by the person making the search.

Unsurprisingly, this had led all those who care about their “image” on the internet to check and update the Wikipedia entry that covers them, this includes governments, companies, celebrities, etc. There is no doubt that Wikipedia can be used to further promote a product as well as inform the public with all the facts about it because it is one of the most visited websites on the internet. However, the majority of people in Oman seem to be oblivious of the power of Wikipedia and there is barely anything written about Oman on it besides the main page on Oman and Muscat. As a country that considers tourism as one of its primarily economic pillars, it is totally unacceptable that many of the major cities and landmarks are nowhere to be seen on Wikipedia. The biggest contributors to Wikipedia worldwide are scholars and university students, but in Oman many universities and colleges do not even have a Wikipedia page on them!

I do not think updating Wikipedia should be a task assigned to a specific person – at the end Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia that is expected to be edited and updated by everyone. I was upset to see that Sohar’s page, my hometown, had an ugly picture of a factory and mentioned nothing about the city other than the fact that it has a booming industrial sector. I decided to upload a picture I took of Sohar Fort and wrote a little bit about hotels, parks, schools, and shopping centers in Sohar. Now whenever someone makes a search on Google for “Sohar” the content I wrote myself appears on the top of more than 400 thousands other links.

If every person wrote a tiny bit about their hometown, their school, or their favourite park in the country we would contribute in spreading the word about our country to the world even further. You cannot seriously consider yourself to be existing in today’s world if you are not present online, making sure that you are present on Wikipedia (if you satisfy their notability requirements) and that your page is accurate and up to date are two of the most important aspects of online presence. There is no excuse for any government agency or company in Oman not to have a proper Wikipedia page. Go do yours now!

This post was originally published as a column on Muscat Daily.

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