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Wiki Finds a New Home in the OED
Wiki Finds a New Home in the OED

By Lindsay Martell
March 16, 2007 10:54AM

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With the inclusion of "wiki" in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the wiki craze seems to have hit its stride. By most estimates, the wiki phenomenon was popularized with Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia; since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown into one of the largest reference Web sites on the Internet, with over a million articles written by volunteers from all over the world.
 


The word that means "quick" in Hawaiian has jumped to the mainland -- and all over the world -- with its inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. "Wiki," a moniker that signals a type of Web site open for anyone to edit, joins 287 other words in the latest edition of the prestigious dictionary.

According to the dictionary's editors, the OED itself resembles a wiki, as it has a long tradition of working collaboratively. For over 150 years, its editorial team has welcomed the input from the public in assessing word usage and frequency.

"Especially in its current online form, which allows a much faster update time than print editions did, it can be argued that the OED's open attitude to public contribution and eagerness to incorporate the findings and knowledge of its readers into the text itself suggests an ethos not unlike that of a wiki," said Graeme Diamond, OED's principle editor of new words, in a statement.

Origin of Wiki

The editorial team first picked up the term "wiki" in 2003, from a copy of The Guardian, a national newspaper in the UK. Since then, the team tracked it via a database of new words and uses, and discovered earlier uses of the word in more specialist sources.

The inclusion in the OED shows the wiki phenomenon is steadily climbing. This week, the Walt Disney Company launched family.com, a new Web site that can be edited by visitors. Disney is among the first traditional media companies to venture into the world of wikis.

By most accounts, the wiki phenomenon was popularized with Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia. Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown into one of the largest reference Web sites on the Internet, with over a million articles written by volunteers from all over the world. One of those articles, on the term "wiki" itself, offers an in-depth analysis on the history and usage of the word.

Wiki's Woes

Wikipedia has also become a playground for pranksters. Just this morning, news emerged that a hoaxer falsely reported the death of comedian Sinbad. On the comedian's Wikipedia entry, someone changed it to say that the 50-year old died of a heart attack on March 14. But the actor is alive and well, and reports indicate he found the post humorous.

The Sinbad scandal comes just days after a Wikipedia editor who described himself as a tenured professor of theology at a private university was outed as a 24-year-old community college dropout from Kentucky.

Following the fake-professor snafu, Wikipedia announced it is taking steps to prevent posters from claiming to be someone they are not. People who boast prestigious credentials will now have to reveal their identities in their posts.
 

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