21 January 2011
Vinesh Patel, a fifth year medical student, explains how he is trying to establish a Wikipedia society at Imperial, and the experiences he has had along the way.
“Wikipedia, the world’s fourth most visited website, celebrated its tenth anniversary last month. Debate over the exact role it should play continues amongst academics, but the site serves over 400 million users in over 250 different languages, and has cemented its place as a go-to resource for staff and student alike.
Learning at Imperial, I have always used Wikipedia. Whether to orientate myself on a medical topic, to pick up useful references, or to browse topics I find fascinating – Wikipedia is something I use every week. Last year it occurred to me that the fact so many people at the College use Wikipedia could be put to good use for “Wiki” and for Imperial.
After e-mailing Wikipedia administrators, attending a couple of London Wikipedia meetings and receiving positive feedback and support from contacts at Imperial, I hope to found an Imperial College Wikipedia Society – the first student Wikipedia society in the UK – by the end of February.
While pursuing this aim I have spoken to a range of editors – a doctor, a civil servant, a former mathematics professor and even two Imperial alumni! It showed me that Wikipedia relies upon the altruistic dedication of its editors, who – like many teachers at College – seek to further the gift of knowledge in their chosen interest for love of their field.”