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Future Historians Will Rely on Wikipedia’s COVID-19 Coverage
Over the past few months, Wikipedia’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely praised for its breadth and relative trustworthiness. To date, the main English Wikipedia article about the pandemic has been viewed more than 67 million times, and COVID-19 articles exist in 175 languages. The 5,000 articles related to COVID-19 cover everything from Anthony Fauci’s peers across the world, to the resulting global economic crisis (e.g., German Wirtschaftskrise and its Arabic counterpart), to a somewhat circular Wikipedia article about Wikipedia’s own response to the pandemic.
But today’s wealth of Wikipedia content will also be valuable to future parties. As scholar and Wikimedia program coordinator Liam Wyatt writes, the “text in Wikipedia’s archive will be of interest to linguists, historians or sociologists of the year 4000.” In an interview, Katherine Maher, chief executive officer and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, told me, “One of the things that historians will find valuable is the way Wikipedia documents the rate of acceleration of understanding the virus itself.”
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