Is Google the real key to Wikipedia's success?
The Internet has been celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia, which is held up as the poster child of crowd-sourcing and the proof of the existence of what Clay Shirky calls the 'cognitive surplus' that the web enables us to harness.
There is no doubt that, despite the odd unreliability and my own issues with some of the deletionist tendencies in the community, it is a fantastic resource.
I do wonder, though, whether Google gets enough credit for the success of Wikipedia.
The site, almost by accident rather than design, is heavily optimised for 'classic' Google SEO - lengthy text-heavy articles on a single subject, densely interlinked, and with the majority of external links using the same anchor text.
Given that for many years now Google has effectively been the single point of access to the web for a vast majority of users, if it hadn't started ranking Wikipedia as an authority, would it still have been such a success?
You can see this 'natural' SEO effect of Wikipedia at work if you search for Ruth Gledhill or the 3am Girls. Despite their entries on the dictionary being classified as 'British journalist stubs', their Wikipedia pages still rank #1 when you search Google for them, above their pages on The Times or Mirror sites, and in Ruth's case, above her own website and Twitter stream.
Wikipedia may be a marvel of the modern age, but Google certainly gives it the exposure that allowed it to gain that status.