Wiki me this, Amazon

Wiki me this, Amazon

Amazon devices are deeply integrated with Wikipedia.

It’s an interesting strategy. Amazon has, in the past, been criticized for being a “walled garden”, but I’ve never really felt that they were overly restrictive with their devices accessing other producers’ content.

For example, we’ve always been able to get the Netflix app on Fire tablets, despite Netflix and Amazon’s Prime video being direct competitors.

While users haven’t been able to use the Google Play store, and the NOOK e-books app hasn’t been in the Amazon Appstore compatible for Amazon tablets, we’ve also had a specific software menu choice to allow installation of apps from sources outside of Amazon…not something you commonly see on tablets. I’ve never known for sure if it’s Amazon that excludes Google Play, or Google Play which excludes Amazon tablets from being compatible directly with Google Play.

Wikipedia, though, has been a resource for us on Fire devices and on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) for years.

In fact, there’s clearly been a special relationship. When you couldn’t browse to just any old website you wanted, you could still get Wikipedia entries from look up within an e-book on a Kindle Touch (for example).

I took a look, and I didn’t see anything that says there is an actual deal between the two…does Amazon have a contract with Wikipedia, or do they just smooth the path to them?

It makes some sense that Amazon likes Wikipedia, a user-edited encyclopedia. Amazon has been very much about the crowd…I would guess that Amazon user reviews have a bigger impact on perhaps the majority of e-book titles’ sales than mainstream, traditional media reviews.

If you highlight two words together on a

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(or other current EBRs  or a Fire device), it will do a Wikipedia lookup.

I think less well known is that you can use Wikipedia with the Echo family of devices. For an

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)


Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)


Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

(I use all three regularly), you can say, “Alexa**, Wikipedia Doc Savage” and Alexa will read you the start of the entry. If that’s not enough, Alexa can read more.

I  think this is a good thing.

Yes, Wikipedia can be manipulated for a short time by people with nefarious intent…or given false information unintentionally. However, I find these problems tend to get straightened out quite quickly.

For me, as an optimist and generally someone with a good opinion of humanity 🙂 , it is evidence of the majority wanting to do good rather than bad. Imperfect evidence (not everyone edits Wikipedia, of course), but an indicator. When one person does something “bad”, other people on Wikipedia want to fix it and make it right.

I’m not saying that Wikipedia is an equally good source to cite for a paper as, say, an encyclopedia with editors and fact checkers. I do consult it quite often myself. I’ll often try to confirm the information, although that can be difficult…there’s a pretty good chance that a secondary web source has gotten the information from Wikipedia. 😉

So, I would say, don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia on your Alexa devices on Fires/Kindles…lots of interesting, crowdsourced information is available to you.

What do you think? How reliable  do you consider Wikipedia to be? Do you use it on Alexa devices/Echoes/Fires? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** With the Tap, you don’t say, “Alexa”…you “tap” a button to ask a question

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


5 Responses to “Wiki me this, Amazon”

  1. Phink Says:

    I do know a lot of college Professors will not allow Wikipedia to be used as a source. However, I use it quite often if I’m looking for information and I trust it for the most part. I ask one of my Echo’s to Wikipedia something for me quite often.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I think a blanket rejection of Wikipedia as a source is most often from…let’s call it a lack of familiarity. Corroboration of any source is important…and knowing how to judge the credibility of Wiki data is important as well.

  2. alanchurch Says:

    Wikipedia is generally very accurate as,esp. in science. See this reference:

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