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Why Wikipedia Is Not a Valid Source

In: Other Topics

Submitted By Lindsey274
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Wikipedia started as Nupedia in 2000 and became Wikipedia in January 2001. Wikipedia is known as the free, user complied, open edited encyclopedia written by people who have not done extensive research on a subject. As Wikipedia has become more and more popular with students, some professors have become increasingly concerned about the online reader produced encyclopedia. Plenty of professors have complained about the lack of accuracy or completeness of entries and some have discouraged or tried to ban students from using it. Wikipedia has been the subject of considerable debate for some time now. Several people think the site is not quotable, while others argue that it is. Many teachers do not accept Wikipedia pages as a source of information because any one can add or remove information from such pages. Also, this online encyclopedia does not always cite sources for its articles. Plus it is difficult to find the credentials of the authors. A huge part of credibility is attributed to a sources currency, indicating how recent a certain source has been updated. Wikipedia’s credibility lies within its immediate opportunity to alter, and update a specific topic. One may argue the fact that almost anyone can be an editor of this reference site, which allows opportunity to diminish the validity of certain information. However, once an editor posts information on a topic, the information is examined and removed or edited. With thousands of pages being edited daily, how is it possible for all of them to get reviewed? It’s not; much incorrect material will stay on the pages. Many other pages could contain out dated facts or information that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field, or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation. Wikipedia does not always have cited sources, let alone sources to rely upon. There are several articles with unverified, missing links and uncited sources. The citations are not checked and often times the links lead to other non-reputable websites. Unlike other articles written by known authors it is always a little risky to be taking and trusting their information. Wikipedia is a fine place to search for a paper topic, ideas or begin the research process, but it absolutely cannot serve subsequent stages of research. Even if the information contained within Wikipedia cannot be verified as 100% accurate, it still can be used as a source of information, however, not as an ultimate authority on the subject being researched. Individuals use Wikipedia for much less important fact finding, such as information about a book or a movie mostly general knowledge or pop culture but never should Wikipedia be used for any academic purposes. Many of the articles in Wikipedia are long and comprehensive, and many entries exist in Wikipedia for which no equivalent entry may be found in any other encyclopedia. As a result, it can be quite tempting for students to use the information found there in essays and lab reports. Those who would do so, however, are advised to use caution. Whenever students conduct research for an assignment, it is important for them to understand the type and quality of resources required for the assignment. Wikipedia may be an appropriate resource for some assignments but not for others. Like all sources of information (and particularly those on the web) you have to treat it with a healthy dose of skepticism. A good Wikipedia entry will have links to external reference sites which you can and should use to verify what it says is true. Depending on the importance of the information you need you could use the number of references as a rough guide to accuracy. If you are concerned about the accuracy you are able to check the edit history of the page. Although this online encyclopedia is an open edit website it is still a well put together resource to use for topic ideas, general knowledge, or pop culture. Wikipedia pages are not a reliable source to be using for academic assignments for a number of reasons. The information is extremely easy to get a hold of but it does not vow to be accurate. For educational purposes it is more dependable to use books, newspaper articles, or even documentaries as resources at an education stand point.


Wikipedia is Not a Reliable Source
Lindsey Maich
Baker College

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