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Wikipedia and Its Credibility

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Wikipedia and its Credibility

Wikipedia and its Credibility
The Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia that lets every individual with Internet connection write and edits its articles. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched their creation in 2001 giving an opportunity to all willing people to work together to develop a common resource of knowledge. Many people have different believes and ideas about Wikipedia, therefore, some tend to think of it as a credible and valid source of information, others strongly disagree. “Since all the books and articles have been chosen for publication, each one has presumably undergone some form of selection and review” (Spatt, 2011, “p.”339-340). Unfortunately, this statement is simply not enough to say that one can trust Wikipedia just because it exists.
Issues with “Vandalism”
In 2003 IBM researches conducted a study to find how rapidly the editors remove the false information in the articles of Wikipedia and discovered that “vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly-so quickly that most users will never see its affects” and that Wikipedia had “surprisingly effective self-healing capabilities” (IBM, 2003, para. 3). This statement is not always true. Waldman (2004) tells the following story to disprove the above point: one blogger who goes under the name of Frozen North, made a point of deliberately making a number of minor errors on a number of entries at the start of September. He made five changes and it took at least 20 hours for them to be changed. Some of his implanted errors were there for five days before he removed them himself (para. 17). Nobody can rely on information in Wikipedia without proper evaluation of credibility and validity of the articles.
Reasons to Trust Wikipedia People can use many ways to check the credibility and validity of Wikipedia.
List of References Small blue numbers at the end of sentences refer to the list of references indicating the original sites that Wikipedia obtains its information from. Going straight to the source is the best way to check if the information in the article is reliable and credible.
A New Tool to Check the Quality of Articles German professor Stock created a new tool that allows checking the quality of articles posted on Wikipedia and stated,
Wiki-Watch serves as a research tool indicating lack of sources and evaluating the reliability of every entry made, using WikiTrust’s color code system to display reputation of a text according to the reputation and number of revisions by users. Wiki-Watch analyzes every Wikipedia entry ever created in a few seconds, checks the number of sources used in the article and the quality of editing (para. 2). Wiki-Watch uses a color codes system to check the reputation of the article by figuring out how many times people revised the article. White color means reliable information; therefore, yellow color has an opposite meaning. This system also checks for the credibility of the article and emphasizes individual words used in the article.
Many Editors to Correct the Errors Wikipedia counts 75,000 editors who check the articles and their content to make sure that the information is valid and reliable. According to Schaffer (2009), the journal Nature conducted a study in 2005 and proved that Wikipedia is just as valid as any other encyclopedia, including Britannica, keeping in mind that errors and vandalism can occur to any of them (para. 2).
Even though Wikipedia will never be regarded as reliable source, it will always be an excellent place to find primary and secondary sources, look up a quick fact, or an overview. Wikipedia will always stay current because people post new events almost momentarily with included images and videos. Wikipedia will always be an indispensable tool that helps understand how to interpret the gathered information from different sources. People need to learn how to use it wisely instead of banning it as not credible or valid source. Wikipedia gives everybody a chance to believe in his importance and an opportunity to share one’s thoughts with the whole world.
Negative Sides of Wikipedia Materials found in Wikipedia have not been necessarily reviewed by individuals with knowledge in that field required to provide people with reliable information. Even though many “experts publish articles to promote knowledge of their fields,” any person can author information and there is no requirement or qualification that the writers must meet to post information (Andrew, 2008, para. 6). Authors tend to impose their own thoughts and feelings on different topics, such as historic events or scientific researches without using proper facts and evidence, thus making an article inaccurate and not valid. Schools and universities prohibit using Wikipedia for writing papers and other assignments because anyone can alter the facts and the content of any article, sometimes just to be funny. One should always keep in mind that Wikipedia is a good starting point with useful cited sources at the bottom. The biased articles without accompanying sources or foundation are useless and misleading; therefore can never be used as a valid and credible source of information for any academic work. Many people who have accounts in Wikipedia are not credible or creative enough to show their ideas and believes, so they copy from original sites, paste the material in their articles, and sign their names. Wikipedia often quotes from one source just enough to prove a certain point and omits quoting the whole fragment that would change the meaning of the article.
Conclusion
Wikipedia is a helpful but tricky source of information that requires a specific knowledge to use it right. Many people use it as a first step of finding any kind of information. Some believe it to be useless and full of false information that can never be used in any situation. The golden mean is to rely on original sources at the bottom of the page that carry the necessary evidence of the credibility and validity. Avoiding articles that do not have accompanying sources is the smart way of dealing with false information. One should always think for himself, read the links, and draw his own conclusions about using or not using Wikipedia and its sources in his work.

References
Andrew, T. (2008, June 16). Finding reliable online resources for students. Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/wikipedias-credibility-a57257.
IBM. (2003). Vandalism.
Retrieved from http://www.research.ibm.com/visual/project/history_flow/results.htm.
Schaffer, A. (2009, June 24). The pros and cons of Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1493852-wikipedia-more-pros-than-cons.
Spatt, B. (2011). Using Evidence and Reasoning. Writing From Sources, 8, 339-340.
Stock, W. Retrieved from http://www.wiki-watch.org.
Waldman, S. (2004, October 26). Who knows? The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2004/oct/26/g2.onlinesupplement.

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