Wikipedia has always been criticised for being a free open-access encyclopedia. The website has been associated with problems related to the credibility of its authors and its general accountability for the information posted. That’s why I think today the website is viewed with such a negative connotation. I was strongly discouraged from using Wikipedia by my professors therefore I was always scared to uses it. I was always told that Wikipedia was an unreliable source because virtually anyone would could enter the database and edit it. Because of this I avoided using the site completely once I got to university. However in high school I was guilty of using Wikipedia occasionally. But when I did use it I always used it with some skepticism. I trusted nothing unless I found a second verifying source. I’ve always thought that Wikipedia was a good starting point for a summary of a topic. But whenever I did go on the site it was mostly for a brief summary or to view the links provided at the bottom of the page for outside sources. This saves so much more time, it saves time from sitting there sifting through a gazillion Google hits for some useful information. Today I use Wikipedia only for non-academic knowledge and information.
The first article that I will relate to is “What’s on Wikipedia and What’s Not . . . ?” written by Cindy Royal and Deepina Kapil. In this article the authors listed risks involved with using Wikipedia. The risked listed were; accuracy, motives, uncertain expertise, volatility, coverage, and sources (Royal and Kapil, 2009). This really interested me because these are the risks that professors warned me about. But what really intrigued me was the idea of conflicting motives on Wikipedia. Each online member has different motives that explain as to why they are doing what they are doing. Thus meaning that we as users can in fact change or add information in a way that we perceive it or how we want others to perceive. This explains why Royal and Kapil refer to information on Wikipedia as being “ extremely volatile and dynamic” (Royal and Kapil, 2009).
The article titled “Internet encyclopedia’s go head to head” really put into perspective the idea of a writer’s bias. The author explained that an experiment was done where 42 submissions on the same topic were looked at from both Britannica and Wikipedia, and the mistakes that were found in both were considerably equal. There was an average about 4 mistakes in Wikipedia and around 3 mistakes found in Britannica (Giles, 2005). This really surprised me because we all consider Britannica to be a reliable and trustworthy source. I have actually used Britannica as a source in numerous university papers. The fact that Britannica has an editor does not make the site more reliable because with this it could make all the information available on the website bias and one sided. The information on the website is subject to bias because there is no one re-reading or correcting that editor’s work, so the editor has the opportunity to post what he feels is right.
After reading this week’s readings on Wikipedia my perspective has definitely changed. I now look at Wikipedia as an essential component to democracy. The online community is able to contribute and share information on a global scale. From one perspective Wikipedia can be looked at as a free and open global community where anyone is allowed to contribute information ( Dijck and Nieborg, 2009). In today’s society much of what we see or do is a collective effort that involves the sharing of ideas. Wikipedia provides us with a platform to share these ideas and information and for that reason should be appreciated. Brown and Dugrid mentioned in their article that the collaboration of ideas has been used throughout history like in the Declaration of Independence and the Article of Confederation. Wikipedia is just a more updated and public version of sharing information that will benefit us.