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. 



4 responses »

  1. stephanielavelle says:

    I do agree with you that professors and teachers have always strongly encouraged students to stay away from Wikipedia because of the fact that anyone can edit each entry. Because of this I have also always stayed away from using Wikipedia as a reference. Although the website may not be trustworthy I do believe that it is good when you are first starting out on a topic and need a broad overview.
    I have always associated Wikipedia as somewhat biased because anyone writing an entry does have a specific perspective that the information is being told from rather than from a neutral perspective. In one of the articles I had read, by Jensen (2012), the author spoke about the ongoing issue of editing wars that authors have when writing entries from their point of view. This also discourages me from relying on Wikipedia because information is constantly changing depending on who is editing the entry.
    After reading the articles, my opinions somewhat changed but I would still not rely on Wikipedia because of the fact that anyone can write an entry and their ongoing issue of editing wars. Overall, I do believe it is a good starting point when first researching a topic in order to get an overall summary.

  2. mcgip says:

    I found it interesting that you stated “Today I use Wikipedia only for non-academic knowledge and information”. This is the argument I made in my blog post: Wikipedia is a popular source for non-academic, or informal, information. In the academic world, we are so conditioned to avoid Wikipedia for any legitimate topic or information. But, on the other hand, we are so conditioned to use Google search that it has been deemed a verb and published in the dictionary. Google search almost any topic and the top search result will likely be Wikipedia. So, if the two are so interconnected how do we avoid using Wikipedia? For information that need not be sourced academically. The reading articles truly did emphasize and reinforce the warnings we have all heard throughout our academic careers! I find it interesting that you argue that Wikipedia democratizes the internet. How so? Many people on a global scale do not have access to the internet and therefore Wikipedia. Is information really democratized if it is false information that is being absorbed by the masses? Is not that what propaganda is: false information that convinces readers of a certain viewpoint (though usually propaganda is political)?

  3. Kiara says:

    I agree with you that it is a positive thing that Wikipedia has multiple editors. I think in this day and age it is a good thing to have different opinions from all over the world because it makes the information less bias. With that being said it is obviously a website that should be used with caution for academic sources, there is a reason professors in University encourage us not to use it as a source and that is because for most academic papers it is important to have clear cut opinions and facts. It surprised me as well in the reading by Giles that Britannica was not much better than Wikipedia in terms of mistakes, I was always under the impression that Britannica was a much more reliable and academically edited source.

  4. Amanda Avila says:

    I do not believe that a majority of people have a negative connotation associated with Wikipedia because it has over 38 million views each month and is one of the top ten visited web pages on the internet. I think that in an academic point of view Wikipedia has a bad reputation, and we have been educated our entire lives by teachers as well as professors not to use it to write our papers with. This is because some of the information on Wikipedia can be changed, and altered by anonymous individuals, but for the most part many people do trust Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. However I agree with you and can say that Wikipedia is a great starting point for ideas for essays and assignment topics but as far as assignments Wikipedia is only good for ideas. Also I can agree with your statement and say that I also use Wikipedia for non-academic knowledge. I use it when I have bets with friends about a fact and want quick information.

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