To Wiki, or not to Wiki…

February 18, 2010 at 12:43 am (Uncategorized)

Wikipedia has been the source of a lot of controversy in both the academic and social worlds. For a while, Wikipedia was the laughing stock within the world of JSTOR and LexisNexis. A website where the user could alter information was unheard of. The fact that I was able to change Benedict Arnold to Alexis Gaines within a matter of minutes just made Wikipedia a joke.


“Never has starting an argument been easier than to click the word “edit” on a Web site and rewrite history, science or a current event. Who says the United States landed on the moon first? I am pretty sure it was Russia. JFK was never assassinated; I’m to assume he lives a carefree life with Elvis and Tupac in the Florida Keys.” (site found)

In recent years however, Wikipedia has made efforts to increase their academic standing. If you look up “is wikipedia reliable” on the website, you can find a whole page devoted to reliability and verity.

Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant-minority views that have appeared in reliable, published sources are covered”

Wikipedia seems to believe that their material is reliable, however others seem to be in opposition of such an idea. The example that Stephen Colbert provided with his African Elephant stunt was an effective jab at the reality of wikipedia. His creation of “wikiality” led a revolution of sorts in the wikipedia world.

“‘Wikiality,’ which he defined as “a reality where, if enough people agree with a notion, it becomes the truth.” To demonstrate, Colbert told viewers he was going to silence the endangered-species lobby by claiming that the population of African elephants had increased threefold in the previous six months. Within hours, so many changes had been made to Wikipedia, the popular, communally edited, online reference site, that its administrators had to restrict access to its “elephant” and “Stephen Colbert” entries.” (site found)

The fact of the matter is, that if a simple comedian/television host could alter an endangered species’ information on wikipedia, the information cannot be trusted.

Now, all information on Wikipedia is not something to ignore due to verity issues. The cited sources at the bottom are always a great way to find academic sources on a specific topic. If one can ignore the so called “facts” and just use the sources as a starting point, then Wikipedia is a great resource. The end all and be all argument is that:

Wikipedia is not a reliable source for facts


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