Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Wikipedia has created a name for itself unlike any other online source of information. Many students have grown to become extremely dependent on this site, and I am no exception. Whenever I need quick facts or information regarding anything I tend to turn to Wikipedia. It became a bad habit, and that is why many professors do not recommend the use of Wikipedia as a source. I personally like using Wikipedia because unlike encyclopedia which tends to have a fee for using the information on the site, Wikipedia is completely free and it possesses the same amount, if not more, information. What really amazed me is the study that has been conducted in 2005 to examine the accuracy of information distributed in both Wikipedia and Britannica. The result showed that “an average of four inaccuracies per Wikipedia article and three per Britannica article- in other words, not much of a difference” (93).
However, as great as this website may seem, it really should not be considered as the final word for the research. Although Wikipedia does have editors to make sure the information is checked, most of the information written is by ordinary people like us. If I decided that I was an important enough figure in the society and thought I should have my own identity on Wikipedia, I would be able to write out a biography of myself and my accomplishments. The editors may track that information and remove my page; however, they also may not. Also, If you are someone who tends to visit Wikipedia often, you will begin to notice that the information on the site changes, due to new information regarding the topic. Therefore, whatever information is on the website is not to be taken as something written in stone.
Another important factor is that since editors have little say on how people would see or use Wikipedia, we cannot say for sure whether Wikipedia is an encyclopedia or a newspaper. Since there is a wide range of people that have daily access to it across the world, we really cannot be certain of how they would distribute information. As Levinson said, “All consumers, in general- always determine how the new new medium is used” (96). Over all, I think that Wikipedia is good when it comes to getting a general idea on a topic but it is in no way a substitute for a library or books. Sadly the internet age has deterred us from libraries because we feel we can apprehend all necessary information over the web, when in fact sometimes it is best to go back to basics in terms of research.