The youth of today continue the need for quick, easy to read, reliable information and Wikipedia is a platform that can provide these demands. Nicole Zduban makes a great point that “Wikipedia is helping give knowledge out to those who want to learn something new, quickly” (http://nzaduban.wordpress.com/). Furthermore “in 2012 Wikipedia ranked near the top in usage among all websites; it was ranked number five in Switzerland; number six worldwide, and in the U.S.A., Italy and France; number 7 in Canada, Australia, Germany and India; number eight in Britain and Pakistan; number nine in Russia, Mexico, Poland, and Spain; number 10 in Japan; and number 78 in China, where the government is hostile” (Jensen, 2012).
Wikipedia continues to grow as a website and I believe will keep rising globally as technology is always improving making Wikipedia a great source for information. The fact that Wikipedia can be updated on a regular basis gives it an advantage over textbooks and encyclopedia’s that can take years to reproduce. Also, as mentioned by Jensen, “there are over 280 different language versions of Wikipedia—each with its own distinctive articles” (Jensen, 2012). How many websites or books do you know of that have the capability of having 280 different language versions because I did not know of any that even included Wikipedia until now.
A Wikipedia page has the ability to attract tons of different people and views which I think is pretty neat and makes for a great article. As researchers and students we were always taught that the more sources and opinions you have about your topic usually the more reliable your information. An example of this was given in the Richard Jenson article Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. The example was that the “War of 1812 was worked on by 2,400 different people, with no overall coordinator or plan. Debates raged as the 1812 article attracted over 3,300 comments by 627 of the most active editors. The main dispute was over who won the war” (Jenson, 2012). This shows that Wikipedia has the ability to attract many users with knowledge on different topics and create discussion whether or not the information is accurate is obviously up for debate. However I believe that the more users the better quality you will have of a Wikipedia article and the more likely the information you find is of use to you as the researcher.
Another quote I found intriguing by Jenson was that he suggested “Wikipedia is now a mature reference work with a stable organizational structure and a well-established reputation (Jensen, 2012).” Although this may not be the case for all subjects and fields because of lack of writers, he still does acknowledge the fact that Wikipedia is improving. Also Caroline Romero points out that “one benefit of information being put up for public consumption by members of the ordinary public rather than professional writers is that biases can be removed” (http://cromeroblog.wordpress.com). I agree with this statement because when I am doing research I sometimes find scholarly articles can be quite biased.
In regards to the topic of youth gang violence, Wikipedia has thousands of articles relating to crime, youth violence, gangs, juvenile justice etc. These pages have some heated and opinionated discussion, but I believe the talk page is useful in order to make sure the information being displayed is correct. Even though we all have our own opinions and views on different matters and I personally think it is great to read everyone’s comments on the talk page. Because youth violence and gangs always appears to be a relevant issue in the news today, Wikipedia can be a source where we can gain more knowledge on this matter.
Wikipedia just like anything else has its advantages and disadvantages but for the most part I think the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. Bryan Rybanksy makes a great point that “the structure of each Wikipedia link is the same, simple, informative, and most importantly current” (http://br09um.wordpress.com/). Also Wikipedia has become the world’s dominant educational resource, with over four million articles in the English language edition that reach hundreds of millions of readers” (Jensen, 2012). Therefore as a society I think we can only benefit from websites such as Wikipedia even if it is not allowed in an academic environment.
The reason I chose the picture below was because it says “imagine a world without free knowledge” and as a frequent user of Wikipedia, I could not imagine what the internet would be like if Wikipedia was not an option to access for information. The controversy surrounding Wikipedia I am sure will only continue to increase as it is a great discussion to have in order to deem Wikipedia as a reliable source for information.
Brown, J. S. & P. Duguid. (1996). The Social Life of Documents. First Monday. 1, 1.
Royal, C. & Kapila, D. (2009). What’s on Wikipedia, and What’s Not . . . ?: Assessing Completeness of Information. Social Science Computer Review. 27, 1. pp 138-148.
Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182
Talk Page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Juvenile_delinquency