Youth and Gang Violence

My blog will discuss the issue of youth gang violence in our society

Module 3: The Controversy of Wikipedia

This week’s topic consists of the controversy surrounding the reliability of Wikipedia as a source for legitimate information. So before I read the articles for this week I am going to describe my own views about the use of Wikipedia. I believe Wikipedia to be a great tool for quick and mostly valid information and I am usually very confident in the accuracy of Wikipedia. However as a student at Brock University I am constantly told to stay away from the use of Wikipedia because it is not a scholarly source. I am sure many other students from Brock and different Universities/ Colleges are also told a similar statement by their professors. As a student I hate hearing that Wikipedia is not allowed for our assignments because I know how frequently I use it and trust it for information. Therefore usually its main use to me is when arguing with friends about say a sporting fact and we use the computer or phone quickly to confirm who is correct for argument’s sake. However when I am doing any research whether it is for academic purposes or just for fun Wikipedia always appears to be one of the top sites suggested on my Google search. So maybe I am a bit bias in terms of using Wikipedia because I know how easy and simple it is to access information of that website. Not to mention, accessing information from scholarly sources I feel can sometimes take too much time just to find a quick stat or date. Also whenever I compare the information I find on Wikipedia with so called scholarly sources it is always quite similar in terms of its accuracy with respect to any evidence or facts I find. In addition, my last thought is that Wikipedia can supposedly be edited by anyone so even though that may have its cons it also can have its pros because it allows for multiple people to make sure the information is of good quality.

After reading this week’s articles my position on the use of Wikipedia as a reliable source for information continues remain the same. I feel that the readings only contributed further to my belief that Wikipedia can be used a valid website to gain information. Furthermore in the article What’s on Wikipedia, and What’s Not . . . ?: Assessing Completeness of Information it was stated that “Wikipedia is now the Web’s third most popular news and information source, with more unique visitors than Yahoo News, MSNBC, AOL News, and CNN (ComScore, 2006).” That stat is remarkable to me because I always thought of CNN and Yahoo News as premiere sources for information and would of never expected Wikipedia to be ahead or yet even in the same class as those websites.

Also another quote I found intriguing was in the article by Richard Jenson that suggested that “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 continues to grow in reputation and usage especially as technology continues to evolve.

The last reading I looked at this week and found very interesting was called The Social Life of Documents. In this article by Brown and Duguid they state that “successful web sites designed to engage people from different communities have, by contrast, a much more public face (Brown and Duguid (1996).” Therefore because Wikipedia is a website where we all have the ability to make changes and communicate with each other we can only benefit from the knowledge we give each other as a whole. Of course there is the potential for users to disrupt a Wikipedia page but hopefully the good outweigh the bad in most cases.

To sum up my arguments on this week readings Jensen states that “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 Wikipedia will only continue to grow as a source for information and I will still use it whether it is for personal or academic purposes. Also this is a picture I found that best describes my view and future of Wikipedia as it will continue to be used my millions and millions all over the world.

Wiki Pic

Picture – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncaranti/6025606712/

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

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4 thoughts on “Module 3: The Controversy of Wikipedia

  1. melaniemunroe on said:

    I also use Wikipedia as a quick stop for information. But like you said, I have always been told that Wikipedia is unreliable and cannot be used at university. I find it so much easier and more efficient to access Wikipedia for information and I always use it for assignments. Maybe we are bias to using this source because it is so easily accessible to us, unlike academic journals that may takes hours to find. Having Wikipedia as an online source that can be edited for anyone has its pros and cons, but how quickly it can change mistakes is definitely a major advantage to the site. Obviously there are times in which people might try to fool around and change information, but mistakes are caught quickly. Wikipedia will always appear to be a reliable source to me that I will continue using.

  2. Great blog post! I enjoyed how you expressed your personal thoughts about your wiki usage before discussing it in terms of the articles. I think everyone, myself included uses wiki as a source of quick information, and I totally can relate to the part where you said trying to find a scholarly article to find a quick stat or date is too time consuming, and wikipedia is much more convenient. Also the part where you talked about “Wikipedia is a website where we all have the ability to make changes and communicate with each other we can only benefit from the knowledge we give each other as a whole. Of course there is the potential for users to disrupt a Wikipedia page but hopefully the good outweigh the bad in most cases”, I completely agree that with everyone able to make changes and communicate with each other on wikipedia, this benefits everyone from the knowledge we are able to offer each other, and I agree, I think the pros do outweigh the cons.

  3. I agree with you when you said you use Wikipedia to get information fast, and usually you trust it. I usually don’t even think about doubting the information I read on wikipedia. I also use it, like you said, to confirm answers in arguments with friends. It is a great website and I do think it will continue to be used for a long time. Just because it is not said to be a scholarly source, it still has lots of information that is valuable and updated regularly, making it more recent than an encyclopedia found in a library or school. I think that different people being able to edit it can be great because it eliminated the bias of one particular person and everyone can share their perspectives and opinions. It can also create a bias, however, because those who edit the article are obviously having the same thoughts about the topic. I do agree though that I hope the good people editing wikipedia outweigh the bad because I rely on it too often for it to be giving me false information.

  4. Pingback: Reliable? Valid? I think so! (My first Op-Ed Piece!) | Did you know...

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