Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wikipedia: Great Source of Information, But Use With Caution

All too often, Wikipedia gets a truly bad reputation.  People all over tend to put it down, and there was even a time that I used to believe all the negative press about it.  In the education field where I work, I find that students have been indoctrinated to avoid Wikipedia like the plague.  After all, you might find misinformation, idiosyncrasies, and maybe even inappropriate items.  Interesting, isn't it?  I think that is a great description of problems you might find on the general worldwide web as a whole, not just Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a great source of information for everything from various companies, such as  Netspend , entertainment news, and even history.  Very often, when you do a search for information about something, Wikipedia shows up in the first few search results.  It is like a one-stop shop for information about various topics.  It is nice when you can see annotations and links to other sites to verify the information you are reading, and more often than not, what you read on Wikipedia can be verified as correct.

I fully understand the issues people have with Wikipedia.  Anyone can come along and give misinformation about the topic, person, or whatever it is you are researching.  This means that when it comes to controversial topics or people, there may be negative items and unconfirmed things written on that particular page.  While it is true that it might be easier to get wrong information into cyberspace through Wikipedia, it is possible to find incorrect information on other websites or even in books.  Misinformation has been around for as long as humanity has been here, but it is the internet that has caused misinformation to inundate our society in a much quicker way.

In my opinion, Wikipedia is not the problem.  If I read something on Wikipedia, I want to verify it on at least 1-2 more websites, books, or articles.  But that is not just this site--that is true about any website.  I have found glaring errors all over the web, and for me, Wikipedia is not the top site for errors.  I always tell students that if they use Wikipedia, they should be cautious.  However, I would tell students to be cautious when using any website.  If there are references listed below the Wikipedia article, check them out.  Verify everything about which you are writing, and if it is a controversial issue, read both sides.  I used to get into all sorts of potential arguments with students who had read "such and such" on the internet, but they couldn't even tell me which site it was, and they never verified it.

For me, Wikipedia is not bad.  It is a source for a lot of information, and all information needs to be verified.  One website is generally not enough to firmly believe or state something.  Always check out your information no matter where you get it.

Disclosure: "This sponsored post was made possible by SheHeard. I have been compensated for my time and work on this campaign, however all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own."


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