Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can Wikipedia ever be trusted?

When researching for a term paper, it is very easy to just plug your topic into Wikipedia and get all the information you need. But where is that information coming from? Wikipedia allows anybody to edit their content so there is no way to know if the information is trustworthy. When I use Wikipedia, I use it a little differently and a lot more cautiously. Wikipedia allows users to provide other webpages as citations for the information provided. If the information has a reliable citation, I will use it as a source. But I would never even remotely consider using Wikipedia itself as a source.

It is a bit scary, however, that large companies and political organizations are altering Wikipedia to make themselves look better. It does not surprise me that Wal-Mart is one of the main offenders. People with limited technological knowledge may just accept what they read as fact. Virgil Griffith's Wikipedia Scanner is a great tool to see just who has been altering information for their personal gain. However, all it does is simply add a step to somebody who wishes to be truly anonymous. Anybody could go to their local library or internet cafe and edit the information there without it being able to be traced back to them. I do not believe that Wikipedia will ever be a reliable educational source and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it interesting how Christie reacted differently than you? But I bet you were not surprised!