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What’s Your Take on Wikipedia?

September 21, 2006

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this consciously, but when you do almost any search on Google or Yahoo or Ask.com these days, one of the first results is very likely to be from the Wikipedia.

If you haven’t heard of Wikipedia, that’s OK, there are tons of things we haven’t heard of in your profession or discipline, either. However, in the world of Internet search “there’s battle lines being drawn – nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong,” as the Buffalo Springfield used to sing.

At this week’s Web Search University in Washington D.C., there were quotes from the research experts like “I thought I’d never say this, but I now use Wikipedia regularly,” while others were not always so kind. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Thomas Friedman, in his book The World is Flat was very complimentary about this collaborative encyclopedia. Interviews like “Will Wikipedia mean the end of Traditional Encyclopedias?” can be found easily with a Google search. And, anyone doing even a little research about Wikipedia will find it hard not to run across the name, John Seigenthaler.

Sheryl and I will be doing a presentation about Internet search and study skills for Professor Daniel Connolly’s Denver University class, Business 1040, next week.

Here’s a pre-work assignment the students have for our upcoming class. Esther Gil, the Business and Economics Reference Librarian at DU helped us craft it. The students kinda’ have to do the assignment, but anyone reading this post can chime in. There’s a place to comment, or leave your answer to the assignment below this post. We welcome all comments:

Assignment for BUS 1040 Section 9

For this assignment, determine whether you agree or disagree with the following statement:
Wikipedia is a reliable resource for serious researchers.

Quote at least three sources to support your conclusions using the following tools, based on the starting letter of your last name:

A-F – Use Business Source Premier
G-M – use Google News
N-R – use Google Scholar
S-Z – use Poynter Online (www.poynter.org)

Have fun everyone!

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38 comments

  1. After looking at recent news based on Wikipedia, and looking on the site itself to do some research, I feel that it is a reputable site to find information for serious researchers. According Greg Pivarnik in an article on Google News, the information is “quite accurate.” According to Jimmy Wales, founder and chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation, says that the coverage is “much more comprehensive.” Since there are so many people that use Wikipedia, I feel that if someone did publish false information, either on purpose or by accident, it would be caught and fixed very quickly. Jimmy Wales also said in another article, that they will be implementing new features to help reduce vandalism to the pages. With all of this in mind, I feel that Wikipedia is a reliable source for those interested in serious internet research.

    http://www.google.com/news


  2. I believe that Wikipedia is a solid, dependable source to obtain accurate information on the internet today. Although Wiki does have it’s drawbacks, such as possible false information, it is far too easy and quick to find and correct any of these mistakes. As Andrew Lih points out, “While it may take five or ten seconds to deface one article, it can be quickly undone by others with just one click of a button.This crucial asymmetry tips the balance in favor of productive and cooperative members of the wiki
    community, allowing quality content to emerge.”
    To further protect against fraudulent entries, Wikipedia authorities are taking steps toward, “a tightening which would consist of locking ‘stable’ versions of entries so they can no longer be edited. This, of course, will prevent passing bozos from making modifications,” as Jim Giles states.
    Finally, Philippe Aigrain discusses how, “Wikipedia has mechanisms and software tools to guarantee that if enough people actually work according ot its constitution, it will not be destroyed by a limited number of hostile or noisy contributions.” Although it still leaves itself vulnerable in some ways by depending on honesty from its users, Wikipedia’s system seems to be working (an average of 1,500 articles are added everyday) and it has nothing to do but improve.


  3. There are many different opinions concerning the reliability of Wikipedia. I think it is a reliable resource. I believe there is a big enough crowd of people who keep the articles on Wikipedia correct. Greg Pivarnik states that, “There are also those writers who have been given administrator privileges… [who] can delete and un-delete pages and block the IP addresses of those people who are constantly vandalizing the web site.” Wikipedia will be able to be even more reliable especially after they make certain pages locked and not editable. Various teachers were asked if they allow their students use Wikipedia. “Many [of the] faculty members said they allow Wikipedia to be cited but never as the only source.” It is a reliable source; however, just like any type of research, a person should have more than one resource. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, says that “We think [this display of rough drafts is] sort of [an] open transparency is healthy and results in greater quality than doing everything behind closed doors.” Every resource has some sort of flaw. Even Britannica had errors in their encyclopedia and it still is working out. I believe the openness of Wikipedia is a great source for all sorts of research.

    Google News


  4. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that has been accused of being unreliable. I agree with the skepticism. The main reason that it might not be the most dependable source is because “articles in traditional encyclopedias are written by experts with credentials. In Wikipedia, anyone can edit an article” says Jean LeLoup. In other words, any person who has an opinion about the article they are reading can edit it however they want. Unfortunately, a researcher could see the change and believe the in the inaccurate information just written. Ann Copestake said “Wikis, especially open wikis, pose new challenges for readers in deciding whether information is trustworthy.” Although it is an innovative idea to have Wikipedia continually updating, I personally wouldn’t want to risk using it for something important. Some people would go as far as to say that Wikipedia makes the internet an unsafe source for important information. G. E. Gorman said “[Wikipedia can be] a reflection of the chaotic nature of the web world.”


  5. In a society which is dependent upon technology, the search box of Wikipedia is quickly replacing the pages of encyclopedias. Although the site has spurred much controversy, this information source is rapidly gaining popular support. The Wall Street Journal comments on this popularity, “Wikipedia, the community-edited online encyclopedia, has blossomed. It has thousands of volunteers that have created more than five million entries in dozens of languages on everything from the Elfin-woods warbler to Paris Hilton.” Opinions vary regarding whether Wikipedia is an authentic information source. Critic George Pivarnik commented on the debate, “Though many professors and educators frown upon Wikipedia in a research setting, the information presented in many articles is quite accurate and the validity of the web site should be reconsidered by the public at large.” This interactive site has especially gained the support of students as an educational source. Chris Frieberg states, “Professors might be divided on it, but students seem to approve of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit.” Wikipedia is proving to be yet another example of success in the information technology field. Consequently, I believe this website is a reliable source for researches during their journey for knowledge.


  6. Beginning this assignment I did not know much about Wikipedia. I have used the site in the past as a reference and thought of it as an online encyclopedia. After researching this site I found that it is nothing close to an encyclopedia but more like blog. According to Greg Pivarnik, writer of the UConn Daily Campus, “anybody in the world can edit a Wikipedia entry”, and he admits, “Yes, the web site is subject to vandalism and there have been a few notable cases”. Than why should this source be allowed in educational writing? Joanna Borns states, “Wikipedia, as far as education goes, is best left to assist with the seventh-grade history assignment on John F. Kennedy, not the 300-level research paper on the French Revolution” and I agree. “Wikipedia is fundamentally anarchical: in principle, any idiot can edit any page at random, whether they know about the subject or not” as stated in the Gardian Unlimited by Jack Schofield. For that reason I now view Wikipedia as an unreliable source that should not be allowed in educational research.


  7. In today’s era, it is sometimes difficult to find reliable information via the internet, but for some of us, reading actual books may be even harder, and definately more time consuming. That is not to say that a website like Wikipedia should replace hard copies for intense research, but i think it is a wonderful tool for basic information, and on some topics, for a really indepth knowledge on the subject. Millions of people around the world view the site, adding to it, fixing false information, adding new topics, etc. Other online encyclopedias just do not have the man power or the time to keep up with wikipedia, as it is ever-growing into a more complex database. Steve Johnson says he’s not a Wikipedia basher, but “if it wants to achieve the “better-than-Britannica accuracy” that guru Jimmy Wales says he strives for, [Wikipedia] needs to become as good as the old-school reference tomes at making its authors stand behind their work. …No matter whether it strives to be the last word on a subject or the first, authorial responsibility is the right and obvious place for Wikipedia to be.” The journal NATURE did a review on scientific articles. The matchup was the encyclopedia britanicca vs. wikipedia. ON average wikipedia had 4 mistakes or omissions and the britanicca had three. Now i don’t know exactly what that means. Neither is perfect, but people reading the encyclopedia do not have the fact in the back of their mind that the information being read may not be exactly factual, whereas readers on wikipedia’s website know that the information is user-generated and that anybody can edit any article. the encyclopedias are seen as more truthful, but that is not always the case. I believe that wikipedia is a great idea, and a wonderful first source for a basic knowledge. It is also a great place to look for quick information that one may need. My friend thought he mght have a stomach problem, and looked up the feelings on wikipedia and within seconds realised that he wasn’t diseased, that would take over an hour to jet to the library, find the encyclopedia and search to it until the right subject was found. there are advatages and disadvantages of each, but i think wikipedia is a wonderful source, especially if people stop updating the articles to lies. as wikipedia spokesman stated: there is a “growing list of ‘Errors in the Encyclopedia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia’ for them to fix.”


  8. No, I do not feel that Wikipedia is a reliable source for serious researchers. I do not frequently use this sight unless I am looking for an alternative “reliable” source or a non-mainstream definition. The initial idea that anyone can post a definition is troubling to me. However, until this point I had never really looked into it.

    The first information I came across was the “This policy in a nutshell” located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability. This policy states “Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.” In reading this the first word that needed to be defined was verifiability. This appeared to be the most crucial word because it is the cornerstone of “Content-guiding policies” that Wikipedia has developed, and because Wikipedia displays “verifiability, not truth.” Wikipedia’s definition for verifiability in this case is as follows : “‘Verifiable’ in this context means that any reader must be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, because Wikipedia does not publish original thought or original research.” Upon first reading this policy, I could see no visible cracks in their logic and definitions. They are a site that publishes “verifiability, not truth” and they don’t pretend to be anything else.

    The last point of information I examined before making my final decision was the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources page. On this page I began looking for a definition for what Wikipedia was calling a “reliable source” for their standard when editing a definition. What I found very much to my alarm was that they not did not have a definition for what a reputable source is, only for what different kinds of sources and facts are. When reading further on the page, there is a passage that states, “Many articles may fall short of this standard [verifiability] until editors devote time and effort to fact-checking and reference-running.”

    Based on Wikipedia’s lack of a concrete verifiability standard of reliable sources, I must conclude that my answer to the question is no. Serious researchers should be looking at source material or at the very least already verified and widely accepted scholarly works that are directly derived from primary sources. I believe Wikipedia said it best, “Sometimes it is better to have no information at all than to have information without sources.”

    Support for this stance provided through Google News:

    “Research, the cornerstone of academia, has little room for the haphazard information-gathering Wikipedia offers. Wikipedia, as far as education goes, is best left to assist with the seventh-grade history assignment on John F. Kennedy, not the 300-level research paper on the French Revolution.” http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/i2FpZka4WhYxDM/Wikipedias-Place-in-Academia-Questionable.xhtml

    “In essence, anybody in the world can edit a Wikipedia entry. The fundamental theory behind Wikipedia is that a community of writers will edit entries to their sufficient satisfaction until the material presented is deemed accurate by the collective whole. There is no limit to what can be edited and who does the editing….An event that garnered much public attention was when John Seigenthaler Sr., a prominent journalist, was falsely accused of being involved with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. These types of events though are the exception rather than the norm.” http://www.dailycampus.com/media/storage/paper340/news/2006/09/22/Commentary/Wikipedia.More.Reliable.Than.Perceived-2303605.shtml?norewrite200609251346&sourcedomain=www.dailycampus.com

    “A co-founder of grass-roots encyclopedia Wikipedia – which launched in San Diego in 2001 – wants to lead a splinter group that would build a more accountable, less anarchistic version of the online resource.” http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060923-9999-lz1n23wiki.html


  9. Wikipedia is a great resource for finding free information on basically everything. It takes a matter of seconds to find the population of your hometown or the history of the banana. That is pretty cool. But when it comes to doing serious research, I don’t think it is a very accurate resource to use. Wayne Saewyc, a spokesman for Wikipedia explained that “Wikipedia isn’t authoritative, but it’s a good place to start.” It also would look really bad if you cited Wikipedia or any Encyclopedia in a research paper. Richard Rosenberg, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Computer Science department believes that Wikipedia “Is a valuable resource” and that scholars “Should use it in a careful way as an introduction to a topic, and it should lead to other resources that are more reliable.” Stephanie Ellis, a biology student said that she “Doesn’t trust it enough to use it as a legitimate source.” Wikipedia is a great way to get information, but when it comes to serious research: take the effort to find more creditable and reliable information.


  10. I feel that there are two very distinct sides to the Wikipedia issue, and that is whether or not it can be considered an encyclopedia by definition of what a traditional encyclopedia is. Many seem to argue that because anyone, expert or not, can post what they believe to be a definition or an explanation of something, Wikipedia entries may not actually be the truth, and therefore it is not an encyclopedia. While this is true, we have to remember that there are many experts that use Wikipedia as well as many non-experts. As Tom Panelas, Director of Corporate Communications of Encyclopedia Britannica explains, “What’s important is that people who might use it understand what it is and how it differs from the reference works they’re used to.” I think the potential Wikipedia community should just learn to understand that “Wikipedia is based on a community of thousands of writers who add and edit information. If somebody posts information that is believed to be incorrect, chances are somebody else will fix it,” as Greg Pivarnik states. It is a controversial issue, however it seems that because it has drawn so much attention, the creators and directors are taking active steps towards improving Wikipedia. By recreating the site, Wikipedia articles will be “put under the control of editors who post their names and credentials,”says Jonathan Sidener. Creator Larry Sanger explains that “it will be much less anarchistic than Wikipedia. Authors will be expected to respect the decision of the experts.” So with this we can see that although Wikipedia is not completely unreliable, the flaws of Wikipedia are being recognized, and soon users should see a new avenue of information available to access.


  11. I believe that just in any other argument there are two sides to the debate. There is also evidence to support both sides of the argument of the credibility of Wikipedia. While conducting my research on Poynter Online’s website at http://www.poynter.org I assessed the arguments to reach my own conclusion. After taking both arguments into close consideration I concluded that Wikipedia is a credible source for research but should not be taken as the final source and just with any other source should be backed up by addition sources.

    Research has been conducted on the reliability of Wikipedia. The first study that I viewed was that of Matthew Buckland a publisher for Guardian Unlimited, an online news source based in the UK, entitled “Can You Trust Wikipedia?” This articled gathered experts to determine the reliability of Wikipedia’s entries. This article did not unveil conclusive evidence for either side. Several articles were judged on a scale of 0-10. In This study entries received scores ranging from 0-8. This study did not yield evidence to support either argument.

    Another article that I read on http://www.poynter.org is from Amy Gahran, an independent media consultant based in Boulder, CO. Gahran’s article “Wikipedia as a Lead Source” discusses the reliability of Wikipedia and the ability for journalists to use it as a lead source. In this article Gahran does not say that Wikipedia should be used as a lead source but rather that it serves as an excellent starting point for journalists to take advantage of Wikipedia as a head start and a jumping off point rather than a definitive source of information. Just with any other source she urges researchers to double and triple check their information to confirm its validity.

    The final article that I read was posted by Ernst Poulsen, the Commissioning editor for http://www.dr.dk, the website of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. This article entitled “Study: User-Submitted Content as Reliable as Edited Content,” used evidence from a study conducted by the journal Nature that shows Wikipedia to be close to as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica. In this expert a group of experts was asked to peer-review a number of scientific journals but were not told which scientific journal they were editing. They experts based their reviews on the number of omissions, misleading statements, and factual errors in each journal. They experts found there to be three errors in Encyclopedia Britannica and four in Wikipedia. These results, while not displaying evidence of every article from each source, show Wikipedia to be a very reliable source and almost as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica, a source with great reliability.

    After reading these three articles and others posted on http://www.poynter.org I have come to the conclusion that Wikipedia is a good source for research. I believe that it should not be used without checking it against other sources to check its legitimacy. In conclusion I would urge you to try Wikipedia as a source and put it up to the test in the study conducted by Nature and compare it to a more “reliable” Encyclopedia and see how they compare.


  12. In this assignment the question, “Is Wikipedia a reliable resource for serious researchers?” was asked and in my opinion that answer is no. Wikipedia is not a reliable resource for serious researchers because it is open to the public and anyone with the capability to use the internet can change the information found on Wikipedia. As our culture evolves the importance of the internet is seen everywhere and extensively in our schools. A new issue of today is students using Wikipedia as a source for research papers. This can be a problem because the information found on Wikipedia is not always accurate or backed with proper documentation or links. Professors throughout the world are beginning to ban the use of Wikipedia by their students during research projects hoping that the information found else where is more reliable. Professor Ken Friedman from the Norwegian School of Management states, “There are now enough serious incidents of false and defamatory information in Wikipedia biographies to warrant prohibiting this as a reference source in universities and university-level professional schools. The same is true of inaccurate or false assertions in many articles.” http://listserv.aoir.org/pipermail/air-l-aoir.org/2005-December/008823.html. Another Professor, Dr Jill Walker of Humanistic Informatics, University of Bergen,
    Norway states, “Wikipedia is one of many useful places to start doing research on a topic, but that it is rarely valid as a final source for research.” http://listserv.aoir.org/pipermail/air-l-aoir.org/2005-December/008823.html The educational world of today is not ready for Wikipedia at this time because of its open access capabilities. Nicholas Carr, A former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review states, “In reality, Wikipedia isn’t very good at all. Certainly, it’s useful – I regularly consult it to get a quick gloss on a subject. But at a factual level it’s unreliable, and the writing is often appalling. I wouldn’t depend on it as a source, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a student writing a research paper.” http://www.wallies.info/blog/2005/10/20/rip-wikipedia/. I believe Wikipedia to be a reliable resource for basic information but not for more serious topics. Wikipedia in my opinion is not a valuable source and its use in today’s society and educational systems should be limited. I warn those who use it to be wary as to the validation of the information they have found.


  13. I believe that Wikipedia is a great source for any kind of research. According to Jonathan Sidener it has “more 1 million articles, at least 10 times the size of Encyclopedia Britannica.” That is huge. Of course Wikipedia is subject to errors, but so are the other encyclopedias. Greg Pivarnik observed that “Wikipedia is based on a community of thousands of writers who add and edit information. Chances are somebody will fix [ incorrect information.]” Still people are skeptical but Wikipedia has added a program that allows “public participation with gentle expert guidance.” This will further insure that mistakes are not made as frequently and that false information is not posted. I recently used wikipedia for a school project and throughout the entire prject, I was not even remotely aware that what I was reading was posted by regular people. The information was clear and sounded like it came from a professor at a prestigious university. I feel that there is nothing wrong with Wikipedia and I feel stronger about this when I hear that major improvements are being made to the site everyday.


  14. I feel that the general consensus is that Wikepedia is NOT a fully reliable source when doing serious research. I personally have used it a lot and without worry. However, after reading articles about Wikepedia’s fallbacks, I am quite skeptical of it. Steve Johnson says he’s not a Wikipedia basher, but “if it wants to achieve the ‘better-than-Britannica accuracy’ that guru Jimmy Wales says he strives for, [Wikipedia] needs to become as good as the old-school reference tomes at making its authors stand behind their work”. I agree with this but at the same time I feel it is unrealistic to think that Wikipedia could ever be perfect unless it makes some changes. “The thousands of contributors serve as an “invisible hand” to guarantee that errors are rectified and facts are updated pretty fast” writes Steffen Fjaervik. Even the founder of Wikipedia himself has admitted that some of its entries are “a horrific embarrassment,” says an article by Guardian Unlimited entitled “Can you trust Wikipedia?” Although Wikipedia may be helpful in learning about certain material, it can not be considered a perfect replacement of an encyclopedia at the moment.


  15. Wikipedia is one of the most useful sources of information on the web today. It is a very quick way to find information and for the most part, the information is correct. That is why I feel that Wikipedia is a reliable resource for serious researchers. As I researched on Google News, I found many articles that also believe Wikipedia is a good source of information. First, Wikipedia is centered on a community of researchers and scholars as well as ordinary people to post information. If someone posts a false fact, then someone will see it and correct it. As Greg Pivarnik of the Daily Campus of the University of Connecticut says, “If somebody does post information that is believed to be incorrect, chances are somebody else is bound to fix it.” He also goes on to state, “There are also those writers who have been given administrator privileges. They can delete and un-delete pages and block the IP addresses of those people who are constantly vandalizing the web site.” Wikipedia also gives straight facts without censorship. For example the Chinese government wanted to censor Wikipedia for politically sensitive entries. As it states in DNRonline.com, “Mr. Wales said his company stands for freedom of information and emphasized he “would never give in” to the Chinese government.” Wikipedia can always show the facts regardless of what a nation wants. Wikipedia has even been tested to see how accurate it is. Greg Pivarnik states in another article from The Daily Campus at the University of Connecticut states:
    “Perhaps the best evidence to date that Wikipedia is an accurate source of information is a study published by “Nature” magazine last year. “Nature” had experts from many scientific fields compare the accuracy of articles covering a variety of scientific subject matter from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. Of the 50 entries sent out, 42 were returned. The evaluators were not told which articles came from which source. The results were quite surprising. Overall, both sources had four serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, in all the articles combined. The number of minor inaccuracies per article averaged about four per entry for Wikipedia and three for Encyclopedia Britannica.”
    Wikipedia makes research a lot easier for students who do not have time to read massive books. Although it is suggested in most areas not to use Wikipedia for large research projects, I believe that it can be used for some of the research and the rest come from books. I also believe that it is a legitimate source for research. Serious researchers can use Wikipedia with little concern for legitimacy in the research. With all the precautions Wikipedia makes to become a legitimate source of information, a serious researcher can use it with little caution.


  16. Whenever I am doing some kind of research, I use to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is often said that is an unreliable source. However, I believe it is accurate and reliable. The reason many people say it is unreliable is that the articles are not written by professional people. Greg Pivarnik said that the information from the Wikipedia is, “quite accurate and the validity of the Web site should be reconsidered by the public at large”. Many people still believe that people should not use Wikipedia on their research. However, even though it is not perfectly accurate, we can still get the basic ideas about the information. Wikipedia has become necessary for many people to do research today. The reason so many people visit the website is that it is easier and quicker to receive informations you want. I believe it is good and helpful website to receive informations whenever doing research.


  17. I believe that serious researchers should not use Wikipedia for research and papers because of the unreliable content that is posted on the free on-line encyclopedia service. Not all information on the website is wrong or unreliable; it is just difficult to decipher the right from the wrong on the site because of the lack of professional regulation. The way information is regulated on the site deals with the information’s verifiability, not its truthfulness. According to an article by Donna Bogatin, a magazine columnist for ZDnet “…original research may not be published in Wikipedia. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reliable sources, regardless of whether individual editors view that material as true or false. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is thus verifiability, not truth” (Bogatin). This makes research difficult because a serious researcher does not want to put information that is not true into their papers even if it has been verified by an unknown editor on the website. Another problem with research on Wikipedia is that information on the site can be both completely untrue and tampered with by other editors. Known mistakes have been found on Wikipedia which many people may find and believe as true because Wikipedia wants to be considered as a reliable research tool An example of this is was when “John Seigenthaler Sr., a prominent journalist, was falsely accused of being involved with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert” (Pivarnik). Information such as this that is released on Wikipedia spreads false information to researchers around the country and hurts the reputation of the online encyclopedia that is trying to establish itself as a reliable resource. Another problem that also arises from the open encyclopedia where people can post whatever they want is the fact that people can change information to make a person, belief, place, or whatever they want seem more or less appealing. For example, “Candidates across the country have been caught doctoring their own entries, erasing politically embarrassing facts and spinning their positions on issues” (Bjerga). If the political leaders of our country are taking advantage of the open editing and using it to create controversy and lies, it is difficult to foresee how true researchers can use this site for valuable information. I believe that because anyone can alter information on the site, or post new information on the site, that it is an extremely unreliable tool to use in research.

    Bogatin, Donna. “ZDnet”. [Weblog Why Digg fraud, Google bombing, Wikipedia vandalism will not be stopped ]. 07 Sep 2006. ZDnet. 24 Sep 2006. .

    Pivarnik, Greg. “Wikipedia More Reliable Than Perceived”. The Daily Campus. [Hartford]. 22 Sep 2006. .

    Bjerga, Alan. “On the Web, ‘Wikipedia wars’ target candidates’ biographies”. The Sacramento Bee. 27 Aug 2006: E1. .


  18. I have come to disagree with the following statement about Wikipedia; “Wikipedia is a reliable resource for serious researchers.” After web searching on google.com, I found many articles describing their problems with Wikipedia and how it is not a reliable source.
    First, according to the Boston globe, Wikipedia “lacks one vital feature of the traditional encyclopedia: accountability. Old school reference books hire expert scholars to write their articles. . . Wikipedia’s articles are written by anyone who fancies himself an expert.” Therefore, one cannot always rely on the information that is offered at Wikipedia. Secondly, CNET news reports that one should look to find, “more legitimate sources,” before using Wikipedia as a reliable source. The reason for this belief is, “It’s easy to upload blatantly false information.” Therefore, once again, one cannot always trust all the articles Wikipedia provides. Lastly, an article from Coranate also believes Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information. “It is not perceived as adequately reliable by many librarians, teachers, and academics.” They realize that “anybody can contribute and that there are no traditional review process’,” which would declare the information as legitimate.
    Thus, according to the information that I have come to find, Wikipedia is indeed not a reliable or credible resource for serious researchers.

    Resources:
    1. Article from Boston Globe, “One great source- – if you can trust it”
    http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2004/07/12/one_great_source____if_you_can_trust_it/

    2. Article from CNET News, “teens warning on the gospel of wikipedia”
    http://news.com.com/Teens+warning+on+the+gospel+of+Wikipedia/2010-1038_3-6104446.html

    3. Article from Coranate, “k5 article on Wikipedia anti-elitism”
    http://many.corante.com/archives/2005/01/03/k5_article_on_wikipedia_antielitism.php


  19. As a journalist, for me *any* non-primary information source is potentially suspect, and requires corroboration. This applies equally to Wikipedia, the New York Times, and the Encyclopedia Britannica.

    I’ve found it’s useful wherever possible to track information back to primary sources.

    That said, I’ve found wikipedia and similar resources are extremely useful for:
    – Getting a general understanding of what a topic is *probably* about
    – Finding links and other references to primary sources
    – Understanding the likely array of perspectives and players for a topic

    …In fact, I’ve found wikipedia *more* useful in those respects than many sources popularly considered “more reputable.”

    Basically, I don’t consider anything a fact until I’ve found the primary source — and usually corroboration on top of that. Consequently, I view most of the world as very subjective and uncertain. Which is fine. 😀

    – Amy Gahran


  20. Opinions vary on whether Wikipedia is a legitimate resource for serious researchers. I have used Wikipedia through a couple Google searches but have never used it for my own personal research. The information that I had found seemed to be accurate. Journalist Chris Andersong states “People have a hard time trusting information from Wikipedia, Google or a blog “because these systems operate on the alien logic of probabilistic statistics, which sacrifices perfection at the microscale for optimization at the macroscale.” Although these sites may be efficient for basic searches of information it may not reliable enough to conduct serious research through. “The concept of the wiki is a noble one: to create content via a process of group intelligence, allowing anyone with knowledge of a topic to write or edit at will” says Journalist Steve Outing. Wikipedia is in fact a good source of information because everyone has the opportunity to add information to subjects but that may also allow false information to be posted. According to a study by the journal Nature “Wikipedia is very close to being as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica. A group of experts was asked to peer-review 42 scientific articles. They were not told about the original source of the articles. The experts found four serious errors in each encyclopedia. When it came to factual errors, omissions, and misleading statements, there were three in each Encyclopedia Britannica article and four in each Wikipedia article.” It is important to be skeptical of the information technology you us when conducting serious research to make sure you are getting credible information. I think that Wikipedia can be a reliable resource for research depending on what you are researching and how in depth your research is.


  21. I disagree with the saying that Wikipedia is a reliable source for serious researchers. Anyone can access the website and post what they think is the history behind someone or something. In an article by Larry Dignan he interviews the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, “I hadn’t checked out my wiki page in a long time, so I go on there and read some history about myself that never happened and other stuff that was just wrong.” (eWEEK 33) Cuban then went on to say that he edited the false information about him but shortly thereafter someone had already changed it back to what it said previously. Some people that use wikipedia do it with the hope that someone will respond to their entry and help them make their definition stronger; however, this wasn’t the case with Mike Stopforth, “I was not helped, assisted or counseled. Just squashed by some Wikipedian.” ( David Tebbutt) Another study was conducted comparing 42 scientific articles from Wikipedia to the same articles in the encyclopedias, “They found 123 errors in the Britannica articles(average 2.92 per article) and 162 errors in the Wikipedia articles( average of 3.86 per article).” (Strategic Finance 72) When doing a serious research report I would not recommend Wikipedia because the information has no validity. If I were to hear a name on TV or the someone talked about someone then I would use Wikipedia to at least get a general reference as to who that person is.


  22. Wikipedia, though both a simple and convenient source for information, is too easily changed to incorrect information for it to be a reliable source of information for serious researchers. According to The Buzz, when an account wasn’t checked for a while, the blogger found his profile changed from the way he had left it. As well, on Aug. 15, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office discontinued its use of Wkipedia as a source of information to accept applications for patents. “The problem with Wikipedia is that it’s constantly changing,” Patents Commissioner John Doll said. “We’ve taken Wikipedia off our list of accepted sources of information.” On the Ideas Corner of the Business Source Journal, it is mentioned that Wikipedia can’t be a serious source of information primarily because there are to few knowledgeable visitors to less popular sites for them to be accurately changed and updated. Although these are true, Wikipedia is a great online encyclopedia for more relaxed researchers looking for background on a topic. All of these aspects of Wikipedia make it both a convenient but a very unreliable site to get serious resources of information from.


  23. Wikipedia is a helpful source for serious researchers, but not necessarily the most reliable.

    Tom Panelas, the Director of Corporate Communications for Encyclopedia Britannica openly bashed Wikipedia in an interview with the American Chronicle published September 25, 2006. Panelas claims “mainly of [Wikipedia’s] articles are inaccurate, poorly written, long and bloated, or laden with bias and spin.” Panelas himself if biased against his company’s main competitor which makes his claims a little less reliable. More persuasive to his side of the debate, Panelas also argues that “Today [Encyclopedia Britannica’s] site has thousands of free articles, and those who subscribe to our premium service pay a fraction of what it costs for access to a high-quality, reliable encyclopedia only a few years ago.” So why risk reliability of information on Wikipedia when researchers can turn to the esteemed Encyclopedia Britannica for a small price?

    A Washington Post article titled “Defining Reliability in a Wild Wiki World” published September 9, 2006 also argues that Wikipedia is an undependable research tool. The article’s author, Frank Ahrens states, “Wikipedia, for instance, relies on a number of citizen editors, who act as a broad peer-review process for entries, but it’s still possible to get something by them that’s just plain wrong. Eventually, the entry might be removed but maybe not; Wikipedia boasts more than 1 million articles.”

    UConn’s The Daily Campus, however, supports Wikipedia. In an article published September 26, 2006, titled “Wikipedia More Reliable than Received,” the student newspaper acknowledges both sides of the Wikipedia conflict. Opposing Ahren’s statement, the author of this article presents the idea that any wrong information posted on Wikipedia will quickly be edited by the next entry reader. People are constantly monitoring the website for the truth in its posts. Also, the article claims that one can “block the IP address of anyone who is vandalizing the site.”
    Personally, I use Wikipedia for quick reference on topics, but rely on more trusted and classic sources for serious research. While I have never had a problem with untrue facts on Wikipedia, I still am unsure of putting all of my faith into an unprofessional internet website. I suppose this is because I was born before the Wikipedia-era when the library was the best place for research sources and it is hard to break a lifelong habit. I do believe that Wikipedia is a great tool, however, and will continue to use it as a reference alongside the Encyclopedia Brittanica.


  24. In an article from Communications of ACM, Peter Denning states “The Wikipedia is an interesting social experiment in knowledge compilation and codification. However, it cannot attain the status of a true encyclopedia without more formal content-inclusion and expert review procedures.” I agree completely with this statement, wikipedia does offer some legitimacy however it cannot be on the same level as a valid encyclopedia because editing is limited to no one. In another aricle from Network World, Paul McNamara says, “Wikipedia can’t be trusted expressly b/c anyone can edit it-worse yet, anyone can edit under the cloak of anonymity.” This statement brings another aspect of wikipedia’s weakness, the ability for anyone to edit the site while still staying anonymous. From my personal use with wikipedia, I have learned to use it as a secondary resource because it does offer a lot of good information, you just have to use your ability to reason to decipher between valid and incorrect information.


  25. Wikipedia is a reliable Internet source of information. The concepts of allowing anyone to edit different entries and an encyclopedia without an overseeing authority may allow someone to assume that Wikipedia is unreliable. Well in fact, these concepts are what allow it to work so well. Wikipedia has more editors than any other source as Greg Pivarnik states, “Wikipedia is based on a community of thousands of writers who add and edit information. If somebody posts information that is believed to be incorrect, chances are somebody else will fix it.” (Pivarnik, Daily Campus) Wikipedia has continued to grow rapidly since its start and has proven that the concept can work. Today, it has become “the largest reference website on the Internet.”(Wikipedia.com) In a study published by “Nature” magazine, Wikipedia was compared and tested against the Encyclopedia Britannica. Forty-two entries were evaluated and the results showed four serious errors for both sources and one more minor inaccuracy per page for Wikipedia than Encyclopedia Britannica. (Nature Magazine) These results show that both sources have their inaccuracies proving that nobody fully has the facts right.


  26. After reviewing several articles on Business Source Premiere, I have come to the conclusion that Wikipedia is not a reliable source when conducting serious research. Jon Udell stated in InfoWorld “…anyone can still edit an existing article.” The fact that articles can be changed, possibly incorrectly, is the major reason I would not use Wikipedia seriously. Pranksters can easily change information, and the information will still appear valid. One example of this concerns an article about John Seigenthaler, a journalist. His biography was altered to portray him as an assassin. As Seigenthaler told USA Today, “And so we live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research–but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects.” While there may be less “poison-pen intellects” than honest members, I would still be hesitant to quote the source in a formal research paper. Even so, I believe that Wikipedia has great potential for the future. As stated in Strategic Finance, “Consider some of Wikipedia’s amazing numbers — one million articles in English (registered this year,March 1) and one million user accounts. There are articles in 229 languages, 150 of which are still active.” If procedures are changed in the future, to better control editing, I believe Wikipedia would be a very reliable source for serious research.


  27. Just curious — what do people here think “reliable” means in the context of reserach? What’s your personal standard on that, and can you give examples?

    (Just trying to get some discussion going here, so far I think we’re all talking *at* each other, not *with* each other)

    – Amy Gahran


  28. When researching the ability’s of online references it is important to understand that so many companies in the world today are constantly in a power struggle over what the internet truly describes there company as. The reason for this is because the World Wide Web today is turning into a giant referencing source, and depending on whoever is willing to put more money into it then the better things that will be said about that company. “Like it or not, the Wikipedia open-source phenomenon looms large right where companies are increasingly spending billions of dollars to jockey for position: on search-engine results pages.” Steve Rubal explains why companies are so concerned with the search engines. With companies in a constant struggle with one another to accomplish good online referencing it is important to understand that the company with the most money will obviously have the most references. So when researching it is important to understand that several companies pay more money then others simply to get there info out there to people; however, when looking for a reliable source for serious research online references such as Wikipedia are not the most reliable simply because of the politics behind the online business today. Not only are the sources on the Internet such as Wikipedia not as reliable but also they are also politically incorrect. In the Journal of the American Society for information science & Technology they comment on the fact that Wikipedia has anti-Semitic sites in there research database know as “Jew Watch” making them supporters of very discriminatory remarks. This is evidence that not only is the information on Wikipedia.com unreliable but also in many cases wrong and inhumane. The definition of Wikipedia.com found on Business Source Premier is, “The online encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world in 230 languages” according to this definition Wikipedia sounds like a great online reference for reliable research; however, after doing some research on the topic it became very evident to me that Wikipedia did not turn out how it was originally planned to. There are several reasons why the online reference site Wikipedia.com is not a reliable resource for research, but the most important factor in corrupting this online resource was the money behind it. Wikipedia.com is an unreliable resource that should not be used for serious researchers because major organizations and companies are paying to get their opinion out there rather then anyone else. My take on Wikipedia.com is that I will never use it simply because it is not a primary source and it is not reliable at all. The information found on Wikipedia.com is false due to the fact that whoever has the most money creates the information found.

    Sources:
    Bar-llan, Judit. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology; Oct2006, Vol. 57 Issue 12, p1581-1589, 9p.

    McConnon, Aili. COLLECTING THE WISDOM OF CROWDS. Business Week, 00077135, 9/25/2006, Issue 4002.

    Rubel, Steve. Your brand on Wikipedia. Advertising Age, 00018899, 9/11/2006, Vol. 77, Issue 37.


  29. Wikipedia I think is an awesome resource for basic information. Topics that are easily answered and understood by many. It is a great website to get quick answers as well. As for important informant I would not consider it a trusting source. “I don’t trust it for everything, but it’s incredibly helpful for really basic info on ideas/inventions/biographies.” This quote was found on poynter.com by a journalist who has worked with the website. There is too much room for people to print inaccurate data. There should be a hiring panel or volunteers that have been picked for specific skills. Another quote I found stated, “One must trust that the community around Wikipedia will catch up to inaccurate or dated information, but rarely knows who put it there in the first place.” For reliable facts, encyclopedias are still a better source.


  30. In about January of last year I discovered something wonderful: Wikipedia. It seemed to have something and every subject I need. However, I never considered to sources of the online encyclopedia. With a database open to everyone there are bound to be people who make mistakes when submitting an article. As Jay Small says “One must trust that the community around Wikipedia will catch up to inaccurate or dated information, but rarely knows who put t there in the first place.” Part of the problem is not knowing the origin of the information. I think that although some of the information is not correct it is a good place to start. As Amy Gahran puts it Wikipedia is “a good source of leads, overviews, and basic definitions.” Basing any information off of one source is never smart anyways. Gahran also says that any good journalists double and triple checks their information. I think that Wikipedia is a great place to start research on a topic, but it would be inappropriate to rely on an open source such as Wikipedia as the lone source of information.


  31. Wikipedia is definitely a huge resource for people searching for facts and other information on the web. However I would say that I am rather sceptic of how reliable Wikipedia as a source is. This because it is not written and regulated by professionals, and anyone can add information. However I have through certain articles, found by use of the Business Source Premier, taken a standpoint.
    -Wikipedia bio provides false information-
    “I hadn’t checked out my Wiki page in a long time, so I go on there and read some history about myself that never happened and other stud that was just wrong” (Mark Cuban).
    – Kicking Wiki out of the patent-
    “The problem with Wikipedia is that it’s constantly changing,” Patents Commissioner John Doll said. “We’ve taken Wikipedia off our list of accepted sources of information.” An agency spokesperson said inquiries from BusinessWeek about the use of Wikipedia led to the policy shift.
    – Freedom of information – is the truth out there? –
    “A fact that appears on two hundred websites, blogs, and Wikipedia is a fact that few would care to
    argue against. Yet who knows what the original source was?”

    Based on these quotes from articles found by help of the Business Source Premier, I have to disagree with the statement that Wikipedia is a reliable source for serious researches. It is mentioned in the last quote, that the information provided on these websites are difficult to find in their original form. Because the information has been copied and pasted through several years + the fact that anyone can add and subtract info, it is difficult to fully trust the information provided. The first quote also indicates this, when Mr. Mark Cuban found out that the information about him on the Wikipedia was not true and had never happened. This quote truly states the fact that there is information on the Wikipedia that is not correct.
    However, I do believe Wikipedia is useful as a source in some situations. Sometimes, when doing research, it is good to have a starting point.


  32. The idea behind Wikipedia is a good one. The concept of an encyclopedia which constantly gets updated has the potential to work very well, if everyone using it is serious about providing accurate information. Chris Anderson suggests, “When professionals — editors, academics, journalists — are running the show, we at least know that it’s someone’s job to look out for such things as accuracy. But now we’re depending more and more on systems where nobody’s in charge; the intelligence is simply emergent.” Since anyone and everyone can click onto Wikipedia and edit any article which is posted on that site, there are bound to be people posting incorrect information or pranks. One of the more well known pranks that have happened on Wikipedia was done by Brian Chase. He edited an article to say that John Seigenthaler Sr. had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. It is so easy for anyone to change the information on the site; this prank was caught quickly because it is probably a highly searched topic, but what about some of the topics with very few people searching them. There are bound to be some obscure topics which few people are knowledgeable on and some one could easily change the information without people knowing. Steve Outing says Wikipedia is, “about to impose stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism of its content.” If this actually happens, it would seem that this source would become much more credible.


  33. i do not think that wikipedia is the right place for serious researchers, although it might be a rich general information resource and according to the comment of Rubel, Steve He emphasizes that brands should have a way to challenge inaccurate information in a way that respects the wishes of the Wikipedia community.
    “Wikipedia bio provides false information” eWeek; 9/4/2006, Vol. 23 Issue 35, p33-33, 1/5p

    “wikipedia have, as yet, failed to achive the credibility of printed reference work.”
    Information World Review; Jul/Aug2006 Issue 226, p24-24, 1/3p


  34. Since attending the University of Denver two of my professors have bad talked Wikipedia which has made me very skeptical about the so called “reliable” encyclopedia web site. I never frequently used Wikipedia, but when I used it I thought it was a reliable web site that consisted of a variety of quality information. I am aware that the web site has some valididty issues, but I trust the information that is provided to us researchers based on evidence I have witnessed. A part of me is still skeptical about the site and I would really like to learn more about it.


  35. Wikipedia is not a reliable resource for serious researchers. According to Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine, “WIKIPEDIA, THE ONLINE encyclopedia, has become one of the fastest-growing and buzziest destinations on the web, thanks in large part to the devoted community that slaves over its authoritative entries.” Sadly, these authoritative entries can be preformed by anyone.

    It is a comprehensive encyclopedia tool that thrives on virtually anyone’s opinions. Sure, it is a wonderful tool to gain knowledge from any subject matter under the sun. It has millions of articles and discussion forums for people to discuss anything from the most well known serial killer to information on flying- squirrels.

    Unfortunately, it is not reliable for a serious researcher because it lacks credible, scholarly information. In the arena of strength and relevance, Wikipedia is very weak. For example, “The November controversy over an inaccurate entry on veteran newsman John Seigenthaler highlighted the problems with the popular online encyclopedia’s format, which allows users to edit entries,” writes Forbes Magazine author Elizabeth Corcoran.

    Wikipedia is a great tool for gaining bundles of information. This is the beauty of allowing unlimited amounts of information for anyone to enter. But when people constantly edit information, reliability suffers. ‘The problem with Wikipedia is that it’s constantly changing,’ Patents Commissioner John Doll said. Clearly, if information is constantly changing, its relevance and strength are dismantled. For Sunday researchers that are curious about what they slept through in History 101, Wikipedia is wonderful. But for serious researchers looking to find reliable information, Wikipedia is not the encyclopedia.


  36. With over a million articles of information, Wikipedia is a very comprehensive site. Highlighting information from current events, to events in history that correspond with the current date, Wikipedia is designed to inform the general public. While subject to error and misconstrued information, Wikipedia is not the only source of information that faces such problems. In fact, being that the public monitors Wikipedia, it generally provides accountable information. Viewed, created and reviewed by the general public, Wikipedia is scrutinized for its accuracy despite the face that its users have even made corrections to the Britannica encyclopedia entries. As Wikipedia was criticized for inaccuracies as a result of public postings, the free information source noted, ” (there are a) growing list of ‘Errors in the Encyclopedia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia’ for them to fix” (‘Wikipedia Hits Back at Criticism-poynter.org) While Wikipedia is a collaborative source of information, many are still hesitant to consider it a valid information source. While some of the information may not be accurate, it serves as a valid reference point and has plentiful up-to-date resources for researchers. With so many perspectives to consider, one journalist notes, “it’s especially useful for following fast-moving or niche topics” (‘Wikipedia as a Lead Source’-poynter. org).

    To combat the reliability of their site and to prevent illegitimate posts, Wikipedia now requires that posters identify themselves. This alleviates the misuse of certain information and false posts. As Steven Outing notes on his poynter.org posting, ‘It used to be that anyone could create a new article and be anonymous; likewise with editing an existing Wikipedia page. Now, only registered users can create a new article — though to edit something, anonymity is still possible’ (A Tamer Wikipedia).

    Overall, Wikipedia seems a valid reference point for serious researchers if used with discresion. Providing multiple sources and perspectives on a variety of subjects, the website is certainly a source to consider when researching. With the addition of features and restrictions to the site such as eliminating anonymity of those wishing to post to the site, it seems the information will only become more valid.


  37. When students are asked to use credible sources when writing resource papers we are always taught to look for sources with strong backgrounds. “Credible Sources” include articles written by doctors, researchers, professors, encyclopedias, and any authors whom are masters of a specific subject. We are told to steer away from articles where the authors are unknown in fear that that information given in inaccurate. Why then is it okay to take information from Wikipedia and call it reliable? Although it may be true that some of the information is in fact accurate, there is no real way to distinguish what is accurate from what is false. In an article from Poynteronline by Guardian Unlimited, entitled “Can you trust Wikipedia”, the founder of Wikipedia had been quoted to admitting that some of its entries are “a horrific embarrassment.” If the own founder of Wikipedia is saying that not all of the entries have real facts, then why would serious researchers want to use Wikipedia as a reliable resource? According to an article from Poynteronline, called “Probably true vs. Trustworthy” by Jay Small, one must take into account credibility with probabilistic information such as Wikipedia. Small states, “With Wikipedia, for example, information sources are mostly anonymous to everyday users. One must trust that the community around Wikipedia will catch up to inaccurate or dated information, but rarely knows who put it there in the first place.” How often do we really trust our community? If people are willing to trust that the information placed on Wikipedia is accurate than I don’t see any problems, however, I think serious researchers know better than that. Wikipedia may be used as a lead into topics but to site it as a credible source is not something I would do. Journalist, Amy Grant wrote an article called, “Wikipedia as a Lead Source” posted on Poynteronline, and commented, “would I cite Wikipedia as the definitive resource on any topic? Well, that would depend on the topic, but probably not.” Through these three sources we can see that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for serious researchers and should not be cited as one.


  38. I’m glad Hayley Vetras came out with this comment about Wikipedia. Sure, it’s neat to have people contribute entries to an encyclopedia but its owners should verify every fact before posting it–or at least comment as the source. Some of the serious authors whose works I edit cite Wikipedia in their endnotes. I’m now inclined to suggest they don’t at the risk of losing their credibility.



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