Opal Siren

My life in dreams

In Defense of Wikipedia

on October 20, 2011

Lately I have encountered some difficulty with closed mindedness. I am trying very hard to be patient and be more understanding and respectful of people in general. BUT, I must address a few things that have bothered me. I have heard some personalities out there bashing Wikipedia.com, and saying things that insinuate that this site is not an educational tool and people should open a book instead of reading “stuff” in the web. Although I agree that reading is important and one should always try to base one’s opinions on legitimate sources and data, I have to disagree with this line of thought. First of all, Wikipedia is a great TOOL. It is NOT a textbook and will not replace textbooks. Yes, it is not your common book or literary novel, but it is a great facilitator if one is looking for a quick answer to a question one may have. Sometimes when one is reading textbooks, there are terms one may not be familiar with, and it is a quick and easy way to look up information and a get a taste of the material. Now, if one wants more information, then one will have to do more reasearch and dig into the material a bit further. To insinuate that Wikipedia is baseless is very disturbing. Yes! wikipedia can be edited and it is written by volunteers all over the world, so one never knows who is writing the material. But, do we really know who is writing our books? Do we really investigate and go deeper into what credentials the author of the book has? Maybe if you really like what they have written and are a fan of such author. There are countless books out there written by so-called experts and the information may not be accurate. That is why one must look at other sources and see if the information is consistent and logical. It is the reason research papers and research in general, is based on several sources and not just one source.The author of a textbook may possess a PhD in the subject in question, that does not mean the information is correct or that it cannot change. Besides, having published material is not always a guarantee that they are an expert in the field. Based on experience, one learns more from the people that are actively working in the field and not just people who hold a “Degree”.  I am a true believer that knowledge must be shared across all boundaries. Wikipedia is a great method that enables people from all over the world to enlighten and share knowledge.  If one closes their mind to other forms of knowledge and ways of sharing that knowledge, might as well close yourself off to the world. Also, what is the difference from reading something on the internet or watching a show on the History Channel and listening to their so-called experts? The point is that we must look at all possibilities to make a rational decision. Before one accepts that something is true, it is best to look at all the possibilities that are being shared. One must accept that we live in a world where one size does not fit all and things change constantly. Just like our ancestors could not believe that the world was not flat, or that there is such a thing as bacteria, because they could not see it with their naked eye; we have to be open to other people’s ideas on the subject matter. In addition, I am currently attending a “pretty good university” where professors quote Wikipedia. Therefore, if it was that bad, I highly doubt that they would ask their students to look things up in this website. We do have books and other sources to reference, but for the most part I have not encountered any issues with the information that Wikipedia shares. Lastly, the fact that it can be edited is a great feature, so that if something is not correct or needs to be elaborated, this could be accomplished with ease. Unlike books, where one must wait until the next edition to see if any of the information has changed, Wikipedia makes the sharing of information much simpler.

Please share your thoughts!!! 🙂

 

Happy Reading!!!!

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3 responses to “In Defense of Wikipedia

  1. Jen Richards says:

    I like Wikipedia and use it quite a bit, but I will be the first to admit that it has serious faults. It is good for quick checks and you are absolutely right in saying it is a tool. Some people seem to think that everything on Wiki is reliable, and that’s where I have a problem. “I read on Wiki…” isn’t a good argument to me. If they found the info on there and then went on to check the sources, that’s one thing. But I know people who have tried to use Wiki as a source in papers and that (imo) is not a good idea. I understand that it has gotten better over the years, but any site that is so easy changed and/or tampered with isn’t something I would use and trust as much as something I would from a respected author.

    I agree that Wiki is a fantastic tool to be utilized. I just believe it needs to be checked thoroughly anytime you use it. And most people will not check their sources.

  2. opalsiren says:

    Hi Jen!!!!

    Loved the comment. Great imput. You are correct. It is not a good thing to use it to base your argument on a particular subject. Not even a single book is completely reliable. I wrote this because there was a comment made, I cannot say who, about it. However, this same person expects me to believe all he has to say on a T.V. show based on his “expertise”. LOL

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