Do a Google search on any topic, and the first website listed is likely to be a Wikipedia article.
With almost five million articles in English alone, Wikipedia is just one project of the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization offering a range of informational resources.
Despite this range of resources, educators emphasize the unreliability of using them. The phrase “anyone can edit” implies that the editors on the site are inexperienced and ignorant. Even though Wikipedia is already fourteen years old, it still receives negative connotations for the pieces of knowledge it posts.
While I don’t condone listing Wikipedia on your Works Cited page of a research paper, Wikipedia does deserve more respect as a universal informational tool.
As previously mentioned, Wikipedia is known for its widespread use and convenience. Obviously we don’t all have copies of Encyclopedia Britannica in our pockets, and Wikipedia’s diversified, vast selection of articles is impressive.
One study from the University of Washington found that 52 percent of students alone frequently utilized Wikipedia. With seven million contributing users and growing, Wikipedia is a force to be reckoned with.
Contrary to popular belief, Wikipedia is more reliable than you think. Many academic experts call all of Wikipedia’s information unreliable because the people editing the website have no credibility.
The website, however, follows strict guidelines when citing sources, remaining unbiased and choosing reliable sources. Wikipedia’s carefully selected volunteers work tirelessly to maintain the accuracy of all of its articles.
Several studies have shown that Wikipedia’s articles are virtually always correct. This is because the organization’s key policy is verification. Every idea published on Wikipedia must be verified by an available publication. Nobody can write their own research and expect it to make a lasting impression.
Wikipedia, although frowned upon, acts as an encyclopedia that actively lives and grows with the global society – not as a stagnant textbook growing dust on a shelf.
Even though it shouldn’t be considered a primary source, the site should still be used as a teaching tool for research. Searching for and examining websites for academic research is a crucial skill, especially at the collegiate level.
If an instructor is completely against Wikipedia, he or she could still implement it into the curriculum. Professors, through examining Wikipedia, can teach students how to navigate Internet sources and evaluate their reliability. Wikipedia is a great starting point because they clearly list all sources used for each article, leading students to discover more primary and potentially reliable works.
By teaching research methods, professors are preparing students for not only future research projects, but also how to judge information they discover through the Internet.
Especially in today’s technological age, it’s necessary to know how to sift through the fiction and recognize the truths in all subjects of study and life.
Sure, Wikipedia is an easy way to find random tidbits of knowledge, but it’s also responsible for promoting an increased interest in spreading ideas using reputable methods.
People around the world are drawn to the platform to discuss and document their positions on heated subjects and find common ground. Will we see a day when Wikipedia is cited on academic publications? I don’t think so, and it shouldn’t be. That is not its purpose.
Instead, its purpose is to act as a step toward delving deeper into research. Shouldn’t we encourage a website that continually proves to foster a new-found love of learning? Wikipedia is today’s salon room and should be respected as such.