Where to Draw the Wiki Line...

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I remember when Wikipedia hit the internet; I was in high school, just at the beginning of my research and term paper days.  Wikipedia seemed like a gift from the heavens.  Wikipedia, where had you been all my life?!  It quickly became the go-to source when researching homework, papers and projects.

But the greatness of Wikipedia seemed doomed to the fate of a led   zeppelin.  As quickly as it had been revered, however, it was dismissed for being inaccurate and untrustworthy. 

Today, three years after I graduated high school, Wikipedia is still swimming in the minds of many, especially academics who are often on the research hunt.  And many still dismiss Wikipedia to its very core; not only does it fail to uphold the standards of encyclopedias everywhere by providing accurate information, it bucks the responsibility for its failures as well, citing the collective inaccuracy of all things web and its open, anonymous nature, which would make it almost impossible to track down negligent users, but also leaves the door open for those do-gooders who would (and, they say, will) come along and fix all the problems. 

Although many dismiss Wikipedia for this reason, there is a rising sentiment that is turning back in favor of Wikipedia. Scholars, even, are finding value in Wikipedia.  But is it for the facts alone that they find value?  Well, more often than not it’s the social commentary that Wikipedia represents that is uniquely drawn from it as a research source.  Wikipedia illustrates a process of information dissemination and dialogue, often on contemporary issues that aren't included in traditional encyclopedias. 

This is how many today use Wikipedia, and this is how I use it as well.  Sorry, Wiki, I don't think you'll ever be a definitive factual source in my research.  But you offer an interesting window into the minds and applications of people in the information age.


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I agree, it's difficult to go ahead and trust what we read on Wikipedia because of the bad reputation that it may have. Now that we know how easy it is to change or put in "our" two sense. But at the same time this excercise showed me how much control the leaders of Wikipedia do have and how much of a community support there is to ensure its informational integrity. It seems that there are more out there that want Wikipedia to be successful than aren't. This gives me hope. I like the monitoring that I saw Wikipedia does. Althought I don't think it can every be completely reliable, I think it is getting closer.

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