Wiki-articles: Spiro & Orlowski

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Is Wikipedia Becoming a Reasonable Academic Source?

...."an encyclopedia can be a valid starting point for research." (Spiro)

Ok let's be real. I know so many people who use Wikipedia to get general information on a subject they are researching, and then not site it. I will admit that I have gone there. I use Wikipedia to get a sense of where to start and retrieve some general facts about something I may know very little about. Then I use that information, mostly in my own words, and put it into my paper. Now I have been told time and time again not to use Wikipedia at all so I tend to stray away from it now. But like the quote from the article, "Is Wikipedia Becoming a Reasonable Academic Source?" by Lisa Spiro, Wikipedia can be a good starting point for any research paper. It gives you that general knowledge you may need to get started. It can help you branch out.

This article definitely took a positive look on the well known database of Wikipedia. I was kind of shocked to see that several professional writers/scholars have cited Wikipedia in their works without shame. Citations can even be found in scholarly journals like, American Quarterly, College Literature, Advertising and Society Review, etc. Althought these numbers are few, they do exist.

I have only even heard from teachers and professors to never use Wikipedia when writing a paper so I tend to steer clear of it now except when I need to get definitions or general information for other purposes. Wikipedia can be criticized as taking the easy way out. From this knowledge, I feel as though professional writers and scholars are safe when they use Wikipedia as a source because they have more experience in the writing world and know what's out there, than say high school or college students who may use it to save time on research. In any case I think its safe to say that the cons outweigh the pros of Wikipedia. Spiro mentions the some common criticisms of it.

  • Research projects shouldn't rely on Encyclopedias
  • Since Wikipedia is constantly undergoing revisions, it is too unstable to cite
  • You can't trust Wikipedia because anyone- including people with no expertise, strong biases or malicious intent- can contribute to it annonymously.
  • Wikipedia entries lack authority because there is no peer review.

These are all valid arguments against Wikipedia, especially the fact that anyone can go in and change information- which I just found out about a few years ago. However, Spiro makes a good point when she says, "...through the back and forth between "passionate amateurs," experts, and Wikipedia guardians protecting against vandals, good stuff often emerges."

I think as long as there are experts out there using Wikipedia that care about what is put out there, there's a good chance that the information you get is pretty accurate. It might be a good idea to keep checking up on it though! 


There's No Wikipedia entry for 'Moral Responsibilty'

"If what we today know as "Wikipedia" had started life as something called, let's say - "Jimbo's Big Bag O'Trivia" - we doubt if it would be the problem it has become." (Orlowski)

I must say that in comparison to the previous Wikipedia article, this was quite a rant. I found it hard to follow his arguement but I can obviously tell that he has a problem with the world of Wikipedia and those who contribute.

I found the Seiganthaler case to be especially interesting. I have heard of people changing facts on Wikipedia but I never saw an example of it. Everything I have looked at on Wikipedia has seemed fairly accurate from what I know but it takes a sharp eye to pick out the misinformation- which is too bad for Brian Chase. He was simply playing a joke that turned out to harm some other guys name on the web. I don't think he meant any harm in it but some people take Wikipedia very seriously and catch these mistakes.

However I don't believe Wikipedia should be held liable for any of these temperments. But I also don't really think its a good idea to let people change that kind of information in the first place unless there is stricter supervision on what can be submitted.

Generally, I think the author made a good point about being aware of what you read on Wikipedia, he just went about it in a sarcastic tone, which can be an effective way of getting something across, especially those who feel adamately pro-wikipedia. From the quote above, I think Wikipedia has turned into a tool for pop culture that is being taken advantage of by today's culture and society.  

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