Whenever students are assigned a research paper one point is always reinforced, “Nobody can use Wikipedia.” Nobody can ever use Wikipedia. Teachers talk about this popular website like it is the most disgusting way anyone could research a topic. They say it is completely untrustworthy and not worth anyone’s time. They may even take points off a report if Wikipedia is cited as a source. Based on the way teachers feel about Wikipedia, it seems like absolutely nothing on the website is ever correct, but is this true? Just how much of the information on Wikipedia is correct?
Regular encyclopedia articles are checked and rechecked for the slightest bit of misinformation. This is not the case with Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles can be changed and written by anyone, anytime. Several critics have directed students to Encyclopedia Britannica, in their opinion, as a better source of information. However, one study, done by CNN, shows that there is almost just as much false information in the Encyclopedia Brittanica as there is on Wikipedia. The study showed an average of 2.92 errors in each Encyclopedia Brittanica article, and 3.86 mistakes per article in Wikipedia. That is less than one error more per article.
While Wikipedia isn’t the first choice for online information, it is a popular source of online entertainment. Many people spend hours on Wikipedia going from article to article when they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Wikipedia is also popular because of its variety of subjects. Wikipedia’s subject matter ranges from Leonardo da Vinci to the Harlem Shake. Other articles include George W. Bush, Lady Gaga, acne, dinosaurs, and even Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia does have an artile about itself. There is just about everything that anybody can think of on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is also hard to avoid. If someone is doing a research project on John Adams, the first thing that person would probably do is search his name on Google. The first result on Google is a Wikipedia article. The same goes for George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and God. Wikipedia is included in the first five results for almost anything that is searched. Several students at Helias use Wikipedia and don’t list it as a source when they do reports. They do this because it is easier than getting the research from another source that is reliable.
While Wikipedia might be good for some things, it is not good for all things. There are some articles that are totally biased, and some are just overall incorrect. The articles are very unreliable, yet students everywhere love it. Why do they love it? Well, the answer is simple. It is a lot easier to find one Wikipedia article with all of the (sometimes wrong) information in it than to find several different articles with close to perfect information. Wikipedia is trying to fix the problem. The website encourages people to correct or delete false information. It also discourages the use of personal opinion in its articles. There are quite a few policies and guidelines that people are required to follow when writing or editing an article.
Wikipedia does have a lot to fix, but the popular website is hoping that it will have correct information on every article soon.
The Crusader Raid, Vol. 5, Num. 4
The School’s out for Summer Issue