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Wikipedia - The Online Encyclopedia

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by CaptnSparrow, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. CaptnSparrow

    CaptnSparrow IncGamers Member

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    Wikipedia - The Online Encyclopedia

    Well, we've all heard the uproars from the enraged 60 year old wrinkled wranglers we call teachers, as well as the crying chorus of half baked high schoolers singing its praises down the hallways, but the question still remains... just how valid is Wikipedia? The online 'encyclopedia' has taken heat from all sides for its rather... loose style of compiling information, as well as the growing number of students resorting to it for all their last minute reporting needs.

    According to most of the opposing voices, the site cannot be considered valid since, as the site itself states, the editing of entries is open to everyone who is a member. This, they feel, immediately calls into question any information that could be taken from the site, and makes it more of a burden that it is a help. But, is it not true that each student is entitled to research as they wish? And that aside from warning for validity, if a student wishes to risk the quality of information, a teacher really has no right to say more that that?

    The students argue back, saying that Wikipedia is often "accurate enough," especially in historical articles. In addition, the speed at which Wikipedia updates its information is unheard of in the realm of encyclopedias, which often go without updates for quite some time between issues. They feel that the convenience of the site is worth the risk of an error or two. Still, since these are the same people that go whining back to Wikipedia about their paper about "The Twenty Planets of our Solar System" and how it failed, its hard to believe their hearts are in it.



    So what do you guys think? I have my own opinion on this and I'll get that going soon, but in the meantime I'd like to hear some quality sharing between all of you wonderful people.
     
  2. Moosashi

    Moosashi IncGamers Member

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    Most of the factual disparities I've encountered are attributable to vandalism. I haven't read much that seemed wrong or that wasn't easy to check against traditional references. I say innocent until proven guilty.
     
  3. bladesyz

    bladesyz IncGamers Member

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    I love wikipedia. Sure it might not be 100% accurate, sure everybody can edit it, but for the first time, we have an encyclopedia where everyone (except people in China) can quickly find practically any information they need! That, IMO, is worth the occasional error or two.

    For that part, wikipedia is actually remarkably accurate, and its extensive coverage of pretty much any topic more than makes up for its relatively rare mistakes.

    Of course, when it comes to research papers, you usually need more than just one source, and it's always a good idea to verify information obtained, no matter where you take it from. Traditional encyclopedia can also be full of mistakes.
     
  4. LorveN

    LorveN D3 Off Topic Moderator

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    Vouch the previous comment, innocent until proven guilty.

    Actually, it is awesome. Students just need to know how to question facts, because if you do, you'll find the bogus parts too.
    When someone goes to mess things up in wikipedia, they tend to do it in stupid and obvious ways, such as editing stuff about famous persons to complete nonsense or at least things that are easy to spot. That's why articles about controversal persons (Hitler, to mention one) are locked for editing by the public, to keep neo-nazis from editing and making him look like a hero.

    I've found that wikipedia is awesome when it comes to physics, too. Nowhere else you can find a brief description about a formula or a constant that contains everything you want presented in a good way. I admit I'm not questioning those facts, but for a little stupid kid to get an idea to change the value of Planck's constant it takes a lot... :azn:

    History is good, geography is awesome, though there's one subject on which I'd never trust wikipedia, and that is politics. Sure, I can read facts about the EU as long as it is raw fact, but I prefer to to the analysis myself.

    As long as you use wikipedia as a factbook and do the analysis yourself, it's great.

    If I were in the jury to sentence it, I'd vote innocent. :innocent:
     
  5. th5418

    th5418 Banned

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    It's pretty nice place to get background information and to know what to research more upon.
     
  6. masterazn

    masterazn Banned

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    It's good for a start. The reference sections are very helpful in research and are usually valid.
     
  7. Moosashi

    Moosashi IncGamers Member

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    Actually, if I had one criticism, it would be that citation and reference lists are not nearly extensive enough. However, I don't know whether this is a problem for Wikipedia specifically or an accepted practice for all major encyclopedias.
     
  8. Darkflight

    Darkflight IncGamers Member

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    I find Wikipedia a good place to find information about stuff. Even if there are some mistakes and some 14-year olds messing with stuff I generally like it. There are a lot of interesting stuff to read too, try searching for some philosophical questions and read. I can go on for hours doing this. :afro:
     
  9. WildBerry

    WildBerry IncGamers Member

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    IMO there are some horribly biased things in the articles on literature and history, the latter moreso.

    However, the Wiki is good for as a starting check for bibliographies. If there are 1) books quoted and 2) the books actually exist, then the article in question is safe to use. With a grain of salt, of course. I wouldn't refer to it if I had any paperbacks handy.

    When it comes to natural sciences, I see Wiki as somewhat more trustworthy. Your average Wiki-updater at least in my country is a young man apt in either engineering or natural sciences.

    A common problem for all the encyclopediae, I think, but one that Wiki could well improve on given it's nature.

    I would very much like to see Wiki trustworthy enough to be referred to in general without constant double-checking; alas, it is not such yet.

    This is my usual method of usage and degree of trust given to Wiki in general. Agreed.



     
  10. adamfgt78

    adamfgt78 IncGamers Member

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    I enjoy Wikipedia for the almost unlimited supply of material to read while sitting at my computer with nothing to do at work.

    I find it fascinating how I can start on one topic and through clicking links that strike my interest I'll end up on other topics which are a world apart from the original topic and which I'd never think to read on my own.

    Here is my history starting at the page I'm looking at now and going backwards: Livestock guarding dog, Guard llama, Icelandic sheep, Alpaca, Camelid, Dromedary, Working animal, Paddy field, Rice, Koi, Goldfish, Polyploidy, Brown trout, River Ouse, Virginia Woolf, Main Page.

    As far as its academic reliablity, it's not something that I'm concerned with at this time in my life. If I were, I think it would only be appropriate to use it when an article cited a legitimate source. But this would really just be citing the original source anyways, so Wikipedia would only be an intermediate. Also, as was mentioned last time, citing any webpage is never a good thing to do since the page may change at any time or even simply be taken offline.
     
  11. Dondrei

    Dondrei IncGamers Member

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    1) Wiki is not a reliable source, no. But then again, what is?
    2) It's about 95% as accurate as Britannica, as I recall. Which frankly isn't that accurate, but do you have a better encyclopaedia? The only way you're going to get better information than that is real research.
    3) Wiki has heaps of things you'll never find in any encyclopaedia. In fact I'm sure it's bigger by orders of magnitude.
    4) Error correction happens in real-time, encyclopaediae don't get corrected until the next version comes out.
    5) Vandalism isn't nearly as big a problem as people make out, and it's usually removed swiftly.

    Basically, as long as you treat it as what it is it's fine. People would do well to remember that about Britannica, too.
     
  12. jakotaco

    jakotaco IncGamers Member

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    As long as I keep to th english version the articles are usually well cited and moderated, warning tags for uncited opinions are usually there whenever thye should and whenever NPV is questioned it's usually in the header. Discussions and edits can usually tell you alot of the article and what is being questioned. However when I use the Swedish version the discussion is less active.

    Gives a great overview of a subject, also provides good links for more "reliable sources".
     
  13. Merick

    Merick IncGamers Member

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    I love it. I've never seen anything wrong that wasn't obvious vandalism. And really, if you google "matthew maury" who's to say how accurate those first 5 sites are either? It's soooo nice to have one site with everything. With the time you save only going to one site you can go back and fact check if you feel like it.
     
  14. garublador

    garublador IncGamers Member

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    I find it useful to get some quick, general information, but find it quite useless as an actual research resource.
     
  15. ale beer two

    ale beer two IncGamers Member

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    QFT. 100% agree.

    I wasn't aware of any debates about wiki, I wonder if i can read about it on wiki?



     
  16. jmervyn

    jmervyn IncGamers Member

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  17. Yossarian

    Yossarian IncGamers Member

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    I've seen a lot of mistakes in it. To the person who pointed out that he's never seen a mistake, think about this. If you're using wiki to search a topic you know little about, how would know if there were errors? My favorite was seeing Jefferson listed as the President in 1793. He was secretary of state at the time I believe, or he'd quit by then I can't remember. Wiki referred to him as the President and were talking about him doing something or other and not Washington.
     
  18. PatMaGroin

    PatMaGroin IncGamers Member

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    Students just need to learn how to use Wiki correctly.

    You read the article, and use Wiki's references as your citations. Duh. Not only do you get more citations, but you also don't have to list Wiki as one of em.
     
  19. Thelioness

    Thelioness IncGamers Member

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    As PatMaGroin says, use the references as your citations, if your teacher says you can't use Wiki. Regardless of what you think of your teacher or later on, your employer, if they tell you that you have an assignement and wiki isn't a valid source, then you don't use wiki as your source.

    I like wiki. I think it is a great starting point for gathering info. I also would recommend that you check the sources they use. For one article, the source was someone's blog. I don't know about you, but that didn't give me a high level of confidence. Not that the blogger was wrong, but I prefer more substantial references.
     
  20. VampiroXIII

    VampiroXIII IncGamers Member

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    I like Wikipedia. It's useful for looking up general reference things and off-kilter facts, but I would never use it for a research paper.
     

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