Wikipedia: Valuable Resource or Abyss of Misinformation?

The Internet is often the first place many students go when gathering research for a paper, project, or other class assignment. And while there are many excellent and invaluable resources available online, the quality of one site is still under debate: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is the marriage of the wiki software, which allows the public access to edit and update pages of a site, with the structure of the encyclopedia. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog post on a related resource, Wikimapia, allowing anyone to update and edit is both productive (allowing much more information to be contributed), and problematic (who checks to make sure that new contents and edits are correct?). As more and more people are turning to Wikipedia for answers, particularly students who are using Wikipedia as a source, it becomes more important to ask: Can we trust Wikipedia?

Given our own interest harnessing the wiki technology (as shown in the Archives-wiki proposal), we invite discussion about the value of Wikipedia. To help stimulate discussion, here are some recent articles and resources that assess the usefulness and accuracy of Wikipedia. Check them out and then leave us your comments and insight on this issue.

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  1. Christopher Miller

    I am currently administering a semester-long assignment about the nature of the wiki which aims to teach students that history is “made,” focus on the variety of processes that can be used to make it, to explore the relationship between process and outcome, and give them tools to identify and assess these different processes. This has worked quite well, and I’m doing it in a survey level US II course.

    Please contact me if you have more questions: millerc@cc.edu

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