Students at Middlebury College will no longer be able to cite Wikipedia when writing history papers, according to an Inside Higher Education report. According to Don Wyatt, chair of the history department at Middlebury, “Even though Wikipedia may have some value, particularly from the value of leading students to citable sources, it is not itself an appropriate source for citation.” Department members also cited the proliferation of misinformation. Suprisingly, Wikipedia officials partly agree: says Sandra Ordonez, a Wikipedia spokeswoman, “Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source.
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?).
What do you get when you combine the images and functions of google maps with the collective editing power of wikipedia? You get Wikimapia. Creators of wikimapia, Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev, simply wanted to “describe the whole plant Earth.” So they put together an online resource that allows users to label places and things on google map satellite images. Place your cursor over outlined areas and a label pops up. Double click on outlined areas and find more content.