To Trust or Not to Trust Wikipedia?


I remember reading a piece about classroom education from my Expository book last semester by Cathy Davidson, the same author of “We Can’t Ignore the Influence of Digital Technologies”. So to confirm that it was the same author, I googled her name and the first link I clicked was Cathy Davidson’s Wikipedia page. I didn’t realize until I read her piece how much I rely on Wikipedia for information. We were told since elementary school to never use any form of Wikipedia as a resource because it wasn’t reliable since there were so many different authors. But wouldn’t a source that is constantly updated be the most reliable source of information? It’s more a process to correct a scholarly resource that’s published compared to correcting a Wikipedia page.

Davidson also points out that she uses Wikipedia at the very start of her research: “I find that I often go to Wikipedia for a quick and easy references before heading into more scholarly depths”, which is what is should be used for. I think Wikipedia is a great secondary source that suffices for a quick research. I don’t think you should use it if you need to go in-depth because it only covers the tip of the iceberg of information. Trace Dominguez addresses if Wikipedia is a credible source in his video here:

In the video, Trace mentions how at USCF they will soon allow med students to edit Wikipedia pages for a grade. The fact that there are multiple, educated authors and people constantly editing the page shows how updated Wiki is. Schools shouldn’t ban this site because it promotes the work of many authors who have a great interest in what the page is about. Maybe when I was in grade school, there weren’t as many people who cared or edited the Wikipedia pages, but now the kids who grew up with the early stages of Wikipedia are now older and care enough to fix it. Because the site uses scholarly sources to write their pages, the site can be a good foundation for academic papers.

Moreover, I agree with how Davidson describes how education should be like losing yourself in one source and hours later your realize that you’re gotten so in-depth into something totally different from your initial Wikipedia search. Schools should be promoting sources like Wikipedia that lead to getting so deep into a subject. That means there’s passion and curiosity, which is hard to generate in students. The reason why most students want to use Wikipedia is because it’s so accessible and the information is organized so that it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. And every page is the same format, so users feel accustomed and comfortable with the site.

When I’m looking up how much a movie made or the reason why a band broke up, my instant reaction is to find the answer on Wikipedia. But when I have to find the difference between a gluten tolerance and a gluten allergy for my Food and Health class, I have to sift through sites I’m not familiar with and eventually forget the question all together. Wikipedia is faster and mostly reliable (with good judgement), so it should be available in schools for general information.





To Trust or Not to Trust Wikipedia?

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