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Is Wikipedia A Crap Source To Use?

  1. I have had one or two comments on my blog telling me not to use Wikipedia as a reference for articles. What do you guys think? Is it a bad/dubious reference site? If so, is this always true? Also, what are good/credible sites for general facts as opposed to specialist sources?

    The blog I need help with is ulaysha.wordpress.com.

  2. I class it as dubious. I would avoid using it unless I couldn't find anything else. But then the media is dubious too - so I have no hints for you! :)

    I try to go to government publications or academic papers - but I'm not sure I trust the former, even.

  3. I'm not sure I would use it exclusively, but it does have a lot of content and is easily accessible. I use it all the time but more for a "linking to more informattion" type of links and not as research for an article. That way, people know what they are reading and from where ...it's up to the reader to believe it or not at that point.

  4. I always check out the footnotes in Wikipedia entries. If the footnoted links in the Wikipedia entries lead to authoritative sources then I use the Wikipedia entry link. Sometimes I find the footnoted entries are more specific and relevant to whatever I'm writing about than the Wikipedia entries which are very broad are. In those cases I use the footnoted links. Quite aside from Wikipedia I do my own research as well.

  5. As a casual reference, I think it's great. Sure, articles can be edited by anyone, but that also contributes to a surprisingly low amount of vandalism, as it's usually corrected by the next person.

    With that said, Wikipedia is not a scholarly resource, unless of course a professional in the field itself is writing the article, but that's pretty much impossible to confirm.

    When I was going through my teaching credential courses, it was the common consensus to discourage Wikipedia as source of information, but to encourage it as a source of links to better sources (via footnotes and such).

  6. Wikipedia is handy for hyperlinking text to give a short definition to for words and terms with more depth than an online dictionary.

    Wiki is proofread and flagged when articles miss important criteria for a balanced argument.
    I think it is more trustworthy, for the purposes of an expanded definitions, than say a random web sites where I know nothing about the author, or their credits.

  7. I am a college student, and my professors forbid us to use Wikipedia for any research. We can Google stuff, but if it comes from Wikipedia, they won't accept it. Personally, I think the site isn't to be trusted too far, simply because anyone can edit the articles on it. I think for general information it's okay, but for anything that requires in depth research, I'd look elsewhere.

  8. If you're in college, you shouldn't cite Wikipedia any more than you'd cite an encyclopedia. You're supposed to find primary sources.

    But there's another reason not to use Wikipedia (although the info is actually pretty good). Because nobody at Wikipedia will EVER check the stats, see you've linked to them, and go read your blog.

    Nobody. Ever.

    If you find the exact same info in a blog, any blog, even a Tumblr, some blogger will see that you've linked to him/her and will probably follow the link back and read your blog. THAT is the most compelling reason not to refer to Wikipedia.

  9. I never thought about it that way. Every link is a potential advertisement, huh? Thanks for the tip, raincoaster!

  10. I tried to place a WordPress.com link into wikipedia and it wouldn't allow me to do so, citing it was blocked domain - information unreliable. Placing a link to my own website was apparently fine.

    As already said Wikipedia vandals are quite common. Sometimes it's obvious when they've done something. A comedian I know formatted all the text in the Brazilian wax article so as it was in a long narrow column down the middle of the page.

    News rooms in the UK are prohibited from using it. Rushed together obituaries have included blatantly untrue information. When Norman Wisdom died last year the Daily Mirror and 3 other newspapers credited him as writing the lyrics to the song "there will be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover". He didn't write it, it was mentioned on wikipedia that he did.

    Depending on what the subject is the BBC usually has some good information this site http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/ which was set up as a memorial to Douglas Adams the author of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. It's a collaborative encyclopaedia but entries are verified before being published.

  11. I rarely cite wikipedia as a written reference ---in anything.

    For anything that you write for school (high school, college & university), it is never advised for demonstrating your research skills. It actually tends to demonstrate just either a starting point ...or you haven't bothered to look at good established niche sources.

    By the way government websites offer a whack of useful general information, particularily at national, provinicial/state government organizations. They avoid posting information where they could be held liable later on.

  12. I use Wikipedia as a means to help me refine my search terms if I know absolutely nothing about the topic so that I can find a better source on the Internet.

    If you include even 1 good resource link, that will upgrade your blog post quality and ..you as the author.

  13. @theianfox. Thank you for the reference to da BBC site. I did have a look but think I need to spend more time on it.

    @raincoaster. Sorry, I don't get it. I understand what you're saying about referencing other blogs - creating a virtual network of links but are blogs in themselves credible. I've always avoided referencing them - unless I'm clear that I'm referencing someone's opinion. Wrong????

    Also, does anyone have opinions on About.com.

    NB: I really thought that Wikipedia had a fairly rigorous approval process + clear sign-posting, if a post was not well-referenced. Obviously my research skills need to improve.

    FYI: All this started 'cos someone from Europe posted that she'd been told people eat monkey brains in South Africa. I said they definitely didn't (and it inspired a section on South Africa in my blog). Then someone commented she heard da same thing 'bout people in China. I then found a reference on Wiki dat this Was True for parts of China. Then someone, a blogger who is from China responded to say absolutely, definitely Not True. The global power of blogging, hey. But who to believe??????????????

  14. With travel related stuff the CIA have the world fact book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

    Also the publisher of the "lonely planet" travel books usually have some cultural information on their website http://www.lonelyplanet.com

  15. Are blogs in themselves credible? If you don't think so, what are you doing blogging?

  16. @raincoaster. Just expressing my opinion, I'm afraid.

  17. @theianfox - you may also find the UN HDI report an interesting source of facts about countries and cultures.

    http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

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