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Wikipedia is, in Fact, a Reliable Source

Discussion in 'Computers, Science & Technology' started by Joshua Aaron, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Joshua Aaron

    Joshua Aaron Autistic Pansexual Enby! (they/them) V.I.P Member

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    For Wikipedia, you not only need to cite your sources, but to also make sure that the article you are creating doesn't cover a topic created by somebody else, or the topic isn't already fully explained in the article you are editing (unless it needs to be updated), and you have to make sure you have proper grammar. Vandalizing Wikipedia articles is grounds for instant banning on that site.

    Let me be clear: you DO need to cite your sources for any major edits. Minor grammatical edits are the only thing you don't really need a source for.

    Plus, Wikipedia gives notifications on if the article you are viewing is a stub (not enough content), or if there is not enough sources cited, or if there are broken links.

    Teachers who say that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source just don't know how Wikipedia moderation works. Or any moderation, for that matter. It's really only said out of a "technology bad" viewpoint created in the early days of the internet. Also, I did try Encyclopedia Briticanna before (one of my middle school teachers recommended), and it had required me to pay a subscription in order to view the full version of an article on Abraham Lincoln, which is unacceptable because I'm supposed to be researching stuff.
     
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  2. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Ehhhh.... honestly as someone who has been on the Net for as long as it has existed... I'd have to say the teachers are probably correct in this specific case. Just like with any other similar place, Wikipedia is impossible to TRULY moderate. It's too big, there's too many pages, too many users, not even remotely close to enough moderators (and AI cant help with that, that would only make it worse), and it's far too easy for trolls to, well, troll. After all: Banning means nothing whatsoever to a skilled troll. They'll be back in an instant for more chaos. And, of course, there's always the risk of rampaging bots. On top of that, considering the nature of the REST of the internet, merely citing sources means little when you cant directly prove that the SOURCES are correct in the first place. The mods, after all, dont have to check that... and even if they did, how could they? They'd have to already be experts themselves on every subject they check, for that to even START to work. Wikipedia is nice and all, but even I dont rely on it for anything.

    As much as I like the internet in concept, I'll always maintain that it's a bloody awful place in an overall sense. Utterly unreliable. A giant, uncontrollable, easily messed-with site sure isnt an exception to that.
     
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  3. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Consider such a scenario from the perspective of a teacher, rather than as a student.

    It may depend on what is really motivating them to say that. That another reason may be closer related to a form of "academic damage control". To discourage students from rushing to Wikipedia not only over a question of whether or not their sources are correct, but rather to keep them from relying on "down-and-dirty" facts without truly understanding how they arrived at them in the first place. Where some kids might simply be prone to copying, cutting and pasting data rather than thinking about it and formulating an opinion and analysis in their own words. And where many a teacher will ambush them, giving them an "F" for plagiarism.

    In most fields of endeavor just finding an answer to something teaches you little or nothing if and when you bypass the learning process in whole or in part. Reliance on sources like Wikipedia and even any conventional encyclopedia can do that. In other words, teachers want to see you truly thinking rather than just exercising the mechanics of how to get an answer just to fulfill an assignment. For them it's a "slippery slope". One that most teachers may not want to debate or discuss with their students.

    Fast-forward to higher education. Which depicts this dynamic in a film called "The Paper Chase". Where a Harvard Law School professor asks a student a particular question. Art imitating life, yet a great metaphor.

    A student provides the answers, without explaining how he arrived at them. His professor then asks him a hypothetical question relative to those answers, and the student explains that he has a "photographic memory". Where the professor berates him, explaining that having a "photographic memory" is worthless as it doesn't teach you how to think. That being handed the basic facts on a silver platter may not be as helpful as you think.

    You have to go to 6:30 into this 10:43 video, but Professor Kingsfield clearly makes this point. :eek:

     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  4. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    Any source is only as reliable as its sources. If you want to be confident about the facts presented, follow the footnotes to the original works.

    That being said, I have read 3rd party analysis that says Wikipedia is more accurate than any main stream media and just as accurate as a the best online encyclopedias. This was regarding science and technology. Other areas weren't looked at.

    I tend to use it a lot as a fact source because it has LOTS of footnotes. Lack of detailed footnotes is a sign that what you are seeing is not authoritative. It may be accurate or it may not. You have nothing but faith that the whole thing wasn't fabricated.
     
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  5. Wolfgangus Faldestolius

    Wolfgangus Faldestolius Little notes from an armchair

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    I know of cases where good information got taken out of articles and it can be difficult to find on "talk" pages. They seem obsessed about only including secondary sources: in lots of fields there aren't any, and Wikipedia is the first such. In lots of articles there is insufficient detail to understand and links are dead. Some subjects have been dumbed down and vital detail gets skipped. For a public effort, the results are often too meagre, either not enough people are trying, or too many people are taking too much out / axe grinding. Most information in reality isn't categorical, we need more perspective in arguments. I forgot my Wikipedia password and there isn't a help page to explain how to get a new one. Is there a way to change my "user" name? It's nice that you are involved in it and I would like to ask you more questions about it.
     
  6. Joshua Aaron

    Joshua Aaron Autistic Pansexual Enby! (they/them) V.I.P Member

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    Seriously, I've seen Wikipedia pages with a 50-100 or more sources in the footnotes, even if said sources did not have the superscript numbers. They are there just as bonus info.
     
  7. Joshua Aaron

    Joshua Aaron Autistic Pansexual Enby! (they/them) V.I.P Member

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    I'm pretty sure experts on a topic would be the ones who are mainly creating and making major edits to articles for their area of expertise. For example, I would edit a Monster Hunter-related article, since I am familiar with the games, but somebody who hasn't even touched a single Monster Hunter game in their life wouldn't.
     
  8. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    This is the internet: Never trust ideas like that. Assume that everything is being done by a hopped-up homicidal clown with a grudge. Since in far too many cases, it is.

    Besides, that goes into the OTHER problem: A lot of people THINK they are experts at something, when they really arent. Heck, many who think they know everything about a topic end up having half of it utterly backwards. In some cases, this effect can extend to entire groups, with the same backwards info appearing from all of them (and when it's the SAME backwards info among many, it just reinforces their belief that it is correct, making it worse, and spreading it further). I think pretty much all of us on this site can think of a certain example of THAT happening.

    Dont trust wikipedia or any similar site. They're useful, but well... it's just like how you should never, EVER take anything a medical website says as anything resembling medical advice. Wikipedia is no exception to that concept, and considering its size, is likely more vulnerable to problems than most informational sites.
     
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  9. Wolfgangus Faldestolius

    Wolfgangus Faldestolius Little notes from an armchair

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    There was a bad trend a couple of years ago for certain trolls to plaster large numbers of articles saying the area of knowledge is a "pseudo science" when only very small fragments of it are. An encyclopedia is supposed to be there to exercise our critical skills and enhance our background knowledge, not make us stupid. While there will be trolls who will disappoint OP, I can tell that some articles are informative even as some are blatantly wrong. Now if school pupils all copy Wikip. word for word, at best that doesn't stretch them enough and commonly it will confuse them. Therefore, take Wikip. as you find it and don't forget to switch your brain on. I imagine it is hard work joining in and trying to safeguard decent information when there is, or used to be, some. I know I had a password for it once.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2021
  10. lolcatal

    lolcatal Well-Known Member

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    Wikipedia was less reliable in the early days. Now I would consider it more reliable than most news sources and some research papers.
     
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  11. lolcatal

    lolcatal Well-Known Member

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    I forgot to say that I’ve been editing Wikipedia since 2005.
     
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  12. Jorg

    Jorg Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I guess with the pass of years Wikipedia devs really have applied quality measures to ensure the correctness and validation of the topics; I hope it will increasing in that.

    When I entered university back in 2010 one of the firsts advices the people on the library told us, is not to use wikipedia (again that was years ago) for research; besides the physical books our library had access to internet repositories and libraries like Wiley, Springer, etc; but that access was kinda limited, not all books are available and those cites are expensive af; idk how many hundred of thousands of dollars my university had to pay...for limited content.

    I'm from the generation that learned with physical books, so learning online has been something I have to still, get used to; I remember back when I was a kid the 1st examples of digital learning media was Microsoft Encarta. That was my wikipedia back then, Google Earth? Encarta had some virtual scenarios with 360° freedom; but unlike Wikipedia and internet now; Encarta was not periodically updated, I believe it was updated once a year, when Microsoft released a new version.
     
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  13. Bibliophile715

    Bibliophile715 Host - first system member - any pronouns

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    At the schools I've gone to absolutely none of my past teachers considered Wikipedia to be a reliable source that I would be allowed to use quotes from there in essays. I don't really know the main reason why they didn't like the website; they just seemed to not have an understanding of how it worked along with having some bias against using it for a source. I remember many of my past teachers saying that anyone could get an account to edit an article and they didn't seem to have an understanding of how the articles were moderated that well at all. I've never been allowed to use any sort of Wikipedia articles as sources in essays before at all; however, I was allowed to look them up for beginning research.

    From all the times I've gone on that site, I've seen many incredibly long articles (some with over a hundred footnotes). I enjoy reading various Wikipedia articles for fun, so not being allowed to use them as sources didn't necessarily bother me at the time, since I'm someone that does like hoarding knowledge. I can see why some others wouldn't like that teachers didn't let them use the articles for sources, but no one verbally complained in my classes about that that I can remember.
     
  14. Markness

    Markness Young God

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    [​IMG]

    William Gibson also originally predicted the internet would only be available to corporations and folks like us who wanted access to it would have to become hackers. That’s the undercurrent to his Sprawl books.
     
  15. Paul Lee

    Paul Lee Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. I check Wikipedia all of the time. Sometimes, I even contribute to articles. :)