Wikipedia It

Wikipedia– Jimmy Wales TED Talk. Founder of Wikipedia

There are only a select few moments when my computer is turned off while doing homework. The internet has become an integral part of doing my school work. It is an aid to the questions I don’t know and to the phrases that confuse me. Every time I’m stuck on some aspect of my homework, I go straight into Google type out my question.

It is hard to ignore that every time I search for something, Wikipedia is almost always the first or second search result.

In a TED talk, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia discussed how this site, with a reputation that borders helpful to unreliable. In his lecture, Wales captures the essence of what Wikipedia is as an outlet allowing, “every single person in the world to be given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”

We all know Wikipedia can be skewed. There are a plethora of teachers and school administrators who label this site with a red flag calling it inappropriate to use for gaining information. And by all means, you can find information that is inaccurate on this site. It’s interesting; however, to think that the founder of Wikipedia never supports a claim that the information is truthful, even with all the volunteers that are used to monitor the site. In fact, he labels it as a sum of all human knowledge. What is human knowledge? Is it just what is right or proven, or what we believe? If society as a whole believes in one common theme, does that make it common knowledge?

Does Wikipedia provide us with what the world thinks to be true? With it’s free licensing and it’s volunteers who manage the site and skim for wrong information, Wikipedia could in some way be a correct indicator as to what the bulk of society thinks about certain topics. Is Wikipedia in fact providing general knowledge to the internet community and if so why is there an army of critics who find the flaws in the system to be a clear indicator that Wikipedia is inappropriate for research and general knowledge accumulation.

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4 Responses to Wikipedia It

  1. nickf77 says:

    Obviously, critics’ objections to Wikipedia are aimed at its most fundamental aspect – anyone can edit it. We’ve been over that. Given that that’s what drives Wikipedia, though, there’s really nothing to be done about it. I love the fact that Jimmy Wales calls his creation a “sum of all human knowledge” because that’s really what it is. It’s a searchable collection of everything that everyone knows, everywhere, throughout history. Sure, it’s only really good for general knowledge, but that’s what encyclopedias are for.

    Wikipedia will never be acceptable for citing and everything you learn on it will always have to be taken with a grain of salt, just based on its inherent community-based operation. It’s been said to be a collection of everything everyone knows. Rather it should be referred to as a collection of everything everyone THINKS they know. People often think they know something when they actually don’t. That could easily get accidentally mixed in with the collection of human knowledge that Wikipedia serves up.

    Sidenote: I love Wikipedia and don’t want to trash talk it – just reminding everyone of the facts.

  2. usa2014 says:

    Personally, im not a fan of wikipedia for the sole fact that anyone can post anything they want about any topic on the website. The information isn’t very credible. My opinion has also obviously been skewed by my high school teachers who preached numerous times that Wikipedia was not a credible source and that it was not allowed to be used in papers.

    I have seen friends change random facts on Wikipedia to ridiculous things and saw how easy it was. This doesn’t really help the credibility of the Website. If you don’t know anything about a topic and go to Wikipedia to learn about it, I personally would recommend using a different website for your research.

  3. JTEPP says:

    Personally, I’m a big fan of Wikipedia. Whenever I’m in search of some info, I always look to Wikipedia. If I have trouble with homework or understanding material, I look material. And if I don’t feel like reading something for school, I often look to Wikipedia for a summary. I know that the information is possibly unreliable, but it’s become habit for me to rely on the website.

    Honestly, I should probably turn away from the website. Sure, it usually helps me learn material, but the information of the website could possibly be wrong. Additionally, it definitely would be better for me to just learn the material from the textbooks, books, or notes. That way, I’ll know what I’m learning is correct information. Despite that, I can say for fact that I’ll never stop using Wikipedia. It’s just so easy to use, and thus far, it hasn’t really let me down.

  4. Ferron says:

    I think your observation about “the sum of all knowledge” is really interesting, and I agree with it, but in a weird sort of way. There’s a channel on YouTube called Veritasium (a video from that channel was linked in the YouTube EDU post) where the “host” Derek sometimes interviews people on the street about certain physics topics. What’s always interesting is how people think they know a concept, and are confident about it, but end up being wrong when Derek explains how the concept works. This confidence in incorrect information might be happening on Wikipedia articles. Well-meaning people want to contribute to an article, think they have the information correct, but don’t know that what they’re writing is a misconception about that topic.

    Now, I know that’s not what always happens. There are trolls who think it’s funny to edit Wikipedia articles with wrong information. But there are also people who know a lot about the subject and maybe even have legitimate education about it, which is awesome if they’re editing articles.

    Basically what I’m saying through this somewhat convoluted comment is that there are many different types of people editing Wikipedia, just like there are many different types of people IRL. There’s your uncle Joe who’ll tell you something wrong about Obama’s policies, even though he thinks they’re correct. There’s your one friend who just wants to see your reaction when he tells you that there are actually 20 planets. And there’s your professor who will tell you what they know about a specific topic.

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