Wikipedia’s credibility


The conversation of whether or not wikipedia is a reliable resource/reference in college is recurring. On one hand the entire( yes entire) student body utilizes this resource for everything they do not know. Wikipedia is used for homework, papers, research, fact checking, sighting and most importantly learning. Wikipedia is there for students to fill in gaps left by the professors. Unfortunately there are more often than not voids between lessons and assessment. The most prominent tool in filling these voids is google and the first result google yields is always wikipedia. It taught me about my favorite bands, how to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano and what part of the world religions came from to just name a few. I think part of the reason why wikipedia is so heavily debated in the us is not a validity issue rather an insecurity. Insecurity in the sense that the professors I have had who banish wikipedia are the ones who require you to buy the textbook that they authored. There is nothing wrong with teaching a course using the book that they wrote however it is a problem when a professor makes this the only point of reference. Wikipeida is viewed as some unofficial mumbo-jumbo piled together by some amateurs when in all reality a wikipedia post has the potential to get viewed by more editors than textbooks do. The way wikipedia works is that anyone can post content but not anyone and every ones content gets posted because of the thorough editorial process mandated by the users of wikipedia. They even state that what you post must be verifiable and not original research. As per their page…

“You are invited to show that content is verifiable by referencing reliable sources. Unsourced content may be challenged and removed, because on Wikipedia a lack of content is better than misleading or false content—Wikipedia’s reputation as an encyclopedia depends on the content in articles being verifiable and reliable.”

With this being said wikipedia welcomes all content including poorly written articles, they utilize a creative collaborative editing which essentially means their platform welcomes poorly written segments knowing they can evolve over time. A more in-depth look,

“For instance, one person may start an article with an overview of a subject or a few random facts. Another may help standardize the article’s formatting, or have additional facts and figures or a graphic to add. Yet another may bring better balance to the views represented in the article, and perform fact-checking and sourcing to existing content. At any point during this process, the article may become disorganized or contain substandard writing.”

Uncensored or unsourced material is also removed almost immediately, which furthermore debunks wikipedia’s unreliable reputation. This resource needs to be viewed as and regarded as reliable, in addition to being accepted as a citable source in universities and high schools. I reiterate, a wikipedia post has the potential to get viewed by more editors than textbooks do therefore it’s information should be trusted as much as textbook is. I also believe that this source of knowledge is taken for granted, textbooks cost upwards of 200 dollars while wikipedia is free with wifi. The more reflection I do on our schooling the more backwards our system seems to be. With that being said, tools such as google scholar do help tremendously with scholarly sources.