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View Poll Results: Is Wikipedia a useful tool as a source for scholarly debate?
Yes, in all circumstances 6 13.64%
Yes, but for background information and general statistics only 12 27.27%
Yes, but to be used with extreme caution 17 38.64%
No, unless there is no other resource available 3 6.82%
No, in all circumstances 5 11.36%
Depends on the topic being argued 1 2.27%
What is Wikipedia? 0 0%
Voters: 44. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-13-2006, 10:44 PM   #16
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and it's encyclopaedia!!

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Old 12-13-2006, 10:45 PM   #17
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Hmm, while I do see the argument, I'm just going to ignorantly say that now that I'm on holiday, ebscohost and jstor can suck it. I'm wiking til January, damn it!

Anyway, yes anyone can write for it, but even with the risk of having some uneducated and opinionated stuff on there, there are quite a few times where I've come across stuff that was clearly edited by a professional.

I certainly don't use it for scholarly research, but if someone brings up a topic in a forum that I know nothing about, my first stop would be wiki. I can move on from there, but if this is just to clarify something or have a small conversation, I don't see the need to get my panties all in a bunch over servers, interlibrary loan and boolean factors.

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Old 12-13-2006, 10:55 PM   #18
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I think it's a matter of context. I agree with the academic opinion that Wikipedia is not a valid source for research papers.

But FYM is not a research paper.

And one of the best parts of Wikipedia is that it has many articles on a wide variety of subjects that regular encyclopedias would otherwise ignore or gloss over.

Even with the "best" of sources, I've had a few choice words of disagreement with otherwise reputable academics and their studies. Probably the best way to handle Wikipedia is to use it when you feel it is necessary, and if someone disagrees with what it says, then step up and make a counterargument with your own sources.

FYM is not a research paper, and no one here is perfect. As such, we certainly have wider latitude to make bold statements and even bolder responses.

At least, that's how I see it.
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:22 PM   #19
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Originally posted by martha
I only use Wikipedia as a jump-off point for further research. It tells me the general direction I should look.
I agree with this. I fully understand and support the policy of Wikipedia not being an acceptable source for academic papers, but I often use it to provide myself with some basic orientation and and get an idea of what a subject is about if I am largely or wholly unfamiliar with it. I then head off to get some actual depth from scholarly sources and see if they support or deny Wikipedia's assertions.

I also think Wikipedia has its value on FYM as it is often written a lot clearer and more concisely than academic sources. It is also available for everyone to access, unlike a resource such as JSTOR.
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Old 12-14-2006, 02:09 AM   #20
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I will admit that I have used Wikipedia as my only source for entire research term papers before ( ), in first year and the first semester of second year, until I took a workshop and learned how to properly research for schoolwork. My grades are way better since then, although I also admit that I still use Wikipedia as a research tool for information outside the direct scope of my paper, or to clear up complex ideas, or even just as a way to find out more in general about a subject ie when writing a paper about Bloody Sunday, I used Wikipedia to learn about the general historical facts behind the religious conflicts in Ireland.

And I never, ever source Wikipedia anymore (but I have!). I had a prof fail me outright in 2nd year on a paper about the fall of the Roman Republic because I referenced six different Wikipedia pages in the bibliography (which spurred me to finally haul ass to a research workshop)!

Although as a scholarly source it's clearly invalid (although I've used it to look up and clarify things said in class when studying and generally had success), I've probably earned more general knowledge from Wikipedia than any single other thing in my life, excepting my parents. I find that a lot of the time if I'm looking at an article for whatever reason, be it a musical artist or historical event I find myself following links I see in the text when I am curious about something. Before I know it I've got a dozen full-length articles read on everything from beer pong to superstring theory (and somehow they're sometimes linked pretty ridiculously - the other day I started at the Philadelphia Eagles' article and ended at an article about kibbutzim in British Palestine in the 1920s.

It's worthless as far as school goes, but it's an absolute treasure trove to someone like me who loves to learn in general.

And I can't imagine how having a free planetary knowledge base (potentially) about literally EVERYTHING is anything but a huge advancement in human education. Now, an eight year-old boy in China with access to a computer can find out generally reliable information about Death Valley, or Penguins, or Norse culture - I wasn't alive then, but I'm betting twenty-five years ago this seemed like science-fiction.
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Old 12-14-2006, 02:53 AM   #21
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It is an excellent springboard website, plus it is an easy source to use when you just need some background info about something random
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:10 AM   #22
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everything goes around wiki these days , that's a bad direction no matter what i type into search i always go to wiki , i would prefer different web cites , internet should be different and not false
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:40 AM   #23
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Originally posted by DaveC
Now, an eight year-old boy in China with access to a computer can find out generally reliable information about Death Valley, or Penguins, or Norse culture - I wasn't alive then, but I'm betting twenty-five years ago this seemed like science-fiction.
For a Chinese it is actually still science fiction

But you are right, wikipedia is great for general information purposes. But if you have the time and need really reliable sources, I would use it to look something up, but after that go on reading sources I can rely on and I can use in my work.

Like I said about the IRA, back when I was working on it I read an wikipedia article about Ireland's history, then read another one, and both were totally different.
So I took a third source and I got the right information.

Had I only used one wikipedia article, I would've been lost at my oral exams.
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:38 PM   #24
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In general we could not turn in bibliographies with online sources unless they were peer-reviewed journal articles we were able to access online (i.e., they were actually published in a scholarly journal), or some papers/essays professors would post on their .edu websites for their respective universities.

I love to use wikipedia for basic information mainly because it has an entry for everything imaginable, but NO annoying ads or banners. I don't really use it as a source in FYM besides access more objective information like the definition of a word or term or some stat like "what is the most populated city in the world", etc.

I also frequently use wikipedia entries to find other sources. The citations can be very valuable.

Like DaveC said, the weakest point really is the strongest point. None of my professors would accept wikipedia entries as sources, but ALL of my computer science/web development professors praised it as being a revolutionary idea for disseminating information and possible the best/most accurate web encyclopedia even though it's open-source.
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:11 PM   #25
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My only issue with Wikepedia beng used here in FYM is when it's presented as the Final Word in the midst of some heated debate.

Or worse when someone presents "Final Word" research results without "full disclosure" that it came from Wikipedia.

For scholarly research, the internet in general should be used with extreme caution, and that includes wikipedia. Certainly wiki should not form the bedrock of your research.
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Old 12-15-2006, 05:59 AM   #26
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Wikipedia is a great source for information about things that have no cultural significance, such as dung beetles or meal worms.

I would NEVER use it as a source for anything remotely political or anything regarding conflicts.

Wikipedia works best with niche subjects, like an episode guide to Robot Chicken's TV seasons on [Adult Swim]. The entire appeal of the internet of the 00s is a little bit of content about a huge amount of things - it's the business model - sell a small amount of a huge variety of things rather than sell a huge amount of a limited number of things. Gurus call this the 'long tail' model.
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:26 AM   #27
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I don't think FYM is to be taken too seriously - certainly not as seriously as a school or work paper. So yes, Wikipedia is wholly acceptable for FYM, and their entries frequently have citations. If the author or reader need additional sources, they can google for it.
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Old 12-15-2006, 11:13 AM   #28
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I agree. People should remember that this is a forum, or discussion platform, but not a term paper.

But of course, if someone states something and another one disagrees only because he read something different on Wikipedia he shoudl rather double check with other sources before mentioning his disagreement.
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Old 12-15-2006, 01:43 PM   #29
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It's OK, but only with extreme caution.

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