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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, 10:30 AM   #1
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Wikipedia as an FYM source

All through university my profs have told me that Wikipedia is wholly invalid as a source for an academic paper, due to its open editorial policy.

Which now has me thinking, should Wikipedia be accepted as a legitimate source for intelligent debate in FYM? Background information and general statistics seem to be alright to use, but I mean if someone grabs an idea from a Wikipedia article, should we treat that idea the same as if it were backed up by a scholarly paper? Does the fact that this is a message board change anything?

What I'm/the poll is asking: should Wikipedia be accepted as an intellectual source in this forum?

I'm curious about peoples' opinions on this. I know I treat it as factual pretty often and use it as an easy research tool. Generally I find the information to be reasonably accurate and it's pretty in-depth on a lot of topics that would otherwise be extremely tough to research. I vote yes but with extreme care.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:54 AM   #2
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In my school and university the Internet generally is not considered as the best source to use.

We are asked to use as much literature as possible, and use the internet only for general information or use newssites or other valid sources (university pages, governmental pages etc.).
My oral exam in school was about the IRA, and during my research I visited both the English and the German wikipedia page.

To make it short: one was right, the other one blatantly wrong.

I also bought a book about this topic that showed which of both articles was wrong (but don't ask me now, I can't say which was wrong).

I would say, if you have a better source, use it.
And if you use wikipedia, try to double check the information you got from there, if you have the time and possibilty.
It would also help to take a look at the sources given at the bottom of the article.
Of course, you can't be sure that they have actually been used, but at least you see whether there was an author that has taken his time to find some books.
And in a rapidly growing thread you don't have the time to search for various sources too long.

And I think, if someone takes wikipedia as a source, and the article is wrong, there will be someone who knows better and point out the wrong information backed with a better source.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:54 AM   #3
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Yes, but to be used with extreme caution
---

I would use it and i would say this is someone's opnion.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:59 AM   #4
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To be used with extreme caution only.
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:22 AM   #5
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Re: Wikipedia as an FYM source

Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
All through university my profs have told me that Wikipedia is wholly invalid as a source for an academic paper, due to its open editorial policy.



What I'm/the poll is asking: should Wikipedia be accepted as an intellectual source in this forum?

No.
If it will let any buffoon in as it's editor than absolutely not.

dbs
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:30 AM   #6
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Re: Re: Wikipedia as an FYM source

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Originally posted by diamond


No.
If it will let any buffoon in as it's editor than absolutely not.

dbs
Its weak point is also its strong point - completely erroneous statements are usually picked up and fixed or deleted fairly quickly by someone who knows what they're talking about.

Multiple investigations have shown Wikipedia is nearly, if not just as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

And it's not like print encyclopediae are error-free, either.

ETA: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...ory/Technology
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:49 AM   #7
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i like the strength of my point.

thank u

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Old 12-13-2006, 11:52 AM   #8
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Fair enough. I agree with you to some extent that you ought to doublecheck facts from WP, but I don't think it should be dismissed outright as a useful reference tool.
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:57 AM   #9
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Old 12-13-2006, 12:37 PM   #10
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I only use Wikipedia as a jump-off point for further research. It tells me the general direction I should look.
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Old 12-13-2006, 12:43 PM   #11
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Yes, but to be used with extreme caution

That's my vote
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:34 PM   #12
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I personally feel that the rise of the iGeneration in the past decade has been, for the most part, of great detriment to society and I reckon the world would have been a better place if the internet (as we now know it) never existed.

But Wikipedia is one of the few things about the internet that I have developed high regard for. Encyclopedias never came close to serving the needs of all information seekers in the world.

Wikipedia has reliable information on almost everything. Not just the boring old topics about has been philosophers and types of trees. Wikipedia will give you masses of info on a particular song, on a current day foottballer or on a long-defunct but much enjoyed Tv show. All stuff you couldn't get from those piss weak encyclopedias.

So what if Wikipedia is open for anyone to edit. I'd rather read what real people have to say than shallow and pompous academics who are caged away in some office writing books that no one cares about. I wanna find out about information that is important to the people of today.

And furthermore, most encyclopedias don't even have a bibliography or footnoting, whereas wikipedia does. In this respect, whilst the encyclopedia only claims to present the truth, wikipedia actually cites from where a particular piece of info has been obtained. One reason why I trust wikipedia more than the work of some one-dimensional and sheltered scholar. In my history course, I was to told to ask questions about the reliability of a source. So I do so when I confront an encyclopedia.

The Encyclopedia is selective and elitst in what information it presents. Wikipedia is more democratic. If a topic is considered important by at least one person, than Wikipedia will cater for the compilation of relevant information.

Wikipedia continues to grow and much to the greater good of the world.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by intedomine
And furthermore, most encyclopedias don't even have a bibliography or footnoting, whereas wikipedia does.
You do realize that there are sources other than encyclopedias in the library, right?
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha


You do realize that there are sources other than encyclopedias in the library, right?
Yeah, but they're usually long and they waffle on. And a lot of these shcolarly articles don't have an index.

If I want to start doing research on something, I want more than a pathetically brief article in an encyclopedia and less than an academic's long-winded ego-trip....Wikipedia provides this alternative.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:43 PM   #15
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I know that Wikipedia is used very frequently as a resource by a couple of FYMers in here, and I have never understood why. Perhaps a lack of other avenues for finding things out, I'm not sure.

Either way, I detest Wikipedia as a source for anything. It has questionable accuracy. I think it is probably OK only as a general start to finding something out, or for a very scant view on any given thing, never to base an argument or point of view on - which it does get used for.
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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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Quote:
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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