Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wikipedia vs. Academia: An Information Battle

Professor Levinson's chapter on Wikipedia taught me a lot I did not know about a site I use basically on a daily basis. I was not aware of the "deletists" and "mergists" roles people take on and the theory about heritage playing no role in determining who gets an entry.

I think it is interesting how Wikipedia is both glorified (seen as an amazingly democratic information resource) and villainized (seen as untrustworthy source never to be used for serious purposes). I actually went to a lecture during my freshman year at Fordham sponsored by the English department that instructed students never to use Wikipedia and how it was basically ruining the academic community.

I personally think that the site is great for quick background information (I had to write a short piece on investment liquidity last week at my internship- something I knew nothing about- and Wikipedia saved me). Other information resources online are not as organized and accessible, and other online encyclopedias charge for use. For longer research papers, I actually find myself beginning my research on Wikipedia. I obviously NEVER quote Wikipedia directly- instead I read the background it provides and then I refer to the primary source links at the bottom. These sources are often very reputable, contain great information and would not be easily located through a general Google search. I think academia's hesitance to embrace Wikipedia is understandable, but I think instead of banning it completely, they should teach students how to use it as a channel that leads to other information, information that often actually comes directly from their academic community.


  1. Wikipedia, like you state in your entry should be used as a good way to start and gain a basic understanding of something. You can't take all if the information at face value, however you can often find good information to help you find a better understanding of the topic and therefore where you can look for more information.

  2. I also agree that it's a good starting point, and I suspect that it is gaining acceptance among professors rapidly, maybe much more so than we like to acknowledge.

  3. Wikipedia can be a very useful tool as long as students are willing to check the information on legitimate sites as Amanda stated.