Is Wikipedia a reliable source for information?

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posted on May, 26 2011 @ 07:20 PM
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Just wanted to mention that my college does not allow us to use Wikkipedia as a source and does not recognize it as credible. Although for things such as researching topics like classical literature as well as for getting a general idea about a specific subject I haven't found many errors or misinformation. Although like another member said you have to be cautious with any info on the web. I definately wouldn't rely on it for scientific topics. Great question




posted on May, 26 2011 @ 08:00 PM
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Originally posted by AnteBellum
reply to post by TheMessenger1
 


I ask because I find many people, even on here, quoting Wiki as a source.
I ask it because when ever I type in something it usually appears at the top of the google search lists.
I find it odd and nefarious that such a website has infiltrated our information data base.
Wiki to me can only do more harm now then good.


Let me give you an example. This morning I woke up and for some reason wanted to look up the comedian, character actor Paul Lynde and writer Harry Crews? Why? I dunno--just did. I always have admired both men. I also wanted to know where Pahrump, Nevada was since I'm going there is a few days.

I googled "Paul Lynde wiki" and "Harry Crews Wiki" and got immediate responses. I hadn't remembered that Lynde had died. His wiki bio told me when and where and a bit about his life, some of which I already knew, some I did not. I did the same thing for Harry Crews, found out he was alive, and was rerdirected by Wiki to his own web site. I did "Pahrump, nevada wiki" and found out where it was and how to get there from Las Vegas and also that I'll need SPF-50. The whole thing took five minutes start to finish.

I fail to see how this did me more harm than good. I would never use it as a source for global warming or anything political, but the judicious use of Wikipedia for 'quick facts' information can be very useful indeed.

My curiosity was satisfied in about five minutes.



posted on May, 26 2011 @ 10:38 PM
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I would like to weigh in on this.

I see Wikipedia as a phenomenal resource and one of those little gems the the internet has gotten correct. Wikipedia is not, nor is meant to be definitive or complete. When used as intended (as an at a glance general reference or a starting point for more in depth research) Wikipedia is a brilliant tool.

There have been numerous studies with the goal of quantifying wikipedia's accuracy, most notably a rather infamous Nature magazine study conducted a few years ago between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica showing Wikipedia to be as factually accurate as Britannica (something which did not sit well with the encyclopedic heavyweight).

The open source argument that anyone can edit Wikipedia is a double edged sword in that anyone can just as easily update and correct misinformation and thus far that seems to be as efficient of a fact check system as exists. Far superior to the old fashioned yearly updates once sold by the Encyclopedia publishers. Incorrect entries are nearly always quickly challenged with fact and corrected by documented source material. Its simple enough to prove one way or the other, try an erroneous Wikipedia edit and see how long it remains?

I often get a chuckle on the ATS forums when a perfectly accurate citation is dismissed offhand because it is sourced to Wikipedia, yet an anonymous blog or youtube video is accepted carte blanche. Wikipedia is certainly adequate for the depth and breadth of the average ATS topic, I have yet to see anyone who dismisses a Wikipedia link offhand successfully challenge the information presented much less cite a single current Wikipedia inaccuracy as an example ( instead preferring to buoy their position via a wall of smiles and a comment about sheeple ) . It seems to be the same mindset who insist everyone knows NASA lies, but cant really give a definitive example .

The classroom ban on using wikipedia as a source has nothing to do with quality of information, rather the policy is rooted in the need for for an individual to develop the tools to know how to properly research a given subject for oneself. When I was in school, we weren't allowed to use handheld calculators, not because the answer they provided were incorrect but because understanding the mechanics of a problem was as important as the answer itself. For proof look no farther than the bottom of a given Wikipedia page, while Wikipedia might not be a valid source for the purpose of academia, the references used to validate the entry most certainly are.

Where people get in trouble with Wikipedia is that there can be a substantial foundation of knowledge required to understand even a quick answer to given subject. An example would be an aircraft wing. I can spend an hour reading the wiki entry on aerofoil design and have a general idea what makes a wing produce lift but without having the necessary education in mathematics and physics I don't have the intellectual tools to apply the information to build my own airplane.

The greatest flaw I see in the Wikipedia system is that the quality of writing is sub par at times, entries can be incomplete and some of the more controversial subject matter can be prejudiced by individual contributors personal bias through means such as selective omission.

Like any other individual resource, vetting is important through cross reference and confirmation of source material. If something sounds odd or If you are in doubt about a specific point, it is a small matter to click the footnotes and follow a citation to its source to judge for yourself.

Bottom line, yes Wikipedia is reliable and anyone denigrating Wiki based on accuracy would be hard pressed to provide an original example.



posted on May, 26 2011 @ 10:52 PM
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Wikipedia is as accurate as encyclopedia britannica.

The fact that you can edit is a good thing.
Here is some more informed fact.

"Because Wikipedia is open to anonymous and collaborative editing, assessments of its reliability usually include examinations of how quickly false or misleading information is removed. An early study conducted by IBM researchers in 2003—two years following Wikipedia's establishment—found that "vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly — so quickly that most users will never see its. "

edit/ I dont find this real funny but have you guys ever type on Google
" I can read wikipedia " , then click, "i'm feeling lucky "
edit on 26-5-2011 by eagleeye2 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 27 2011 @ 03:25 AM
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reply to post by AnteBellum
 

Wiki can be unreliable. So can any source though.

Any good researcher or journalist will give you this advice. Always use multiple sources wherever possible. I wish more of you guys on ATS would stick to this rule.

The only exception should be if there is only one source. This is the case when you go to a primary source like a report of an experiment that has only been done once - in which case ONLY the original report should be treated as reliable unless you are reading something further written by the authors of the paper.



posted on May, 27 2011 @ 02:27 PM
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As with every and any source, you should never just accept it at face value. The nice thing about Wikipedia is it allows you to check out their sources. As others have noted, they are often very right. At times, they are wrong. Cross-reference anything you come across.Always.



posted on May, 27 2011 @ 07:10 PM
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reply to post by AnteBellum
 


Originally posted by AnteBellum
reply to post by TheMessenger1
 


I ask because I find many people, even on here, quoting Wiki as a source.
I ask it because when ever I type in something it usually appears at the top of the google search lists.
I find it odd and nefarious that such a website has infiltrated our information data base.
Wiki to me can only do more harm now then good.

Maybe start a new Thread asking ATS for a No WIKI Sources policy? Would be interesting.. or could be... How many members support no Wiki listed as a source on ATS?

In black and white they could vote... no wiki sources or yes wiki sources...

No Wiki Sources ( on ATS )

*******

addition: I just made a voting thread here ---> www.abovetopsecret.com...
based on this thread by AnteBellum.... AnteBellum I was going to ask you about the idea but you are offline at the moment... I virtually consider it half your idea for the most part.
edit on 2011/5/27 by Serafine because: addition
edit on 2011/5/27 by Serafine because: correction



posted on May, 27 2011 @ 11:43 PM
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Originally posted by AnteBellum
I don't really have a reason for feeling this way, it just somehow became more and more prevalent.


Sums it up, honestly. So, no.

Wikipedia is a collection of sourced claims these days. it is quite conveniant to use Wikipedia and its collection of source links, than to hunt those sources down one-by-one on your own.

In effect, Wikipedia probably keeps discussions around here far more grounded and honest than they would be without it, when anyone and their dad could (and I assure you, DID) make up their own wacky claims and then falsify the source being a book on their shelves that you, way on the other side of the internet, could not verify.

Could Wikipedia be used as a source of disinfo? Someone could try. But there's so many people working on it that the truth more or less always beats out the falsehoods. If you're worried about disinfo, ATS itself is light-years ahead of Wiki in spreading it around.



posted on May, 28 2011 @ 08:16 AM
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No, it is not, and since anyone can edit the bloody thing, how about we quit sitting here on our asses and do something about it. Click the second link in my sig.



posted on May, 29 2011 @ 08:49 AM
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I find wikipedia pretty useful and usually if I'm going to use it as a source I check the sources listed on the page of whatever I'm researching. As others have pointed out the quality control at wikipedia is pretty high and disinformation is taken care of pretty quickly.

I find it very odd that wikipedia is coming to the forefront when questioning what is a reliable source, when there's blogs linked as sources left and right and all too often as the single source. The real question might be, should there be a minimum source requirement for anything claiming to be fact?



posted on May, 29 2011 @ 08:59 AM
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reply to post by Kali74
 


You bring up a very pertinent point. I constantly see personal web sites, blogs, vlogs etc. as sources which sometimes themselves even leads to other blogs as sources lol
One thing I do like about wiki is that it does provide some info on the alternative. Cloud seeding for an example will give you the science and facts to it as well as links to sources...however you will also find links to alternative theories like chemtrails. I think wiki is a good starting point for research as it gives you a bit of all types of info, whether its mainstream or not or at least references for those sources.



posted on May, 29 2011 @ 09:29 AM
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When doing any kind of research there are two types of source; primary and secondary. Wikipedia cannot be considered a primary source.

Wiki is a secondary source as it uses other sources (book, papers, etc) as a basis for it's articles. As anyone can contribute to wiki you need to evaluate the primary sources that they have used for writing their Wiki entries in order to gain an unbiased view on a topic. That is why universities and academic institutions don't allow wikipedia to be quoted.

As an academic or researcher you are expected to make the effort to assess primary sources your self, not rely on someone else's interpretation of them.

Yes wikipedia can be useful but people are very lazy in accepting what is written on there without investigation.



posted on May, 29 2011 @ 10:11 AM
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No, Wikipedia itself is not a reliable source.

Think about it like this. If a newspaper writes an article about a scientific paper that has been published, the newspaper is not a valid source for the study, the scientific paper is the valid source for that study.

In the same way, an article on wikipedia is not a valid source for a topic, however, the websites/books/publications that the wiki article gets its information from (the citations and references) are valid sources.

Wikipedia is a fantastic tool for finding information, with the one disclaimer; that you follow the citations to get down to the actual sources.

This is what we do in academia.
edit on 29-5-2011 by renegadeS because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 4 2011 @ 05:32 AM
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Wiki is as reliable as the sources they site. They do site most of the important sources. Its a great place to start research into basic scientific theories and discoveries and in most cases, historic references.



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 05:56 PM
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It's funny how the first thing people comment on about Wikipedia is the fact that "anyone can edit it". Sure, you can edit articles but don't think someone [or a bot] isn't checking your information, or won't delete something you added. I know I have edited article only to go back and find out moments later that the info was now "gone". I don't know who removed it or why, but point being, just because you can edit an article doesn't mean that the information may not be correct.

Here's a test. Try editing an article, like douche bag. Try putting a picture of someone you don't like in that article and see if you're not warned immediately.



posted on Jul, 6 2011 @ 10:20 AM
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reply to post by AnteBellum
 


I've always treated Wikipedia as a gateway. It's a place to get topical terminology that needs to be looked at/scrutinized elsewhere. Just like an encyclopedia on a bookshelf, you are not going to get a complete, contextually rich picture of any given concept, item, region or person from a small paragraph.

As far as the manipulation of Wikipedia, we know how easy it is. Stephen Colbert makes this glaringly obvious with his satyric infusions of the topic on his program from time to time, where his audience is provoked to go and change something. I believe this was most recently done to show how the story of Paul Revere was changed to reflect the comments made by Sarah Palin.

This is the 1984 aspect of it, where Winston Smiths are working round the clock for any given motive to re-envision history.

**For a more positive comment: As a freelance translator, I will say I appreciate the different language tabs as they are more helpful than a dictionary for more complex terminology.



posted on Jul, 6 2011 @ 10:33 AM
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reply to post by BishopLord
 


With all due respect, that sort of juvenile tweaking of the subject matter is not that biggest issue.

I think the OP is referring more to the sites that deal with very polarizing issues, such as a war, a corporation and its activities, a (NOT "an" - sorry, major pet peev of mine.) historical or contemporary figure. Many times, it seems as though having a PR person means having a wiki-liaison as well, a person or group that is charged with whitewashing your image in all media, including wikipedia.





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