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Page history last edited by Mrs. Train 11 years, 6 months ago

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Wikipedia is an interesting site in that it can be a tremendous help to you or totally lead you astray.  The value and the potential lie in the fact that anyone can add to it, so the content can be the product of many minds all trying to provide the most accurate information. Unfortunately, the fact that anyone can add to it can also make its content unreliable.

Here are the pros and cons of using Wikipedia as a source:


  • Many minds contribute to Wikipedia.

  • The Wikipedia community polices itself. Any user can initiate a discussion about or correct inaccuracies and there is an active system of peer review.

  • Administrators oversee the vast community of users. Administrators must demonstrate a certain expertise in their area and be approved by Bureaucrats, which have a higher status.

  • Vandalism or deliberate false information is usually quickly reversed or corrected.

  • Administrators and the editing community must cite verifiable sources.

  • The community will flag weak writing.



  • Anyone can edit any page of Wikipedia, even if they aren’t expert in facts about the subject or have academic credentials.

  • Some people post anonymously so you don’t know if the material is authoritative.

  • Some people use Wikipedia as a tool for their own political or social agenda and their information is biased.

  • Posts in various sections are overseen by Administrators who have the power to impose their own point of view on a controversial subject.

  • There have been cases of false entries or vandalism that have gone extended periods of time. In some cases, the media has used this false material in their reports.


The bottom line...

Use Wikipedia as a starting point for research, however it should only be at most one of your references and you definitely need other sources. Teachers may request that you not use it at all.  The most useful part of any Wikipedia page will be the links found at the bottom. They will probably take you to more in-depth and possibly more accurate information.

Citing Wikipedia pages: If you use Wikipedia, it has its own built-in bibliography generator. On any page, on the left-hand side, look for Toolbox and Cite this Page. You will be given a choice of APA, MLA and other formats for including on your bibliography page.


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