Posted by: emilyhowardprincipato | November 18, 2009

Response #8 – Can we trust Wikipedia?

Obviously there is some controversy and skepticism when you give “common folk” full control of vetting information that other people are consuming.  While there are tons of sources of how to add content the “white-hat” way and who adds that content, there is still little control of who actually edits/adds content on Wikipedia.

Personally, I think Jimbo Wales had a great idea when he launched this tool for people to use.  It makes it easy to find mundane facts about celebrities , find stats about what town you were born in or learning about what happened on todays date in history.  But, as far as taking the information to the grave, I would be hesitant.  It shouldn’t be used as a reference for work or school because the content is hit or miss.  There have been too many cases where Wikipedia has been wrong for me to trust the content. 

On a positive/side note, Wikipedia has many good sources to get content and have started many other projects.  You can find any species in the Wikispecies, get news at Wikinews or even get textbooks and manuals at Wikibooks.

Should we trust Wikipedia or an expert-led encyclopedia more?  Right now, I think an expert-led encyclopedia would be a better option.  Not because it has as much content, but because it is more reliable.

How could Wikipedia be better set-up to better provide accuracy?  Wikipedia should set up a team of people who go through every update and before approving it, make sure it is correct.  I know this sounds like a daunting task, however it is the only way that people are going to trust the material that is stored in the system.  There is no other way to make sure the content is completely credible.

Should it be open to everyone or just verified “experts”?  I think Wikipedia should still be open to everyone because that is what is so unique about it and how the system gets so much content.  As long as the powers that be monitor all of the posts to make sure they are true – Wikipedia would be perfect!

Overall, Wikipedia in theory is great, but there needs to be a better process to vet the information so it can be considered a credible source.

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