Is Wikipedia reliable and accurate as a source of information ?
I've been told by some professors (when i was in college recently) that Wikpedia is okay as a source. OThers preferred students either NOT use Wikipedia or make sure they use other sources to back up the Wikipedia information. The main problem with Wikipedia is that anybody can write the articles, and anybody can edit them. That being said, the articles i have read and used as resources have all had a bibliography at the end, listing the resources used to write the article. All I can say is, if the information seems accurate, use it as a resource, but make sure you back it up with other resources to be on the safe side.
I think it’s not a reliable source for a student because any one can write an article on Wikipedia.
Hi agusfanani, I think for the most part the info is true and correct... though it does bother me that anyone can write or edit, I usually have a good feeling about the info there. When something seems as though it may not be true, I will follow up with other sources and it usually always matches up. Hope this helps!
No. Wikipedia has some good information, but you have to be careful about bias, undocumented information and mistakes.
Not everyone who contributes to Wikipedia is professional and unbiased.
But also, Wikipedia is biased on some subjects, especially controversial ones like 9/11.
I am a member of Wikipedia and make corrections when I spot errors, but it could be a full-time job.
The best thing to do is use Wikipedia as a "starting place" for ideas on things to check. It's best to verify the facts you find in Wikipedia. Question the validity of everything it says. Assume there are mistakes and bias and you might more easily spot the problems. Then by double-checking the facts, you can confirm or deny your assumptions.
Most of the time Wikipedia is reliable and accurate. But, I have found on certain subjecs they are not up to date or have inaccurate information. Sometimes you have to check their 'facts' and I have found that they literally lift the writing from some websites on a subject and put it word for word in their wikipedia article. I never use them as the sole source for anything - I always check two or three sources on whatever I am writing.
No source is completely reliable. What is claimed to be a fact today turns out to be a misconception tomorrow. Wikipedia is changing constantly so it tends to be a little less reliable than some other sources. However, it is the single best source for quickly finding information on a subject as long as you verify important facts on other sources. Wikipedia list of references that they used is often a good place to start a search on a subject. Highschool teachers don't want their students to use Wikipedia because it makes the student's job too easy and they prefer to see their students struggle.
I am a professor, and my best guess is that joanwz's experience was based on what subjects her professors taught.
In general, the dryer and more factual the information in question is, the more likely it is to be accurate.
For example, I once read an article in which science professors found that information about the biography of a 19th century scientist was was as or more accurate on Wikipedia than on Britanica.
Basic pre-modern history is also likely to be accurate.
Wikipedia should never be your main source, but it can be useful in getting background on topics of this kind.
1. Carefully evaluate the number, authority, and date of the sources quoted by the article -- often an article will be roughly accurate, but not have up-to-date scholarship.
In Jewish Studies, for example, many articles quote The Jewish Encyclopedia, which is a great source available on-line, but hardly cutting edge: it is out-of-copy-right because it's about 100 years old!
2. Do not trust Wikipedia on controversial topics unless you are ALREADY quite knowledgable on the subject. For example, as a prof of religion, I can say that the article on the "Red Thread" a Jewish folk custom with kabbalistic roots, happens to be very good, but I know some other kabbalah topics on Wikipedia are silly or misinformed.
3. A related point: The more recent, trendy or politicized the topic, the less Wikipedia is to be trusted.
This is an excellent answer. I would add only one point - any encyclopedia should be used as background information on a topic, and not for information essential to your thesis. For that go to original (or scholarly secondary) sources.
Thank you very much for your in-depth answer. Those are useful tips and I'll use them in choosing a reference as a source of information.
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