Tuesday, March 13, 2007

005.72 Wikipedia: What You Might Need to Know

Deja vu.

Only the format has changed. I keep running into anti-Wikipedia talk and references...JUST like I used to run into with World Book (the print version). Teachers want more scholarly materials, or, unfortunately, have not learned the value of online resources and lump all of them as undesirable.

No, I do not defend Wikipedia (or for that matter World Book (tpv)) for major research papers and projects. I DO defend it as a wonderful STARTING point for background information and quick reference look-ups!

It is an exciting reference tool, not so much for what is in it as how it got there. Are there problems? Of course there are...as with ANY type of reference material. Timeliness and point of view clouded the effectiveness of the print versions. The online versions have conquered the timeliness issue, still suffer point of view issues, and now seem to have taken on the extra burden of legitimacy.

I do not know why that should be an exclusive problem of online reference sources such as Wikipedia. There have certainly been enough examples of print items in recent years that have suffered at the hands of less-than-truthful authors.

So the resource itself has provided a piece for the "uninformed" and/or "skeptical" users out there to calm their "fears."
Ten things about Wikipedia
1. We're not for sale.
2. Our work belongs to everyone.
3. We speak Banyumasan… and about 250 other languages...
4. You cannot actually change anything in Wikipedia. (Like an elephant, it never forgets because of its internal memory.)
5. We care deeply about the quality of our work.
6. We don't want you to trust us...[but do] not condemn Wikipedia, but to use it with an informed understanding of what it represents.
7. We're not alone.
8. We are only collectors.
9. We're not a dictatorship.
10. We're in it for the long haul.

Take a look. It is not a scary monster waiting to drop you into some Internet abyss. Your judgement of what is good, and what is not, will not be compromised. You will still be able to tell the difference. I promise. You might like what you see...or at the very least, have a pleasurable close encounter with information on the Web.

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