General Question

ThePlate's avatar

In general, do you trust Wikipedia?

Asked by ThePlate (44points) July 30th, 2007 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

bpeoples's avatar

Wikipedia is >generally< correct, but I wouldn't trust it as a source.

I trust it to have enough information to spring off research, and for general detailed background info, but not anything I would cite authoritatively.

mvgolden's avatar

I trust Wikipedia as much as any encyclopia. They are a great place to start. I have found it is actually a fairly complete scientific source for most common topics. But I agree with bpeoples, I would never site it in a peer reviewed format

gooch's avatar

I trust Wikipedia it is an excellent quick refrence. Like all refrences always use at least 2.

mirza's avatar

i think i trust wikipedia more than i trust encyclopedia brittanica because wikipedia is updated on a regular basis. But when writing papers, i have to turn to other "valid sources"

hearkat's avatar

I use it as a starting point, but I do trust it more because it is not written/published/produced by a single entity, so that allows for greater accuracy with less editorial spin. It does depend on the topic, of course.

zina's avatar

i feel the same as others here (generally trust it, use with other sources, etc)

segdeha's avatar

It's a great way of getting a quick overview of a topic, but I always have my radar on, sniffing for bias when I read it. Most of the articles I've seen are quite factual, but some are pretty raw. The good thing is that those are usually flagged as such.

travistotz's avatar

Agreed in general. I trust Wikipedia to a point, that point goes fairly far, but since all or most of the content is user created you have to be aware of what you are reading and understand that some things may not be completely factual. Overall Wikipedia rocks as a quick online reference over any other online encyclopedia. It's fast, it's free!

bob's avatar

Wikipedia is a great resource for quick, general information. I use it quite a bit and recommend it to my students as a background source--wikipedia is great for a broad overview of a subject, but it shouldn't be used for citations.

I trust books & articles and experts & scholars more than wikipedia. For one thing, the writing on wikipedia is painfully bad. But you can't beat wikipedia for a quick reference, and its pop-culture coprehensiveness is unparalleled.

xaxen's avatar

What is more accurate the world collective? If the collective is wrong...well at least you'd fit in!

Sandeep's avatar

wikipedia says its accurate so of course I trust it

soethe6's avatar

As a professional academic working in the humanities, I have been deeply disgusted with the reception that Wikipedia has received in the universities. Unlike the sciences, it's impossible to comparatively quantify the rates of error in philosophy or literature articles in Wikipedia versus EB or some other "authoritative" print source. So the knee-jerk reaction has been to informally ban all references to Wikipedia in scholarly work within these and similar fields. If only as a pulse of popular forms of knowledge, I think that Wikipedia earns its salt, and its exclusion from academic discourse has been a shame.

People often forget that within the humanities, our "exclusive ivory tower" makes much ado about being inclusive, diverse, even populist. I'm behind all of that, but it highlights some serious contradictions when an inspiringly populist organization like Wikipedia gets blacklisted, even though studies have been done showing its competitive truthiness.

I say let Wikipedia into the academic mainstream for Pete's sake! We all clearly use it for quick reference anyway, and apparently it's not all *that* erroneous. (Besides: life is so boring when all you've got is hard facts.) Actually, I myself have intentionally inserted minor errors into minor entries on Wikipedia, planning to monitor them for a maximum of 24 hours before correcting them. All were fixed in under 6 hours. Can your print encyclopedia do that? And this point goes straight to the Nature study: the Wikipedia errors that were found as compared to the EB errors are most likely no longer there in Wikipedia, since all articles are constantly being refined. Sure, Wikipedia's newer articles are still error-prone...but at least Wikipedia is growing, while your very-expensive EB is still on the shelf with the same old errors and the same limited number of entries.

I simply think that people are afraid of the fact that Wikipedia is free. Not to mention the frightening fact that "anyone" can edit it. Well, sure, anyone can edit it, erroneously or not (again, generally not). And in a crowded public square, "anyone" can do anything he wants, in theory. But by some miracle, people generally remain sane, peaceful, and productive. So why shouldn't we trust a public knowledge base to do the same?

travistotz's avatar

Wow! soethe6, I truly believe that is the best written, most inspiring, killer post I've ever seen on Fluther! Completely agree, let's hope that more people in the professional academic world begin to see this side of the Wikipedia world. Wow, I can't get over how great your post was, seriously!

Carol's avatar

Ok. This is gonna seem like an "anti-wik" response although I turn to Wik frequently. As a clinical psychologist, I find the the psych section of Wik most frustrating due to its inaccuracies and distortions. Perhaps because human behavior is experienced by every human, each human considers itself to be an expert in human behavior.

It may be that in contrast to other specialties, there is a disproportionate number of untrained "human behaviorists" who consider themselves to be astute enough to pass along incorrect and uninformed information presented as fact on Wik. Because it is my field of expertise, I am acutely aware of the poop passed on as fact, the theorists who have been confused or merged and half-assed statements made that do not represent my field whatsoever.

You may be thinking "So why doesn't she change it if she's such an expert?" The answer my friends, is that I began doing so and many weeks later, I realized I needed three more lifetimes to get the job done.

I realize that the social sciences is not the humanities so we're talking apples & chairs. I do not however, think the public is, for the most part, aware of these differences. Wik is great if recognized as what it is, namely, a public knowledge base contributed by god knows who.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther