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Wikipedia is more credible than most think

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Wikipedia is more credible than most think

In some studies, Wikipedia has been shown to be as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannia.

In some studies, Wikipedia has been shown to be as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannia.

In some studies, Wikipedia has been shown to be as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannia.

In some studies, Wikipedia has been shown to be as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannia.

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Many instructors discourage students from using Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, because users have the ability to edit and change information in the encyclopedia’s articles. It’s a question of credibility. However, a recently released study had surprising results.

Wikipedia was founded in 2001 by American Internet entrepreneur, Jimmy Wales. The non-profit site is maintained by almost 1,500 administrators and a few thousand editors who monitor and regulate the accuracy of content edited by users.

“I recommend Wikipedia to my students; however, I suggest they view its information critically and verify it with other sites because most of the time those who edit Wikipedia articles are not trustworthy authorities,” said Margy O’Kelly, Advanced Placement English teacher.

Wikipedia is often compared to the well-known Encyclopedia Brittanica in terms of information credibility and precision.

“The fact that anyone can edit Wikipedia causes me to doubt it and so I verify Wikipedia’s information with other sites,” said junior Kaela Fiesta.

Larry Press, a professor of Information Systems at California State University at Dominquez Hills, conducted a web-based survey in 2006 evaluating the “accuracy and completeness of Wikipedia articles.” Fifty individuals participated in the assessment and 76 percent either strongly agreed or agreed that the selected Wikipedia article was accurate. Eighteen of the participants compared the article to the same topic in Encyclopedia Brittanica and the level of accuracy reports for both were near equal. Eleven of the 18 thought Wikipedia was actually more complete than Brittanica.

“Wikipedia is the most convenient online source and most of the information on there is correct, but I wouldn’t rely on it for an important research paper just because my teachers recommend getting information from several places,” said junior Kate Desborough.

Journalists at Nature, a reputable web publishing blog, conducted a research project also comparing the accuracy of facts and details on both sites. Fifty pairs of articles were analyzed by experts in the topic and the results were similar. An average of four errors was found in an individual Wikipedia article while three errors were found in Encyclopedia Britannica. The conclusion was that Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica are near-equal in credibility.

“I use Wikipedia all the time; however, I don’t recommend it as the only source for researching a project. Students should also check other places for information too,” said junior Theresa Ellorin.

However, the Harvard guide to using sources, available for free at http://isites.harvard.edu/icb, suggests readers browse Wikipedia with caution. It recommends that students who are interested in the basics of a topic use Wikipedia but also verify the information with other credible sources. The guide’s section on Wikipedia states “The fact that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for academic research doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to use basic reference materials when you’re trying to familiarize yourself with a topic.”

“Wikipedia is fine if a student is looking for a quick meaning or definition, but if relying on it for a research paper, it is better to get information from a variety of sources. Although the online encyclopedia cites sources, individual users that edit its’ information may alter the article so it provides a biased opinion in favor of their own and this is not helpful in providing an unbiased research paper,” said Kelly Fase, High School Librarian.

Aina Katsikas, Editor, Reporter

Aina Katsikas is a senior and second-year member of the Ka Leo staff. She is an 11-year veteran of the Academy and is currently Student Body president....

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Wikipedia is more credible than most think