Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Low-Down on Wikipedia

Wikipedia is probably one of my most accessed sites, if not the most accessed site (aside from my email account). For the past three years of college life, i've relied on Wikipedia to help me find more information on what I need. More than once, i've praised its example of free information, and the theory of user-generated/regulated content. But what if, its not all that? What if i'm being misled?

We live in a world of information, i've said it time and again. It's the real currency of our lives. In my life, which is being geared towards an almost fanatic pursuit of information, it is vitally important to be as sure as possible of the integrity of information. Intellectual honesty, now more than ever, is the primary value in my career. No student worth calling herself a student would willfully be haphazard about research and the sources she uses. Once its on paper, once its published, that's it, its out there and it's attached to the writer's name. A single lie, a single slip, and no one will believe your work. No university (at least the ones that matter) will work with you. In this business of science, truth, information and publication, I firmly adhere to the belief that integrity is the ONLY value. Make mistakes because your human, but at least be honest about them. An honest mistake is better than a dishonest success.

A lot of students, in all levels, use Wikipedia. The problem is when they use it as a source in their research. Wikipedia just isn't reliable enough. I got the idea from Ian Casocot, Palanca awardee and a teacher of research writing here in Silliman. He said that there have been instances where information taken from Wikipedia either was wrong or outdated. What solidifies this allegation in my mind is the human element that really is the core of Wikipedia. And people make mistakes, individually and collectively.

I guess the whole point i'm trying to build up to here is that Wikipedia isn't an end source. Its a jump-off for research, giving you ideas of what to look up. The most reliable internet sources remain those with a .edu attached to their URL. Wikipedia provides links to these, and that's where the endeavoring student needs to look.


No comments: