I think it’s gotta be really tough to be a teacher at any level right now.
Not only are kids probably distracted by their smartphones 24/7, but they also have the entire Internet to pull from when they’re writing papers and doing projects…
And you know Wikipedia is always their first stop on that journey…
So, has it been a failure of the modern education system to convince students that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source?
Are Wikipedia and other sources actually good for students?
Here’s how folks on AskReddit users responded to this question.
1. Here’s a hot take.
“Wikipedia is a practically unlimited source of free knowledge which is constantly being monitored by an army of nerds.
The fact that we do not have to pay for access is a miracle.
(Near enough) every article has a full and reliable list of references at the bottom.
I understand that students should be encouraged use the references at the bottom for true research but this is not taught. Students are simply told ‘Stay away from Wikipedia, anyone can change it, it’s completely unreliable’.”
2. Some problems…
“There are serious problems with the political parts of Wikipedia, e.g. the current wiki war China has on Taiwan.
Which is ironic because Wikipedia is often blocked in China…”
“I’ve learned in the last few years that a few random YouTube videos can teach me more than some of my CS professors ever did.
It’s amazing how random people on the internet are occasionally better than the actual people I’m supposed to learn from.”
4. References on top of references.
“I always used Wikipedia, but I use the Wikipedia’s reference on my references as well.
I had to remake a search because one of my teachers caught me, she said “everyone can write on Wikipedia, just search for mistakes on Wikipedia and you will see that people might put misinformation there for whatever reasons.””
5. Quick and easy.
“Part of learning should be how to find the right information quickly – categorizing Wikipedia as lazy is just plain stupid.
If you’re directly quoting Wikipedia there may be issues with accuracy. If you’re using the sources in Wikipedia your professor probably won’t even know. On top of that if you have access to actual academic journals for your course of study, using Wikipedia for sources may actually take MORE time to sort things out.
I dunno. I’m just grateful Wikipedia exists. It’s content and framework have done so much to educate people in the past 15/20 years, I don’t think it gets nearly enough credit.”
6. Not a primary source.
“Wikipedia is great to get a general understanding of a topic, and while it’s generally reliable, it should not be confused as a good primary source.
The whole point of the exercise is to understand what makes a good source.”
7. Depends on the topic.
“Depending on the topic, Wikipedia is an unreliable source. Even without considering the biased viewpoints of some of the moderators of the site, cytogeneses is a problem for wikipedia.
Years ago I knew someone who worked as a researcher in an educational book publisher. Her job was to identify all statements of facts in a chapter and find two independent sources for each statement of fact from another published work.
From my understanding they couldn’t use most of what would be a source on Wikipedia because you can’t trace it back to the original source.”
8. False info.
“I’m in online marketing and I can tell you for a fact that there are a lot of marketing managers/agencies who spread false information through Wikipedia that benefit their clients.
Wikipedia is often used to manipulate public opinion, so overall it is not a reliable source even though Wikipedia has some good information here and there.”
“The first problem with Wikipedia is that it’s low key political (not counting articles that don’t involve politics), or even high key in an article with high political issues.
The second problem is that minor articles (not popular, famous, or widely known to most people) can be wrong at times because there aren’t many people paying attention to it to update the information so the information can either be outdated, falsely written because there are no moderators of the article, or not containing enough information.
But otherwise, it’s a very reliable source of information”
“Another issue is that there’s nothing stopping major corporations from hiring people as full time Wikipedia moderators to steer narratives for either political or financial gain.”
11. Great place to start.
“What I tell my students: Wikipedia is not a reliable academic source. This is because the information can be changed by anyone and citations are optional.
A well written Wikipedia article is a great place to start. It will provide a lengthy list of primary, sources that are academically useful. Be aware of which paragraphs have citations and which do not.
If you just want to know something for personal use it’s not a bad reference, but still be aware of the way that the articles are curated.”
12. Teachers aren’t crazy about it.
“My teachers in school were always annoyed if they saw wikipedia pulled up, but it was a real asset to me when I was looking up stuff I was completely unfamiliar with.
Using info from the wikipedia article, I could find key people, concepts and search terms that I could plug in to find reputable sources discussing my subject matter, like a store map in a mall.”
13. Not good with specifics.
“Wikipedia is unreliable as soon as you delve into the specifics.
There are some topics that a novice with a limited pool of sources just can’t properly describe.
If you are very knowledgable about a certain specific topic you can see for yourself.”
What are your thoughts about this issue?
Talk to us in the comments and let us know what you think.
Thanks in advance!