Wikipedia

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A Wikipedia is an information source for many students (Coughlan, 2011), used for research on almost every subject. Some people call it “frequently unreliable” while others name it to be the epitome of the information age (Andrews 2007) yet the truth is that, whether students and teachers, like to admit it or not, Wikipedia is a vast source of knowledge, with readability second to none (Coughlan, 2011). However because of its wide usage and the fact that it is a wiki, it can be edited by anyone, schools are often reluctant to accept it as a valid source of information for essays or school work and some take it to the extreme; “14% of schools block Wikipedia” (Fleming 2011). The biggest problems with validating said source is the fact that its reliability is questioned, as there is no one single entity responsible for and accountable for the information, as opposed to a peer-reviewed journal. This “lack of authority”, according to a group of academics, and “different agendas” allow the general public to alter information (Waldman2004) that validates itself through the information loop. This information loop consist of the following “A Wikipedia article contains information A. A journalist then uses this unverified information in an article. A critical reader then adds a "{{Citation needed}}" on the original information after which someone adds the article as a source. (Wikipedia, date unknown) Another problem that Wikipedia faces is the fact that if mistakes are not caught on the day they were made, they are likely to go unnoticed. On the other hand, Wikipedia differentiates itself from other encyclopaedias in that most articles are longer and contain more information both technically and historically speaking. (Wetzel 2008) Furthermore, most articles contain links or citation that link to articles or proof of almost every statement made. The problem that arises is then, that blocking Wikipedia denies students from valid, thorough information yet shields them from its inherent unreliability (Fleming, 2011) B Fig1. Standard Wikipedia article As fig.1 shows, pages in Wikipedia include a search bar, links to some useful links (such as random articles, current events and donate). To the right, depending on the article, it will show links to other information relating to the current article, this appears if the article is part of a bigger series such as the I.B or Nazism. Articles will also include the “edit this page” button and many footnotes that provide evidence or citation for phrases or quotes.

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