How much do you trust wikipedia?

  • Thread starter ehrenfest
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Some of my high school teachers and college professors have warned me to "Never use Wikipedia" because it is dangerously inaccurate. I think this view just reflects an inability of older generations to adapt to this new form of information sharing. In fact, I have come to trust Wikipedia more than I trust my professors. By that I mean that I assign more truth value to things I read on Wikipedia than to things my professors tell me. Its not that my professors are just full or lies or something, but that they do not have millions of people reviewing their brains everyday to correct flawed logic, add the results of recent studies, correct misremembered facts, etc. I think the only source I trust more than Wikipedia is academic journals themselves.

The teachers and professors who bad-mouthed Wikipedia claimed that "any old fool" could edit it but totally overlooked the fact that on the other hand, any member of the educated elite could edit it. That is the major benefit over the conventional academic sources: they are just the work of a select group of people whose knowledge may be limited. After a conventional academic source is published, you have to contact the author to explain the error and then wait for the next edition to come out.

So, here are few questions I thought might be interesting to discuss:
1) When is Wikipedia appropriate as a source in academic writing? Some of my teachers and professors say they would give an immediate F to any paper that cited Wikipedia. Do you think that is a good policy at all levels of education?
2) How much truth value do you give to the things you read on Wikipedia?
3) Do you think there is a large generational gap in the use of Wikipedia?
 
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Moonbear
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