After this week’s readings and initial blog posts, many interesting ideas have been shared about Wikipedia and its place in the world of academia. Despite not being appreciated by the majority of professors and educational institutes, it seems the vast majority of students rely on Wikipedia in many phases of their lives, for initial information purposes at the very least. Although it is often criticized for its validity and accuracy, our readings this week showed that in comparison to the almighty Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia certainly holds its own, and deserves more credit than it has received.
It’s interesting to think of the possibilities for the future of a site like Wikipedia: being so broad and comprehensive, widely available and free for public consumption.
Naturally, one wonders if Wikipedia could ever be regarded as a legitimate academic resource. And what would have to happen for it to become a reputable source?
Would there need to be increased monitoring of the site, and/or enhanced moderating to ensure only the most accurate information is posted?
Would the list of permitted contributors need to be restricted to a selected group of “experts”? Maybe these experts would have to collaborate and approve each other’s postings before publication, giving Wikipedia a claim as more of a “peer-reviewed” source?
Or maybe Wikipedia will be unable to shake its unsavory reputation, and will always be regarded as the black sheep of the encyclopedia family?
In response to my earlier blog post, Dave over at Paideia Posits raised a valid point in comparison of Encyclopedia Britannica:
“I wonder how accurate Britannica was when it was in its early years of publication? How many times has Britannica had to print updates and full revisions based on errors they found in their own articles?”
This is an interesting point that often gets overlooked. The Encyclopedia Britannica has cemented its reputation as a reliable source, but was this always the case? There was once a time when the Encyclopedia was unproven and likely had many doubters. Even today, with all the clout and prestige it holds, it was found to be only slightly more accurate than Wikipedia. Wikipedia at its current stage is likely more reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica ever was at its similar stage of infancy. Surely any emerging information source goes through a transitional period that may include several hiccups while ironing out the most effective strategy to deliver information.
Whatever your opinion of Wikipedia is, there’s no denying that it will continue to hold a place in our society in the future. There’s no telling what a site with such great potential could evolve into and become.