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Dark matter
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Is wikipedia a viable source?  

1 member has voted

  1. 1. Is wikipedia a viable source?

    • Yes
      17
    • No
      2
    • Depends
      19


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As part of a search for information, I think it's a viable source. I just don't use it as my *only* source of information. A bit of checking around reveals whether the entry you're interested in has credible info or not.

 

Just make sure your other sources aren't just repeating what Wikipedia said. :rolleyes:

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I'm no expert, I've always found wiki to be fairly sound on the topics I know about - it doesn't have everything though. - But, some bloke my wife was teaching/demonstrating to at uni is a major contributor apparently - and she thinks he's an idiot. I've also heard people claim they have found mistakes. Therefore I'd say it's very useful, but don't trust it with your life - check the info you get from there if it's that important.

Edited by DrP
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Depends on what you mean by "viable source." Wikipedia is extremely useful. It will give you a good overview on a huge range of topics, and is an excellent starting point. However, it has no value as a citable source, and it was never intended to. You shouldn't cite Wikipedia as a source any more than you should the answer someone gives you on this forum. Wikipedia is much more likely to be accurate because a given article likely been looked over, corrected, and tweaked by dozens of people, all of whom are asked to back up what they're saying with reliable sources. However, it's still ultimately just asking a group of largely unaccountable strangers.

 

That said, Wikipedia is a good source for sources. Every article on Wikipedia is supposed to be extensively referenced from reliable sources. These sources are listed at the bottom of each article. So if you have a fact which you want to cite, don't cite Wikipedia, go to what Wikipedia cites and cite that.

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At my school, they don't allow Wiki as a viable source. Do you think it's trustworthy?

 

You asked the wrong question in the poll. If you had asked if it was a viable academic source, or if it should be viewed as authoritative for quoting in papers, then the overwhelming response to your poll would have been negative.

 

It would be ironic if you were to quote these poll results back to your school as evidence that they're wrong, because it doesn't show that at all.

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Well, why wouldn't there be mistakes ?

 

Quite. You could say the same about anything really, but wiki seems to come under a lot of scrutiny as to how reliable it is. Probably because it's becoming well used by loads of people. I too voted depends.

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Seeing how well Wikipedia has done in the comparisons with other encyclopedias I'd say it's viable in that sense. For academic research I prefer to think of Wikipedia articles as mostly excellent summaries. The viable sources are often found as reference links at the bottom of the page. :)

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You asked the wrong question in the poll. If you had asked if it was a viable academic source, or if it should be viewed as authoritative for quoting in papers, then the overwhelming response to your poll would have been negative.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by that; but, I guess I should have been more specific. What I meant to say was; does Wikipedia give the correct information most of the time? Or, would you be willing to use Wiki as one of your sources in a paper?

Edited by Dark matter
Grammatical error
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What I meant to say was; does Wikipedia give the correct information most of the time?

Yes.

 

Or, would you be willing to use Wiki as one of your sources in a paper?

No. Encyclopedias (and dictionaries) should practically never be used as references in papers, and this applies well beyond just a discussion about wiki.

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No. Encyclopedias (and dictionaries) should practically never be used as references in papers, and this applies well beyond just a discussion about wiki.
I think there are occasions when it's appropriate, for instance when you need basic numerical information that doesn't really change the point of what you're talking about.
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I think it depends. If you want to have a notion about what you are searching and then make a deep search about it, it is OK. But if you want to make your work based on WIKIPEDIA, it is bad... Everything is RELATIVE.

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I have not yet found a lot of mistakes on wikipedia. I use it generally for physics and chemistry, as a backup. If it's not important, I just use wikipedia. If it is important, I'll do a double check.

 

It's also great if you need additional keywords to continue a search...

 

Finally I also find it very useful for translations: type the Dutch word, get wiki's page, then click English :D

 

No. Encyclopedias (and dictionaries) should practically never be used as references in papers, and this applies well beyond just a discussion about wiki.

 

I agree... but I feel like starting a discussion. Peer reviewed articles in scientific papers are generally accepted as reference. However, because these almost always treat new things, they may contain mistakes. Wikipedia pages are reviewed (anonymously) lots of times, and treat common things. I think that on average wikipedia contains less mistakes than scientific papers. Why not use wikipedia as a reference in science?

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I agree... but I feel like starting a discussion. Peer reviewed articles in scientific papers are generally accepted as reference. However, because these almost always treat new things, they may contain mistakes. Wikipedia pages are reviewed (anonymously) lots of times, and treat common things. I think that on average wikipedia contains less mistakes than scientific papers. Why not use wikipedia as a reference in science?

 

People writing articles on Wiki may not be as qualified, and, even if they are you can't fully know because you don't know who the actual person is that's writing the article.

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I agree... but I feel like starting a discussion. Peer reviewed articles in scientific papers are generally accepted as reference. However, because these almost always treat new things, they may contain mistakes. Wikipedia pages are reviewed (anonymously) lots of times, and treat common things. I think that on average wikipedia contains less mistakes than scientific papers. Why not use wikipedia as a reference in science?

 

That's what "review" papers are for... they're very useful things ;)

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Wikipedia is a great place to start your investigations. Use it to fill in the gaps needed to hunt down well established reliable sources.

 

If I am honest, I use Wikipedia quite a lot to find definitions. The answer they present is usually enough to get me started and find what I am really looking for.

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What I meant to say was; does Wikipedia give the correct information most of the time?

 

Given the amount of articles I am somewhat inclined to say yes. However, in less than mainstream topics it is often touch and go. I was mostly forced to check biology related articles (mostly to check whether students copy pasted something) and I found a number of inaccuracies in the more basic articles, and really outright wrong assumptions in the more specialized ones. I think wikipedia is better for topics that can be easily fact-checked, like in mathematics, physics or chemistry (probably even in that order).

 

Or, would you be willing to use Wiki as one of your sources in a paper?

Never ever. Not even in a student's report, much less in anything as in a bachelor's thesis or upwards.

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This is how I go about it:

 

I go to wikipedia, read the article, assume it's true, check the references stated by the author of the article and see if they seem viable. Often I also seek out another source of information to see if it corroborates the story I read on wikipedia.

 

In general I find that wikipedia is an excellent source for scientific information PROVIDED it isn't a field which is big in politics recently. For instance, I would trust it if i was looking up the atomic radius of argon, but i would be much more skeptical if i was looking up the estimated quantity of crude oil in alaskan oil-fields.

 

What I think teachers often say is "never use wikipedia as a reference"

 

In many cases what they mean is "never cite wikipedia as your reference... instead, cite the reference cited in the article you read in the first place"

 

what it is often mis-read as (by teachers as well as pupils) is "wikipedia is bad and full of lies, do not use it!" which of course sparks a lot of debate

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