Is Wikipedia a Reliable Source?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Bible-boy, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Bible-boy

    Bible-boy
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    I have seen several discussions where one poster has referenced something found on Wikipedia only to be countered with something like, “Wikipedia is not a reliable source because…” Therefore, I decided to do a bit of research to find out about the reliability of Wikipedia. Here is what I found.

    A consortium of humanists, artists, scientists, and engineers, of leading researchers and nonprofit research institutions, HASTAC ("Haystack") is committed to new forms of collaboration across communities and disciplines fostered by creative uses of technology. HASTAC had the following to say about Wikipedia:

    The New York Times did an article of Wikipedia. It pointed out a problem with the defamation of character experienced by one man. The article went on to discuss how Wikipedia works and the measures that are being taken to maintain accurate information. See the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/weekinreview/04seelye.html

    The BBC did an article entitled, Wikipedia Survives Research Test, in which it stated:
    Harry E. Schaffer of North Carolina State University states:
    The first thing to notice, with respect to the articles that paint Wikipedia in a negative light, is their dates. The BBC article which mentions the “scandal” with the man in the NY Times article was written 15 Dec. 2005. The NY Times article was written 4 Dec. 2005. Many improvements designed to increase the reliability of the on-line encyclopedia have been put into place since that time.

    As suggested by the HASTAC article the best and most current discussion regarding the reliability of Wikipedia is actually taking place on Wikipedia itself. According to that article:

    So it appears that the knee-jerk reaction to evidence provided from a Wikipedia source is not really a completely valid response. Regardless, I would suggest that one never rely on Wikipedia as the sole resource and basis for making a claim. Always do a little bit deeper digging and see if you find other sources that verify what is found on Wikipedia and provide those references as well.
     
    #1 Bible-boy, Apr 29, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2008
  2. Martin

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    ==Wikipedia, and its various related sites, are fine for just getting general information on a topic or person. However one must keep in mind that faulty information can, and does, get on those sites. I do not allow my students to use Wikipedia for any assigned paper or article review. That point is so important that it is even on my syllabus. I would never base anything on something I learned from Wikipedia (alone). Anything I find on Wikipedia I seek to verify through a trustworthy source.
     
  3. Bible-boy

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    Hey Martin,

    I was speaking specifically about using Wikipedia sources for info shared here on BB and even then I suggest digging a bit deeper to find other reliable sources. I agree with you regarding its use for accademic research.
     
  4. donnA

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    I don't remember the topic I googled once and of course wikipedia came up so I read it. And some of the information it gave was incorrect. I think I read anyone can upload an article there, or something like that anyway.
     
  5. Romten9

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    Anyone can edit a page on Wikipedia. There is an "edit" tab there, and if you click on it, there you go, YOU are the editor!

    Just think, how would you like it if anyone could write your biography? Your neighbors, your inlaws....your enemies! Do you think it would be accurate?
     
  6. TCGreek

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    Not all the time.
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    But the well written articles on Wik are all well annotated. Check the footnotes and then read the reference material for yourself. All you have to do is go back one step and you will know if the information is reliable or not.
     
  8. Palatka51

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    I have found it suspect on some information and close on others. It all depends upon the members bias and their credentials or agenda. Their identity and credibility is not made public. Thus the site should always be checked by alternate sources. I was recently checking on some European history regarding the cholera epidemics in the dark ages and it just doesn't add up to other sources I feel are correct. Unless you are the witness to all events ever to have occurred, all historical data is suspect and is susceptible to personal bias. "To the victor go the spoils of war" so too goes the recording of history.
     
    #8 Palatka51, Apr 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2008
  9. Bible-boy

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    Hey Mel,

    Did you do a google search on "The history of Cholera" and see what else came up? I did and found numerous sites from emedicine.com to university, and textbook sites that all posted the same information about how and when cholera arrived in western Europe. It was not during the dark ages it first happened in western Europe during the early 1800s. What are the other sources you are using, which you feel are correct, maybe they should be the ones that are considered suspect?
     
  10. standingfirminChrist

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    Lessee,

    Wikipedia says cholera originated between 1816 and 1826.

    National Geographic says it originated in 1831.

    Is wiki reliable? or National Geographic? I would say the latter since they research historical and geographical facts.

    wiki allows anyone who claims to have knowledge of something to put entries on its pages as long as the list sources. Funny thing, sources can be made up.
     
  11. Bible-boy

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    If you read a few more sites you'll see that the cholera epidemic that started the first wave of the disease to reach western Europe started in India between 1816 and 1817. This epidemic took years to speard and reached England by 1831/32 (I think).

    So what you stated above is factual (you just left out the details).
     
  12. Palatka51

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    Thanks BibleBoy,

    I really haven't had time to do more searching but what I have done does seem to point more to the middle to early 1800's. Confirming more of wikipedia's info. It's not easy sometimes to find out the info you trusted might just be wrong. In either case it must be just an excuse or urban legend that the Europeans were just addicted to their booze. So trying to explain alcohol's introduction into the Church's ordinance of Communion as European cultural bias to wine thus explaining it away as ignorance on their part was wrong. However it is very possible that it was a viciously deliberate act by Satan to cause confusion and division within the True Church of Christ. I must say that it is a brilliant strategy of the adversary as it still works to this day.

    Mel
     
  13. Bible-boy

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    The first paragraph of an article about the history of cholera from the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA agrees with what the Wikipedia article states:

    The introduction to an article on the history of cholera from the Pennisula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth (United Kingdom) agrees with what the Wikipedia article states:

    An on-line lecture at the University of Pittsburg website agrees with the Wikipedia article:
    An article on Cholera at onefamilyhistory.com agrees with the Wikipedia article:
    Sorry Mel I posted this before I saw your last post on the subject. Anyway its good info for those that are interested.
     
    #13 Bible-boy, Apr 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2008
  14. Bible-boy

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    Hey Mel,

    Please note my apology I added to the end of my last big post above.

    Bible-boy
     
  15. Gold Dragon

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    I wouldn't use Wikipedia as my sole source of evidence for a statement, especially for any type of formal research. But it is an excellent resource for further reading on a topic and finding more reliable source materials like scientific journals, reputable news sources, magazine articles, research databases, government or corporate documents and original source documents. Of course, "reliable" source documents can also contain error and that must always be kept in mind with any source.

    I find Wikipedia in general to be quite reliable but every article must be judged individually. Articles that are written with good NPOV (neutral point of view) practices and have references to important external source documents for key facts and information are generally very reliable.
     
  16. Bible-boy

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    Here here... (or is that hear hear?)! I fully agree.:thumbs:
     
  17. Palatka51

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    No problem, and again thanks. I had already noted it. :applause:
     
  18. ktn4eg

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    If one is interested in an alternative to Wikipedia, try Googling

    conservapedia.com

    While its contents are nowhere near as exhaustive as Wikipedia's, they do have quite a few entries on American political personalities and issues.

    Totally unbiased?? Well, probably not entirely so, but at least they do present some things in a different light than Wikipedia might.

    It's worth a try at least.
     
  19. NiteShift

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    I have read many complaints regarding over-zealous Wikipedia editors quashing viewpoints that they do not agree with. Here is a post by Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe. His entries on global warming were repeatedly deleted by a Wikipedia editor using the handle 'Tabletop'

    LINK


    But for non-controversial subjects, Wikipedia can be a great source.
     
  20. Sopranette

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    It's a good way to get a generel definition of a subject, and it does have some really obscure references, too. I can find whole articles on just one song sometimes.

    love,

    Sopranette
     

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