One of the main topics in class this week was Wikipedia. The question concerning wikipedia is how reliable the information is on the site. We read articles defending both sides: Shirky claiming it was great because people worked together to make the information correct as well as the grammar and other aspects. While Keen informed us that because it is not worked on by experts we cannot trust the information there. Keen argues that because a seven year old has as much authority as a scientist there is not a lot of validity in the information. Because we do not know who wrote the information, there is simply no way we can trust what we are reading. Shirky, however, argues that because so many people monitor wikipedia it is unlikely that any mistakes will last.
When I was in high school citing wikipedia was becoming a terrible thing to do. My teachers would often tell our class that we can not use wikipedia as a source. If we want to use wikipedia, scroll down to the bottom and use the sources the article cites because you might find something there. Basically, my school banned the use of wikipedia as a source. This is not uncommon; A New York Times article written in 2007 talks about how the history department banned citing wikipedia as a source when a significant number of students had misinformation for a quiz saying that the jesuits supported the shimabara rebellion. This information was wrong and when the teacher realized his students learned this information from wikipedia, he got it banned. This story is not uncommon with wikipedia, which is why it is not considered a creditable source in many schools throughout the country. I had an experience where I was looking up a type of fish and in the middle of the article someone had written poop. This shows that while there are people who inspect and look over wikipedia articles, they can not catch them all.
Wikipedia does, however, have some quality articles and it is true that people watch and inspect wikipedia for correctness and grammar. Wikipedia is a great place to start looking for basic information on a topic you do not know much about, but it is not a trusted source. I often look at wikipedia articles in my free time and I have learned a lot of good information, but I have also learned a lot of misinformation. So reading wikipedia is fine, especially for a basic knowledge, but it should not be considered a source encyclopedia to be used on research papers. The point is that both Shirky and Keen were correct: Wikipedia is a great website with lots of good information (this is what Shirky wrote) but it also is filled with misinformation (what Keen said) so it is important to remember this and take what you read on wikipedia with a grain of salt.