Ahhhhh, I’ve gotten ultra-behind on my blog posts due to a rather large art project I had to do over the course of the past week, so right now I’m going to make an effort to at least catch up. Expect regular updates again from me after tonight, though!
In any case, concerning the discussion of Wikipedia and other such sites on Wednesday the 24th, well… I was going to post a link to that video “Professor Wikipedia,” but it looks like the facilitators for that day kind of beat me to the punch. I suppose that’s my fault for being tardy with this post, though…
So I guess instead I’ll just post how I personally use Wikipedia, and also invite others to discuss their uses for Wikipedia. I use Wikipedia for a variety of reasons; first off, it’s a great spring board when looking for sources and scholarly writing. If you’re researching a topic that you happen to know has a fair amount of scholarly writing on it already (i.e. topics like the Civil War, Napoleon, etc.), you can bet you’ll probably find at least a few of them in the “Works Cited” section of the topic’s page. Naturally, it takes a bit of discretion on your own part to sift through the good essays/articles and the bad ones, but for the most part, it’s a good place to start. And to think — your teacher never needs to know that you were using Wikipedia for your term paper (gasp!).
It also functions well as a spring board in the sense that it can relay to you general facts on the subject to get you started — things like names, dates, locations, quotes, etc. are all fairly accessible and trust-worthy, but it’s still good to verify the information you find with another source. Nevertheless, Wikipedia can help you find that source by giving you a term or a keyword to search for.
Also, my second, and probably more primary use for Wikipedia (for better or for worse), is music. Wikipedia is chocked full of categories, lists, and other conglomerations of information based on topic or genre. Like a band, but want to find others like it? Wikipedia can help you do that! Just figure out how it categorizes the band you like, and chances are it will have a list of other bands that fall under that category (and if they have a category for Viking metal, I’m pretty sure they have a category for, like, anything else).
It’s also great for trivia concerning bands that you may not even be able to find on the band’s website, but unfortunately that information is less likely to be as reliable seeing as there’s no concrete way to verify it.
Nonetheless, I think Wikipedia is an amazing resource. I feel it deserves a lot more recognition, though, especially in the scholarly realm, because honestly, I don’t think it will ever meet up with the scholarly standards if the scholars simply refuse to accept it because of its anonymity, lack of renowned authors, etc. Wikipedia can’t help these factors — in fact, it doesn’t want to help these factors. Opposing these sorts of standards is what Wikipedia stands for, and I’d bet money that even if Wikipedia met the scholarly standards, people wouldn’t accept it in the same way they do Encyclopedia Britannica.
It has nothing to do with the information or the reliability, though — it’s all about a social stigma that is going to take a very long time to change.