Is Wikipedia Good For You? By James Purdy

In my high school writing classes, Wikipedia was forbidden. Our teachers told us that the sources were not reliable, because anybody can go in and edit, add, or remove information. This is true; Wikipedia is open and can be changed by the public. But according to James Purdy, Wikipedia is almost as reliable as Britannica on some topics. So why do our teachers tell us to trust what we find in library books and encyclopedias, but not on Wikipedia?

I don’t really understand what the big deal about information changing on Wikipedia is, like about after Michael Jackson’s death. In my opinion, it’s a good thing that the information is being changed rapidly. It’s updated instantly. When Michael Jackson died, his Wikipedia page probably reflected that on the same day. Books about Michael Jackson will have to be edited and reprinted. To me, that’s not accurate.

I agree that Wikipedia shouldn’t be your final source, just your starting place. Using Wikipedia worked really well for your middle history projects, but you shouldn’t rely on it in college for the kind of writing you should be doing. But I use Wikipedia all the time, just to get general ideas and links to more reliable sources. Wikipedia really does help you a lot. When we researched in the library at my high school, Wikipedia was blocked from the computers. We couldn’t even pull it up. But that left us looking through other sources trying to figure out what exactly we were supposed to be looking for. Wikipedia is great for narrowing your ideas and beginning to brainstorm.

If you have to go through all the trouble of proving you know what you’re talking about when you edit a Wikipedia article, how do you end up with inaccurate information is what I want to know.  If you have to prove yourself and show a source to back up your accusations, then everything should be correct, in theory.

I don’t think Wikipedia is a bad thing, I just think that people use it incorrectly.

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