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Herbie's picture

Wikipedia

I don't think that professors automatically discount Wikipedia as an information source because it's online as fanfiction is dismissed for being online.  Personally, I think fan fiction is dismissed primarily because of the overall terrible writing and potential copyright issues, but that's another argument for another day.
I think the beef with Wikipedia isn't even so much that anyone can update it.  In fact, I rather think that's fantastic! I got a good laugh when Pope Benedict was ordained because I managed to catch a glimpse of his Wikipedia page while the picture was actually of Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars films.  The problem is when the updates are factually incorrect and therefore disseminating incorrect information to people who will most likely never discover their ignorance.
If everyone were only updating the Wikipedia articles they knew things about and could back up with other data, Wikipedia would be great.  But that's unfortunately not the case.  I don't want for academics to restrict knowledge to the intellectual elite, but I'm also against people learning incorrect information.  For instance, I went on the tour at Independence Hall last weekend, where the guide from the National Park Service was telling factually incorrect material.  I'm just as against that kind of falsehood as I am against incorrect articles on Wikipedia.

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