Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wikipedia - pedogical tool or illegitimate source of knowledge

Following only the article on Korean men using brokers to find wives (especially in Vietnam) as the NY Times’ most frequently e-mailed articles on Thursday, is this article about the History Department at Middlebury College banning Wikipedia as acceptable source.

Critics of Wikipedia, including Middlebury's History Department, cite it's lack of accuracy and oversight, the presentation of a biased perspective without the bias being stated (or even acknowledged), voluntary contributions and the lack of a systematic or reguarly employed mechanism to verify the information posted. Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, commented that Middlebury’s policy was in line with Wikipedia’s philosophy that “students shouldn’t be citing encyclopedias” in their research (but commented that an outright ban of Wikipedia would be ridiculous).

This article raised some interesting questions about responsibility:

On Wikipedia's part, without being attached in an institution, or without holding individual contributors accountable for their contributions, is there little incentive to properly vet information before posting?

For universities and students, does banning Wikipedia, does it compel students to plauguarize, by using Wikipedia without citing it?

For academia, as academia criticizes Wikipedia for not being a legitimate or accurate or reliable source, yet is it (or should/could it be) the responsibility of academia to interact with the knowledge presented in accessible sources such as Wikipedia? Does making a source interactive and accessible make it less credible?

Interestingly, the article pointed to professors, like Professor Larsen, who incorporate contributing to Wikipedia (and all the questions it raises about “legitimate” knowledge) into the class. (Unfortunately, Professor Larsen was not contacted for this article.) Additionally, Wikipedia encourages schools and universities to use Wikipedia in the classroom. Our Wikipedia assignment seems to acknowledge all of these points.

1 comment:

Sayaka said...

I just found an article on Ohmynews, on the edit wars over "Dokto" wiki entry.

Dokdo: One of Wikipedia's 'Lamest Edit Wars'