What’s So Good About Wikipedia? Laura Wilson Reference Librarian Framingham State College July 14, 2010
Wikipedia : The Basics Free online encyclopedia! No login required, anyone can access the information provided Coverage range Includes 3,349,000+ English language articles (as of July 13, 2010) Currency Articles can be edited immediately, providing the most recent information available
Wikipedia : The Basics Simple, user-friendly layout Easy to navigate Available in many languages Links to additional info, source citations, suggestions for further reading Each article has a discussion page and history You can view when changes were made to the page, and any discussion about those changes
Wikipedia : The Basics Most text and many images are under Creative Commons & GNU Free Documentation License Can freely distribute and reproduce content Many contributors from all over the world Nearly 12,700,000 registered users (as of 7/13/2010) Anyone can contribute and edit reduces cultural bias Hosted by Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization
Wikipedia’s Bad Reputation Why does Wikipedia have a bad reputation?
Wikipedia’s Bad Reputation Anyone can write / edit an article Not “scholarly” Vandalism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Bad_Jokes_and_Other_Deleted_Nonsense http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Most_vandalized_pages
Wikipedia Has Standards Information provided must cite verifiable, published sources Particularly if someone disputes presented information If disputed information is not cited, it will be deleted http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Template_messages/Disputes Articles must not present original research All articles must be written from a neutral point of view
Wikipedia Has Standards Over 1,500 administrators (as of 7/13/2010) Mediators in content disputes Delete articles Block vandals accounts / IP addresses Protect vandalized articles from further edits Wikipedia explicitly states that not all content is valid³ Advises to be “wary of one single source” and to “check references”
Wikipedia and Educators Professors have created assignments for students based on Wikipedia Edit existing articles Create new articles Discuss strengths and weaknesses of existing articles on a topic relative to the course Cover course content and information literacy Contribute / edit content themselves Add scholarly information of experts
Wikipedia and Librarians Use Wikipedia in library instruction sessions to teach information literacy Have students evaluate good and bad aspects of particular articles Contribute / edit information More scholarly environment Add relevant external links to library homepage / collections Meet the users where they are ª
Sister Projects of Wikipedia Hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation Wikiversity: Free learning materials & activities for all levels (pre-school – university, professional development) Wikimedia Commons: freely usable multimedia files Wikiquote: “free quote compendium” Wikitionary: free content, multilingual dictionary Wikibooks: open content textbooks / books Wikinews: free news source Wikispecies: free species directory
“We know from history that prohibition is not a viable means to control consumption of “bad” things. This is especially the case for Wikipedia if information professionals are sneakily using it themselves. Like the 1930s war on alcohol, a ban on Wikipedia would mean far more losses than gains.” – William Badke, Trinity Western University¹
Works Cited ²Badke, William. (2008). What to Do with Wikipedia. Infolitland, 32:2. Retrieved from: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/ ª Pressley, Lauren and McCallum, Carolyn J. (2008). Putting the library in Wikipedia. Online 32:5. Retrieved from: www.infotoday.com/online/sep08/Pressley_McCallum.shtml ¹http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability ³ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia
Suggested Reading Broughton, John. (2008). Wikipedia: The missing manual. Beijing; Cambridge: O’Reilly. Lally, Ann M. and Dunford, Carolyn E. (2007). Using Wikipedia to extend digital collections. D-Lib Magazine 13:5/6. Pollard, Elizabeth Ann. (2008). Raising the stakes: Writing about witchcraft on Wikipedia. History Teacher 42:1.