Who Writes Wikipedia Articles and Are They Accurate?

3/22/2010 09:34:00 AM ·

Every semester, in every class, I'm required to write a research paper that includes six sources. None of these sources include any quotes or documentation from Wikipedia, as the professors don't find the pages to be truly accurate in their information.

A problem arises, however, when I do find pertinent information on a Wikipedia page and I am forbidden to use it for writing papers. From my standpoint, I understand that professors are concerned about correct source usage and spelling issues, however not all of the Wikipedia resource pages are inaccurate.

The problem is that, there are several different types of contributors lending their views to the Wikipedia site. Subsequently, many of those contributors do not have a strong understanding of the subject and they publish pure opinion, along with some atrocious grammatical errors.

Ram and Liu, professors from the University of Arizona, first identified six types of contributor roles for individual articles, along with casual contributors who made four or fewer edits to entries. "What we found was that there are many different people playing many different roles, and they don't always play the same role in every article," said Sudha Ram, management information systems professor at the University of Arizona, who conducted the analysis with graduate student Jun Liu.

I admit, I use Wikipedia quite often to research some unknown subjects, however I check and double check the sources to see if they are reliable. Also, I love using the pictures on Wikipedia Commons to display exotic locations, breathtaking photography, and several travel destinations. I just feel Wikipedia has received quite a bad wrap from casual contributors, which generally lack source references, and have simply soiled Wikipedia's reputation.

Read the entire Discovery News article about Wikipedia Contributors

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