Hey Guys! This week we are discussing the validity of Wikipedia and its vast number of articles. The readings for this module are all focused around construction of Wikipedia articles and whether or not I find Wikipedia a credible source of information. The articles also got me to think about what I actually use Wikipedia for, and if the idea of “crowd sourced” knowledge is beneficial or hazardous to me, depending on the question that I’m seeking.
To start offI just wanted to chat about how I view Wikipedia. I think that it is a great resource to use if you need quick answer to a random fact. For example if my friends and I are arguing about a date of an event, author of a book, etc, we will often use Wikipedia to solve the argument. It just so happens to have amazing search engine optimization and shows up as one of the first links to choose from using a Google search. In his article Jenson (2012) agrees stating, “Wikipedia has become the world’s dominant education resource, with over four million articles in the English language that reaches hundreds of millions of readers.” (pg. 1165) He also goes on to talk about how popular Wikipedia is in terms of daily usage in ranks top 10 in competition with the likes of Google and Facebook.
Now in terms of academic papers teachers hammer their students with the warning that Wikipedia and its articles are not credible sources for essays and papers due to the fact that they are often written by amateur writers and therefore lack authority. Seeing as I’ve been told this so many times, and it is forever engraved in my brain I find it hard to believe that people think that Wikipedia articles will overturn published academic sources. I do however believe that the way in which we receive and read these articles, is evolving. I mean there are classes that are completely online, and only use online articles. (Like this one!) This doesn’t mean that the articles are any less crediable; they are just being transformed into online documents that are more easily accessible to most readers.
Veering away from the academic side of online articles I wanted to discuss the benefits I think that online collaboration has, and my thoughts on peer creation and mass creativity. My all time favourite example of peer creation would have to be the use of forums. Forums allow you to connect with people of like-minded interests and discuss thoughts on various products. Van Dijk & Nieborg (2009) agree that these forums and sites are great ways for users to express themselves creatively and or to communicate with one another. (pg. 862) Like Van Dijk & Nieborg, Brown & Duguid (1996) also discuss in their article the feeling of community these online forums can represent. They talk about the idea of social worlds and how new forms of media allow small communities to form and connect over large distances.
I find forums to be the most honest form of information (non academic) because of the structure. Only people who have interest in the topic, or have something to say about it (good/bad) will post. My favourite use of forums is finding reviews on a products or services. I will always rely on some form of online chat to tell me how other users rate the product or service before I actually purchase it myself.
Overall I think that depending on what type of information you are looking for will determine what type of source you will want to use. For my papers and all academic work I will probably stray away from Wikipedia articles, only because academic papers call for previously published work. But in terms of personal usage I find crowd-sourced articles and forums to be the most legitimate because they offer me other users true feelings and thoughts on the topic at hand.
These are just some pictures of how I use online forums, which is mainly for product reviews! It allows me too see how real users of the product rate and view it
Brown, J. S. & P. Duguid. (1996). The Social Life of Documents. First Monday. 1, 1.
Van Dijk, J. & Nieborg, D. (2009). Wikinomics and its discontents: a critical analysis of Web 2.0 business manifestos. New Media & Society. 11, 5. pp 855-874.
Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182