Is Wikipedia Reliable?

Discussion
Sep 8, 2010

Exactly how reliable is Wikipedia reliable?

Throughout several years in highschool, I have overheard and been involved in many conversations over whether or not Wikipedia is reliable. One common argument I’ve heard is that anyone can collaborate on an article, so therefore anyone can post anything they want to. But, how’s that different from another site, where the main one or two collaborators that created the site can write whatever they want? Although wikipedia is open to anonymous collaborators, it has been found to be very reliable. When false information is added to the site and is found to be untrue, it is soon removed by wikipedia. In 2003, IBM researches did a study on Wikipedia and said, “"vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly—so quickly that most users will never see its effects" and concluded that Wikipedia had "surprisingly effective self-healing capabilities". (1) Now, this isn’t to say that everything you read on Wikipedia is the exact truth, nothing ever really is. Somehow biases always find their way into articles such as the ones Wikipedia presents. And, as stated on Wikipedia's page about their own reliability, “ A common view as of 2010 in fields from medicine to technology and a range of social-cultural topics, is that Wikipedia is a valuable research resource and starting point for information and major news events, and articles in many areas are routinely accurate and informative (Military History topics being assessed as "spot on"), but users should take care – as with all general reference works – to check their facts and be aware that mistakes and omissions do occur." (3) With that said its up to the reader to look at the sources sited and check for reliability. So, just like any other website that provides you with information, there will be mistakes, therefore, citing wikipedia should no longer be considered taboo.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia (1)
http://apps.carleton.edu/campus/library/for_faculty/faculty_find/wikipedia/ (2)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:General_disclaimer(3)

I found the information by searching in Google for it.Then I took the links that came up, read the summaries on them and chose which one seemed most relevant. I also used wonder wheel, timeline, and related searches.