Monday, February 26, 2007

The Usefulness of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, as many of you probably know is one of the most "hit" sites online as well as one of the most important sites for reference purposes. This site and its sister sites (for other languages other than english) are an online, open encyclopedia where everyone can input information and articles. The site also permits you to edit other entries of others that maybe inaccurate. Although a wonderful site to look up anything from the origin of the name of The Simpsons' caracters to a biography of George Washington, this site has always been the bossum of criticism given its openess to editing on behalf of any user. This action that defines Wikipedia, sets off a cause and effect situation: user creates/alters article innacurately--> student uses article as reference for a term paper--> bad term paper. Since Wikipedia is a reference site, it is a given that it will be used by students. This is where much of the controversy comes from, teachers and professors are tired of students using an inaccurate site and have gone to the extent of banning the site as one for reference.
Given this situation one of the co founders, Larry Sanger, created the Citizendium project. "Citizendium has as its goal nothing less than the creation of a comprehensive and dependable encyclopedia", which will have editing by experts in each area.
I personally love Wikipedia, it is all about power to the user, however in accurate articles do exist and I can only assume that they will continue to grow as the popularity of the site snowballs, I think Sanger's idea is a top notch decision but my question is: won't this be just any other reference site?

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