Wikipedia – that incredible invention that has Google-like qualities – our first port of call in our time of crisis. A true warrior for us all – it has been there for us through thick and thin. And yet, it is frowned upon by academics. If someone were to dare reference Wikipedia in an assignment, then they are effectively signing their own death warrant. But is it fair to adopt this approach, or does Wikipedia deserve more recognition from academics?
Let’s start with a few basics. Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia which allows its users to write articles. There are currently 5million articles on the UK version of Wikipedia. The beauty is, anyone can make an account and edit. Even better, the website doesn’t succumb to corporate greed and bombard the user with advertising (sorry from the UniEel team), instead relying on user donations to keep it alive. Wikipedia has an article on basically everything, and as was mentioned in the introduction – is a common first port of call in a moment of need.
It is a bit of a myth that ‘any Tom, Dick or Harry’ can edit an article. Sure they can, but Wikipedia has a dedicated team of moderators that ensure each change to any article is checked over. Articles are supposed to follow a set code, including referencing. The vast, vast majority of articles have references on them. Therefore, what has been written has a foundation to it. While there is a threat of vandalism, a clever system is in place which allows the simple restoration of a previous, unvandalised version of the page. Besides, does anyone really have the time these days to vandalise a Wikipedia article – one would imagine there are slightly funner things to do…
There are several good points to Wikipedia, as outlined above. Of course there are several famous hoaxes that have taken place, but by-and-large Wikipedia is a reliable source. Sure, it isn’t the Oxford Handbook of Entrepreneurship, but it is still a valuable source of information. The systems that are in place over at Wikipedia ensure that it is a pleasant environment for all. Wikipedia is a very underappreciated website – a life without Wikipedia is almost unimaginable.
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Despite its good points, it seems as if it will be a long, long time before Wikipedia is considered an acceptable source for academic work. Sometimes, inertia takes over in these instances. The world is so set on the idea that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source, that even though the site has improved hugely in recent times – no one will accept it. Hopefully, it will secure the recognition it deserves in the forthcoming years. Maybe one day it will earn the title of ‘reliable academic source’. One day…