You CAN “Use” Wikipedia

via lisagoldresearch.wordpress.com

I have no problem admitting that I use Wikipedia on occasion.

Some journalists consider the site to be completely off limits. It’s a tricky thing.

Read this by Donna Shaw at AJR.org if you are a skeptic.

Don’t Trust It

Wikipedia is based on an openly editable model, which means, anyone and everyone can post/delete anything, anywhere on the site. At any given moment, something could be updated with completely wrong information.

I use it as a “road map” to point me in the right direction.

I can easily admit that I don’t know everything. The first time I heard ARRA jobs grant uttered by a school board chair in a phone call, I quickly searched Wikipedia to give me the scoop. It’s quite useful in a pinch or just to start the journey of a story.

It’s an addicting resource, I’ll admit. It has millions of pages of anything you could think up. You have to be careful.

Don’t Use It

Wikipedia is starting to appear a bit more and more in articles. DO NOT do this. Take the extra time to make a phone call, e-mail someone or drive somewhere for much better, simpler verification. Editors cannot catch everything, so, when writing, don’t even think about using it.

I don’t know if the big papers/conglomerates have Wikipedia rules and/or guidelines, but I can only assume they do.

I think there are many informal “rules” that reporters are asked to follow.

I may sound hypocritical, but hear me out. I recommend using Wikipedia for a quick reference/guide, but never actually sourcing it. EVER. Be afraid of it, but think about what you are doing.

Wikipedia has no actual editors/writers. It is made up of “volunteers” that control the site and are able to delete, modify and block certain pages.

Just don’t do it. We weren’t allowed to use it on research papers, so, when it comes to the “real world” this seems like a pretty easy answer. Think about what you are doing.

What Next?

I really don’t know.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the page, may have some things up his sleeve for Wikipedia in the near future.

But, until then, the site will only continue to grow and grow. Born in 2001, the site is still young and I can’t wait to see how big it gets in the next couple of years.

In the meantime, I’ve seen the site is looking for volunteers.

Jonathan

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