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The proliferation of the Internet

At present, finding sources for researches has become both convenient and problematic due to the proliferation of the Internet. Among the sources that may be found in the Internet, the Wikipedia encyclopedia has become a very controversial source of information due to the fact that it is welcome for uploading and editing to almost all Internet users. Too many people now use Wikipedia as an academic source. However, many teachers and scholars find Wikipedia as an unacceptable source of information and even go to the extent of warning students against its use.

Considering the liberal manner by which the data may be included and changed in the website, I believe that Wikipedia is not an accurate, valid and reliable source of information. As many other scholars believe, the Wikipedia represents the “withering of intellectual standards” (Dee, 2007). It is available for edit even to the youngest or the most uninformed members of the society. The only requirement is an Internet connection. Therefore, the margin for error is very big. A big margin of error translates into an unreliable source.

This has not taken into account yet those members of society who deliberately want to cause others harm just for fun or to vex. Since Wikipedia is open to everyone, it is a very good candidate for vandalism. In fact, it has been found that vandalism in Wikipedia is pandemic due to that fact that access and easy and requires no hacking skills. (See Dee, 2007) The proponents of Wikipedia as a source of information may argue that information uploaded in Wikipedia will be carefully screened due to the number of people that views the postings.

The idea behind the Wikipedia system that “mistakes in a given entry, whether intentional or unintentional, will ultimately be caught and repaired as a function of the projects massive, egalitarian oversight” (Dee, 2007). However, it is admitted that this may not work “when people are looking for information about events unfolding in real time” (Dee, 2007). Moreover, while there are people who actually edit the content, a lot of people who access the site to look for information are actually ignorant of what is correct or not and will probably not be able to identify errors.

Moreover, there are actually some people who refrain from editing some idea that they feel is not neutral because doing so may set a precedent (Dee, 2007). The problem with this is that neutrality is often required in academic researches, except if the conflicting points of view and sources of bias are actually being considered. It is also true that some form of regulation may exist due to the fact that entries are screened for deletion of unreliable uploads. However, the reality is that candidates for deletions can actually amount up to almost 100 pages a day (See Dee, 2007).

This proves how unreliable much information that are contained in Wikipedia is. Also, assuming for the sake of argument that data will ultimately be reliable due to repeated editing and screening for deletion, there is no way a person will know when that time is. It is difficult to view the history of editing to test reliability everytime wikipedia is used because that will be too time-consuming for most users. Moreover, the length of time and number of editing does not assure reliability because there may be vandals who will deliberately inject wrong information after data have already been thoroughly filtered.

In conclusion, the easy access by which information may be added, deleted or changed in Wikipedia makes it a very unreliable and inaccurate source. It cannot pass the standards set in academic research. Sources for academic researches have to be chosen carefully and meticulously. These two characteristics are the opposite of how information contained in Wikipedia are chosen and included.

Reference

Dee, Jonathan. “All the News thats Fit to Print Out. ” The New York Times Magazine Online. July 1, 2007. July 9, 2007. http://www. nytimes. com/2007/07/01/magazine/01WIKIPEDIA-t. html? ex=1184126400&en=a7d839ba2da24005&ei=5070.

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