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Wikipedia – the definitive reference

I have previously blogged (see the link on left) on “Peoples Right to be an Idiot” and believe everything you read….just because.

Here is an article showing that academics have been pushed to limit! History professors at Middlebury College have voted to ban Wikipedia as an acceptable reference source. This ban was taken because they hate Wikipedia but rather the department chairman explained “…that the objection of the department to Wikipedia wasn’t its online nature, but its unedited nature, and he said students need to be taught to go for quality information, not just convenience.”

Interesting, a spokeswoman for Wikipedia thought the policy is very reasonable! Sandra Ordonez, has said “Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It’s usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia.”

Fundamentally, I believe it goes back to a common characteristic of students (including yours truly many years ago) whether pre- or post- internet; they are all lazy. Given the wide accessibility and the allure of a seemingly authoritative reference, take the easy way out and don’t check your facts. Unfortunately, a series of revelations from our news industry and publishing shows the disease is more widely spread than just students. As I noted in my other post, the best rule is from an old newspaper saying “If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”

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