So Wikipedia has banned all Church of Scientology IP addresses "in an unprecedented effort to crack down on self-serving edits," according to the Register and several other outlets. So what's with the title from one of the rare educators who actually thinks Wikipedia has a lot of value?
I'm not unhappy that Wikipedia bans self-serving edits or those that aren't neutral or informational in nature. That's not a problem and a completely reasonable policy. My problem is that all the policies in the world, or, as the Register calls them, Wikipowersthatbe can't catch all of the junk that makes its way onto Wikipedia.
Never one to throw the baby out with the bath water, though, most of us will acknowledge that Wikipedia contains a lot of well-sourced, well-written information. This is where we as educators come in. Wikipedia is like a microcosm of the web: huge amounts of highly usable information that our students must extract from a lot of worthless junk.
Our students, whether they are Googling, Bing-ing (just doesn't have the same ring, does it?), or digging through Wikipedia should be able to identify sources of limited credibility. This isn't just a web skill, either. It's a matter of critical thought. Is there bias in a source? How much of a source is news and how much is personal spin? Even I quoted the Register, above; the Reg is quite newsy but puts a biting, sarcastic spin on just about everything within its pages. This doesn't make it invalid, but how skilled are our students at sorting out even satire or sarcasm from a source?
Wikipedia has plenty of credibility with or without Scientology editors. It's simply our students who have to learn that anything they see online should be taken with a grain of salt.