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Wikipedia messages make it more viable for real research

Have you used Wikipedia recently? I know a lot of people have sworn it off as junk given its lack of real peer review.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

Have you used Wikipedia recently? I know a lot of people have sworn it off as junk given its lack of real peer review. However, I still use it all the time, at least as a starting point for research. It certainly has a weirdly nostalgic feel for me as a teacher. I have to ride my students about it the same way our teachers rode us about encyclopedias 20 years ago (or longer): how many of you tried to turn in reports just based on an article out of the World Book? The same goes for Wikipedia, of course. When I get a works cited pages that looks like this:

Works Cited

1. Wikipedia

I get pretty irritated. However, that's a usage issue. As long as our students see it for what it is and use it appropriately, it's actually a really great place to begin a research project.

More recently, it's gotten even better. As I was looking around for class materials last night, I stumbled upon a page with messages like this:

The neutrality of this article or section is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page.
and this:

This article or section may contain spam. Wikipedia spam consists of external links mainly intended to promote a website. Wikipedia spam also consists of external links to websites which primarily exist to sell goods or services, use objectionable amounts of advertising, or require payment to view the relevant content. If you are familiar with the content of the external links, please help by removing promotional links in accordance with Wikipedia:External links. (You can help!)

and my favorite:

Now if we can just teach our students to read the messages, understand what they mean, and make really informed decisions about the way they glean information from the Web, we might really be getting somewhere. Nice work, Wikipedia!

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