Books still beat out Wikipedia


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    The research process can take days or weeks for some students.  By using Wikipedia, students have discovered that it can take only a matter of seconds.

    Wikipedia is an increasingly popular encyclopedia-type web site that offers any information as fast as an Internet search.  What makes Wikipedia different is that it has no authority, and any Internet user can challenge content.  The openness of the Web site has long been a concern for most NIU professors.  Some professors allow students to cite Wikipedia while others have completely banned it.

    For assistant history professor Brian Sandberg, Wikipedia rasies a variety of issues.

    “Wikipedia has a lack of stability.  Information can be changed at any time,” Sandberg said. “In history, you want to have a sense of who is making a claim.”

    Sandberg does not allow Wikipedia to be used as a source in his classes, but has seen students use it in the past.  He believes encyclopedias of any kind should not be used for any academic papers since they go beyond secondary sources.

    With Wikipedia, students no longer have to spend time researching a topic.  Since it’s already done, it can hardly be viewed as doing research.  Aside from teh lack of work, there really is no determining what’s factual or not on Wikipedia, with or without the sources.

    Even the editors of Wikipedia recognize the posting of inaccurate and even malicious information, which they call vandalism.  Sandberg stated that he had also found racist articles in which people have added recist terms.

    The Internet alone already causes problems, since anyone can create a web site and post misinformation.  The only definite reliable sources end with .gov, .org and .edu.  There may be plenty of information on the Internet, but finding credible sources isn’t as simple.

    Sandberg suggest finding out what kind of sources the authors use along with analyzing the conclusions the authors make from the sources.

    The site presents a strong probability of misinforming students or anyone else curious about a subject.  The short time it takes to find information may not even be worth it.

    It’s hard to understand why a site like Wikipedia was created at all.  Sure, it provides a vast amount of information, but what’s the point if none of it is reliable?  Making the site available to edit by anyone seems stupid.  Not everyone is intelligent enough to supply sources and accurate information.  Many only see Wikipedia as a chance to write something stupid for the world to see.

    A student’s time and energy are better applied at a library.  Books and journals will never lose their reliability, while many Web sites quickly do.  Elementary students may get away with using Wikipedia, but it’s no longer an option for college students who should be able to do their own research.

    ~Liz Stoever

    And that, my friends, is the major problem I have with Wikipedia.  I know it’s a favorite source for many of you, mainly because it removes the need to think, but it’s not all that reliable.  I personally prefer About.com and Answers.com because those are managed and editted.

    I don’t know if I agree with the author’s comment that .org are all that secure either.  My company has a .org extension and I can change the content there all I want.  A .org extension means nothing, IMHO.

    Anyway, most of you are probably unaware of this, but many colleges and universities are banning Wikipedia.  NIU banned it from their servers, just denied access to it as if it were a porn site.  From my understanding, many High Schools are following suit and hopefully, Wikipedia will be viewed iwth the same disregard we show to conspiracy theorists and propagandists – or maybe Wikipedia will stop allowing any Tom, Dick or Harry to make changes and require people to get a background check before giving them access to specific topics (ie History, Math, Physics, etc).

    And yes, I know I’ve used Wikipedia myself sometimes.  Deal.  No one’s perfect, I’m just as close as you can get without being Divine.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    @Loquacious:

    I think we can all learn a little from this post. Personally I’m gonna start using non-existant sites, like Chicago Crime Rate .org, instead of the more conventional websites that actually exist in cyberspace somewhere.

    Chicago Crime Rate .org exists.  It’s the same site as ChicagoCrime.org.

    Of course, instead of just arguing with you, I’ll refer you to the opening post of “Thanks and Goodnight.”  It sums it up quite well in regards to your “reply”



  • i generally don’t trust any sites that have pop ups or ads on them.  generally i do trust books more than the internet because less idiots are able to publish paper.  Yes you do have idiots but very few are still arguing that dragons and fairies exist.



  • Wow Jen - that’s bad luck.  Even when you actually submit real “content” you’re still being lambasted for your integrity.

    As for the wiki-post - i agree.  I rarely use it, unless i’m looking up something that doesn’t really matter and i’m feeling lazy.  There was a newspaper article devoted to the fact that “facts” can be manipulated (i wish i could remember the bizaare take on buffalo that they submitted that lasted 3 hours before it was removed).


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    Chicago Crime Rate .org is a mirror to ChicagoCrime.org.  Though, I can see how someone like you would be confused, since I posted the site (where I actually GOT the information the first time, AND CITED, it appears the server went down.  Getting a 404 now.)  I’m done with you now.  Thank you and goodnight, Mr. Glib.

    @Yemble:

    i generally don’t trust any sites that have pop ups or ads on them.  generally i do trust books more than the internet because less idiots are able to publish paper.  Yes you do have idiots but very few are still arguing that dragons and fairies exist.

    I agree, some silly stuff does get to print.  However, at least once it’s in print it’s totally in print, which means people who know better can read it and review it and not worry that it’ll be changed the next morning to make those who write critically of what is said look like idiots.  With Wiki, specifically, it’s catch as catch can.  You might be unlucky and catch that vandalism during the 30 seconds it’s up and think “hey, it’s reviewed by others, it must be correct!” and be totally wrong.

    @cystic:

    Wow Jen - that’s bad luck.  Even when you actually submit real “content” you’re still being lambasted for your integrity.

    As for the wiki-post - i agree.  I rarely use it, unless i’m looking up something that doesn’t really matter and i’m feeling lazy.  There was a newspaper article devoted to the fact that “facts” can be manipulated (i wish i could remember the bizaare take on buffalo that they submitted that lasted 3 hours before it was removed).

    Well, CC, look at the author of the flame.  That’s all I have to say.  He’s not said a nice word about me, or anyone else, actually, since he joined the site - to my knowledge.

    Anyway, I agree.  Wiki can be very useful if you are looking for such trivia as “What army did Gen. Patton lead?” or “What is Earth Day.”  But if you want real depth and you want to have your papers taken seriously in academia, you really cannot use Wiki anymore.  More and more often I hear professors ragging on Wiki.  They usually just say “don’t use it, because I will be checking it to make sure you are not copying it.”  But sometimes they get more vociferous about it.



  • I have to agree with Jen about Wiki.

    It is a nice “jumping off point” when looking for something.  It gives some info, but more importantly is usually gives LINKS.  And that is the valuable part of Wiki… not the actual post (although that is good for general info), but getting pointed in a direction to let you find reliable SOURCE info is what makes it worth checking.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    I had forgotten about that aspect, Switch.  In that regards, Wiki is very valuable, at the least it saves you time having to sort through millions of “hits” in a search engine (most of which are probably porn anyway.)



  • Y’all know I beat up on Jen when she deserves it.

    BUT…

    In this case I have to take her side (in part).

    She did not copy and paste a link, she quoted it from memory.  And she made an ERROR, one that was corrected by another poster.
    She then made another error in reading the data from that site (true, she is still arguing that her reading is correct, but that is beside the point).

    There is a difference between a deliberate falsehood, fabrication or fraud and an ERROR.

    And as much as I beat up on Jen, the original incorrect website link falls into the category of ERROR in my mind.

    Now, the fact that Jen does not admit her errors is a seperate point, one that has already been covered adequately elsewhere.  But the rest of us need to simply look beyond the BS (including Jen’s refusal to admit an error) and see the truth for what it is.  And in this case, I firmly believe it was originally a simple ERROR.

    Now, everyone back to your corner, and when you come back out, fight nice.



  • @Loquacious:

    Except that Jennifer claimed the website she originally referenced (Chicago Crime Rate .org ) was a mirror of Saburo’s site (Chicagocrime.org) , and was “down” with a server error. These are both out and out lies. There is no Chicago Crime Rate .org. It doesn’t exist. Therefore, it cannot be a “mirror” of the other site and cannot be experiencing any errors.

    I agree with you that it probably started with a simple error on Jennifer’s part. But lying to cover up the mistake? I guess you have your own reasons for letting that go. I just call em like I see em.Â

    Dude - chill!  This is waaaayyy off topic. 
    Jen actually began a legitimate thread - address it.  If you want to beat up on her - at least go to her “tired of games” or whatever thread.

    in the meantime
    i have looked at the wiki references from time to time.  These i’ve found VERY handy at times.  In medicine a good review article is good to find, at least for references to supporting/detracting research articles.  The same is occassionally true of wiki.


  • 2017 2016 2015 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    This thread is back open. Everything is cleaned up now.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    @Imperious:

    This thread is back open. Everything is cleaned up now.

    Thanks IL, cause I think this discussion is important, especially to this discussion forum.  Too many people are using Wikipedia as their first and ONLY source on this site, in my opinion.


  • 2007 AAR League

    You can’t just throw out a source because it might not be accurate.  The vast majority of stuff on wikipedia is accurate I’d wager.  Wikipedia is a valid jumping off point and if you have reason to doubt the accuracy of the information provided for a particular topic then feel free to state your reasons and/or post a source that contradicts the info in question.

    An argument with wikipedia as a source is still better than an argument with no source.

    As for the topic at hand (Are books better than wikipedia), it depends what kind of books  😉


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    I’m not throwing it out.  I’m saying its a valid secondary source to confirm information you got from books or valid primary sources.  However, many professors in Universities and Colleges HAVE thrown it out entirely for a myriad of reasons the top two being: Lack of concrete credibility and Lack of research needed by the student to perform the assignment.


  • 2007 AAR League

    I’d suggest that lack of effort on the student to properly research would probably be the main reason.

    I’d also suggest that if we were in a classroom setting here, there are a lot of things that people would probably have to do differently  8-)  Good thing we’re not in a classroom setting  😉


  • 2007 AAR League

    @Jennifer:

    I’m not throwing it out.  I’m saying its a valid secondary source to confirm information you got from books or valid primary sources.

    But a secondary source has rarely been required on this site.  So you are saying that it’s ok to only have one source (as long as it’s not wikipedia)?  And it’s ok to use wikipedia as long as there is another source?  So basically you are ignoring wikipedia totally and just using the other source for info.  Thus you are “throwing it out”.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    For purposes of discussion here, yea.  I’d say a source that contradicts Wikipedia would be weight more heavily in my eyes then a wikipedia only source.  There’s more too it, you have to find out what bias the other source may or may not have, but generally speaking if Wikipedia says the Ocean is Green and Scientific American says the Ocean is Blue I’m going to go with Scientific American. (*yes, I know it’s ridiculous, I’m using it for demonstration only.  We know Wikipedia’s not going to say green, it’s going to say blue or clear depending on the depth you look into, unless it’s refrencing the pollution which may be green, brown or orange.)


  • 2007 AAR League

    @Jennifer:

    For purposes of discussion here, yea.  I’d say a source that contradicts Wikipedia would be weight more heavily in my eyes then a wikipedia only source.  There’s more too it, you have to find out what bias the other source may or may not have, but generally speaking if Wikipedia says the Ocean is Green and Scientific American says the Ocean is Blue I’m going to go with Scientific American. (*yes, I know it’s ridiculous, I’m using it for demonstration only.  We know Wikipedia’s not going to say green, it’s going to say blue or clear depending on the depth you look into, unless it’s refrencing the pollution which may be green, brown or orange.)

    It does depend on the contradictory source, but for the most part I’d agree with this.  But it doesn’t mean that someone automatically needs to provide a second source whenever they are using wikipedia.  Only when a more reputable contradictory source is provided.

    But that makes wikipedia no different from any other source.  It’s still a valid primary source until a contradictory source is provided.  Note that is not the same as:

    @Jennifer:

    I’m not throwing it out. I’m saying its a valid secondary source to confirm information you got from books or valid primary sources.


  • 2007 AAR League

    I’m concerned that there seems to be a negative view on the veracity of information in wikipedia.

    I won’t deny that there have been well publicized cases of falsified or blatantly wrong information but this is true in any media.  If anything I would be more suspicious of a single book source that does not sound right than a wikipedia source.

    Certainly checking the veracity of a wikipedia article is much easier than doing the same for a book.  Every wikipedia page has a discussion and edit trail that will allow anyone to examine when particular changes were made and raise concerns (or read the discussion) about those changes.  This is a much faster and transparent revision trail than anything being done in print.

    It is worth remembering wikipedia is modeled on an encylopedia.  This means that, like paper encyclopedias, it is not a primary source.  It provides an article on a topic that is, at best, a summary of the information.  While summaries are nice, the devil is in the details and we would be fools to not be attentive to that.  Wikipedia does provide extensive lists of primary sources and that is the best reason for linking to that wikipedia article.



  • @Baghdaddy:

    I’m concerned that there seems to be a negative view on the veracity of information in wikipedia.

    I won’t deny that there have been well publicized cases of falsified or blatantly wrong information but this is true in any media.  If anything I would be more suspicious of a single book source that does not sound right than a wikipedia source.

    Certainly checking the veracity of a wikipedia article is much easier than doing the same for a book.  Every wikipedia page has a discussion and edit trail that will allow anyone to examine when particular changes were made and raise concerns (or read the discussion) about those changes.  This is a much faster and transparent revision trail than anything being done in print.

    It is worth remembering wikipedia is modeled on an encylopedia.  This means that, like paper encyclopedias, it is not a primary source.  It provides an article on a topic that is, at best, a summary of the information.  While summaries are nice, the devil is in the details and we would be fools to not be attentive to that.  Wikipedia does provide extensive lists of primary sources and that is the best reason for linking to that wikipedia article.

    This is pretty much what I was going to say.

    Wikipedia must still cite sources.  It also has posting guidelines that promote objectivity (hot to avoid weasel words, for instance).  It does everything that a reputable source must do.

    Just because it can be edited by anybody (note: that’s not the reality of what happens, though) doesn’t mean that it’s an invalid source of information.  Pages are constantly reviewed, peer reviewed, and updated by consensus.  These are things that books and encyclopedias must do as well.

    One strength of Wiki is that it can be updated instantly as information changes.  It can also be more easily vandalized, as a weakness.

    I can understand that professors want their students to research information on their own and do the work - so they shouldn’t accept Wikipedia on the same grounds as an encyclopedia.

    However, to say books are more valid than Wiki is asinine.  Books can be just as wrong, if not more so, and out of date or biased than Wiki can be.  I smell a technophobe when statements are thrown around like that.

    BTW, doing a WHOIS lookup of www.chicagocrimerate.org shows that not only is the server down, but that it is nonexistant and the domain is open for purchase.



  • Wiki’s a good jumping-off point. I think someone else made that point.

    Edit: LOL, I might as well have quoted NCS.



  • Hey, matters not to me.

    The point is that other folks (me, you, Jen to name a few) have all reached the same conclussion regarding Wiki…
    A great place to start, a bad place to stop.


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