1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Use of Wikipedia as a Source

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Left Coast, Jun 22, 2021.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2019
    Messages:
    6,603
    Ratings:
    +9,849
    Religion:
    Dharmic Dabbler
    Back when I was an undergrad (2006-2010), almost all my professors poo-pooed using Wikipedia as a source of credible information. I found this to be a little too rigid, and today I think Wikipedia is even more credible than it was 10 years ago.

    Wiki's articles are usually quite well sourced in my experience, and even note when claims are made that aren't common knowledge but don't have a citation to support them.

    While the site's content can, in principle, by edited by basically anybody, my understanding is that a team of moderators tightly control changes that are made and sanction users who input incorrect/unsupported information, and correct egregious errors quickly.

    Clearly it's not an infallible source (nothing is, IMO), but I think Wiki doesn't get the credit it's due. If someone cites a Wiki article, it's worth reading through it and verifying its citations.

    Am I wrong? Anyone still anti-Wiki?
     
    • Like Like x 6
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    189,372
    Ratings:
    +66,096
    Religion:
    Atheist
    Pro-Wikipedia here.

    BTW, I've done a teensy bit'o editing in Conservapedia.
    Useful stuff...not malicious.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. Vee

    Vee Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2017
    Messages:
    1,508
    Ratings:
    +2,886
    Religion:
    Jehovah's Witness
    I like Wikipedia. Maybe there are some inaccuracies here and there, but overall, I find it pretty good.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Messages:
    20,653
    Ratings:
    +24,674
    Religion:
    Non-theist
    When I was younger, we had to go to the library to look up an article in an encyclopedia. Those articles were generally informative, but were often seriously out of date. They were usually a good starting point for research, but would not have been the last word.

    I see wikipedia in a somewhat similar light. The articles, especially those that are well referenced, tend to have good information. Occasionally, there is something not entirely accurate, but even then there are often links to sources to learn more.

    In a comparison between the two, I strongly prefer wikipedia. The information tends to be more extensive, often more accurate, and has pointers for doing further research. Neither should be considered the last word on a subject, but they are very good first stops.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Veteran Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Messages:
    11,739
    Ratings:
    +8,789
    Religion:
    Daughter of Shiva
    Pro-Wikipedia. While there's a chance for not so much inaccuracies sometimes as misleading wordings in articles, I find a Wikipedia article is usually enough for a discussion that isn't planned to be super technical.

    So if I wanted to talk an obscure subject, I'd link a Wikipedia article. But if some seasoned debater wants to question me later, it may take research more technical for us to debate at that point.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    50,236
    Ratings:
    +14,893
    Religion:
    not a theist
    I am neither for or against Wikipedia.

    That being said, I do like to start researching with wikipedia.
    I lost count the number of times a wiki article has been a major assist in avoiding dead ends.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  7. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Seriously?

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2014
    Messages:
    34,373
    Ratings:
    +12,118
    Religion:
    Inner child healing
    Majority of it isn't peer-reviewed and anyone can change it regardless the sources at the bottom-that's why. What one can do is use Wiki as an idea and find a peer-reviewed source that talks about the same information. Therefore, even though you got the information from Wiki (excluding verbatim quotes), you still have the primary source to "show."

    With that, I only go to wiki, if I do, for an idea of what people are talking about and then find a site(s) from the actual sources and cross-check it that way. For example, wiki can talk about Buddhism but it would be a lot more efficient to go to say, accesstoinsight to get a full range of the Buddha's actual dialogues, essays from different practitioners, scholars, etc, and just a general way of studying the Dharma. Gives context.

    Finding cross-references, though, is like finding a needle in a haystack.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  8. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    59,956
    Ratings:
    +28,297
    Religion:
    Love
    There was a comparison done some time ago and Wikipedia did just fine.

    I'm a minor editor there - occasionally tweaking some entries a tiny bit outside of being slapped down once.

    For example, the wok page said the size was 9"... and I had an 8" one so I updated that number with a reference.

    Other changes of mine have been similar in scope.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    59,956
    Ratings:
    +28,297
    Religion:
    Love
    I agree. It's helpful sometimes to go to the references.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Messages:
    12,626
    Ratings:
    +10,510
    Religion:
    Humanist
    It is a good starting point but needs checking if you are doing anything serious, especially political.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 2
  11. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    50,236
    Ratings:
    +14,893
    Religion:
    not a theist
    Out of curiosity, what is the percentage of the times that wikipedia is dismissed the dismissal is by the one the wiki disagrees with?

    Seems to me it pretty high.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    59,956
    Ratings:
    +28,297
    Religion:
    Love
    I've never disagreed with what's written to the point of dismissing it. There have been "wars" over controversial topics such as Donald Trump but wikipedia has done a great job of locking those down to prevent "revision wars".
     
  13. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    43,255
    Ratings:
    +25,885
    Religion:
    Atheist
    Like others I find Wiki perfectly fine for settled science, history, etc.. Cutting edge stuff is less reliable. But even then it usually has links to sources which makes it at the very least a good starting point when one is trying to answer a problem. And the vast number of editors has been shown to increase Wiki's reliability, not lower it. If someone enters malicious edits, which appear to be rather rare there. They are quickly removed.

    Years ago on a different website I had a debate with a person that had the ability to edit on Wikipedia about how reliable it was. Oddly he had the opinion that it was not all that reliable. When he told me that he could edit an article I told him to change one to prove his point. Instead he proved mine. He did edit an article. He did so by adding valid information to an existing article. He did not add false information which was clearly implied by our arguments. If he had put false information in an article he would have shown that I was wrong. When I asked why he did not put false information in he said that he did not want to risk losing his editing abilities. Thus providing support for my point and refuting his. These days one does not get to sign on and edit any article. The first few edits that a person makes are monitored. One has to earn trust to edit without having one's edits checked first. That extra step seems to have eliminated trolls that do not want to waste time getting approved before trying to wreak temporary havoc.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
  14. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    50,236
    Ratings:
    +14,893
    Religion:
    not a theist
    I have seen many a times right here of RF where wiki is dismissed out of hand by the side that wiki disagrees with.
    And more than once I have seen that same person post links to wiki that agree with them.

    Now don't get me wrong.
    There is a huge difference between disagreeing with what is in a wiki article and dismissing it out of hand with out even looking at the article.
    And some articles are much better than others.
     
  15. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Messages:
    34,792
    Ratings:
    +30,151
    Religion:
    None

    I'll use Wikipedia on occasion if the references are good with the knowledge that it can be edited by anyone, mostly anonymously.

    Here is a Wikipedia article on the accuracy of Wikipedia, it rates itself around 80% accurate

    Reliability of Wikipedia - Wikipedia.

    I've also argued against it often using the editing history to back up my argument.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  16. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    12,231
    Ratings:
    +11,135
    Religion:
    none
    Why would you dismiss it if you thought it was correct though? :D

    A more pertinent question is how often do people touting wiki as an authority do so because it says what they find ideologically or circumstantially convenient?

    It's a useful resource, provides lots of accurate information, but also sometimes contains some quite glaring errors.

    The fact it is usually quite reliable makes many people take it as gospel on issues they are unfamiliar with and highly resistant to the idea it might not be accurate.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Deidre

    Deidre Follow thy heart

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    6,973
    Ratings:
    +5,487
    Religion:
    Spiritual Christian
    I like using it when I'm truly clueless about a topic, word or historical event. Serves as a spring board for me to look at other sources, once I get the summary from Wiki.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  18. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    50,236
    Ratings:
    +14,893
    Religion:
    not a theist
    Fair enough.
     
  19. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    189,372
    Ratings:
    +66,096
    Religion:
    Atheist
    Wikipedia advantages....
    - Other encyclopedic sources want money.
    - For breaking news, it's swiftly updated.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Veteran Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Messages:
    11,739
    Ratings:
    +8,789
    Religion:
    Daughter of Shiva
    That's a very specific scenario.

    I might have unintentionally did that once. But I was trying not to see things black and white, right or wrong, so much as say.... "I'm seeing things from this side of the coin and you're seeing things from the other side."

    What I was saying in my previous reply is that sometimes if you just kind of skim the Wikipedia article, you can get the wrong impression. If you don't know the whole backstory, you can even get an article wrong provided you don't allow your thoughts/conclusions on the matter to be more or less peer reviewed.

    But yeah, on online, I have seen people before that as a tactic (well, a cheating tactic), criticize otherwise good sources, kind of knocking down sources that way, limiting the information the other side can show them or the crowd. With the hopes of winning that way.
     
Loading...