These days, when you say “the encyclopedia,” everyone knows you mean The Wikipedia of internet fame. I think it’s a great resource. Do it have some issues? Sure, it does. Is it “as good” as, say the Britannica? No, speaking strictly of quality it doesn’t even come close.
First and foremost though, it’s free, and the others are not. I like that. Secondly, it’s much larger that the other encyclopedias. Try looking up “The Morrison Observatory” in a regular encyclopedia. It’s just not there. And, probably shouldn’t be. But, in today’s internet world, isn’t it great that there is a place where I can find such things?
Read this article…
WIKIPEDIA and other online research sources were yesterday blamed for Scotland’s falling exam pass rates.The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils are turning to websites and internet resources that contain inaccurate or deliberately misleading information before passing it off as their own work. (read the rest…)
So, what to make of this? Well, you have watch out for accuracy. But, first, one must ask, how does this accuracy matter? I think this is where the internet generation may be weak. I bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the table when I read anything, anywhere. I don’t care if it’s in the daily newspaper or it’s on the internet. I want to know who wrote it, why they wrote it and what’s their angle? So, it’s not shocking when I learn that an article or even an encyclopedia entry is a bit biased. But, biased is different than inaccurate isn’t it?
The Wikipedia deals with “inaccuracies” by having hundreds or more people looking and editing the same article. Click on the Discussion tab of a large article sometime to see all the wrangling. But, having said that, it couldn’t possibly be accurate across the whole body of articles. A better word would by consistency. Now, if you’re the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, you can understand an attitude where inconsistency equals inaccuracy; plain and simple. I agree with that.
However, one should enlighten and encourage young researchers to look out for any “inaccuracies,” for they lay in wait in all sorts of source material. Secondly, you, yourself, may log on to Wikipedia and fix any inaccuracies that you find.
The other day I took a gander at the entry for Dwight D. Eisenhower and about cried. It was horrible. Horribly written. I would assign a letter grade of F to it. I am in the process of completely re-writing it.