Deborah Jones writes, “Once shunned by academics, Wikipedia now a teaching tool“.
I’m not sure what Ms. Jones refers to when she mentions that Wikipedia was shunned by academia. I remember my philosophy prof Wesley Cooper at the U of A giving his ok on it.
Regardless of consistent quality, I’ve always used Wikipedia as a starting point, meaning that I mainly looked it up to find source material. In this way, I used it just like any other encyclopaedia. I honestly can’t see how an university paper could be written any other way, other than going to the sources. A good university student writing an essay can’t be content with only citing one encyclopaedia, even Britannica at that. If this were the case, this would show a lack of research, specifically depth, and interest on the part of the student.
As for Britannica, it has had its own problems. I recall one embarrassing article that contained hearsay. This article lasted many years before it was fixed. I believe this was the article on “witch” where the words “witch” and “wizard” were reported to be equivalents, “WITCH and WIZARD . These two words are now generally used of … female and male respectively”. This is not true. The two terms are not equivalents as “witch” applies to both males and females.
This error was included in the highly esteemed classic Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition (which incidentally is now in public domain). If you look at the new version, the “witch” article does not even exist and there is no mention of the term “wizard” in the “witchcraft and sorcery” article. So did they realize they fumbled? Sure they did.
So what’s the “moral of the story” boy and girls?
By comparison … Wikipedia not so bad, considering there is no infallable medium of encyclopaedic information –especially considering that you should only be using any encyclopaedia as a jumping board to get a hold of source material.
I think (the title of) Jones’ article isn’t news worthy, and rather sensationalist. As for (the content) mentioning the giving of properly referenced Wikipedia article assignments rather than essays, I think it’s a great idea and contributes to society, rather than stacking papers that hardly anyone will ever read.
PS. I have a degree in Literature and Religious Studies so that’s why I know the semantic stuff. It’s not because I’m into the subject matter in any other way than in an academic fashion, if anyone is wondering.
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