Over the years that Wikipedia has been running, there has been a continuous debate on whether it is a reliable resource or not and no one has been able to come up with a conclusion. However, there are many people who think that they have come up with a compromise, which includes Wikipedia being a good source for basic information but not for the sole information of any given topic. Especially for college students, Wikipedia can get tricky in the sense where it is easy to just read through and agree with; however, it may be misleading and have incorrect information.
People including college English instructor Jenny Meister, Marquette University Law School student blogger Jessica Slavin, and Internet executive Mark Moran can all agree that Wikipedia is helpful in college research but only for basic knowledge, not for sole information. Throughout college, students must do a lot of book and computer research in order to do papers, class work and home work. The computer research is what scares professors the most because they know how easy it is for the students to click the first link that comes up on Google-Wikipedia.
These students seem to get all of their information from the website, which can be edited by anonymous sources at any time. This means that the information is not always correct which can be frustrating to professors. “As someone who’s been there and done the grading thing, I can tell you that when a professor flips to your Works Cited page and glances over your list of sources, a page full of Wikipedia entries is going to spark a frenzy of eye-rolling and red pen” (Meister).
College students not only have to worry about having the wrong information in their school work, but also need to consider Wikipedia in their future careers. They must ask themselves how they should use it and the proper way to use it without hurting themselves. For example, law student Jessica Slavin had stated she was only going to use Wikipedia for background information. “I will admit that I sometimes read a Wikipedia entry if I want background information about a topic. I do not think, though, that I would cite an entry as proof of anything in court” (Slavin).
Wikipedia can be useful at times for background information about a topic, however, it can not be trusted because you are never sure who is writing it, if it is from a reliable source, or if the information is completely accurate. In Mark Moran’s blog about how Wikipedia is not reliable he makes one important point on why it should not be trusted for sole information. “In March 2009, Irish student Shane Fitzgerald, who was conducting research on the internet and globalization of information, posted a fake quotation on the Wikipedia article about recently deceased French composer Maurice Jarre.
Due to the fact that the quote was not attributed to a reliable source, it was removed several times by editors, but Fitzgerald continued re-posting it until it was allowed to remain” (Moran). Moran is making the point that it is the contributor with the strongest agenda who “wins” and it is not always the one with the most correct information, which makes the site less reliable. For many years, Wikipedia has been known as an unreliable source and to be unused in school, although, it can be useful at times for basic information.
Throughout college, students use Wikipedia as a main source which is giving them the wrong information in papers, class work, and school work, which is extremely frustrating for the professors to see. The students need to consider their future and if they would use Wikipedia as a primary source when they are at their future careers. College students should be allowed to use Wikipedia, but only as a basic information source in order to get background knowledge on a topic.