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Should students use Wikipedia for references?

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ENG5401 LEC0401 Ho Sing Benjamin Tam October 10, 2007 Should students use Wikipedia for references? The world is entering a new era after the invention of internet. People start to change their ways of livings as long as internet provides efficiency and convenience. For example, we can use online banking instead of lining up for bank service; we can purchase goods on the internet which will be delivered to you in a short while; and we can also look up the news around the world with a few "clicks" with the mouse. Internet revolutionizes all sectors in our economy and it affects everyone considerably. Since we are subjected to more internet researches and computer-based essays, the reliability of the internet resources has become a concern for both the teachers and students. It is our responsibility to ensure the references are valid, up-to-date and truthful. Teachers always advise and encourage students avoid using Wikipedia's sources because it is not reliable at all. ...read more.


Secondly, we can extract more relevant information and combine them together to have a more completed picture for the information in order to persuade ourselves to believe in the data. By the method of comparison and combination, we can further ensure that the Wikipedia's information is accurate and useful if we know the right method to appraise it. The most fatal criticism of Wikipedia is the editing function. It basically means that everyone who has the access to internet can edit the texts without permission. It adds to the uncertainty for the sources. Under this circumstance, we can check the editing history before we look into the content of the page. The editing history displays all the information about the editing, including the date of edition, the IP address of the editor and the edited contents. We can minimize the possibility of wrong information by checking the edited paragraphs to see if the added contents are compatible with the original texts. ...read more.


At the same time, editors occasionally use the wrong tone to express their opinions or ideas on the passage. If the authors edit the page in their own perspectives, that will lead to an unfavorable outcome because personal opinion may be inserted. It is our responsibility to inspect the objectivity of the Wikipedia because a more subjective passage will be less reliable than an objective passage since some individual comments may be added and that will be a wrong tone for an informative passage. By dissecting the wordings and tones, we can train our patient and endurance to absorb information from a long passage and also we can develop our objectivity skills to distinguish between general idea and personal opinion. Moreover, we can develop the observational skills because we will start looking at the key words in the passage for clarification of the objectivity. By verifying the wordings and tone of a Wikipedia's source, we go a step further to guarantee the authenticity and precision of the passage. ...read more.

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