Reading an Article on Wikipedia

As scholars, Wikipedia creates a major problem. There is a wealth of knowledge and materials available to anyone, but the drawback is anyone can edit the material. How do scholars utilize this tool? There are a number of steps a person can take in order to solve this issue.

The first is to inspect the content itself. Does the writing sound scholarly? How much depth is there (ie. – is it simple, short paragraph per section, or lengthy details)? Once satisfied with the content, how is it referenced? Any scholarly article needs to have extensive research in order to legitimize its facts and argument.

Another key way to check the accuracy of a Wikipedia article is to check how much and often it has been edited. Anyone can view past versions of a page, including the user who made changes and where. This can be seen by clicking on the ‘View history’ button on the top right of the page. Here people can see trends of how often a page is changed and to what sections, which can show whether the information currently shown is considered fact or if it is still debatable.

Some institutions have large numbers of links throughout Wikipedia. One of the best ways to see them consolidated is by using linkypedia. This site listed all the major institutions with links, and shows the various topics and pages that Wikipedia uses their information. Cross checking the individual pages with these institutions is one way to validate the information shown on Wikipedia. Most institutions frown upon citing Wikipedia as a source, and linkypedia is one way to find sources that do not have negative connotations.

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