According to Wikipedia
The phrase, "according to Wikipedia," can alone be a nightmare for both students and professors when writing or grading an assignment, but it is the go-to site for many when searching for information. Wikipedia has long been a source of information for millions of people around the world looking to gain knowledge on practically anything, from Syria to Lady Gaga, and even nuclear fission. It is visited by more than 497 million people a month, according to the statistics on the Wikipedia website. That means that on a daily basis, close to 17 million people are looking at allegedly unreliable information.
Other databases require much more specific search criteria in order to find information. Wikipedia only requires the user to type one word, and it can give a full history on a subject as simple as the color red.
Why exactly is it so hard to accept the site as a credible source?
Wikipedia has been deemed universally unreliable by almost every aspiring and professional writer, largely due to the fact that content can be edited at any time by online contributors.
Dana Del George, Santa Monica College English professor, said the fact that content on Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any given time damages its credibility, compared to resources that are controlled by publishers or experts contributing to a source.
"I love Wikipedia myself," said Del George, stating that she uses the provided links in the bibliography in order to look through other sources.
"That's often the first place I go to find out about a new topic," she said. "I understand what I'm looking at is just a first step and that I can't necessarily trust everything I find out until I get it confirmed by more reliable sources."
Del George once discovered false information in an entry about a story she was teaching in her class. Much to her chagrin, many students in the class had fallen prey to the inaccuracies, illustrating the obvious dangers of trusting information from Wikipedia
"I've had that happen to me before," said SMC student Nikola Spasojevic, who has experienced the repercussions of using Wikipedia as a source.
"The information I wrote in my essay was false, and my teacher knew right away that it was Wikipedia," said Spasojevic.
When asked if he would recommend Wikipedia to other students, he said that he definitely would not.
SMC student Ana Alvarez also expressed her caution with the popular online source. "I think it's fair for teachers not to let students use Wikipedia," said Alvarez. "The information that goes into Wikipedia comes from random people and is not reliable."
Alvarez said that Wikipedia is a good tool to use for something general, but she would not rely on it for a research paper of any sort.
With literally millions of articles at people's disposal, it is impossible to ignore the convenience of Wikipedia, and for what it's worth, it does stay up-to-date with its information.
When it comes to citing information gathered from Wikipedia, there needs to be a way to establish a system of use rather than abolishing its use altogether.
SMC student Gabriel Nathan said that if a student can corroborate information from Wikipedia with a couple of credible sources, then Wikipedia should be acceptable. However, he feels that just Wikipedia alone is not enough of a source to rely on. If students and teachers are openly admitting to using the site, then why is it condemned in the classroom?
Not allowing students to use the wealth of information found on Wikipedia is foolish. SMC and colleges nationwide should not give up on something that could be put to good use, but make it useful.
At the end of the day, students are told to stay away from Wikipedia due to the site's poor reputation. Arbitrarily, choosing to not use one of the Internet's largest databases is not conducive to learning.
Students and faculty need to reach a compromise to make the Internet's most popular encyclopedia more accessible in the college setting.
Wikipedia should not be banned, and there is no reason why it could not be incorporated into SMC's curriculum.
If colleges are having trouble coming up with a solution, then they can always just ask Wikipedia.