Background and General Information
Wikipedia (Wik) is said to be one of the most famous online Encyclopaedias, but there are other Wiki pages which are like sister sites to this one. It’s pages are very popular amongst information seekers all over the world and it can be translated into almost any language so is very highly accessible. The site has not altered significantly in the time it has been available, so is relatively easy for people to use effectively as it is so familiar. On the Wik home page, there’s usually a featured article which is completely random, a ‘Did You Know?’ section which is good for a little entertainment and trivia, ‘In The News’ keeping everyone up to date on what’s going on in the world, and ‘On This Day’ which will be full of interesting and amusing facts. When users subscribe or become a member they can change the skin and layout of the page to personalise it to one’s own preference. Searching on Wikipedia is simple, it’s just a case of typing in the search bar. There’s other tricks people can use to make the search much more effective, like the use of the * or a ~ which will adjust the search accordingly. Then there is the spoken Wik, a really useful feature for those with hearing difficulties and impairments. It is not only searching and researching that users can participate in, but also writing their own pages of information and even the beginnings of potential printable content as well.
The Negatives and Disadvantages of Wiki
Many believe that Wikipedia is not a credible source of information and most, if not all universities have actually banned the use of this site (citing it, at least). The reason for this is that the information may or may not be correct at the time in which a person reads that Wik page, making it quite unreliable. Unfortunately there are individuals in the world who just love to cause problems, thus editing the Wikipedia pages because they find it highly amusing. On the other side of the coin there are those who actually write these articles, the ones who are supposed to be writing them. Some may question the authority of these writers and question whether they do or do not have expertise within this area, therefore potentially affecting the accuracy of the information. With regards to academic research and reading, professionals frown upon the use of Wik as they require much more in depth understanding, as well as thorough critical analysis of a subject.
The Positives and Advantages of Wiki
On the positive side to using Wikipedia, workers (volunteers) often work around the clock to edit or correct articles when they have been defaced. These workers are what is known as ‘Wikipedians’ and they watch out specially for people abusing the service Wik provides, the site is also updated very regularly so one may say that it’s mostly up to date. It is worth also giving consideration to the fact that Wikipedia is always at the top of the search engine, which proves the popularity of the site. Even though there seems to be stigma related to the use of Wikipedia, the public still use it consistently.
Wik is super easy peasy for just about anyone to follow so can be used as a valuable resource to gain a general understanding of a subject area, and follow the links to then study a topic in more depth using small manageable chunks. Some professionals would agree that for this reason, Wikipedia is a great starting point for research and then branch out to specific key areas. There are plenty of links and reference lists where students etc. can access more academically appropriate material. It is also beneficial for refreshing ones memory if an area has not been touched upon in a while. Users can easily search for trivial and low risk information using Wik, such as who the lead character was in a certain film, or who sang a certain song.
The pages are made up of different and varying opinions and information because sometimes things are not black and white and there is not always a clear conclusion. Wik portray the image of being unbiased in their information and prove this by giving alternating viewpoints. As a tool to using this source of information as well as to develop a person’s own ability to critically analyse, the site is best used with the use of one’s own judgement to make an informed decision on the legibility of the information. When all is said and done, using the page and citing it are two different actions. Citing the page will never be a great idea, but using the site as a starting point of study is a relatively good idea.
One of the reasons people like Wik is because it is always readily available so can be relied upon as a source of any information at any given time. Some consider Wiki pages safer and securer than other lesser known sites because it is easy and quick to browse with the comfort of knowing that there is no hidden pop ups or viruses attached on to the page.