A few years ago, my father and his friend Jason were surfing the web and stumbled across the Wikipedia entry about how the dinosaurs went extinct.
This page stated that one of the main theories of how they went extinct was that “Your mom ate them.” Now, I do not know your mother, but I am fairly certain that she did not, in fact, eat the dinosaurs into extinction. This is a great example of how the user generated site, Wikipedia, although popular, is not a credible resource because of its lack of accurate information. Wikipedia is indeed a user-friendly source of information. It is very easy to use and search and is formatted in an efficient way. At the very top of the page is an outline of the article which contains links that take you to whatever section you need instead of having to scroll through several paragraphs of information to get to the part that you need.
Also contributing to the popularity of Wikipedia is the fact that, when you do a Google search, Wikipedia is often one of the first sites that appears, and students usually open the first or second option without looking through some of the other sites. Yes, Wikipedia does seem to be the perfect source of information, but do not be deceived. For at the top of that Wikipedia entry on the fourth tab lies the dreaded “Edit” button, acting as a gateway through which people can spew their idiocy onto the web. With just one click, anyone can add to the contents of any Wikipedia entry.
This may seem convenient for those who actually know what they are talking about, but, unfortunately, most people out in the World-Wide Web do not know what they are talking about or are deliberately misleading the public. One site that clearly demonstrates an intentional effort to deceive is a website about Martin Luther King Jr. that was founded by a white supremacist group. It is incredibly easy for anyone to change the contents of an entry to say whatever they want. True, Wikipedia does have people who scour each entry to make sure of the validity of it, however, there are millions of entries that are being changed constantly and they cannot always make sure that every single one of them is one hundred percent accurate all of the time.
Wikipedia itself said that, though it is updated constantly, there is no way to know for certain how often it is fact checked. Due to the sheer number of people editing each Wikipedia entry, there are bound to be countless untruths embedded in them. In 2005, CNET News found that there was an average of 3.86 errors in each Wikipedia entry, and those are only the ones that someone caught. The number is much higher now due to the increase of people with internet access and free time.
Students really should only use Wikipedia for early research for an essay and should never be cited as a source. Students shouldn’t really use any type of encyclopedia as a source. Most of them are outdated and can have just as many errors as Wikipedia. I implore you. Make better choices as to where you get your information. High school and college students should know what a credible source is, and Wikipedia is definitely not one of them.
You are all smart enough to know that not everything on the internet is true, and you should be using much more advanced resources. If you feel that you just have to use Wikipedia, then at least check your facts. You are not stupid. Why would you listen to stupid people?