michael post 1

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I am a Wikipedia user and I firmly believe it is a good starting point for research, especially when I have absolutely no prior knowledge of a person, event or topic of discussion. For instance, I recently was involved in a group discussion where someone casually referenced a person named Barbara Payton. From the reference, I assumed she was an actress or entertainer, but I had no idea at all who she was. A quick check of Wikipedia (2016) on my smart phone gave me a short synopsis of who this person was and why her name came up in this conversation.

However, in this case and others, it just gave me a basic idea of what the subject was. It doesn’t offer detailed information or scholarly research. Still, I have found the references (included in footnote style in almost all of the entries on Wikipedia) to be valuable in directing me to alternate sources for further research. In certain cases some of those referenced sources may be scholarly or peer-reviewed. At the very least, they lead the researcher to more investigation and give keywords or prompts that might help in a search for scholarly sources.

I think Wikipedia is a valid source for beginning research on a subject. I do, however, agree with the cautions that Maran (2011) warns its users to take. You can’t completely rely on information when you don’t know exactly who is providing it and you should never rely on only one resource of any kind. But most importantly, when the resource itself tells you not to implicitly trust it, you shouldn’t. So the question really is not ‘to Wiki or not to Wiki’? The question is actually, ‘to ONLY Wiki?’, to which my answer would be ‘no’.


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