Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wikipedia Test

For a long time I wondered how long it would take Wikipedia to edit an addition I would make to an entry that was either utterly wrong or offensive. I am not sure it was the most ethical experiment, but it was an interesting one.

In less than 12 hours, I am not sure exactly how long it took, all of the additions I made to Wikipedia was edited out. Also, I received a warning about being banned permanently from the pages I was editing. The Christopher Columbus page I got temporarily banned from, till early December, which meant I could not edit it for a couple weeks. The other pages I am not sure of, because I would only make one crazy edit, so the punishment was not as severe. My answer for the most part, to the question of how is Wikipedia policed, seems to be rather diligently. This is not saying that pages are not biased and do not have errors, but at the least it seems the administrators of Wikipedia eliminate, rather fast, any "vandalism" to their pages. Who knew someone actually was an administrator on Wikipedia? That must be a pretty boring job and I wonder if they even get paid?

Professors always point out the fact that anyone can go in and edit it, which is valid and troublesome at times, but I am not sure how long an inaccurate edit will stay. Something that is just blatantly wrong or biased seems like it will be taken off in a short amount of time. That sort of levels the reliability of the information. The best thing I have found to use Wikipedia for is finding more information on a topic. At the end of an entry there are related links and links to cited information. This usually leads me to where I want to go, so while I don't use what is on it, often you can get pointed in the right direction.

I would like to further test the reliability of Wikipedia, but my account will eventually just get banned from making any edits if I continue. I would have to make more accounts and continue to make more edits to truly find out how Wikipedia works, but that is something I do not have the interest to do.

In the end, look at a real encyclopedia, because that is done by experts and not a kid in high school.

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