While watching Super Bowl pre-game and editing an article about a winery in Sonoma (taking a break from public art!) a colleague of mine shared this article with me:
The Top 10 Reasons Students Cannot Cite or Rely on Wikipedia by Mark E. Moran
She found this article via the professional organization the American Association for State and Local History, who posted it on their Twitter account.
Alright, maybe five or ten years ago this had some validity. Educators historically freaked out when Wikipedia came to light, claiming it was a poor source to cite. But, as many people know, that's not the point of Wikipedia. NO student should "CITE" Wikipedia in any project - Wikipedia is a starting point.
I tried to post to the articles comment section multiple times and kept getting pop up windows to share the article on Facebook every time I hit the submit button. So here is my brief and opinionated idea behind this poorly thought out article:
This article is hilarious. As an active female Wikipedian who is also a student obtaining my Masters in Museum Studies, I'm insulted by this.
Yes, there are jerks who abuse the power that Wikipedia has allowed them, but a large amount of articles are well sourced and are well maintained by good passionate well-educated people.
In my research I often use Wikipedia as a starting place. It is a requirement for articles (if they wish to not be deleted) to have well cited sources in the article page, which provides a great resource for researchers of all backgrounds and levels. The goal is to provide verified information. Wikipedia was never meant to be the number one cited source for anything, it's just a starting place, a place for you to be inspired, to explore more, and to share with the world what you've learned.
I'm also active in task forces that are seeking to expand women's contributions and studies on Wikipedia. Perhaps if you "researched" more on what Wikimedia Foundation is doing to better Wikipedia and the mission you'd think differently. There are also groups dedicated to museum coverage - why would the British Museum or the Children's Museum of Indianapolis entrust a Wikipedian-In-Residence to train their staff about how to use the website, and allow that Wikipedian to share information on selected objects with the world via the website? Obviously these well respected institutions must find something valid about what Wikipedia's doing.
Then there is the Campus Ambassadors program, which has Wikipedia working with universities such as Duke, Georgetown, George Washington University, Indiana University, and many others, to teach students and professors how to edit and utilize the website. I guess it's not trustworthy if GWU and IU are supporting it?
This way of thinking may have had some validity years ago when Wikipedia (now ten years!) first made it's appearance, but, I believe you'll be eating your words, if you aren't already.
It's equally insulting that AASLH would share this with the public. In a time when Wikipedia is celebrating it's 10th anniversary and celebrating its efforts and challenges, people still insult us with outdated articles like this.
I'm really loving the tweets from educators stating that they dock students 10% if they "cite" Wikipedia. I would too! It's like using the Encyclopedia Britannica as your source, you just don't do that. Perhaps you can educate your students on how to utilize the internet better for research, and you wouldn't be having to dock students for their research attempts.
Another colleague just stated that perhaps a clever soul should write a Top 10 on why AASLH folks should contribute to Wikipeida. In a female dominated industry you'd figure it'd be of interest - all that research, why not share it with the world?
What are your thoughts?