Wikipedia: The Unreliable Encyclopedia

I was interested to see, in reading blogs authored by other members of the “environment” group, that many dislike Wikipedia as well, or simply avoid it altogether, inhibiting them from truly disliking because they do not spend enough time with Wikipedia. In addition, I have learned a great deal about Wikipedia’s article authorship from the assignments I have completed this week. For my other class, I examined the Flashpoint (TV Series) article on Wikipedia in detail. I could not confirm most of the information to be correct because I have not watched and studied the show to the same degree as the authors who on the “Talk” page were involved in great debates about the American vs. Canadian portrayals of information in regards to the show (I have only seen the first season). I was amazed at the level of authority some users had in comparison to others. A hierarchy blatantly exists in the discussion. Unfortunately, despite Flashpoint being a Canadian TV show, the Americans seemed to be at the top of the hierarchy, though it is debatable as to whether this is simply because they are more wordy, demanding, and rude. Regardless, the Flashpoint article that can be currently read on Wikipedia is authored by more than 450 people. The first edition of the article was 2,995 bytes in size. Today, the article is 54,720 bytes in size. It is likely that the article we read today is an entirely different work than the original. My question is this: How can 450+ authors/editors over a six year period produce a text that is entirely reliable? It is impossible. If the original document had been completely reliable it would not have required editing but for additions to plot and characters as the show progressed. If the original document, or even the 400th edit were entirely accurate the discussion on the “Talk” page would not have expanded after each edit to include a dialogue of what was wrong with the latest edit and what was still missing according to fanatics. If the 450th edit were reliable, the “Talk” page would not include comments like that of CharlieEchoTango, “What more do you want? Replacing this paragraph by “the show is set in Toronto” unnecessarily removes context,” made in response to a critique of this screen name’s latest edits. Wikipedia requires continual changes to content of article because the information is inaccurate and thus unreliable. Of course, the reality of editing wars cannot be over looked. A large number of edits made to articles are conducted because two users have conflicting opinions or perspectives. Editing wars present an addition problem: lack of neutrality. Wikipedia strives to maintain a neutral point of view in all articles. Editing wars exist because two or more users disagree in their viewpoints. Editing wars are proof that not only is Wikipedia an unreliable encyclopedia, but also that a neutral point of view is not achieved in all articles. Thus, Wikipedia is the informal encyclopedia, the unreliable encyclopedia and the biased encyclopedia.

Works Cited

Wikipedia. (2013). Flashpoint (TV Series). Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashpoint_(TV_series)

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2 thoughts on “Wikipedia: The Unreliable Encyclopedia

  1. Pingback: When researching the process of developing a Wikipedia | Bottled Water: Friend or Foe?

  2. Pingback: Module 3 Op-ed Piece | The Plastic Bag

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