from the don't-trust-everything-you-read-online... dept
A columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard apparently recommended Wikipedia as a good independent source for information. However, a librarian wrote him to complain about Wikipedia, and now another columnist has decided to spend an entire column bashing Wikipedia as a source because (gasp!) “anyone can change the content.” The worried librarian claims that there’s no editorial review on Wikipedia which shows a distinct lack of understanding about what Wikipedia is or how it works. She goes on to explain her main reason for distrusting Wikipedia as a source: the disclaimers on Wikipedia itself explaining how the site works. What’s most amusing about this fear mongering piece concerning Wikipedia is that the librarian in question claims that she uses Wikipedia as an example of an “untrustworthy” site in trying to teach students to develop critical thinking skills. If that’s true, she’s doing a dreadful job. If they really wanted critical thinking skills, shouldn’t they do more than trust this uninformed librarian, but do a little research about Wikipedia itself, how it works, and how the power of Wikipedia is the fact that it is edited — but by anyone else using Wikipedia? There’s just something that seems to freak people out about Wikipedia, when they can’t fathom the idea that “the masses” could produce something of value by simply being able to correct each other, allowing them to build something much more beneficial and much more useful than an expensive encyclopedia edited by just a few people. The columnist ends his piece by stating: “you need to be careful about trusting what you read,” while taking this email from a random librarian completely at face value.