Wikis and Credibility

The question is not just about Wikipedia and the The larger question considers the kind of credibility multiple authors create. Credibility is contextual - not absolute. Four guys taking football at the bar might be credible to a fifth guy listening in, while they might be talking hearsay and simply repeating what they've heard 1000 times before to a sports journalist. A PhD carries little creditability in popular discussion boards, while a street practitioner without a degree carries little in others.


Ethos: the guiding beliefs of a person, group, or organization
Many people use ethos in their writing to convince the credibility of either themselves or whoever they are talking about to the audience. Ethos is used to persuade to others that they know what they are talking about. With wikis, this is tricky to do since people can post anything and have their writing be anonymous. Even if the information is indeed factual, it's hard to be able to prove that it came from a credible source.

Information presented on wikis are quick and easy, but there is a time and a place to use wikis while looking for information on a topic.

Protecting Wikis Credibility

There are tools and people dedicated to making wikis a place where people can collaborate, share ideas, and give factual information and get rid of the WikiVandalism
Harvard Guide to Writing Sources

It has been drilled into my brain, as a Communication Arts and Literature graduate, that Wikipedia is not a credible source. Personally, I have mixed feelings. I think as we attend school and when we are young, we are told information that we are told to memorize, believe, and be assessed on. Then, as we get older, maybe high school or beyond, we learn something like Pluto is no longer a planet. Of course, you are given the facts and it makes sense, but that's not what you learned in school!? What are teachers for anyway?

That's how I look at a wiki page. I don't like that I am given information and then it has the potential to change. I am an adult, according to my age, and I should be able to handle change, but too much too often scares me. So, constantly changing and updating a not very attractive webpage... not my style.

Even PerdueOwlWritingLAb tells us to "Beware" of using Wikipedia as a CredibleSource.

However, if I often need quick factual information, I will use Wikipedia.

Obviously, as someone who has gone through high school, I have haunting memories of teachers forbidding us to use Wikipedia as a source, saying it's simply not credible. While I agree with this, there is actually plenty of Accurate information on Wikipedia. I believe that there are actually some good, knowledgeable scholars out there who will change information that they know is incorrect. However, being a college student, I know not to use Wikipedia as an important source for academic material. I have been told often by professors that Wikipedia is a good place to start -- just to get a hold on basic information on a certain topic or subject -- but to then move on to a more credible site.
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