Is Wikipedia reliable? Is it considered a source? Is Wikipedia good or bad? Both? A lot of questions arise when it comes to Wikipedia. Many experts will say Wikipedia is not reliable, others say its just a quick starting point for research. But overall, can we trust the information that’s put on Wikipedia by “average people”? That’s one, if not the main question presented by the 2-parted article: Henry Jenkins’ “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About New Media Literacies.”
The Wikipedia article I selected was Comedy Central’s Tosh.0. The show is considered controversial, shocking, and funny. Despite it’s infamous comedy style, the show is one of the most watched shows among adults (18-49) the night its aired, averaging millions of viewers (Tosh.0). I chose this page because of its history involving Wikipedia. Jenkins talks about collective intelligence, “the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal” (Jenkins). Just like the Tosh.0 page and others, people really do work together on Wikipedia to put together information for the common good. For example, the Tosh.0 page has had about 959 revisions, and 382 by top ten users. It averages about 16 edits a month, a slow average particular due to the page being locked to some. Most are minor, but Wikipedia and users do a good job at keeping the information relevant and accurate. Despite a control in user activity with the page, there’s can still be questions raised on true accuracy.
Is the information on Wikipedia put by people assumed to be correct 100% of the time? One can argue that not all information is right. Jenkins raises the question by stating, “There are legitimate concerns about the credibility of online information and the breakdown of traditional notions of expertise which should be debated.”(Jenkins) The statement refers to concern of the younger generation not questioning the source of Wikipedia; instead, they rely on it, or have too much “faith” in it. Because a lot of non-scholarly experts write Wikipedia pages, it’s hard trust in its accuracy. I bring up this point because Tosh.0 has had a history with Wikipedia. In 2010, Daniel Tosh told his viewers to change up a “boring page” for the show, causing quite a stir. The page was severely vandalized for comical reasons, resulting in a lockdown for the page, and an “apology” by Daniel to Wikipedia (Wikipedia).
Just like this page, if a student, referred by Jenkins, were to stumble upon wrong information on the page, would they question it? If a source of information can be altered and revised in a non-accurate way, is it still a true source of information? Yes and No. Its no surprise Wikipedia has suffered a lot of vandalism misfortune with its information. However, Wikipedia does its best to stop this kind of activity. For example it will lock up pages, so only a selected few can edit them. Such is the case with the Tosh.0 Wikipedia page that is still locked to the unregistered to this day. It is important to monitor activity on Wikipedia, since it is a source of information used by a lot of people. Even If the information is not scholarly, it is still information put together by people” towards a common goal.” Overall, Information should be questioned with Wikipedia, although it’s a still a good source for general knowledge, and not super-detailed, super-accurate knowledge.
Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 26 June 2007. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.
“Tosh.0.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
“Wikipedia in Culture.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.