Oh, Wikipedia. How many times have my professors warned me repeatedly about the evils of that website? Over and over again, they have vilified Wikipedia for not being a scholarly source from which to draw information to write the researched papers required for their class.
But more and more, professors are coming to see that while Wikipedia itself may not be a scholarly site to visit for reliable, valuable information, Wikipedia can be used as a hub or node to point out where good, well-researched information could be found.
For example, here is an entry on the Ottoman Empire when I query “Ottoman Empire” on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire. Although there is some great and intriguing information on this website, no researcher of the Ottoman Empire can be truly sure if the claims made by the author or authors are made through a scholarly medium. The wonderful thing about Wikipedia is that one can make footnotes to the written contentions you make in the article. For example, facts about the tragic Armenian Genocide are footnoted to a Peter Balakian, who wrote, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response. (New York: Perennial, 2003). As one can see, the claims of the Armenian Genocide are not just mere facts or even wild contentions, but claims drawn from scholarly sources, such as Mr. Balakian’s analysis of it in his book.

However, there are wikis that are a little different from the Wikipedia, which serves as a massive, multi-lingual hub for information on countless subjects and a plethora ideas and beliefs. Some wikis are a bit specific. For example http://www.wowwiki.com/Portal:Main is a Wikipedia site solely dedicated to all things World of Warcraft: the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG – a socially vibrant gaming world where players may play, fight, trade, do business, or just chat in an imaginary fantasy virtual world), which has a dedicated, monthly subscription of over 15 million players world-wide. If anyone needs anything at all about the “WoW” universe (as it is called in internet shorthand), he or she goes to wowwiki to find all their World of Warcraft needs.

Similarly, http://lotro-wiki.com/ is the specialized Wikipedia that players of Lord of the Rings: Online (LOTRO) go to for finding all the information they need for their game of choice. LOTRO is similar to WoW in that LOTRO is also an MMORPG.

Comments

  1. ewuepper on 05.24.2010

    I actually had a professor who said Wikipedia was a good source for information and said we could site articles from it in our research papers for that class. I’m not sure if this is an example of how teachers are coming to recognize the potential of Wikipedia or how out-of-touch that one particular professor was. Maybe a little of both?

  2. jajamoo on 05.25.2010

    I would imagine that the wiki article itself is not a good source but it can lead to sources that are considered more “scholarly.”

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