Wikipedia is in itself a wiki. This means that anyone can edit the source, filling the articles with their own knowledge. However, the fact that anyone can edit the article calls into question the legitimacy of Wikipedia, because all editors can not only change articles, but they are also anonymous. Thus, any changes that are inaccurate cannot be traced back to the one who made the change. For this reason, Wikipedia is often dismissed as an illegitimate source of information.
However, Wikipedia is still heavily used. Wikipedia should not be used in order to write an essay, for it is only an introduction to the material. Not only is it an easy and accessible source of information, but Wikipedia also doesn’t go too in-depth into the information presented. This allows people who simply want to be updated on information to browse Wikipedia. The purpose of Wikipedia is not to give analysis or opinions on the topics it presents, but simply to give the individual who reads it a basic overlay of the information. However, Wikipedia does provide websites below the article which can be used to trace back the information to other sources and find more in-depth information.
In a survey of 175 students at Rockhurst, it was found that around half of the students have found incorrect information on Wikipedia; nevertheless, they trust the source to be accurate and with information able to be used. “While it’s been ingrained in my head not to use Wikipedia for things like research papers, I still go there to find information about stuff I don’t know or understand”, said junior Ross Wojyk.
However, roughly two-thirds of the students also say that Wikipedia is not the first place they visit in order to get information. While Wikipedia is the first place to go to get a basic overview of the topic, 60 percent of a Rockhurst students don’t visit the website first.
Wikipedia is still a very important part of information gathering. Whether or not it is used as a first place to find information, many Rockhurst students trust the information they receive from Wikipedia. The purpose of Wikipedia is valuable just for the fact that it gives the basic outline of a topic and that it can guide students to other sources that can give a more in-depth analysis of the topic.