Is it reliable? Can I cite it? Why not? What even makes a good academic source? Is Google a good source? Whether staff or student most of us have asked ourselves these questions at some point. In many cases we’re told an answer in no uncertain terms, but how much thought has gone into those assertions that Wikipedia is unreliable?
In her book It’s Complicated danah boyd examines they way we look at information online and challenges these assumptions. She also talks about many different aspects of online life, it’s a great book and available free online on her site, you should definitely go and read it.
boyd argues that Wikipedia could be seen as a fantastic source as not only is the information referenced (in most cases) but the decision making process behind how what’s included and what isn’t is openly available too.
So as we here at digifest love a debate and to make things we thought an edit-a-thon would be the perfect way to explore all of the issues surround Wikipedia and produce some nice content. Given that Wikipedia itself is controversial we thought that we could focus our edit-a-thon on controversial pages (eg. hoaxes, alternative medicine, the paranormal, feminism, racism, climate change, contested territories, and religious beliefs). This will force us to examine our own biases and the veracity of the information we contribute, in short, be good academics.