Wiki-what?!

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This week’s readings have surprised me, and I am having trouble deciding if I agree with the inclusionists or exclusionists more.

I did not think I would ever be reading scholarly articles written about Wikipedia, but maybe that is the point. I have been told by almost every one of my high school and university teachers that Wikipedia is not a valid source of information, and we must dis-credit it with the knowledge that ‘anyone’ can write what is on there. I think the inclusionist in me likes the idea of a web page that people can start and edit freely—as a sort of information democracy—however Carr argues that Wikipedia is not, and never has been open to all (p. 197). “From the start, Wikipedia has pursued two conflicting goals: to be an open encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and to be a serious encyclopedia that is as good as the best print encyclopedia” (Carr, p. 198). From this weeks readings I have learned that Wikipedia is semi-protected and there are still scholarly experts writing the majority of the articles that are published and approved on the site. In this sense, I agree with the exclusionists or deletionists because it results in the ‘most reliable’ information.

When I am doing research for a paper, or even just looking up a definition for something, usually one of the first search results I get on google is a Wikipedia page. A Wikipedia page is easy to navigate with its click-through headings, and it is usually clearly worded and simple to understand. In my own use, I have always found it to be reliable, and it has frustrated me that I have to spend an hour looking for a peer-reviewed article to cite on my paper that tells me the exact information—just in more complex sentence structure. So personally, I do think that through exclusionary practices, many students like myself would benefit from the validation of Wikipedia articles.

One thing I do not agree with however is the deletionist perspective on importance. They are absolutionists, and take it upon themselves to rank the importance of articles into some sort of social hierarchy (Carr, p. 198). The importance of any given subject is always subjective, and therefore inclusionist perspectives represent that as they acknowledge that any piece of given information can be deemed both important or not important dependent on the meaning put to it by the recipient.

So while I cannot seem to stick myself on either side of this debate, Carr argues that you cannot be both an inclusionist and exclusionist at the same time (p. 198). Therefore, I think I would have to pick the exclusionist standpoint because I use Wikipedia all the time, and I wish I could actually use it for what I find it most useful with—school! A very similar, more-open platform that people use and know it is not trying to be exclusionary, is Urban Dictionary. I think Urban Dictionary could continue to grow along with our ever-evolving language and ideas, while the Wikipedia pages could do the same, but be considered a more valid reference, while remaining clear and concise.

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