Before this class I was confused about Wikipedia since some of the professors taught us that Wikipedia is editable from everyone so there can be many misleading. As well there is a bigger number of professors that supports the research in Wikipedia though. From my own experience I have had only positive experience and found only valuable information from it. Now that we have been going through Wikipedia a lot with this class and the information that this article gives to us I strongly agree that it is a great source of information. The article mentions that there is a complex and well stuffed system for dealing with disputes and misleading information in Wikipedia. There are also provided special tools to prevent vandalism. So in shorts there are organized sources that work for accuracy and against edit-warring, sock-puppetry and the like on Wikipedia.
While a little on the lengthy side, “Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert” by Maria Bustillos was a witty, well-written read that held my attention the entire time. In addition to being amusing, the content of the article was informative and could be related back to what we have been doing in class all semester. Throughout the semester we as a class have been using Wikipedia extensively. We have utilized Wikipedia both as a base for starting our research as well as adding research we found to be pertinent to the Vinegar Hill Wikipedia page. Contrary to most classes I have taken in the past, we were encouraged to look to Wikipedia as a starting point while performing research.
I especially liked when Bustillos discussed the benefits of viewing the history of Wikipedia pages. The history provides the viewer with additional insight to any potential controversies surrounding the topic that might exist. In addition, it provides a sense of transparency to how the page was formed. Unlike printed encyclopedias, the viewer can see who edits and contributes each piece of information. I think a sense of confidence in the material develops when an option to see every single edit exists.
“If learners are indeed doers and not recipients, from whom are they learning? From one another, it appears; same as it ever was.” The writer describes the definition of learning to be a two way street, which requires both “doing” and “receiving”. Learners may learn most effectively through interaction and hands-on experience or “doing.” Learners also benefit from other learners, as peer review or presentation is often pondered or “received”.
Wikipedia exacerbates this definition of learning, whereby users of Wikipedia are both doers and receivers. Users of wikipedia may “receive” numerous citations, but most effectively through reading effectively and through editing rigorously or “doing”. One of the comments I found funny, but relative was “How come Wikipedia hasn’t turned into a giant glob of graffiti?” By reading the article, I also learned that nearly two thousand administrators participate in maintaining Wikipedia.
While research can be facilitated through the use of “Google”, the quality of research is questionable. “Essential research” or “quality research” on the other hand can only be accessed through privilege. Privilege can be defined by economic and academic status (having financial stability to subscribe to private data hubs, or university journals, databases etc).
Contributing to Wikipedia will enable anyone (regardless of economic or academic standing) to conduct quality research. The greater public will have access to these documents, which are often cited by the contributors. Citations also provide the greater public with access to the agencies in which the documents were derived from.
Access to academic research has become more expensive each year. It is becoming a trend for schools to cancel subscriptions to academic journals due to insufficient financial means. Despite the fact that these journals are filled with research based articles written by researchers for free, the publishers, many of which are for-profit, sell access to the journals at inflated rates. An article can only be published in one journal at a time and cannot be posted or shared through other mediums. Because of this rule, the publishers are able to create a monopoly thus removing any preventatives that would control prices.
By contributing to public resources like Wikipedia, we are able to share this research with people who cannot otherwise access these journals. When a contributor adds cited data, we inform the reader of reliable information. This attempts to level the playing field of research. It aids people to do more thorough, extensive research because they are now able to access additional research-based sources.
Academic research is a privilege because only the few, usually institutions, who can afford to pay for access to it are able to use the most up-to-date research findings and information. Academic and research institutions are more likely to have access to research and peer review journals due to the high yearly costs, normally ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, that would prevent most individuals from being able to afford to pay for access to the journals. If academic research were a right, then there would be significantly less to no cost for access to the most up-to-date journals. (Today, there are financial cost even on things that we consider to be within our rights; for example, we have the right to a trial, but lawyers need to be paid and there are court fees. Usually the tax payers “flip the bill.”)
We can leverage the academic research privilege by contributing to public resources like Wikipedia, which will provide free and easy access to information that someone has obtained from using an “out-of-reach” academic research journal (properly cited of course). This would allow a large number of individuals, who are unable to obtain that academic research, to be able to have access to these priceless/invaluable research resources. Resources like Wikipedia, would facilitate a way to avoid huge fees and be a way, a “loop hole,” around the money barrier that would grant free and unlimited access to any researcher.