Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More on (Not) Citing Wikipedia

The New York Times ran a good story about citing Wikipedia back in February. You can read it online here.

The most interesting thing about the article is the way the issue is framed by defenders of Wikipedia. With some justification, they take the rule against citing Wikipedia as a criticism of it. But they are not (necessarily) right to see it as a reactionary "censoring" of a perceived "threat to traditional knowledge". As I said in my previous post, there is no contradiction in banning citations of Wikipedia while encouraging its use.

As the article points out, Wikipedia can even be usefully included in classroom activities. (But, in my opinion, this requires that the teacher has a good deal of experience with Wikipedia, or that an experienced Wikipedian is drawn into the project in a supporting role.)

There is simply no contradiction between "I use it all the time!" and "Don't ever cite Wikipedia!"

While this policy proposal offers some interesting insights, it is too soft on the citation issue. Wikipedia should never be cited. That is, it should under no circumstances be cited as a source of information. It can of course be quoted in studies of Wikipedia.

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