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Several colleges push to ban Wikipedia as resource

By: Lysa Chen

Issue date: 3/28/07 Section: News
Last update: 3/28/07 at 5:43 AM EST
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Although Wikipedia-like Google-has carved its way into the common vernacular, some say students should think twice before turning to the free online encyclopedia for their academic work.

Middlebury College's history department recently banned Wikipedia as a source for student papers, and professors at other schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Los Angeles, have followed suit.

Although Duke has yet to take an authoritative stance on the site, the academic ban has been supported by Wikipedia itself.

"We came out and said it was a sensible policy," said Sandra Ordonez, the Wikipedia Foundation's communications manager. "Students shouldn't be citing Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia for term papers or exams. It is not a primary source, not an authoritative source."

Sarah Deutsch, dean of social sciences and professor of history, said Wikipedia has not been a major concern with undergraduates at Duke.

"Our students know better to identify sources and check the validity of information," she said.

Ordonez said Wikipedia could be helpful to students in other ways.

"It's a really good place to start your research and get a global picture of the topic," she said. "Some professors actually use Wikipedia to show students how to use different sources to conduct research."

Margaret Humphreys, professor of history and associate clinical professor of medicine, said Wikipedia might be useful as a starting point but should not be the last source students check.

"The message of unreliability should be out there," she said. "The student could have written the article. His buddy next door could have changed it just for fun. Supposedly, there are these watchdogs-but who are they?"

Professors may also view a student citing Wikipedia as lazy, Humphreys added.

"It's not immoral or bad to use it-just stupid," she said.

Junior David Fiocco said he has used Wikipedia to find background information and references for papers but added that he would never cite the encyclopedia as a source.

"It's not reliable," he said. "But if I have a question about something I'm reading, I'll definitely Wikipedia it."

Freshman Natalie Harrison said her professors have advised against using Wikipedia.

"All my professors say, 'Don't trust Wikipedia,'" she said. "At the beginning of the semester, one of my professors went on a 10-minute rant."
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Viewing Comments 1 - 3 of 3

Katherine Travasso

posted 3/28/07 @ 10:58 AM EST

The title is misleading. It should be "Several colleges push to ban Wikipedia as **source**"

Lou Sander

posted 3/28/07 @ 11:25 AM EST

The fellow who gave Wikipedia the "same standing as any other encyclopedia" might not realize that other encyclopedias have recognized, non-anonymous contributors, professional editors, quality control procedures, etc. (Continued…)

SAMIAM

posted 3/29/07 @ 2:08 PM EST

GOOD FOR THESE UNIVERSITIES.

BAN WIKIPEDIA FOR LIFE.

KEEP OUR KIDS AWAY FROM THIS MISLEADING PIECE OF JUNK THEY CALL AN ENCYCLOPEDIA.

MANY MORE COLLEGES WILL BANK THIS JUNK. (Continued…)

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