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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wikipedia Being Used As "Legitimate" Source

More and more, we are seeing on-line sites being used as supposed legitimate academic sources. For the most part, if these sources are from known sites, teachers and Professors will approve them. Many Professors are now asking students to run their on-line sources through the teacher in order to get them approved. Also, many Professors are taking time out of the first class of the semester to explain what they consider the criteria for the legitimacy of on-line sites for sources. It differs a bit from teacher to teacher, but there are general guide-lines that are used by each teacher. The highlight of the possible folly of relying on on-line sites to provide academic integrity and facts is Wikipedia. It is not really an online "Encyclopedia", as you would think of it. No, encyclopedias like Britannica are written, approved, and supervised by scholars and experts in the topics that are covered. Wikipedia is the self proclaimed "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit". Yes, ANYONE. Any Joe Shmoe, with not one second of real knowledge or expertise in any given subject can go in and edit the information given on any given topic. Some Neo-Nazi anti-Semite can, for example, go into Wikipedia, look up The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and type in that history has never proven that these documents are a forgery, and they are historically accurate. What do you think your teacher would say if you handed in your paper on the topic, wrote that in there, and then cited Wikipedia as your source for it?

Many simple topics are usually described correctly, with links to where one can gather more information on the subject. I find Wikipedia is usually a decent source for technology questions, but I always make sure to look at another proven technology site, like cnet. Wikipedia is an open and free range site. NO teacher or Professor with any inkling of academic knowledge and integrity would ever allow a student to use Wikipedia as a source in any of their papers or presentations. In my MA program, if I were to use it as an academic source, my entire paper would be graded with a F, even if I used Wikipedia just once or even for the most minute thing. If you're allowed to use it as a source in your undergrad program, your teachers and professors aren't worth a damn, and they are setting you up for future failure. More than that, your school is a complete farce.

Wikipedia allows any user, registration is extremely easy, and they don't ask for academic references in order to sign up, to edit, move, or even DELETE "facts" that already appear on a given subject. They are allowed to add links that support, what can only be described as, their opinions. So, given these facts, how do we approach people, or bloggers that use Wikipedia as the source to "prove" their opinions as fact?

One such blogger is using Wikipedia as the reference to prove that Zionism is nothing more than a violent creation that had its eyes on blood shed from its creation, and that it set out to purposely destabilize the Middle East for their own selfish gains and goals. This person is also using Wikipedia as a resource as s/he explains how "Hasbara" is nothing but an evil Zionist plot to brainwash children and black-mail the world to do Israels bidding. I refuse to give a link or blog name reference to this person as that would be an equivalent to hat-tipping, and I will not participate in promoting this person's blog. They can promote themselves when they comment on this post. READ THE REST...

Straight out, this blogger probably feels that their ideas and opinions are legitimized by using Wikipedia as a source, thereby masking their own predilections in the fake clout of academic security. "Well, see, I've cited a source to back up my claim. Therefore, my opinion holds more weight and is backed up by a reference that proves that what I'm saying is true." Of course, this is a farce, but it is a potentially dangerous trend. This blogger is, I believe, a college undergraduate student. Talking about the problems currently plaguing the US college system is an article for another day. However, this is not the first college student/blogger that has attempted to legitimize and promote false facts via the citation of Wikipedia or other illegitimate online sources. If they believe that these illegitimate sources are actually reliable academic sources that can be used in a paper or debate or even to promote their own ideas, these kids are in more trouble than even I previously believed. If you can't find the facts to support your theory, hypothesis, or opinion, than don't attempt to use false sources in order to bolster your claims, and simply state that this is your own opinion; nothing more. If you're attempting to pass opinion off as "fact", or "revisionist history", with only Wikipedia to cite as a source than you're in a very sad and sorry state, and you need to actually go to a library and ask the librarian, nicely, what a legitimate academic source is. Librarians are very helpful. They'll only laugh a little when you say you thought Wikipedia was a legitimate source. Well... then, they'll laugh a lot with the other librarians after you've left, especially after s/he mentions that you're a college student. Then, they might sigh a bit at the colleges' sad state of affairs, that a student that is paying $30,000+ doesn't even know what an academic source is.

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At 10:07 PM, Blogger amechad said...

Yup. Wikipedia can be very useful (too useful in fact, sometimes. It makes things too easy but then you can't cite it!) but not academic.

The problem is most blogging and too much advocacy work on any side is not academic or often based on credible, legitimate sources.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Behemoth101 said...

And what about your "expert lebanese source" on nuclear testing in Lebanon? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/?

What's supposed to legitimize your rabid right-wing rag as being the definitive source of info? You know 99% of media (ESPECIALLY Israel's) is to make a profit by selling you what you want to hear.

1% is reporting the facts.

At least wikipedia isn't in it for a profit.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

So, you are saying that any publication that makes a profit is illegitimate? There goes every academic research in the world. Not to mention, all those lovely newspapers that you love to quote, like The Independent, The Guardian, and the BBC. Are you trying to claim, then, that the quote from the Lebanese source is a falsity? Is that what you're trying to do? Are you saying that no Lebanese scientist every made these claims?

Regardless, one has nothing to do with the other. Your answer has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything relating to Wikipedia's use as an academic source. Trying to use the "well, you're a poopy head" argument really doesn't cut it. Wikipedia is an illegitimate source, period, and, once again, hurling baseless accusations, with no provided facts, proofs, or sources to back up your claim (other than your own opinion that you believe is fact) and name calling is just another way to delegitimize your argument further. I will ask again, do you have anything of substance to contribute? Or, are you going to stick to the left-wing talking points of when attacked with the facts just attack back with name calling, ridiculously baseless statistics, and loud accusations? Make up your mind. Either, you're returning here to contribute to the discussion, or you're just here to rant and rave. If the answer is the latter, then don't come back. You're wasting good computer space.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Here is the actual Daily Star, Lebanon's own paper, from which the Lebanese scientist is quoted:
But, then again, this is a Lebanese guy "siding" with the Israelis. He must be a plant or a mole. There's no way that Israel didn't do all those g-d awful things The Independent is accusing them of.

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Behemoth101 said...

The Daily Star is notoriously pro-Hariri and therefore pro-placating Israel.

and with regard to "The Independent, The Guardian, and the BBC" from which I "love to quote" you must have me confused with gert.

Wikipedia is a legitimate source so long as it is not abused. In the case of Hasbara, I quoted an article with a very balanced perspective that explains things from multiple sides. You should not be so upset, it merely was the launching point for my debate.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Behemoth, you really don't understand the concept of academic research. You don't question the source. You question the legitimacy of the information. If you think that every paper, news source, etc. that might be pro-Israel is illegitimate, and every same piece of information that is anti-Israel is legitimate, than you have serious problems. You bring no proof, other than your prejudices, that the story is false. Do you have a contradicting source that says that this Lebanon story is false? Do you have a contradicting paper making alternate statements about the same story and Lebanese science institute?

Again, just hurling the statement, "Well, the paper is pro-Hariri, so of course they're going to have pro-Israel stories" is not a legitimate rebuttal, nor does it refute anything I've said. If you have actual legitimate proof, then bring it in, and we'll discuss it. If all you have is more accusations, then what you're saying has no meaning.

So long as it's not abused? Again, ANYONE CAN EDIT IT. The Wikipedia runners have admitted, themselves, that there are simply too many articles and posts written, edited, and deleted every-day that they can't keep of them all. It's abused thousands of times over every single day, and they've admitted it. Again, Wikipedia is an illegitimate source. You can't or shouldn't, if your school's worth a damn, use it to cite as source and expect that it'll be acceptable. There's no justifying it, and your justification is worthless since no teacher, Professor, or even newspaper editor would ever accept it, nor would they accept your explanation as legitimate.

You want to back-track now and say you were using as something other than what it clearly appears to be, that's fine. I don't care. But, it's absolutely clear that you were using it to legitimize your opinions as more than such. Why don't you run this by one of your Writing Professors and see what they say, M'kay? Then, let me know how that works out.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger aliyah06 said...

Behemoth isn't interested in informed opinions or intellectual scholarship. Check out his hatefest at http://kampfeblog.blogspot.com/ if you have either a strong stomach or a weak mind. He took pot shots at Westbankblog also. Note his title is "KAMPFeblog"--neoNazi to the core, sounds like.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

aliyah, I totally agree with you. His blog is entirely about hate and hate mongering. Again, the American college system is in a sad state of affairs, because it's obvious this person hasn't been taught how to reason, argue, and develop a thoughtful idea based on established facts instead of bigotry.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Behemoth101 said...

I'm glad I convinced you of all that.

Unfortunately, the larger movement in the U.S.A. right now is Christian Messianism and Zionist supporters.

As far as my academic integrity - I can quote you the Encyclopedia Britannica on Hasbara and it would say damn near the same thing. Wikipedia should not be rejected out of hand. That sounds a lot like your argument against my definition of "illegitimate sources."

And for the record, "Kampfe," like "Jihad," is an untranslatable word connoting a great struggle- be it physical or metaphysical in nature.

You might recall an uplifting spiritual song Jews used to sing in the concentration camps... the Klezmatics play it in their repertoire and it is called - "In Kampf".

It's easy for the linguistically and intellectually challenged to associate these words exclusively with violence because of some unfortunate historical examples.


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