There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Wikipedia as a source of knowledge production, particularly in academic settings. According to Boyd, Wikipedia is a bad site for knowledge production due to its ability to be edited freely by anyone (765). Credibility has many times been quoted as being one of the main reasons why students should not rely on Wikipedia. One of the reasons for this is that much information on the site cannot be verified. Additionally, sources used in the site are rarely cited (Boyd, 766).
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Despite these issues, Boyd makes it clear in her paper that students often rely on Wikipedia as a study site. In as much as teachers discourage the use of Wikipedia as an academic source, students still use it due to its ease of access (Boyd, 766). From Boyd’s work, it can be argued that one challenge of Wikipedia is that it does not help students understand the importance of ensuring credibility in their work. Citation is crucial as it shows the credibility of the facts that have been stated, particularly in academic work.
To some extent, Boyd also argues that the use of Wikipedia as a source of knowledge production can be turned positive (765). The author explains that the site, more often than not, has detailed information about events compared to published works. She cites the discussion forums that are attached to all Wikipedia sites as good for additional information. In reaction to this, it can be argued that the Internet has a lot of information. However, much is based on bias and, at times, lies. Wikipedia is not different from other websites. Regardless of whether the site offers a lot of information, the fact that it cannot be verified makes it a bad choice for academic research and knowledge production.
Suffices to mention, Wikipedia culminates in several opinions. The site has, thus, provided a platform where people can view not only the current and updated information but also get the opportunity to see how knowledge has evolved over time. According to Boyd, even though there are some advantages of Wikipedia, teachers still need to emphasize that the site cannot be used for knowledge production (767). The author argues that teachers have failed to fully explain to students why they should not use Wikipedia for an academic reference. To the author, a full and elaborate explanation would ensure that fewer students use the site.
In reaction to this, one can agree that, indeed, facilitators and teachers have not fully disclosed reasons why Wikipedia is not a viable academic research site. Many lecturers just indicate that the site should not be used for research purposes, but do not explain their stand. However, in as much as the site has been criticized for the credibility of its sources, students can get ideas on research topics and arguments from the site.
In conclusion, the credibility of crowdsourced information cannot be automatically categorized as inaccurate, and Boyd agrees with the stated premise (768). However, the fact that the information has not been reviewed and verified gives the site a bad reputation. Indeed, one of the strengths of Wikipedia is that it has combined different information from different sources all over the world, and made it easily accessible to the public. Even with its flaws, if used properly, Wikipedia can be a valuable tool for students.
Boyd, Danah. “Wikipedia as a Source of Knowledge Production.” It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press, 2014, pp 765-770.