The internet, as it is today, is crammed with information of just about anything, with information still being added and revised every now and then. Be this as may, the reliability of some of the information on the internet can be questionable, bringing in the need for a way of verifying their authenticity. Harris (1) recognizes this need and has come up with some steps that one can utilize in determining the authenticity of web information. This article will use the information from the article written by Harris to evaluate Wikipedia’s article on World War II with the aim of establishing if the information from the site can be regarded as reliable or not.
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The first step, according to Harris, is the pre-evaluation stage (Harris, par 4) in which one establishes what kind of information is required from a site, and this may either be facts, statistics, narratives, reasoned arguments, mentioning but a few. When seeking information about the Second World War, one would most likely be seeking for facts, statistics, and well-argued opinions that either affirm or dispute a position on the war. The information on the Wikipedia article is full of facts that are supported by publications.
Harris’ article points out that before deciding to rely on any information on a website, one should find out as many details as possible about the author and if they are affiliated to organizations that can be regarded as credible (Harris, par 5). The Wikipedia article has numerous authors whose details are not easily available. The only details available are the dates of the creation and revision of the article. One, therefore, has to rely on other quality indicators to determine the reliability of the webpage, in particular, the CARS Checklist. CARS is a synonym for credibility, accuracy, reasonableness, and support.
When one wants to make important decisions from certain information, the importance of the information being considered believable or credible can never be overstated. In this case, one needs accurate information on the occurrences in the Second World War, perhaps for an examination essay, and as such, the information has to be believable enough to the reader of the essay. The Wikipedia article, though it does not illustrate much detail about the authors’ credentials, is believable since it possesses an indication of quality control, meta information, and good grammar.
The articles quality control can be seen from the way data has been organized on the web page and there citations, some of which are derived from sources that have been peer reviewed before publication. Additionally, before any changes can be made to any article in Wikipedia, this article on World War Two included, an individual has to discuss it with other Wikipedia writers before being allowed to effect changes. This webpage is also semi-protected to prevent vandalism and unauthorized changes being done to it and one is required to open an account with Wikipedia in order to be allowed to edit this and any other page (Wikipedia, 1).
Metainformation is defined as information about information by Harris (par 12) and is a way of judging the content of a website by analyzing its ratings, recommendations, reviews and commentaries. When one uses the Google search engine to seek out details on World War Two, the first site that Google displays is the Wikipedia article meaning that the search engine ranks it first and recommends it.
An article has to also pass the accuracy test in order to be regarded as credible. This article is factual, up to date and is detailed to an impressive extent. It is listed as having been last modified on first June 2010 and as such, the data can be considered as applicable today. The article is comprehensively covered since it seems to have derived its data from multiple sources as shown by the numerous citations in the web page. The article also makes an effort to cover all the dimensions of the war including the background of the war and all the parties involved in the war.
The reasonableness evaluation of the article entails examination for objectivity, moderateness, fairness and consistency (Harris, par 24). Total objectivity may be unachievable but this article can be regarded as objective since its biases are controlled. The article is somewhat neutral since it does not openly support either the Allies or the Axis, though the Allies come out more in positive light. The Wikipedia article is moderate since it does not contain over exaggerated statements but instead gives reasonable estimates of whatever numbers and figures were involved in the war. The reasonability evaluation is further satisfied by the article’s consistency and comprehensive covering of the war.
The final of the CARS’ test is the test for statements that support the article. This mainly deals with the information corroboration and sources. Statements that are not common knowledge are to be cited as a way strengthening the information’s credibility. This World War Two article has been cited in all its paragraphs and even the statistics and event dates have been cited. In fact the whole article has 332 references from books, journals and other websites. This article also passes the collaboration test since much of the information contained in it can be found in other sources covering the same topic.
In conclusion, this Wikipedia article can be considered as credible since it satisfies most of the credibility tests included in the article by Harris. It author’s details may not be available but the article has been discussed by numerous people before being posted. Wikipedia also accepts modification to the article as long as the reviews are properly discussed before being effected.
Harris, R. Evaluating Internet Research Sources. 2007. Web.
Wikipedia, View Source, (n.d). Web.