Wikipedia – Handle with care?

During my BESIG presentation the subject of {{link http://www.wikipedia.com Wikipedia}} came up and it was agreed it is “a good thing”. Everybody said it is a great source of quick, clear information both for teachers working in ESP and for learners who want to research a topic or collect and learn vocabulary connected with a topic.

However, because of their very nature, {{link http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=define%3A%20wiki&hl=en&meta= wikis}} are prone to error, misinformation and can become arenas of disagreement between contributors.

In a recent article – {{link http://technology.guardian.co.uk/opinion/story/0,16541,1599325,00.html Can You Trust Wikipedia?}} – the Guardian asked a number of experts to rate the accuracy of Wikipedia’s entry on their specialised subjects. The results are instructive (if only in that they reveal the snobbishness of some of the experts).

I do not think this means we should stop using Wikipedia but we need to keep in mind, and possible also reminder our learners, that it isn’t the final word on any topic.

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