Political Education

Wikipedia’s Donation Drive

As a teacher, I am not a big fan of Wikipedia. Students, just like adults, are lazy. And students will use Wikipedia articles as their only source material rather than doing their own research.  Students also do not realize that anyone can edit Wikipedia articles, and because of this, the material may or may not be true.  Does this mean I don’t use Wikipedia?  Of course not. I use it in my day-to-day life just like anyone else, but I also know not to rely on it as my only source for information.  Recently, I have noticed giant yellow banners at the top of my Wikipedia searches asking for money.  This banner shows up once or twice a year to raise money for the site, like a PBS telethon. And it works.  In January 2012, Wikipedia raised $4.2 million in one day and $20 million in its 46-day campaign.  Figures are not publicly available for its most recent donation drive.

I find Wikipedia itself interesting.  I love books and research and everything that comes with having a degree in history and, yet, I still love Wikipedia’s convenience.  In most cases, the question you are looking for an answer to can be found on Wikipedia and you can be reasonably sure that the answer is correct.  When I was in high school, searching the Internet for a specific answer was like navigating a minefield where you were hoping and praying you would find a source that seemed correct.  I think that Wikipedia is an outgrowth of our technology-driven inability to focus as a society.  I am not saying that I don’t belong in this group.  As a person sitting in bed writing a blog post on her laptop with Skype running on her iPad, I am not immune to this.  Is it a good thing? I don’t think so.  But is having a place to find a large amount of information that is largely reliable?  I do believe that is a good thing.  That doesn’t mean though that good, old-fashioned library research should end, because individual research, in my opinion helps create informed individuals with their own opinions and ideas about a topic, not just the opinions of the person who wrote the article.

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