Don’t be stupid – don’t use Wikipedia for serious business

Posted: May 6, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Uncategorized

wikipedialogo.jpgIF YOU NEEDED any more proof you shouldn’t use Wikipedia for serious research or work, here comes another one: a 22-years-old student attributed a quote he created to late Maurice Jarre, who died at the end of past month. Soon after, several major newspapers picked up the hoax and published it as a real quote:

“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear,” Jarre was quoted as saying.

However, these words were not uttered by the Oscar-winning composer but written by Shane Fitzgerald, a final-year undergraduate student studying sociology and economics at University College Dublin.

Mr Fitzgerald said he placed the quote on the website as an experiment when doing research on globalisation.

He wanted to show how journalists use the internet as a primary source and how people are connected especially through the internet, he said.

He picked Wikipedia because it was something a lot of journalists look at and it can be edited by anyone, he told The Irish Times.

Wikipedia is a great source, particularly for students and enthusiasts. However, you cannot use it for serious research – as I noted in the past. Ability of any user to alter Wiki articles make source’s information great in broad sense (for example, if you want to know why World War 2 started), but loses its credibility in particulars (when you need a specific number or quote).


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