Wikipedia is a Credible Source
Several people have told me that Wikipedia is not a credible source because "anyone can edit it." For years, I believed this assertion simply because it appeared to be true. Now, after a closer look, I have reversed my opinion. Wikipedia is a credible source.
II. Debate Structure
This debate will proceed as follows:
2. Opening Arguments.
5. Closing Arguments.
III. Debate Rules:
1. Kritiks are strictly prohibited.
2. All sources must be cited.
3. Forfeiture is prohibited.
*Failure to comply with the rules will immediately result in a loss for the offender.
I am confident that this will be an excellent debate.
Furthermore, I wish the best of luck to whoever accepts this debate.
- Mr. Speaker
I must admit I had to "bing" Kritiks, haha. I accept this debate and look forward to it.
I would like to begin this debate with three definitions:
"[A] multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content." 
"[Able] to be believed : reasonable to trust or believe." 
" [One] that supplies information" 
With these definitions established, I will now proceed to my one and only opening argument.
I. Wikipedia is a Credible Source.
Proving this claim is essential to this debate as it is the resolution itself. Let me start by seemingly disproving my position.
According to Harvard University,
"[The] information on Wikipedia is contributed by anyone who wants to post material, and the expertise of the posters is not taken into consideration. Users may be reading information that is outdated or that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation ... Some information on Wikipedia may well be accurate, but because experts do not review the site's entries, there is a considerable risk in relying on this source for your essays." 
Furthermore, Wikipedia itself admits:
"Wikipedia is not considered a credible source. Wikipedia is increasingly used by people in the academic community, from freshman students to professors, as an easily accessible tertiary source for information about anything and everything. However, citation of Wikipedia in research papers may be considered unacceptable, because Wikipedia is not considered a credible or authoritative source." 
Now, do these quotations crush my assertion that Wikipedia is a credible source? As I will attempt to prove, the answer is a definitive no.
There are three reasons why Wikipedia should still be considered a credible source.
1. Wikipedia is Peer-Reviewed.
Perhaps what surprised me the most when I registered for a Wikipedia account is how difficult it is to produce false information. Why? Well, there is a system in place that alerts thousands of volunteer editors of literally every edit to an article. These editors then review the edit for correctness; errors or items of misinformation are usually spotted and either corrected or removed. Don't believe me? Read this:
"There are about 70,000 active contributors working on more than 38,000,000 articles in 290 languages. As of today, there are 5,100,158 articles in English. Every day, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to augment the knowledge held by the Wikipedia encyclopedia ... What is contributed is more important than the expertise or qualifications of the contributor. What will remain depends upon whether the content is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people, and whether it fits within Wikipedia's policies, including being verifiable against a published reliable source, thereby excluding editors' opinions and beliefs and unreviewed research. Contributions cannot damage Wikipedia because the software allows easy reversal of mistakes and many experienced editors are watching to help ensure that edits are cumulative improvements."
2. Wikipedia is Credible as a Tertiary Source.
While Wikipedia is not a primary or even secondary source, it is - by nature of being an online encyclopedia - a tertiary source. In short, Wikipedia contains summaries of various information with additional, more authoritative sources attached for further reading. This is the essence of a tertiary source.
Now, given the facts the it is peer-reviewed, Wikipedia is a credible tertiary source.
3. Wikipedia is Intended for a Different Audience with Different Expectations.
Professor generally do not allow their students to cite Wikipedia in their papers, and rightly so, because Wikipedia is naturally not a scholarly source. Notice that I said "scholarly", not credible. Sources can be credible even if they do not meet the stringent requirements of scholarship. Thus, the ban against citing Wikipedia has little to do with its overall credibility. Rather, the real reason that Wikipedia is prohibited is because it is simply just the wrong type of source for academia.
But for the non-academic world, Wikipedia's general information suffice as credible information. For instance, if one forgets the year that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he may look it up on Wikipedia for a quick refresher. He would find that the year was 1945.
Everything considered, Wikipedia is indeed a credible source.
I am arguing that Wikipedia is not a credible source.
What is the standard of credibility?
I believe this question is important in this debate, as the standard of credibility is important. For this argument, I would make the case that the Academic standard is the standard to which we should determine credibility. This standard of credibility loosely begins in high school, continues to the University level, and is logically passed on to professional research.
A standard of credibility is vital since credibility is not relative in terms of research, and the means by which we conduct that research. So lets begin.
Types of Sources:
In the wonderful world of academia there are three types of sources; primary, secondary, and tertiary. In research we typically want to have mostly primary sources, and more than that we want to look at (if possible) peer-reviewed journals. This of course is ideal, but there are cases where we must use secondary sources, which are basically works that analyze primary sources. The third type of source, tertiary, is defined as “resources [that] provide overviews of topics by synthesizing information gathered from other resources.” 
Wikipedia falls under the category of a tertiary source, which are typically rejected in academic research, but are utilized to find other sources. In some instances a tertiary source can be used as a secondary source, but this is the exception not the rule.
What is a Wiki?
“A wiki is a Web site where any user can modify the information, and thus there is no way to verify authorship. Examples of wikis include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and Wikiquotes. These sources may provide a general overview or lead to more credible sources, but avoid using them in an essay.” 
The Problem with Wikipedia:
The problem of Wikipedia is indeed at risk due to the fact that “anyone can edit it.” Authorship from any source is important in the world of academia. In searching for credible sources, even on an .org, or .edu Website, we should be able to identify the author. Harvard’s guide to Using Sources states the following about Wikipedia,
“Users may be reading information that is outdated or that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation...Some information on Wikipedia may well be accurate, but because experts do not review the site's entries, there is a considerable risk in relying on this source for your essays.”
Wikipedia is not a credible source:
In a 2005 interview with Business Week Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was asked, "Do you think students and researchers should cite Wikipedia? To which he replied, "No, I don't think people should cite it, and I don't think people should cite Britannica, either... People shouldn't be citing encyclopedias in the first place. Wikipedia and other encyclopedias should...give good, solid background information to inform your studies for a deeper level."
Furthermore, “Jimmy Wales, says he wants to get the message out to college students that they shouldn’t use it for class projects or serious research.”  Wales also, states, “For God sake, you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia.” 
Ironically we are placed in a pickle when looking at the Wikipedia page titled, “Wikipedia: Academic use” where it states, “Wikipedia is not considered a credible source. Wikipedia is increasingly used by people in the academic community, from freshman students to professors, as an easily accessible tertiary source for information about anything and everything. However, citation of Wikipedia in research papers may be considered unacceptable, because Wikipedia is not considered a credible or authoritative source.” 
According to the Wikipedia page, Wikipedia is not a credible source. Of course, if it is credible than the statement above should be trusted in, which deems that it is not credible. Regardless of how you slice the piece of cake here, it tastes the same, in that Wikipedia is not credible.
In Wikipedia’s source type, function, open source nature, and its own pages, we can see that Wikipedia is not a credible source. The founder himself attests to this, and in any research endeavor beyond high-school, we should not be citing Wikipedia. If you can’t site it than it is not a credible source. However, I will say that Wikipedia can give those conducting research places to look for sources, but even then, because of Wikipedia’s nature and function, we must carefully (as always) evaluate the sources provided.
Thank you all and I bid Pro good luck.
"Even in the grave, all is not lost" 
Some may wonder why I am still fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. Perhaps, in the minds of some, the debate is already over and I have been irreparably destroyed by Con's arguments. Maybe everyone reading this already agrees that Wikipedia is not a credible source and that I should cease to blabber on this subject.
To those who may think this way, I am - first of all - not going to quit. I intend on finishing strong.
More importantly, I think that the onus will shift in my favor once this Round is over.
II. Concession & Refutation.
1. "[The] Academic standard is the standard to which we should determine credibility."
I disagree with Con's assertion for two reasons:
A). Academia's standard is not the only standard of credibility. Aside from the stringent requirements of scholarly writing, other standards of everyday credibility become apparent. Journalism, for instance, considers even an anonymous source to be credible enough to be published in newspapers. The point here is that non-academic sources may very well be as credible as academic sources to common humanity. Thus, I see no reason why Academia must be the default standard.
B). Tertiary sources [i.e. Wikipedia] are generally not academic and should not, therefore, be subject to such a standard. Even Con states that "Wikipedia falls under the category of a tertiary source, which are typically rejected in academic research, but are utilized to find other sources." Rather, the credibility of tertiary sources should be ascertained by its own accuracy.
2. "[There] are three types of sources; primary, secondary, and tertiary."
I concede that Con is correct and will not challenge Con on that point.
3. "In some instances a tertiary source can be used as a secondary source, but this is the exception not the rule."
This is a trifle objection, but could Con please give an example or two of such an instance where this "exception" is permitted?
4. "A wiki is a Web site where any user can modify the information..."
I concede that Con is correct. However, it ought to be remembered that being a user on Wikipedia entails great responsibility and, accordingly, accountability. All edits made are double-checked and, so, are peer-reviewed by distinguished Wikipedia reviewers. Thus, contrary to popular belief, Wikipedia is a credible tertiary source.
5. "Authorship from any source is important in the world of academia."
I would contest this point with two counterpoints:
A). As aforementioned, Wikipedia should not be subject to the academic standard of credibility. Thus, Con's argument is irrelevant.
B). As aforementioned, even anonymous sources (no disclosed authorship) is considered credible by some alternate standards of credibility. If this is true, then it follows that Wikipedia can also be credible with unnamed authorship (Wikipedia is actually shared by multiple, cross-checking anonymous editors).
6. Con quotes Wikipedia Jimmy Wales to support his/her point.
Whether Wales is right or wrong, my position remains unscathed precisely because Wales argues that Wikipedia is not an academic source. This, once again, is agreeable with my position that Wikipedia can be a credible, non-academic source because of its internal error-rectifying system as well as its altogether different purpose of being a tertiary source.
7. Con quotes Wikipedia's "Academic Use" page which, ironically, I quoted from earlier.
Here's the deal. When Wikipedia calls itself "not... a credible or authoritative source.", it is saying so in the context of an academic standard. Remove that unfair standard, as I have consistently maintained, and Wikipedia's credibility as a tertiary source becomes evident. Wikipedia is not a primary or secondary source!
8. "According tot he Wikipedia page, Wikipedia is not a credible source."
No, as I explained above, Wikipedia said so in the context of an academic standard. It did not say that it is not credible by all standards. Con is fallaciously equivocating terms to suit his/her own position. Do not be mislead by Con's falsehood.
9. "If you can't [cite] it than it is not a credible source."
This is according to the academic standard which is not applicable to Wikipedia for reasons already established.
10. "Thank you all and I bid Pro good luck."
Gramercy! I have buttressed my position well. I wish you luck back in equal proportion.
When understood by the standard of intrinsic accuracy - and not the academic standard, Wikipedia's credibility shines like refurbished gold out of the molten furnace.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to Con's response and to the rest of the debate.
 Edgar Allen Poe. http://www.goodreads.com...
Comments on Pro"s Round 2 Arguments:
In Pro"s argument he admits that Wikipedia states, "Wikipedia is not considered a credible source." Wikipedia"s self-awareness of this reality should be highly noted, as the argument is on whether or not Wikipedia is credible. I applaud Pro on his intellectual honesty here as he doesn"t ignore this, but embraces it. If the site in which is being debated states that it is NOT a credible source, can you disprove that the host of information is wrong? If a man digs a well and says, "this well has poison in the water", should we drink from it? Of course not, we should filter through it for what we Can find from it. This again upholds my assertion that Wikipedia is not credible.
Pro"s definition of peer-reviewed is questionable, but in the world of scientific and academic research peer-review is subject to professionals in the same field as the study warrants. 
"In academic publishing, the goal of peer review is to assess the quality of articles submitted for publication in a scholarly journal. Before an article is deemed appropriate to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo the following process: The author of the article must submit it to the journal editor who forwards the article to experts in the field. Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author"s peers (hence "peer review"). These impartial reviewers are charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the submitted manuscript. The peer reviewers check the manuscript for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures.
If appropriate, they suggest revisions. If they find the article lacking in scholarly validity and rigor, they reject it." 
This is Not the standard to which Wikipedia adheres to. Notice that Wikipedia says, "What is contributed is more important than the expertise or qualifications of the contributor. What will remain depends upon whether the content is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people""  This, then, compromises the purpose of peer-review And Pro"s argument regarding Wikipedia"s peer review. This is vital to the debate, as we surly would not want a history expert editing a biology page nor a physicist editing a physician"s page. This again compromises the idea of pee-reviewed journals.
The Big Issue
The big issue within Pro"s arguments can be summarized in the failure to recognize a standard of credibility. Pro"s arguments actually hinge on the assumption that the academic standard is not the standard to adhere to.
In Pro"s attempt to show that academia is not the only standard to adhere to, he uses Journalisms use of anonymous sources to make his case. He states, "Journalism, for instance, considers even an anonymous source to be credible enough to be published in newspapers", but fails to remember that Journalists are pressed, "To protect their credibility and the credibility of their stories, reporters should use every possible avenue to confirm and attribute information before relying on unnamed sources."  In fact, because of the lack of verifiable credibility anonymous sources have for the public, journalists rarely use anonymous sources. The proper question here, then, is "by what standard is the anonymous source held to?" Another question is, with all of the trouble of questionable credibility of journalists, can we really say they can be considered a standard of credibility? 
Firstly, I would argue that journalists are created in universities and therefore held to the same academic standard as general researchers, historical researchers, scientists, engineers, etc. Secondly, without a standard of credibility, anything can be credible. If credibility is relative than I can conclude that my daughter"s "Hop on Pop" Dr. Sues book is credible since Mr. Sues is a 'Doctor'. Thirdly, academia is defined by oxford dictionary as, "the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship" . Scholarly is defined as, "Involving or relating to serious academic study" .
This raises the question, what other standard could there be? The reason this standard carries over from university to the fields of science and vice versa is because it IS the standard. However, if we are merely speaking on credibility as the simplest definition, "reasonable to trust or believe" than we can continue to determine that Wikipedia is not credible as it"s creator says it is not, and its own "peer reviewed" articles make the same claim.
This will be another refutation round. Brace yourself!
1. "In Pro's argument he admits that Wikipedia states, 'Wikipedia is not considered a credible source.'"
Not exactly, for two reasons:
A). Quotation is not the same as admission. I merely quoted from Wikipedia. I did not admit (or concede) anything.
B). Wikipedia considers itself not a credible source insofar as the academic standard is concerned.
2. "I applaud Pro on his intellectual honesty..."
3. "If a man digs a well and says, 'this well has poison in the water...'"
False analogy. A Wikipedia article in error is not like a poisoned well. There are two main dissimilarities:
A). A Wikipedia article can be quickly edited for correction while a poisoned well cannot (the water must be entirely replaced).
B). A Wikipedia article might only error in one sentence, but all the water of a poisoned well is undrinkable.
For these reasons, Con's analogy fails.
4. "Pro's definition of peer-reviewed is questionable..."
Not really. My definition is quite literal while Con's is strictly academic. Once again, Con imposes his/her inappropriate academic standard on Wikipedia.
Peer is defined as "a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else." 
Review is defined as "an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone." 
Taken together, it becomes clear that the term "peer-review" is not limited only to the academic realm. Rather, "peer-review" may also be appropriately applied to the cross-editing and verification processes of Wikipedia.
5. "Notice that Wikipedia says..."
Yes, I notice. But Con (perhaps purposely) omits what Wikipedia states thereafter:
"What will remain depends upon whether the content is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people, and whether it fits within Wikipedia's policies, including being verifiable against a published reliable source, thereby excluding editors' opinions and beliefs and unreviewed research. Contributions cannot damage Wikipedia because the software allows easy reversal of mistakes and many experienced editors are watching to help ensure that edits are cumulative improvements." 
Here are the key points from this excerpt:
I. Wikipedia's content must be verifiable against a published reliable source.
II. Wikipedia's software corrects mistakes.
III. Wikipedia has many editors that ensure that every edit is correct.
No wonder Con excluded this from his/her quotation: it helps me!
Talk about intellectual honesty and, geez, Con appears to be a hypocrite.
6. "The big issue within Pro's argument can be summarized in the failure to recognize a standard of credibility.
Alright, now I feel totally ignored. Repeatedly, I have constructed alternatives to the academic standard of credibility. That Con accuses me of not recognizing a standard of credibility is both insulting and wrong.
In Round 2, I argued that since Wikipedia is a non-academic source, it should not be subject to the academic standard. Con did not challenge my logic and, therefore, it stands. Rather, I argued that Wikipedia should be judged as all tertiary sources are (i.e. dictionaries, encyclopedias, and reference books.) That is, Wikipedia should be judged according to whether it is (mostly) accurate. Granted, Wikipedia has its faults (which can be and are quickly corrected). Yet, even gold refined a hundredfold stills caries some impurities!
That Wikipedia can be commonly relied upon for accurate information most of the time is general knowledge. I do not feel like I need to substantiate this obvious claim further. However, if challenged, I would be more than thrilled to provide statistical data to support my assertion.
7. "[Pro] uses Journalism's use of anonymous sources to make his case..."
More or less. My anonymous source argument was to prove that unnamed sources (like Wikipedia editors) can still be credible. For instance, an ex-gang member might be interviewed in secrecy to ensure his/her protection. What's wrong with that? Nothing at all.
Let me succinctly respond to Con's arguments under journalism:
I. "... journalists are created in universities..."
Not all of them.
II. "... held to the same academic standard...."
Not even close. Look at a newspaper and tell me if you see endnotes. None? Well, that's because there's a different, equally valid, alternative standard!
III. "...without a standard of credibility..."
Fortunately, there is one for Wikipedia.
IV. "...academic is defined by oxford..."
Your point? Once again, the academic standard is irrelevant to Wikipedia.
V. "What other standard could there be?"
How about the journalism standard? Or the legal standard? Or every other non-academic standard in existence!?
- Mr. S.
Note to the viewers: I would like the voters to consider Pro's ad hominems in this round when voting. Specifically when he twists a compliment I shared with him to call me a "hypocrite".
Firstly, I am well aware than most analogies fall apart when you read into them. Thus, Pro's rebuttal is unnecessary and warrants little consideration as I was illustrating the logic behind credibility.
Pro has committed error by piecing together the definition of "peer" and "review" to make his point when in fact the real definition does not fit his agenda, "a process by which a scholarly work (such as a paper or a research proposal) is checked by a group of experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or accepted" (http://www.merriam-webster.com...).
My argument from the previous round stands as Wikipedia is not peer-reviewed in the actual definition of the term. It is a wonder why Pro would piece together words to form a definition when a definition exists already?
In Pro's "5th" point, it is worth saying the obvious, that my arguments from the previous round still stands. Wikipedia has made it clear that expertise on material is not warranted or prioritized, showing that Pro's only real argument is not valid as Wikipedia is not peer reviewed by definition.
Pro says, "Repeatedly, I have constructed alternatives to the academic standard of credibility" but this simply isn't true. He Only presented journalism as another standard to which I posted a source by journalists on the lack of credibility in journalism. This also goes to say that Pro has failed to actually show that there is another standard to adhere to. My point thus stands. Pro also ignores that journalists verify the credibility of their sources regardless of whether or not they are known. I did not question anonymous sources, but simply showed that their credibility is verified before using them. Pro also uses lawyers as a standard of credibility in an attempt to make a new standard of credibility, and while not all journalists may be made in universities, all legal experts are, and that is indisputable.
Pro seems to miss the purpose of my sharing the definition of academic as it displays that research is based in academia. If we are searching for truth and knowledge than academia is the only standard. If you're interested in truth and knowledge, than sources are held to a high standard.
Pro states, "That Wikipedia can be commonly relied upon for accurate information most of the time is general knowledge." I disagree. If this is general knowledge, why is this a debatable issue? Also; evidence for this claim?
Again, let the reader’s note that both the founder of Wikipedia and Wikipedia itself has claimed that Wikipedia is not a credible or authoritative source. A tertiary source is also rarely used as a credible source.
On this note; Pro mentions “tertiary source” a variety of times, yet this term, is a term deriving from academia. How can Pro even claim Wiki as a tertiary source, when the standard he defies, is the standard that categorizes Wikipedia as a tertiary source?
Pro states, “Or every other non-academic standard in existence!?”, and I would like him to show me these other standards of measuring credibility. Pro is getting the use of sources and the means by which we evaluate sources mixed up.
Again, in light of the definition of academia, what other standard should there be? The question that then arises is this; what are these sources being used for? If they are not being held to the academic standard, which is the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship, what good are they? When conducting research are we looking for facts or are we just looking for our bias-confirmation?
I extend all of my arguments because there was no true rebuttal. If we are using sources for truth and knowledge, by definition, there is NO other standard to appeal to other than the academic standard, which is the same standard used in all professional fields of research. By the true definition of peer-review, Wikipedia is not peer reviewed, and thus Pro’s main argument is destroyed. By Pro’s classification of Wikipedia as a tertiary source, which is constructed by the academic standard of source evaluation, Pro is subjecting Wikipedia to the academic standard. I have also shown that tertiary sources are generally NOT used research but as a means to find good sources. Pro, has yet to show any other standard by which sources are evaluated, but instead only shows that other fields use sources. Pro’s only basis for Wikipedia being credible is the use of sources for no reason other than for subjective research, which makes Wikipedia’s credibility subject to interpretation as there is no standard other than Pro’s by which Wikipedia is held to.
Thank you, and I ask that Pro control his emotions and refrain from attacks.
Mr.Speaker forfeited this round.
It appears as if Pro has forfeited to the extent of deactivating his account at the moment.
I extend all of my arguments because there was no true rebuttal in this round nor the previous round. Thus I will summarize my conclusion from the last round below:
(A) If we are using sources for truth and knowledge, by definition, there is NO other standard to appeal to other than the academic standard, which is the same standard used in all professional fields of research.
(B) By the true definition of peer-review, Wikipedia is not peer reviewed, and thus Pro’s main argument is destroyed.
(C) By Pro’s classification of Wikipedia as a tertiary source, which is constructed by the academic standard of source evaluation, Pro is subjecting Wikipedia to the academic standard.
(D) I have also shown that tertiary sources are generally NOT used research but as a means to find good sources. Pro, has yet to show any other standard by which sources are evaluated, but instead only shows that other fields use sources.
(E) Pro’s only basis for Wikipedia being credible is the use of sources for no reason other than for subjective research, which makes Wikipedia’s credibility subject to interpretation as there is no standard other than Pro’s by which Wikipedia is held to.
Thank you all for taking the time to participate in the debate and I would like to thank Pro for his arguments and participation. While I would typically call for a vote in light of a forfeit, I ask the voters to consider only the arguments, but of course if the forfeit cannot be overlooked so be it.
Logic In Life
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