The Instigator
FieryPassion
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
wierdman
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Wikipedia is a reliable source of information

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
wierdman
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,635 times Debate No: 20318
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (6)

 

FieryPassion

Pro

Burden of Proof
Pro must prove that Wikipedia is a reliable source of information.
Con must prove that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information.

Debate Structure
Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - Arguments
Round 3 - Rebuttals
Round 4 - Defense against rebuttals and conclusions

Definitions
For the purposes of this debate, "Wikipedia" refers to the English version of the free, online encyclopedia which can be viewed at: http://en.wikipedia.org...

Other Rules
- No semantics

Anyone who accepts this debate agrees to the above rules for the debate. I look forward to what I'm sure will be an interesting one!
wierdman

Con

I agree with the rules provided by my opponent, and I await his response.

As this is an amazing topic, I expect an equally mind blowing argument from my opponents side. Good luck and Thank you for the topic.
Debate Round No. 1
FieryPassion

Pro

Many thanks to wierdman for debating this topic with me, and I wish him the best of luck. On to the arguments:

Argument 1 - Wikipedia is well-cited
Wikipedia is most often criticized in regards to its validity because anyone in the world is allowed to edit most of the pages on Wikipedia. Although this is 100% true, one must also remember that an overwhelming majority of Wikipedia articles are cited to reliable sources. Here is just a single example of a well-cited page [1] with over 160 reliable citations, but keep in mind that there are many more of this article's kind. Any article written second-hand (meaning it was not written by a person who witnessed or otherwise experienced a topic for themselves), which the majority of encyclopedic articles are, is only as reliable as its sources. The majority of Wikipedia articles, like most textbooks and printed encyclopedias, are well-cited and therefore a trustworthy source of information. Given that it is a community-driven website, one cannot expect for every page to be cited, and therefore it is up to the common sense of the viewer not to rely on information from such articles.

Argument 2 - Wikipedia vandalism is addressed quickly
Again, like any peer-reviewed website, Wikipedia is subject to vandalism. But one must look at the other side of this as well: just like there are people willing to vandalize Wikipedia, there are also people willing to fix those vandalizations. According to a study by IBM, Wikipedia vandalism is usually so short-lived, that most people will never get to see its negative effects [2]. A 2007 study by authors from the University of Minnesota notes that 42% of damage is repaired nearly instantly [3]. Any remaining vandalism is usually seen to shortly after. Also keep in mind that all edits are memorized by Wikipedia, so if extensive damage is made to an article, it is easy to simply restore the article to its state before the vandalization.

Argument 3 - Wikipedia allows helpful information from billions of people to be added to a single page
Wikipedia is one-of-a-kind. It is the only major, free, online, user-contributed encyclopedia of its kind. This means that Wikipedia, unlike most encyclopedias, research reports, and other sources of information, it is able to be contributed to by billions of people worldwide. People with first-hand experiences on a topic can contribute to an article and give it valuable information that other sources of information that have only a set number of researchers and editors could not, thus increasing its reliability and accuracy.

Good luck to my opponent as he makes his opening arguments.

Sources
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.research.ibm.com...
[3] http://dl.acm.org...
wierdman

Con

I thank my opponent for an insightful opening speech.

Citation within Wikipedia:

While I completely agree with my opponent in terms of Wikipedia multiple citing, we must take in consideration that these citations can be easily tampered with and easily removed. With this said, we must now proceed to asking ourselves this question, How reliable can the citations found in Wikipedia be? Wikipedia being a free online encyclopedia allowing anyone in the world to alter information found in this encyclopedia can never be reliable simply due to the fact that information can be easily tampered with and the fact that the wrong information could be giving to the individual. The citations within Wikipedia also vulnerable to alterations can never be reliable as just like the information provided in Wikipedia, you can never know if it is correct or not. My opponent is most likely going to tell us that the solution to this problem is by obviously clicking and looking at the source, however, we must also look into the fact that if this is so, then yahoo answer should be a reliable source for information as well. The author of the post or even a random stranger could cite a website that might appear valid, but really isn't. Website such as blogs disguised to look authentic so to escape the viewers eyes. We must also take in consideration that the reader of the document is naive to the point and thus no way to figure out if the information provided is true or not. Going to another website to verify this information will then verify my claim that Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be cited in any academic work.

quickly resolved

Now lets take a look into my opponents claim in which vandalism occurred within Wikipedia is quickly resolved. I recently visited a page in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org.... Upon visiting this page, I made some alteration in hopes that Wikipedia's anti-vandalize software might detect it and perhaps change. It. My first change was to delete everything and add the word "meep", the software quickly changed it. After this, I wrote the following sentence under the charity section "I love T.j Max because you sell drugs and buy drugs. Then I added a citation (the citation being my blog of course), I waited for the auto corrector to revise this sentence or rather obliterate the sentence, but it never did. I waited for about an hour then went to school. Now back from school, I checked the cite and the corrections were made. When looking into this anecdote, we find that one thing occurred, the fact that the changes I made were not removed quickly. Rather they were removed after what I can only bet was about 6-7 hours later. Between this time frame(time I made the change till time it was taken out) someone could have read the page and yes genuinely thought that T.J Max sold drugs. Unless ALL changes are made instantaneously, Wikipedia can never be a reliable source of information due to the fact that it is impossible to know when a vandalism occurred and which Information is correct and which has been altered.

Authors of Wikipedia

Ignoring the rate in which Wikipedia recognizes and changes any alteration, Wikipedia still faces a major problem. This problem being the fact that Wikipedia allows virtually anyone top post an article online regardless of the document's content. The free encyclopedia does not require individuals to verify his or her email address, thus allowing anyone of any-age to post there work on to Wikipedia. "I understand what their concerns are. There's no question that [on Wikipedia and similar sites] some things are great and some things are questionable. Some of the pages could be by eighth graders,"--http://www.insidehighered.com...
This problem has not only being recognized by professors and the public, but it has also being recognized by Wikipedia itself. Wikipedia is not considered a credible source. Wikipedia is increasingly used by people in the academic community, from freshman students to professors..."-- http://en.wikipedia.org...

What is wrong with my opponents case

A major problem with my opponents case, is the fact that he presents no valuable;e citations to back up his claims. The closest thing to citation that he provided was the following: http://dl.acm.org... . Upon close examination, we can clearly see that my opponents citation does not support his case, rather it implies that Wikipedia is in need of certain changes. It implies that the Ideas brought up by Wikipedia is very intelligent, however it cannot prosper as a reliable source is it does not follow some of there policy recommendations.

Thank you and I hope to receive your argument soon.
Debate Round No. 2
FieryPassion

Pro

First, I would like to point out that my opponent posted his rebuttals during round 2, when he clearly agreed that round 2 was strictly for arguments. This, in itself, should give myself a default victory. However, I will continue the debate nonetheless and proceed with my rebuttals.

Rebuttal 1 - Citation within Wikipedia
My opponent completely concedes the fact that Wikipedia has multiple (and reliable) citations for most of its content. His only counter is that such citations can be easily tampered with. Although this is true, we go back to one of my previous arguments - such alterations are usually dealt with quickly. Citations can easily be restored via the software that Wikipedia uses that I mentioned in one of my previous arguments. Again, I would like to reinforce the fact that ANY second-hand informational website on the Internet is only as credible as its sources and the common sense of the readers. If a reader comes upon a non credible source but mistakes it for a credible one, that is purely the user's fault. It is not Wikipedia's fault that the user doesn't have the common sense to distinguish between a credible and non credible source. The fact remains that the majority of Wikipedia's articles are non vandalized with credible sources and therefore, Wikipedia is reliable.

Rebuttal 2 - Quickly resolved
My opponent gives us an example of a test he did himself in which he attempted to test the anti-vandalist measures of Wikipedia. On his first attempt, Wikipedia automatically corrected his vandalism, showing that Wikipedia does stop the majority of vandalism before it is even published. My opponent goes on to say that he tried again, and this time the auto-correction tool didn't catch his vandalism and it was only fixed until after he returned from school. Now, might I remind my opponent that 6-7 hours of a vandalized webpage isn't much damage considering the time span of the Internet and the proportion of viewers that will see the non vandalized page and the vandalized page. We also have to keep in mind that the webpage could have been fixed immediately after he left school, and not during the 6-7 hour time frame that he mentioned. Either way, we come back to one of my previous arguments - a reader would (or should) have enough common sense to know vandalism when (s)he sees it. This being said, a person who sees vandalism can easily repair the webpage at any point with the use of Wikipedia's tools. My opponent's SOLE argument is that anybody can damage a Wikipedia page. This is true, but one has to keep in mind that there are FAR more people willing to CONTRIBUTE to Wikipedia rather than destroy it. Any vandalism is therefore dealt with usually very quickly and we go back to my irrefutable source [1].

Rebuttal 3 - Authors of Wikipedia
Again we are back to this. My opponent's only argument is that Wikipedia is susceptible to vandalism. He ignores the fact that in practice, such vandalism isn't as common as it may seem. Not everybody are scandalous dogs out to destroy Wikipedia like so many claim. Sure, it's possible that a two year old could have written some articles, but it is up to the reader to decide this. I could go to my local library and write random, incorrect facts all over a book. Does this mean the book is not a reliable source? No. This just means that anybody who reads the vandalised book needs the common sense to know what is vandalized and what is not. My opponent uses Wikipedia itself to show that it isn't a credible source, by citing a Wikipedia page that admits this. Might I remind someone that this is not a proof of his case, this is merely Wikipedia acknowledging that most academic institutions do not accept Wikipedia as a reliable source. That does not mean that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source, it just means that it generally isn't accepted as such.

Rebuttal 4 - What is [supposedly] wrong with my case
My opponent's only argument here is that I supposedly didn't use credible sources. My opponent attacks one of my citations in particular, Source 3 of my round 2 presentation. I'm not sure what my opponent is trying to prove here - although the source as a whole may not agree with my stance in this debate, I only cited it because I used a certain part of it to help prove my case. That is completely irrelevant with the topic at hand - such a use of citation doesn't make the citation itself unreliable. My opponent also utterly ignores my other citation, which is 100% credible and proves my case of how vandalism on Wikipedia is generally fixed extremely quickly [1]. May I also point out that a majority of the things I argued were simply arguments of intellect and common sense - meaning a citation in those cases is not necessary. Thus, this entire argument is void.

Many thanks to my opponent as we move into the next round.

Sources
[1] http://www.research.ibm.com...
wierdman

Con

Before I begin, My opponent neglects the fact that I did not only post my rebuttal but based my argument on my opponents contentions. Rebuttal is directly attacking my opponents contentions, however I expanded from my opponents contention to create a whole new argument.

Rebuttal on Citation

My opponent claims that I conceded the fact that Wikipedia has multiple citations, however, he neglects the fact that that this is completely useless. What good is multiple citation if you are unable to identify which is reliable and which is altered. My opponents base for this claim is the fact that such alterations are quickly changed, however, like I proved in the first round, such alterations are indeed fixed but at a time span that allows several users to be acquire the wrong information. While completely agree with my opponent's statement "ANY second-hand informational website on the Internet is only as credible as its sources and the common sense of the readers," we must look into the fact that the resolution reads "Wikipedia is a reliable source of information" not Wikipedia is a reliable source of information with the use of common sense." Arguing that Wikipedia just like other online wiki's is only as reliable as its user is intelligent, is completely out of the realm of the debate. In this round, we will argue that Wikipedia on its own proves to be reliable or not. Now, my opponent states that it is the user's fault for using for using a non credible citation; however, he disregards my previous argument stating that assuming the reader is naive to the topic at hand, any information that seems accurate is thus seen as credible. How is the user to know what sources are credible and which is not? the fact is that unless Wikipedia is able to distinguish sources in terms of credibility and provide this list to its viewers, it cannot be a reliable source of information. Ones again my opponent makes a blank claim. He states that a majority of Wikipedia document with credible sources is not vandalized, yet he provides no evidence supporting this claim. He provides no data from his personal test proving that most Wikipedia document's are not vandalized. Unless he is able to provide a CREDIBLE evidence to prove this claim, it remains void.

Rebuttal on quickly resolved
My opponent claims that 6-7 hours of vandalism poses no real damage; however my opponent disregards the fact that within 6-7 hours, I can type four essays all cited by Wikipedia. If I were to turn in all four of these papers with inaccurate information, then I will surely fail due to the simple fact that I presented an inaccurate information. 6-7 hours is enough time for hundreds of people to use an altered page and yes fail. My opponent states that the problem could have been fixed as soon as I left for school; however, this still leaves at least an hour opening for some one to use the false evidence. This hour also leaves room for someone of my tying speed (65 wpm) to type a 3,900 word essay with false evidence. My opponent ones again mentions that one should be smart enough to differentiate between reliable and unreliable evidence. While I still stand to the fact that this is out of the realm of the resolved, I will analyze this argument: 1. The reader is unable to tell which information is reliable and which is not.
2. The fact that the reader has to verify whether an information in Wikipedia is true or not, simply supports my position that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information. My opponent claims that any one person who notices a vandalism can easily repair it. Ones again he fails to answer the question posed in my first argument...How can they know if a source is vandalized? Assuming that these people have no background information, there is no way to tell if an information is vandalized unless quite visible. Ones again, the fact that a viewer has to look and possibly repair vandalism in a site, only makes Wikipedia less reliable in terms of finding true and credible information. Ones again my opponent makes a claim that far more people Contribute to Wikipedia rather than destroy without supporting this claim with credible evidence. this claim is also void as it is baseless. Ladies and gentlemen, I will like you to plz read my opponents citation. This evidence states that some documents are crafted by registered authors while most are created by anonymous users. This simply adds to the fact that ANYBODY can post information of Wikipedia.

Rebuttal on Author
"I could go to my local library and write random, incorrect facts all over a book. Does this mean the book is not a reliable source? " This analogy made by my opponent is highly flawed. Unlike Wikipedia, the alteration made on the book is easily recognized. The reader is able to recognize the alteration and simply ignore it. If the alteration is now so bad that it prevents the ability for one to read, then that book itself on its own is unreliable. The reader in my opponents analogy, does not need to contemplate whether an information is true or not, he/ she simply needs to look and see. Unlike this analogy, there is no way to distinguish a vandalism unless quite clear (which in most cases isn't). My opponent misunderstands my use of Wikipedia. I use Wikipedia to show my opponent that even Wikipedia editors and owners recognizes the fact that Wikipedia is unreliable. No where in my citation of Wikipedia does it mention that most academic institution does not accept Wikipedia. It simply states that Wikipedia should not be used as a credible source.

Rebuttal on opponents Case:
My opponent claims that he used a certain part of his third citation to prove a point; however he doe not tell us which part of the evidence he uses. I on the other hand provide the reader as well as my opponent an explanation of how HIS evidence supports my position as a whole. Never did I make the citation out to be irrelevant. I only ignored my opponents previous sources because it has nothing to do with this debate. My opponent claims that his arguments were plainly logic, however this statement is not true. My opponent states that vandalism is repaired quickly. This is not logic, but a claim and thus needs evidence to support it. My opponent fails to do this, thus his claims remain void.

Thank you and hope to receive your response soon.
Debate Round No. 3
FieryPassion

Pro

FieryPassion forfeited this round.
wierdman

Con

My opponent forfeited his round, thus all arguments I made in my previous round still stands. I urge you to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FieryPassion 4 years ago
FieryPassion
Just a notice - I didn't forfeit due to conceding, I was having major internet troubles that prevented me for participating in a good amount of my debates. Obviously, conduct goes to Con. My many apologies to my opponent for the way the debate turned out, and thanks to him for a good, well-thought debate!
Posted by BluePine 4 years ago
BluePine
I think reliable was the right use regarding Wikipedia's accuracy.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Votes for Con due to Pro forfeiting.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Oh well.
Vote Placed by MasterKage 4 years ago
MasterKage
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter vote bomb
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 4 years ago
Mr.Infidel
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter vBomb
Vote Placed by LiberalHoyaLawya 4 years ago
LiberalHoyaLawya
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro easily wins spelling
Vote Placed by kyro90 4 years ago
kyro90
FieryPassionwierdmanTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for FF, I now see why people that go for wikipedia in a debate like this lose. It is because they usualy FF, not to rub it in of course... But other than that I think Con won me.