The Instigator
ConservativePolitico
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
nyyfan
Con (against)
Losing
4 Points

Wikipedia is an Acceptable Source of Information

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
ConservativePolitico
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,606 times Debate No: 23925
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (6)

 

ConservativePolitico

Pro

My opponent claimed in a previous debate that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source of information so I want him to put his money where his mouth is.

Wikiepedia is an acceptable source of information.

First Round Acceptance
Debate Round No. 1
ConservativePolitico

Pro

My argument regarding the reliability of Wikipedia is going to revolve around two key points.

I. Errors

Studies have shown Wikipedia to be "as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica" [1] In a study between the two encyclopedic sources it showed that Wikipedia had 162 errors while the Encyclopedia Britannica had 123. [1] They did a controlled study with a wide variety of articles and in the end the number came out to be 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 errors per article for Wikipedia. That being said, Wikipedia is massive and errors are to be expected. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica has errors. As of 2007 Wikipedia featured "2301486 articles with 55550003 links between them" [2]. All in all, Wikipedia is "as accurate" as the Encyclopedia Britannica and you would not have complained about me using that as a source.

II. Sources

Wikipedia is unique because for every page they have a list of footnotes, sources and references used to compile the information on the page. The Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't do that. Take for example these two pages about the generic topic of asteroids...

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org...

Britannica - http://www.britannica.com...

As we can see, the Britannica page doesn't have any sources at all. No notes or references of any kind. Yet on the Wikipedia page we see Notes, References, See Also and External Links. There are 60 footnote references linking to other sources of information that were used to generate the information on the Wikipedia page. Sixty! Wikipedia generates its information from a large range of sources and is then fact checked on a regular basis.

As we can see, Wikipedia is clearly a good source of information. It is sourced, fact checked and has been declared "as accurate" as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Wikipedia is an acceptable source of information.

[1] http://news.cnet.com...
[2] http://mu.netsoc.ie...
nyyfan

Con

Oddly enough I will cite wikipedia in my efforts to discredit wikipedia, I will be referring to the following two wikipedia pages for the basis of my argument.

1.http://en.wikipedia.org...
2.http://en.wikipedia.org...

The first article is about using Wikipedia for research. Yes it is true that old articles that have had time to be reviewed by many different users can be accurate but as the article states, "Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start: they may contain false or debatable information. Indeed, many articles start their lives as displaying a single viewpoint; and, after a long process of discussion, debate, and argument, they gradually take on a neutral point of view reached through consensus. Others may, for a while, become caught up in a heavily unbalanced viewpoint which can take some time, "months perhaps "to achieve better balanced coverage of their subject."

This quote shows that wikipedia can be incorrect and/or biased for, in wikipedia's conservative estimates, months. You may be correct in saying that wikipedia is only slightly less reliable than encyclopedia britannica but I would like to see evidence that the articles within encyclopedia britannica are biased towards one persons viewpoint. Wikipedia users who create the articles are often driven to create the articles in the first place due to their enthusiasm in the subject, usually a biased enthusiasm.

The second article is Wikipedia's general disclaimer that they post a link to on every article. In bold letters Wikipedia makes sure to note, "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here." If this doesn't discredit the information found DIRECTLY on the wikipedia pages then I don't know what does. Sure, Wikipedia offers sources but it does this because the information found on the page is an interpretation of someone else's information, a third-hand source sometimes.

Speaking to their peer review system here is what Wikipedia has to say, "Wikipedia is not uniformly peer reviewed; while readers may correct errors or engage in casual peer review, they have no legal duty to do so and thus all information read here is without any implied warranty of fitness for any purpose or use whatsoever. Even articles that have been vetted by informal peer review or featured article processes may later have been edited inappropriately, just before you view them." The bottom line is the peer review system is imperfect, at best.

With a peer review system that cannot be trusted and what seems to be a good chance of bias in most articles, wikipedia is clearly not a reliable source. Wikipedia even admits to this.
Debate Round No. 2
ConservativePolitico

Pro

I do find it odd that you would use Wikipedia as a source of information discrediting Wikipedia. This is what I gather from this. Obviously, you find it to be an acceptable source of information as you are using is as a source for information. This is contradictory. You find it acceptable enough for YOU to use so therefore you must find it acceptable in some aspects. I will leave the voters to decide what this means for themselves but to me you almost conceded the debate here by using Wikipedia as a source of information that you accept for a debate.

Wikipedia's Disclaimers

First of all, Wikipedia makes these disclaimers in order to save themselves legally in the event of some sort of problem. Every site and company does this. It's akin to those "do not attempt" logos under the guy skydiving into a shopping cart on TV. Obviously, you aren't going to attempt. All they are saying is be wary of the information posted, they in no way are saying their site is not a credible source. You should be wary of all information on the web.

a. Flags

Any article that is suspect of being bias, incorrect or misguided are flagged at the top of the page.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

As you can see, this article as a very visible flag at the top of the page telling you that something may be wrong with the page's info. This page would not be a credible source I admit. But Wikipedia alerts you to these pages very visibly and makes it so you know exactly what you're reading. If a page does not have a flag it is to be considered neutral and accurate.

Also, just because a few pages have admitted errors and are in need of clean up in no way discredits Wikipedia in its entirety as a credible source.

You say that there is a "good chance of bias in most article" yet back this up with nothing. Most implies more than half. If you can show that more than half of the articles on Wikipedia have been flagged for bias I would love to see the information on that.

b. Peer Review

The peer review system is more than most sites have to keep the information credible. Many sites have no fact checking body or peer review. The fact that Wikipedia HAS a peer review system ON TOP OF the sources and links posted at the bottom of nearly article puts it vastly ahead of most information sources on the web. These two things alone would be good enough for most editors. Looked at by a third party and sourced. That's better than your debate arguments. That's better than most school papers. Its on par with academic journals for the intensity of the fact checking that goes on.

c. Sources

I would like to point out that my opponent completely dropped my argument about Wikipedia's extensive use of sources to back its information up. I would like to remind you that most information on Wikipedia is derived from sources which are provided to the reader in order to allow them to make up their mind about information and to provide the location of the information's origin.

In Conclusion

My opponent has pointed out something that we already know: all information on the internet is not perfect. Wikipedia flags problem pages so the reader knows what to watch out for. With the flags, the sources, the peer review and the information on the small amount of errors that I posted in my previous round I have seen no evidence that Wikipedia as a whole can be discredited and is indeed an acceptable source of information.

In fact, it was so acceptable that my opponent used it in his argument.

Thank you.
nyyfan

Con

A. I did not use a Wikipedia page in my argument, which is really what we were arguing about using as a source.
B. I thought you might try to say that I conceded by using wikipedia, but if you say that I cannot use Wikipedia as a source then you concede the argument. Thus I request that people view my argument as permissible.

a. Flags, wikipedia does flag articles but only ones that are clearly biased. It admits that there is a good chance of bias in most new articles, sorry I am wrong about most total articles.

b. Wikipedia does not weight professional input any greater than the average users input during the peer review process, therefore you cannot claim it is on par with academic journals.

c. I did not drop the argument about sources, I just discredited it quickly by saying that the sources are what should be cited when using a wikipedia page (and also referred to for the information). The sources do not need to have any credibility either and if you are citing wikipedia then you most likely didn't check the credibility of the source the information came from. Also, a wikipedia page is someone's interpretation of a source... like I said last round, a third-hand source.

In Conclusion

My opponent failed to read my argument and I have discredited wikipedia, in fact wikipedia discredits wikipedia (the only reason I would EVER cite wikipedia EVER).
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by anonymouse 3 years ago
anonymouse
just the fact that wikipedia has hundreds of trolls combing through the site looking for anti-establishment views will tell you that wikipedia cant be trusted as a source, especially on political issues where the ruling class of the west has a lot to gain, or lose. i am always skeptical of what i read on wikipedia, but the same can be said about anything you read on the internet in general. remember the internet was invented by the u.s military, and they wouldnt invent something that didnt have an offensive application.
Posted by ConservativePolitico 4 years ago
ConservativePolitico
Good. I'm glad you enjoyed this topic nyy
Posted by SuperiorArsenal 4 years ago
SuperiorArsenal
About time someone realised that Wikipedia is one of the few online sources that actually check their facts, warn of bias, and provide ample sources.
Posted by nyyfan 4 years ago
nyyfan
I had much more fun debating this topic with you
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro pretty much clinched it by showing how Wikipedia was erring on the side of caution with its warnings. Con did not prove Wikipedia to have a strong bias or that the peer review system didn't work, he pretty much cited Wikipedia's own statement about that claiming it decisively proved unreliability of articles.
Vote Placed by Cobo 4 years ago
Cobo
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter even though pro is winning
Vote Placed by mee2kool4u369 4 years ago
mee2kool4u369
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: I have to say, I DO NOT TRUST WIKIPEDIA, there fore Con gets the points.
Vote Placed by TheOrator 4 years ago
TheOrator
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: The pro did a very good job of convincing me that Wikipedia is a good source of information (I might even email this to a few choice teachers...). The fact that the Affirmative showed it was slightly more reliable than the Encyclopedia Britannica (after footnotes) and that flags deterred people from erroneus pages were great points.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro showed the vandalized pages have flags therefore are avoidable, also proving their editors and machines fix those problems 99 of the time. That number of 99 was random btw. He showed it was as accurate as britannica and is more useful as wikipedia has links. (for source loading >:D) wikipedia is also peer reviewed. Easy Pro win.
Vote Placed by tyler90az 4 years ago
tyler90az
ConservativePoliticonyyfanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conservativepolitico, did an excellent job persuading me that Wikipedia should be used as a source