Wikipedia’s Useless Knowledge

Wikipedia has become the ubiquitous source of information for millions of users worldwide.  High school and university students rely on Wikipedia for basic information and evidence and for their own research and writing. Indeed, many students engage in cut-and-paste plagiarism, copying passages from Wikipedia’s seemingly infinite pages.

Wikipedia’s influence in modern life is stunning, as people increasingly rely on the website to broker data and facilitate information management in a period dizzying information overload.

What Wikipedia offers is utterly useless knowledge, however.

Critical readers are already intimately aware of the multiple layers of unreliability of Wikipedia: no authorship, unstable entries, changing arguments and conclusions, poor citations, outright vandalism, uninformed editorship, outdated methodologies, and utter lack of expertise. Wikipedia is set up to generate the greatest possible quantity of information at the expense of abandoning any qualitative measure of that information. As such, it contributes absolutely nothing to human knowledge.

A historian, Timothy Messer-Kruse, offers a telling critique of Wikipedia’s anti-intellectual editorial policies and amateur editorial practices at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

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This entry was posted in Digital Humanities, Education Policy, History of the Book, Humanities Education, Information Management. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wikipedia’s Useless Knowledge

  1. vryus says:

    As a person who works professionally as a technical writer I cannot agree more. I must regularly check Wikipedia about topics that I am editing to ensure that there is no identical content. I am absolutely floored by some of the bias, inaccuracies and outright fabrications that appear on the website.

    I also have great distaste for an “encyclopedia” that has so many sci-fi, video game and pop culture references buried in nearly every entry. I attempted to look at the ‘talk’ pages on entries that were really off-base and was horrified to learn about the methodologies that are used to determine what constitutes canonical information.

    It is really a disgrace.

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