Should Online Encyclopedias and Reference Materials be Trusted?

While the benefits of using online reference materials to find important facts, whether they can be trusted has been debated for some time. At the core of this debate, there is one big problem; where online reference materials and encyclopedias get their information. If they get the information from low-quality resources, the information may be wrong. There are many print encyclopedias and reference materials that have been replicated online, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, and are considered valid. However, the most popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, and similar websites, are often criticized.

Because anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, many experts argue that it is full of errors and inaccurate information. The founders of Wikipedia admit that some information may not be accurate, but in total it has proven to be very factual. To contribute to the Wikipedia entry, it must be quoted. This is then reviewed by the editor and the quote must be from an unbiased source and proven to be factually accurate. In fact, several studies have been conducted and conclude that Wikipedia is almost as accurate as the Encyclopedias Britannica and Encarta. If you are still wondering whether Wikipedia can be trusted, remember that it took more than 70 years and thousands of contributors, including an inmate in an asylum for people who were criminally insane, to create the original Oxford English Dictionary. Just because thousands of people have contributed, it does not inherently make information wrong.

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