Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wikipedia University

Card catalogues, microfiche, and books, OH MY!  Ebsco, journals, and drafts, OH MY!  Research, note cards, and citations, OH MY!

Who needs to sift through card catalogues looking for book titles that might pertain to some obscure subject matter?  No way am I scanning endlessly through microfiche from 1972.  I simply am not going through all that to get my paper going.  All through college my professors tried feeding me this crap about Wikipedia not being an academic source.  They claim that Wikipedia articles are not well grounded.  I disagree.  Wikipedia is your friend.  The resources on there are typically good to go.  Why on earth would I run myself ragged searching for needles in a haystack by pouring over books, journals, and what have you?  I simply could not be bothered with that when I was in school. 

There is a formula for success when it comes to using Wikipedia for research.  The corny cliche "work smarter not harder" applies here.  Pay attention fellow slackers, I am your leader.  Follow me on the path to enlightenment.  For I have been to the top of the mountain, and it is good.  Put down that microfiche.  Close that book.  Turn on that tv, and maybe check out Facebook while you're at it. Tell your professor to shove it.  Pay close attention to the following text.

Suppose you have to write a paper on some obscure topic that really bores the hell out of you.  For example, you're writing about European socialism.  This is a very broad topic.  Even with the use of Wikipedia, you will be saddled with a good bit of work.  First step, type "European socialism" into Wikipedia's search.  Uh oh, they don't have a specific article on European socialism.  It's okay, click on the "disambiguation" link at the top of the page, and breathe. Select the link for plain old "Socialism", and you will be magically taken to the exact information you need.  Wikipedia takes you to academic resources in the way those pipes in Super Mario Bros. takes you to an advanced level.  As I scroll down the Socialism page, I see that there is a section dedicated dedicated to socialism in Europe, and the section is riddled with links to more juicy details.  I mean how much time would you have spent until you stumbled upon the socialist Left Party in Germany.  The best part is...every single fact in a Wikipedia article is cited in the "Notes" section of the given page.  Seek out those sources listed, they will bring you to the fountain.  You can then site those sources in your paper. 

Fewer headaches, less time wasted doing gopher work, and a more enriching learning experience will result with your utilization of Wikipedia. Don't listen to your professors, they want to see you suffer.   Make sure you use Wikipedia to maximize your academic potential.  The time and energy saved on research can be devoted to bigger and better things.


  1. The Super Mario Bros. warp pipes comparison is dead on. Wikipedia is a great starting point to take the short cut to the advanced levels you want. But ideally once you get there you still have to do the work to accomplish the end goal.

    The problem is that to many, wikipedia is the end goal. It gives you a result, without the work. A novice gamer can get to the final level in SMB, but the big deal is taking it from there.