Wikis : collaboration or chaos?

Wiki is hawaiian for "quick"

What is it?

A wiki is a web application that allows its readers to edit and add content. The best known wiki, Wikipedia, is a free online encyclopedia that allows anyone to edit or submit entries.

What's good about wikis?

Wikis benefit from the knowledge and participation of many different people. In the case of Wikipedia, even very obscure topics or people are covered because of the large number of contributors. In best case scenarios, errors are quickly corrected by other readers.

What's bad about wikis?

Because anyone can contribute, the potential for error -- sometimes intentional -- is high. Because Wikipedia has so many readers, misinformation or intentional vandalism is usually edited quickly. But in the case of one widely publicized case of Wikipedia vandalism, the error went unnoticed for a while.

Should you use them for research?

  • The entries may may or may not be accurate.
  • Because wiki entries are subject to change, you can't be sure that the same content will exist if your instructor later checks your sources.
  • Wikipedia is a good place to get background on your topic, but it's best to follow up with more traditional sources.
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