Wikipedia?

Some of the information that I looked at really surprised me, like Jimmy Wales assertion that only 18% of contributors are anonymous and its ratings against other encyclopedias. There are also a bunch of other features like accessibility, price, and fair use that I really like about Wikipedia and that some of the other material mentioned. But I do tend to agree with some of the more critical responses to its use in an academic setting. I’ve had classmates tell me they pulled their sources from Wikipedia or covered them up and I always wonder why. I don’t tend to use Wikipedia anymore when I’m doing research, just because there are usually way better sources out there. This was pretty well demonstrated by my search, Latin America and the Cold War. A super huge topic, the first search redirected me to Latin America–United States relations which covered a lot of the interaction between U.S. and Latin America from the 1800’s to the present. For me there was some obvious problems with this. It is American-centric and lumps a lot of Latin American nations together, it ignores Russia’s involvement, or non-involvement, and many leftist movements and their interactions with the U.S. It only affords the section “1940s–1960s: the Cold War and the “hemispheric defense” doctrine” a few paragraphs while the “1970s” one. Although this does seem outrageously incomplete, I have looked at other more specific entries concerning Latin America during the Cold War which are much better like Peron or the Sandinista, but these may not always be connected to the original article or require a bit of clicking to get to, a rabbit hole unto itself. Obviously I still use it though, especially if I have little to no prior knowledge on a subject, for fun, or to compare my own understanding with what I consider a broad consensus. It’s not necessarily a bad history or even an incorrect, not scholarly history, but it does usually tend to be a safe history, one that usually does not take a stance or delivers a thesis. In reference to the “Google Rule” Wales said “it’s not a perfect rule, but it’s a nice starting point for quick research” and I think it’s funny that I feel the same way about Wikipedia.

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