100 Law Libr. J. 593 (2008)
In Defense of Wikipedia

handle is hein.journals/llj100 and id is 593 raw text is: Technology for Everyone...'

In Defense of Wikipedia**
Diane Murley***
Ms. Murley explains how Wikipedia articles are created and edited and how to
use Wikipedia 's tools to evaluate articles. She argues that research instructors
should teach students to use Wikipedia properly, rather than trying to convince
them not to use it. Finally, she suggests ways in which Wikipedia can be used
to help teach the importance of evaluating sources.
1 I was teaching a workshop on cost-effective research, and we were discussing
free and low-cost alternatives to the expensive resources the students were accus-
tomed to. Someone asked about Wikipedia. I told them that I liked it, but that most
librarians and professors did not. One of the students responded, Yeah, what's up
with that?
2 Her question gave me a nice segue into a discussion of the proper use of
secondary resources and the importance of evaluating sources before relying on
them. But later I realized that I hadn't completely answered her question. Why do
so many of us tell students to avoid Wikipedia, rather than teaching them how to
use it responsibly? Wikipedia has weaknesses that can make citing to it a bad idea.
However, if those weaknesses are recognized and evaluated, it is an excellent place
to begin researching certain questions. Furthermore, Wikipedia can be an excellent
resource for teaching students about evaluating their sources.
3 There are several reasons to teach students how to use Wikipedia and other
popular web sites, rather than simply telling them not to use them. First of all, they
are going to use Wikipedia no matter how many people tell them not to use it. It's
easy to use, freely available, and students find helpful information in it often
enough to reinforce their belief in Wikipedia.
* Editor's Note: Technology for Everyone is a regular feature of Law Library Journal. In each
article, author Diane Murley reviews a tool that can help law librarians do their jobs even better. To
supplement her articles Ms. Murley posts ideas for using technology to improve or expand law library
services on her Technology for Law Libraries blog, http://tech4lawlibs.blog.asu.edu.
** © Diane Murley, 2008.
*** Web Services Coordinator and Reference Librarian, Ross-Blakley Law Library, Sandra Day O'Connor
College of Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

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