Wikipedia is one of the most widely used online encyclopedia’s. Millions of internet users turn to it every day for information. But how reliable is it? Is there any system of checks and balances to make sure that the content is correct?
The problem with Wikipedia is that the content control is a reactive process rather than a preventative one. Anyone can go into Wikipedia and change the content. This makes every article in it a work in progress.
So what kind of system is in place to ensure accuracy? There are hundreds of Wikipedia contributors that know what they are talking about and will change any errors, but there is no way of knowing if any misleading information is out there when you happen to be looking at it. There are Wikipedia editors who have certain articles on their list of things to watch, and will make any corrections. The bigger articles may have many editors watching it at one time.
Wikipedia also keeps a history of every change that has been made to every article. Their editors can easily see when a change has been made and what the change was. If there are users who are continuously making incorrect changes, they could be blocked from making any further changes.
The key to getting the most out of websites like Wikipedia is to use it as a starting point in any research. Always double check any facts you may get from it. You can check the facts by looking at the resources. A good list of resources will have scholarly sources listed such as textbooks, dissertations, and journals,as well as news sources for some types of articles. News resources should be looked at carefully though with the context of the article with the context taken into consideration.
The lesson here is to know what you are looking at, and always make sure to have several different resources.