it's more than reading the article

What is a Wiki

Structure of a wikipedia page


  • Table of contents
  • Level 1 2 and 3 headings
  • Internal and External links
  • References
  • Related pages
  • Neutral


  • The place where the debates about what to have in the article occur.


  • Get an email notification if anything changes on that page


  • Who has contributed to the page?
  • What did they contribute?
  • A place to undo vandalism and spam
  • Beurocrats also have a block facility to prevent vandals from striking again

Can the content he relied on?

There have been a couple of independent studies looking at the accuracy of Wikipedia. There was one in 2005 that involved a survey by the science journal ‘Nature’. They found that the science entries in the volunteer written, online encyclopedia Wikipedia were "not markedly less accurate" than those found in Encyclopedia Britannica. More recently, Thomas Chesney, a Lecturer in Information Systems, found that experts rate articles in their sphere of expertise more highly than non-experts in the filed do.

One of the features of Wikipedia is that it is peer published. Anyone can help with creating content and so it is created very quickly and kept up to date. It is a case of many hands making light work. This would be extremely difficult to do using the old traditional methods. A good recent example of this is the documentation of the ‘Virginia Tech massacre’. This event occurred on 16th April and it was also on 16th April that a page in Wikipedia was created.

How should students and teachers use Wikipedia?

  • Wikipedia is an excellent starting point for research
  • Be aware that sometimes people insert wrong information but it is generally cleaned up quickly.
  • You should always check a second source and usually Wikipedia will tell you where to find other sources
  • Where there might be some question of the accuracy of a page, Wikipedia will usually highlight that. Going to the discussion link for that page will help understand the dispute and is often very informative.


Virginia Tech Massacre
  • the date that the page was created
  • number of edits
  • what does the discussion page tell us about the rigor of developing that article?
  • is that rigor visible with other encyclopedias?
  • the reference section provides some places to go to for the next stage of research, validation of sources, etc.
  • Fleshing this Wikipedia article out further

As i expected, this page has some disputes.

Using a Wiki at school

Wiki can be useful in the classroom, for course documentation and school policy and procedure documents. Here are some links to relevant pages from a presentation I made at CEGSA, 2006.

Wiki Mind Map