Stop picking on Wikipedia

At some point during your academic career a paper returned to you will include something along the lines of, “Wikipedia is not a valid source.” This downright ridiculous claim destroys the purpose of research.

Before you dismiss me as a crazy that secretly snuck out of CU, let me clarify. Personally, the debate of the legitimacy of Wikipedia can occur in another time. My irritation derives from the fact that the above statement on a paper suggests that the teacher actually cares about valid sources. A great percentage of the time, the previous declaration remains untrue. If a teacher truly cared about our sources, many of them would not pass as valid. Anything ranging from “The Onion” to “XKCD” can lurk in a reference page, yet teachers rarely pick up on this. A mention of any site other than Wikipedia merits a mere glance over, while the word “Wikipedia” causes teachers to cringe and unsheathe the evil red pen.

In the realm of invalid sources, Wikipedia appears more out of place than e^x at an integration party. My numerous conspiracy theories regarding teachers’ strong dislike of Wikipedia often involve secret essay burnings, but I will keep it reasonable and mention only my most plausible theory.

Teachers do not understand technology like we do because they did not grow up in a digital era. They may not even realize that other web pages take anything on Wikipedia and copy it onto their own website. Since they do not fully understand Twitter, “Cyanide and Happiness,” and all of the other joys the internet brings, they choose to take a stand against the only webpage that all teachers do understand – Wikipedia.

This needs to change. Treating Wikipedia like any other document will ease tension for teachers and students alike. This solution would positively impact all of our grades and keep us in good relations with our academic lover, Wikipedia. Students receive far more benefits than the teachers for this outcome. Teachers will save a few drops of ink from their favorite pens.

The better solution lies at a more teacher-friendly end of the spectrum. This involves the use of only valid sources from the student, such as websites ending in “.edu” or “.gov.” Some teachers already enforce this and they can be counted as the exception to everything aforementioned. While the first solution strives on simplicity, this solution feels more fair. Sadly, it requires us to further feed our already bloated academic stomachs.

A happy medium needs to be reached. Teachers who only skim over reference lists, claiming to care about the validity of sources, need to see their hypocrisy. If the source remains valid, let Wikipedia go as well. However, for the teachers demanding and actually caring about valid sources, we need to respect their wishes and include accurate sources. This way, everyone can be happy, just like the 107% of Russians that voted for Putin.

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